The Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED is a top-notch creative laptop, impressing with its incredible screen, huge power and great ergonomics. It’s heavy, though, and it has mediocre battery life – the MacBook Pro beats it in those departments.
- A market-leading OLED display
- A fast, capable Core i9 processor
- The keyboard is comfortable and innovative
- Impressive build quality and connectivity
- Poor battery life when compared to Apple laptops
- A large, bulky laptop
- OLED display could be brighter
- A sensational OLED screenThe 16-inch OLED screen delivers perfect contrast, sensational colours and a high resolution.
- Innovative control methodsThe Asus Dial adds slick functionality in Adobe Creative Suite software and Windows 11, and the tilted keyboard improves comfort in long typing sessions.
- Impressive Intel powerIntel’s Core i9-12900H is a versatile and powerful processor that can tackle virtually any creative workload, and it’s competitive with Apple’s fastest M1 Pro and M1 Max chips.
The Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED has a long name, but the key acronym comes at the end – because this laptop’s OLED panel promises to turbo-charge its creative abilities.
That’s no wonder when OLED displays go beyond their contemporaries with pixel-perfect technology and incredible contrast, and the rest of this laptop is ready to help creative workloads thanks to huge processing power and design innovations.
It’ll have to be at the top of its game to tackle the Apple MacBook Pro 16, though, and it’s got to justify a hefty set of prices – it’s $2,999 in the US, £2,999 in the UK and a hefty €3,299 in Europe. Can the latest ZenBook earn a spot on our best laptop chart?
Design and Keyboard
- The Asus Dial adds easy functionality to Adobe software and Windows
- The keyboard is comfortable, satisfying and ideal for all-day use
- Great build quality from the chassis and plenty of ports
The OLED panel sits inside a CNC-milled aluminium enclosure with sleek, good-looking design, and beyond the clean edges you’ll find impressive build quality that matches Apple’s hardware. At 2.4kg and 17.8mm thick, though, it’s much heavier than the MacBook and a bit thicker.
The left-hand edge of the Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED has two Thunderbolt 4 sockets and a full-size USB 3.2 Gen 2 port, and the right-hand edge has an SD Card Express 7.0 reader, an HDMI 2.1 output and a headphone jack. That’s decent connectivity for a creative machine – the MacBook gets rid of the full-size USB port but does add more Thunderbolt connectivity.
The Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED is a classy affair on the inside. The ZenBook has dual-band Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, and the 1080p webcam supports Windows Hello. There’s a fingerprint reader in the power button. The audio kit is great: the six speakers produce bold, bass-filled sound that easily matches the MacBook. The only feature missing is wired internet.
Look below the keyboard and you’ll find something that the MacBook doesn’t have: an Asus Dial. It’s a large, circular button that sits to the left of the trackpad. Swing your fingertip across Dial’s glass surface and you can adjust settings in Adobe tools like Lightroom, Photoshop, Premiere Pro and the rest of the Creative Suite.
The Dial’s central button can select and confirm selections in apps, and outside of Adobe’s tools it’s helpful for scrolling web pages, adjusting system volume and more – its functionality is entirely customisable.
The Dial is a slick addition to this creative laptop and it can speed up your workflow. Sadly, though, it doesn’t have specific app support beyond those Adobe tools – the Dial is great, but it could be so much better.
The keyboard innovates, too. Open the laptop and a mechanism tilts the typing hardware towards the user at a seven-degree angle, which makes the keyboard more comfortable to use – and means the internals get some extra cooling.
And, true to form, the keyboard is extremely comfortable. The angle helps, and the buttons are large, precise and crisp, with decent travel. It’s a top-notch unit and will keep up with busy professional use.
Elsewhere, the keyboard has per-key RGB LEDs that flash different colours when your PC gets notifications and alerts, but there’s no number pad – slightly disappointing on a 16-inch productivity laptop.
The haptic touchpad is responsive, accurate and huge, so it’s a good companion for creative work. While it’s one of the better examples of a Windows touchpad, though, you still get more functionality from a MacBook pad.
- The OLED panel delivers unparalleled creative and colour ability
- The high resolution means you get loads of sharpness and space
- It’s not as bright as Apple’s Liquid Retina XDR panel
OLED displays use individual pixels to produce backlighting and colours rather than the larger but less-sophisticated backlighting systems you’ll find elsewhere – and the difference is obvious.
Because those pixels can turn off completely, it means you get perfect black levels – the depth on the Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED is unparalleled. Contrast is infinite, colours are bold and vibrant, and there’s huge nuance and detail.
This OLED hardware is marginally better than the Mini LED tech inside the MacBook Pro’s Liquid Retina XDR screen because Apple’s LEDs still rely on dimming zones. So while there’s supposedly around 10,000 mini-LEDs with about 2,500 zones in the MacBook Pro, the OLED screen has more pixel-sized lights – which means more nuance and control.
The ZenBook’s OLED impresses beyond its depth and contrast. Its 0.89 Delta E ensures picture-perfect accuracy, and it delivers 100% sRGB coverage and levels of 97% and 98% in the Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 gamuts, so it’ll cope with every task, from photo-editing and video work to tougher design scenarios. The panel is Pantone-validated, too.
