Asus’s flagship creator laptop is a maximalist tour de force at an eye-watering price.
How do you review a laptop that costs as much as a car? I usually review gadgets targeted at the average reader of this column. Yes, sometimes they’re on the premium end of the price spectrum, but functionally and in terms of cost, they’re things you might consider buying.
The Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED – quite a mouthful – is a bit different.
For starters, it sells at Rs 3,29,990 (apparently discounted from an MRP of Rs 4,22,990) and I can only find it online on Asus’s own website. It is among the most powerful and feature-packed Windows workstation laptops you can buy in India, if not the most powerful and feature packed. I’d call this a halo product. An extravagant, top of the line, full-fat machine designed to sprinkle the fairy dust of its brilliance over the rest of Asus’s laptop line-up that sells for considerably less cash.
The grey expanse is only broken by the ProArt lettering.
But it’s crucial to remember that this Studiobook is squarely targeted at creative professionals (after all there are two Pros in the name) – photographers, videographers, designers and the like – for whom this cost can be justified because it makes their demanding workflows faster, smoother and more efficient.
I’ve been using this laptop for a few weeks now and while I have to admit that I have barely scratched the surface of what this machine is capable of, it’s still been a pretty incredible ride. Read on to find out the details.
The Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED is a well-built matte grey slab with nary a flourish visible on the exterior. The recessed ProArt lettering on the lid is the only thing that breaks the grey expanse. Being a high-performance 16” laptop, it weighs in at 2.4 kg, which is par for the course. While it may not win any beauty contests, every element of it exudes quality, from the texture on the lid, to the flex-free body, and the feel of the Asus Dial (more on this later). The laptop has apparently been built to military grade standards, and I wouldn’t doubt it for a moment.
The screen is gorgeous.
Now for the internals. The Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED runs the 14 core, 12th gen, Core i9-12900H processor, one of Intel’s most powerful laptop chipsets. It also features an nVidia RTX A3000 workstation class GPU with 12 GB of VRAM (not top of the line but plenty powerful). There’s 32 GB of dual channel DDR5 RAM (the latest, fastest type), which can be upgraded to 64 GB. There is also 2 TB of cutting edge PCIe 4.0 nvme storage, which can also be expanded.
We’re not done yet, sorry.
The screen is a 16” 16:10 OLED with 600 nits of peak brightness and 100 percent DCI P3 colour gamut. It is also factory calibrated and Pantone verified. In short, it ticks every box a creative professional might think of. It’s a stunning screen, with inky blacks and perfectly calibrated colours. The speakers are full and loud, although not quite at the level of the latest Macs.
The keyboard is a backlit chiclet type unit with a numpad and keys that have plenty of travel and bounce. Typing is a pleasure. The touchpad is spacious and features three buttons, including the rare middle button, which I enjoy for being able to open links in new tabs, but is much more useful in 3D modelling software where it has specific functions. Perched above and to the left of the touchpad is the Asus Dial, a clicky wheel that has a range of functions depending on which application you are in.
The ASUS ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED comes with a 90 Wh battery, which would have been a substantial unit in any other laptop. But for a machine with this heavy a power draw, it is somewhat feeble. The supplied 240-watt power brick (and it really is a brick) juices it up very quickly though.
The keyboard and trackpad are superb.
The port selection is generous. There are two USB-A ports, two thunderbolt 4 ports, 1 HDMI port, 1 gigabit ethernet port, a fast SD Express 7.0 card reader and a headphone jack.
The ASUS ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED is a maximalist tour de force. While the vast majority of Asus’s line-up is in the budget to mid-price segment, this is the machine that showcases the very best that Asus has to offer. This laptop is an absolute beast. Everything is lightning fast, applications open quickly, network connections are fast, and it makes light of even intense, heavy workloads. There is no day-to-day application – whether it is scores of Chrome tabs, office applications or social media apps – that will tax this machine even marginally.
Every aspect of interacting with the laptop has also been honed to excellence. The keyboard is very responsive and fast to type on, the touchpad is expansive and precise, the screen looks incredible, and the Asus dial is perfectly designed and positioned. I didn’t make a lot of use of the dial, but fiddling around with it in Lightroom and Photoshop, I can see how it could become a vital part of my workflow if this were to become my daily driver machine. It’s also just satisfyingly tactile to play around with.
The Asus Dial is satisfyingly tactile.
The best part of all this is that this beast of a machine (with a 15 amp plug, no less) has very good thermal management! Even under heavy loads, the keyboard and wrist-rest areas became only slightly warm, and while you can hear the fans, you really have to listen out for it.
I generally don’t dwell too much on benchmarks when I am reviewing devices. But because this is a machine that doesn’t have very many reviews out anywhere in the world, and because it is something that demanding professionals would consider buying, I am actually going to spend a little time going over the benchmark results that I got.
