ASUS ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED Review: A content creator's best mate
Note: This review was first published on 3 September 2021.
Are you a content creator? A digital designer, perhaps? Then the ASUS ProArt StudioBook 16 OLED is made for you in mind. It’s nothing like the Quadro RTX 6000-powered StudioBook One that I previewed last year, which was more geared towards graphics professionals with very specific needs, like AutoCAD and 3D renderings for example, which required workstation-class power. No, the StudioBook 16 OLED that I have here comes with a more ‘modest’ GeForce RTX 3070 GPU that’s also paired with AMD’s top-of-the-line Ryzen 9 5900HX processor. That’s pretty much sufficient power for most content creators – be it for video and photo editing, or high-quality livestreaming.
What truly sets the StudioBook 16 OLED apart from the rest of its ProArt notebook brethren, however, is the built-in exclusive ASUS Dial. It’s similar in purpose and function to the Microsoft’s Surface Dial; allowing you to create content in an easier and faster way while customising your workflow. At launch, it will work with Adobe’s Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Lightroom Classic as well as After Effects. ASUS says more software will be added if there’s a clear demand from users.
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 with 8GB GDDR6 Laptop GPU|
|Display||16-inch 16:10 3840 x 2400 OLED panel|
|Camera||HD IR camera with webcam shield|
|Memory||32GB (Dual Channel)|
|Storage||2 x 1TB NVMe SSD in RAID 0 Array|
|Dimensions||362 x 264 x 19.6mm|
That gorgeous display
Despite its beefy internals, the StudioBook 16 OLED comes in a svelte 16-inch design at just 19.6mm slim and weighing a manageable 2.4kg. Its aluminum-alloy chassis is sturdy and offers little flex and is also MIL-STD 810H military-grade tested, if you need further assurances of the notebook’s strength and durability. Keeping the AMD and NVIDIA chips cool is the ASUS IceCool Pro thermal design – a system of heat pipes, fans and smart sensors placed around various components – and the plentiful vents under as well as on the sides of the notebook.
Creators will be delighted to know that connectivity-wise, the StudioBook 16 OLED doesn’t disappoint. On the left side you have two USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C (that also function as a 100W charging and Display ports), a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A and a HDMI 2.1 out. On the opposite side, there’s also another USB 3.2 Type-A port, 3.5mm audio jack, RJ45 LAN port and surprise surprise…an SD Express 7.0 card reader that supports up to 985Mbps!
The only thing I didn’t like was the odd placement of the power port, which sits right in the middle of the left side of the notebook – in between the HDMI out and the side air vents. This causes the cable from the power adapter to run parallel to the air ventilation grilles when in use. And you know what comes out of the vents while the notebook is running? That’s right, very hot air exhausting out towards the power cable. It would have made more sense for ASUS to position the power port closer to the rear of the notebook.
Special mention must be made for the StudioBook 16 OLED’s display. As if the name itself isn’t obvious enough already, the notebook comes with a gorgeous 16-inch OLED 4K (3840 x 2400) panel with up to 550 nits. I do think it’s quite possibly the best display I’ve seen in any notebooks that I’ve tested to date. Colours are vibrant and gorgeous, and as you would expect from an OLED panel, black is as true black as it gets.
The 16:10 aspect ratio might take some getting used to for some but is actually more suitable for design work. The OLED panel is also spec-ed up to VESA Display HDR 500, 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, Pantone validated, and with Delta-E < 2 color accuracy. If all these features seem alien to you, then clearly the StudioBook 16 OLED isn’t for you. But creators and designers won’t need any more convincing to appreciate the colour accuracy this notebook will provide. Have I said how much I’m impressed with the OLED display already?
ASUS Dial and Touchpad
Unlike the Surface Dial, the ASUS Dial is a permanent fixture below the keyboard and comes with preset common functions for the above-mentioned Adobe software. But accessing the new ProArt Creator Hub software will also allow you to set your own shortcut functions in the ASUS Dial menu for each Adobe program. You can even adjust the scroll speed sensitivity levels of the dial.
For what it’s worth, I took a while to get used to working with my left hand on the Dial and my right hand using the trackpad, while processing the images used for this review. My instinct, cultivated from more than two decades of using the keyboard and mouse combo exclusively, meant that my left hand keeps subconsciously reaching out for the shortkeys on the keyboard above it.
Perhaps seasoned designers will jump to the Dial much quicker than I did, but there’s certainly an amount of time required to get used to the habit of using the Dial. I also ought to mention that since the Dial is located on the left side, left-handers might also need a little more effort to adjust to using it – or get used to using their non-master hand on the trackpad or mouse.
As much as I think prospective StudioBook 16 OLED owners will appreciate the ASUS Dial, it’s the touchpad that, in my opinion, is the true game changer for creators and designers. It’s the first touchpad of any ProArt notebook (or any other brands’ notebooks that I can think of for that matter) that supports the ASUS stylus and other styluses with MPP 1.51 standard – essentially allowing the touchpad to be used as a precise writing or drawing tablet. ASUS didn’t provide a stylus with my review unit so I wasn’t able to test this function, but I believe creators will appreciate not having to attach a separate pen tablet in lieu of a touchscreen display.