The resolution of 3840 x 2400 is sharp, slightly higher than the MacBook Pro, and ideal for crispness in creative tools. It also means you get plenty of space for spreading out multiple windows.
This is one of the best screens on any laptop, easily good enough for creative work, and a little better than the excellent screen in the MacBook. The only downside is the maximum brightness level of 366 nits, which isn’t high enough for all outdoor situations – in that respect, Apple’s notebook remains king.
- A consistently impressive Intel Core i9 processor
- The Nvidia graphics core is good for creative workloads but limited in games
- Decent thermal performance makes working easier
It’s no wonder that Asus powers the Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED with an Intel Core i9-12900H processor. It’s got six Hyper-Threaded P-Cores and supports 20 threads in total, and it’s got a lofty peak Turbo speed of 5GHz. There’s 32GB of dual-channel DDR5 memory in this laptop, and a 2TB Samsung SSD with tremendous read and write speeds of 6,153MB/sec and 4,832MB/sec.
Those core components supply impressive performance. In Geekbench’s single- and multi-core benchmarks the ZenBook hit 1712 and 12,318 – huge scores that mean the Asus can tackle almost any creative task, from photo-editing to 4K video rendering. Multi-tasking and everyday workloads are no issue, either, and you’ll only need more power for workstation-level apps.
|Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED||MacBook Pro||MacBook Pro|
|CPU||Intel Core i9-12900H||M1 Pro||M1 Max|
|Geekbench 5 single core||1712||1745||1784|
|Geekbench 5 multi core||12,318||12,520||12,713|
Those scores compare well to Apple’s machines: the M1 Pro inside more affordable MacBooks scored 1,745 and 12,520, and the M1 Max chip was slightly quicker. The differences between the three components are so tiny that they may as well not exist.
Intel’s performance looks even better when you look at Apple’s pricing. Buy an M1 Pro MacBook with 32GB of memory and a 1TB SSD and it’s always going to be pricier than the ZenBook – and the gap is wider with 2TB SSDs. Unsurprisingly, M1 Max laptops are even more expensive.
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 is a mid-range graphics chip, but it still deploys the Nvidia Ampere architecture, 6GB of dedicated memory and 3,840 CUDA cores. Combine that with optimised Nvidia Studio drivers and you’ve got enough graphical power to cope with virtually any creative workload.
There’s little to choose between the RTX 3060 and the 32-core M1 Max GPU that you’ll find inside the priciest MacBook Pro models, and it’s far faster than the 16-core parts inside cheaper Apple rigs.
It’s only middling for gaming. At 1080p it averaged 72fps in Horizon Zero Dawn and 203fps in Rainbow Six Siege, so you’ve got enough ability for mainstream games and esports titles at decent speeds. Don’t expect to play any games at any higher resolutions, though, and especially not at the ZenBook’s native resolution. And don’t rely on this laptop for any serious eSports competition, either, as the screen has amazing quality but a modest 60Hz refresh rate.
Happily, the innovative Asus design and relatively undemanding GPU mean I have no thermal concerns when it comes to this notebook. There’s only a little fan noise even in demanding situations – any high-end gaming rig will be much louder. Hardly any internal heat made its way to the external panels, either, which makes the ZenBook easier to manage.
- You’ll get to lunchtime at best with this laptop
- Expect two hours of use if you push the internals
Asus has crammed a 96Wh battery inside the Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED, but its longevity levels remained mediocre in most tests. In an everyday work benchmark the Asus ran through 5hrs and 27mins of work, and in an easier video test it played 7 hours of media.
Both of those tests ran with the screen at 150 nits, though, so expect poorer results if you ramp up the brightness levels. Similarly, cut those results back if you push the internals in tougher workloads.
Ultimately, you’ll manage half a day of work out of the ZenBook at best. The MacBook is miles better here: in less-intensive tasks it’s possible to get 21 hours out of the Apple laptop, and the MacBook easily lasts through a working day. Even when pushing the hardware, its six-hour lifespan will easily outlast the ZenBook.
Should you buy it?
You need the best screen possible – and plenty of processing power
The OLED display is a game-changer for creatives, the Intel processor will do almost anything, and the Asus has good connectivity and ergonomics – it’s very versatile.
You need great battery life and a slim, light design
The ZenBook’s battery only lasts for a few hours, so Apple’s machines have it beaten there. The MacBook Pro is almost a kilo lighter than the Asus rig, too.
The OLED screen supplies exceptional quality for creative workloads, and elsewhere the Asus has huge power, great ergonomics and plenty of connectivity. It’s a professional powerhouse, although it’s not the laptop to buy if you want great battery life or a light chassis.
How we test
Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life.
These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real world checks, such as how well it runs when running a AAA game.
We used as our main laptop for at least a week.
Tested the performance via both benchmark tests and real-world use.
We tested the screen with a colorimeter and real-world use.
We tested the battery with a benchmark test and real-world use.
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This model of the Asus ZenBook Pro 16X OLED costs £2999.
It has the required specs to play games at 1080p, although its low 60Hz refresh rate could be problematic if you want a laptop primarily for gaming.
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