Benchmark results for the Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED (Intel 12th Gen).
Those of you interested in comparing these can pull up similar scores for other laptops and have a look. But if not, I can summarise this very quickly. Each of these benchmark results is top class. In every instance, the scores are at the very top of what you’re likely to encounter among PCs, many rivalling full-fledged desktop workstations even. As you will see later, they even go toe-to-toe with offerings from Apple.
You just need to open up Photoshop or Lightroom Classic and the actions and sliders fly without hesitation or hiccups. GPU heavy functions like Super Resolution Enhance and sky replacement happen almost instantaneously. While using these applications you are likely to find all of the performance that you need, in the Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED.
The port selection is generous.
I wish I had a licence for Premiere Pro so I could test out some of its video editing chops in detail, but I am confident yet again that the performance from this machine will be in the top tier.
As you would expect, the battery life on this laptop is poor. With regular usage (Chrome, WhatsApp, MS Office, etc), you can squeeze out four hours if you are careful. Ramp up the workload and you can easily burn through the battery in well under two hours.
Compared to a Macbook Pro (M1 Pro)
While I did not have a lot of time with the machines side by side, I did have the chance to compare some aspects of the Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED with a friend’s 14” Macbook Pro with the M1 Pro chipset and 16 GB of RAM which sells for Rs 2,39,900. Not quite a price comparable to this machine, but still an interesting comparison considering how innovative Apple have been with their chipsets.
First things first, in regular usage, both Lightroom and Photoshop felt similar. The speed and responsiveness were more or less comparable with most actions. Both machines should serve the user exceedingly well while using these and other similar applications.
The build quality is top notch.
To truly push the machines to the limit we also did a bunch of benchmarks and standardised tests to compare. We ran Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, CrystalDiskMark, and a few operations in Lightroom Classic and Handbrake for comparison. I’ve quickly summarised the results in the table below.
Comparison between Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED (Intel 12th Gen) and Apple Macbook Pro (M1 Pro).
While the benchmarks see the Asus taking the lead, in real-world tests, things were a lot closer. When importing the same 201 CR2 RAW files into Lightroom Classic, the Asus was a bit faster, whereas exporting these same files, the Mac pulled off a more significant lead. While doing the GPU heavy Super Resolution Enhance operation however, the Asus was notably quicker. Coming to video we encoded a one-minute 4K 60 fps file measuring 459 MB and the Mac finished the operation a good nine seconds before the Asus.
Both of these are extremely powerful machines, but the Mac comes with some added advantages like a considerably lower power draw, which is useful if you’re likely to be away from a power outlet often. For what it’s worth, the Mac also has better sound, and the monitor calibration for HDR video is superior out of the box.
Storage benchmarks for Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED (Intel 12th Gen).
Storage benchmarks for Apple Macbook Pro 14” (M1 Pro).
Storage benchmarks for both the machines show that the SSDs in the Asus are considerably faster than the one on the Mac, the most pronounced difference visible in the Random Write tests, where the Asus is over three times as fast.
Much of this comparison is academic, however, considering that professionals in the market for a computer like this already have well-settled workflows either in the Mac or Windows ecosystems, and are unlikely to make a switch easily. The Asus does have the added ability to play a wider range of games, if that’s something you’re interested in.
Should you buy it?
If you are a creative professional and have a Windows workflow, this is the best laptop that you can buy in India right now, bar none. Others may launch with even more impressive specs, but none are likely to match this combination of ridiculously powerful internals and superbly crafted interface elements.
What is even more interesting is that Asus offers elements of this laptop in machines costing considerably less. For under Rs 2 lakh, you can get the non Pro Studiobook with the same superb chassis and screen, a Core i7-12700H and an RTX 3060 GPU. I suspect this machine will offer much of the performance of this laptop, at a much lower price.
Even more interesting for creators on a budget is that for well under Rs 1 lakh you can get the Asus Vivobook Pro, which features a similarly specced OLED screen, a Core i5-12450H and an RTX 3050 GPU. I’d be very curious to see how much performance this offers at this price point.
As I had mentioned at the start, the Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 is a halo product. It is the very best that Asus has to offer, and if you have the budget and use-case for it, you should absolutely buy it. But even more interestingly, it shows off what Asus is capable of, and serves as a great advertisement for their other models that sell for considerably less, that people like you and me might think about buying.
This Asus ProArt Studiobook Pro 16 OLED was sent to the reviewer as a loaner unit for review purposes. The unit will be returned on completion of the review. Asus has been given no advance information about the content of this review and exercises no copy approval.
Contact the author on Twitter @vinayaravind.
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