Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED (H5600) review: A top-quality 16-inch mobile workstation for creative pros

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The Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED, which is available with AMD or Intel processors, has a 16-inch 4K OLED display in a sturdy (MIL-STD 810H) chassis. We reviewed a model with an AMD Ryzen R9-5900HX CPU, discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, 32GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD storage.

Images: Asus

Mobile workstations need large high-quality screens and plenty of computing power. With its ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED, Asus lives up to this billing, adding specialist features for dedicated users of creative apps. Notably, there’s a wheel on the keyboard area called the Asus Dial and graphics tablet capability built into the touchpad.

This laptop is available with AMD and Intel processors, and I was sent a review unit with a top-end AMD Ryzen R9-5900HX processor, discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 graphics, 32GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD storage. This configuration costs £2,499 (inc. VAT; £2,082.50 ex. VAT). In the US, the ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED (H5600, AMD Ryzen 5000 series) starts at $1,999.99 for a model with a Ryzen R9-5900HX CPU, GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.

Like

  • Superb 16in. 4K OLED screen
  • High-end specification
  • Asus Dial
  • Stylus support on touchpad
  • Plenty of ports

Don’t Like

  • Moderate battery life
  • Stylus not included

The ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED is big and heavy, weighing 2.4kg (5.29lbs) and measuring 36.2cm wide by 26.4cm deep by 1.99-2.14cm thick (14.25in. x 10.39in. x 0.78-0.84in.). It’ll need a generously sized bag and some strength to tote around. The power adapter is big too, so that’ll add even more weight to your travel bag. The chassis is thick enough to accommodate an RJ-45 Ethernet port, along with a good selection of other connectivity options.

The build is very solid, with MIL-STD 810H compliance signifying this laptop’s capability to withstand knocks and drops. Creative users needing to travel and/or work in the field should be pleased with this level of protection.

A top-notch screen is vital in a laptop designed for creative use cases such as photo and video editing or CAD work, and this Asus offering is a stunner. The 4K (3,840 x 2,400, 283ppi) OLED panel is amazingly sharp and clear, and offers 550 nits of peak brightness. It supports 100% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, and boasts VESA Certified DisplayHDR True Black 500 for high contrast and is Pantone Validated for colour reproduction. The 16:10 aspect ratio is helpful, although the large bottom bezel feels strangely out of place on a laptop with otherwise very high-quality screen credentials. Asus claims an 85% screen to body ratio, although we calculated it at 77.7%.

Sound quality from the Harman Kardon speakers is excellent. There is plenty of bass and no distortion, even at top volume, which is rather loud.

There is an HD camera above the screen with IR support for face authentication via Windows Hello. This is good, but the sliding privacy cover for the camera is somewhat fiddly. This is not a difficult thing to get right, so it’s perplexing to see Asus fail here.

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The backlit keyboard has 1.4mm of key travel and provides a separate number pad. The touchpad, which supports stylus input, has a trio of physical buttons. Note the Asus Dial on the left, between keyboard and touchpad.

Image: Asus

The keyboard may not be the primary input mechanism for creative users, but it still needs to be well implemented. Keys are large and their 1.4mm of travel combines with a fair amount of both resistance and bounce-back to deliver a positive typing action. There’s room for a separate number pad, with keys the same size as the main QWERTY array. The arrow keys are also full-size and have a diagonal ridged patterning, making them quick and easy to locate.

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The arrow keys are ridged, making them easier to find.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The keyboard is augmented by several creator-specific features. As well as supporting the usual sweeps and gestures, the touchpad can be used with a stylus with support for 1,024 pressure levels — although, unfortunately, Asus doesn’t bundle a stylus. The touchpad bucks the trend for integrated buttons, providing three beneath it. The outer ones are simple left- and right-click buttons, while the central one can be used for functions within specific apps — for example to pan, rotate or orbit.

Then there’s the Asus Dial, a rotary control that sits between the keypad and touchpad at the left end of the space bar. This can be pressed and turned to drive a whole range of features that are customisable through an application called the ProArt Creator Hub. Here users can set up in-application functions for presses and twists of the dial, enabling quicker access to a range of functions. Its utility is limited to specific applications — Asus lists the Adobe’s Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, Premiere Pro and After Effects as examples.

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Asus Dial lets you control features and functions in Asus and third-party software.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

In the absence of any supported apps, the Asus Dial can be used to control system brightness and speaker volume. It’s simple to use: you press to access an on-screen options wheel, which scrolls through choices as the dial is rotated; press again when the chosen option is highlighted, and then rotate to vary the level. When you move your hand away from the dial, the selection is recognised and actioned, and the on-screen wheel disappears.

I saw the same convention on the Asus Vivobook Pro 16X, but there the Asus Dial is integrated into the touchpad rather than being a standalone feature.

As befits a power-user laptop, the ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED has plenty of ports and connectors. There is an SD card reader, and while these are often rather slower than external readers, Asus makes a point of noting that it’s specified as SD Express 7.0. This means it is fast, supporting data transfer speeds up to 985MB/s. This will be of particular interest to those who need to transfer large amounts of data from digital cameras.

There is also a full-size HDMI port, two USB-A ports and two USB-C ports, plus an RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet port and a 3.5mm combo audio in/out jack. Mains power connects via a round-pin socket, leaving the USB-C ports available for other duties.

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Right side (top): SD Express 7.0 card reader, 3.5mm combo audio in/out jack, USB-A 3.2, RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet. Left side (above): lock slot, USB-A 3.2, power in, HDMI 2.1, 2x USB-C 3.2.

Images: Asus

To test the 90Wh battery, I ran my standard mainstream workload — writing into web apps, with multiple browser windows open and a mix of audio and video streaming — for three hours, during which time the charge level fell from 100% to 54%. On a linear extrapolation, that suggests battery life of around 6.5 hours.

This probably precludes a full working day away from mains power, especially if you’re using demanding creative apps rather than mainstream workloads. Still, it’s a respectable result for a powerful large-screen laptop like the ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED.

Fortunately, charging speed is good. Having let the battery fall to 27% I charged for 45 minutes. After 15 minutes it had risen to 50%, in half an hour it was at 71% and after the full 45 minutes it had got to 84%.

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Image: Asus

Conclusions

For creators, the ProArt Studiobook 16 OLED’s Asus Dial and stylus-supporting touchpad are potentially game-changing. The huge 2TB SSD on my review unit and SD Express 7.0 certified card reader also shows commitment to users working with large quantities of data, while high-end AMD (and Intel) processing power and Nvidia graphics is more evidence of that ambition.

This is not a device for mainstream users, and some may bemoan the lack of a bundled stylus for use with the touchpad. Even so, the Asus ProArt Studiobook 16 sets a high bar for Windows-based creator laptops.

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