Like some of the other interesting Asus laptops we’ve reviewed, like the Zenbook Pro Duo, the Zenbook Pro 16X is has many interesting features and could be a perfect creator tool for professionals, while also being able to serve as a gaming machine. In our Asus Zenbook Pro 16X Review, we explore the unique tilting keyboard, interesting features and shortcomings.
Design and Build
When the Asus Zenbook Pro 16X is closed, you might not think it is any different to some other high-end laptops, but it does have an exciting Asus logo not found on many other of their devices. When on, it glows along with the rest of the lighting system, and a faint example of the iconic Asus concentric swirl. The rest of the chassis is straight forward – the minimalistic design feel premium, yet understated. Generally, it feels good all-around with expensive feeling materials.
You can tell that the laptop is somewhat different from the side, which you’ll only understand once you open it up. The keyboard rises up with the display to a full seven degrees, creating an angled typing surface and 30 percent increased airflow. Below the keyboard deck is an improved ventilation cooling system that pushed hot air out of the machine and to the side to improve performance for the beefy internals. The keyboard includes RGB lighting, that can pulse and shift according to what the system is doing, which is a nice touch.
The Asus Dial is offset to the left-hand side of the touchpad, which is very large in its own right. The Dial lends a unique look the machine and immediately draws the eye. It gives and additional waft of classiness and premium feel.
The Zenbook Pro 16X isn’t a small or easily portable laptop by any means. It has a brilliant 16-inch OLED display with 16:10 aspect ratio, but luckily the bezels are relatively small. The size of the display isn’t what makes it difficult to move about, it’s the heft. It weighs a full 2.4kgs, due to the high-end internal hardware and premium build quality. The build quality is superb, but you would expect that at this high price point.
For such a speciality device, the connectivity options are more than adequate. On the one side you have two USB-C ports, both with Thunderbolt 4 support, a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port and the charging port. On the other side there is a full size HDMI 2.1 port (so it can handle 120fps at 4K quality), a 3.5mm headphone jack and a full size SD card slot.
The chassis is constructed with machined aluminium and it all feels rock-solid. A lurking question throughout our review period was how the lifting mechanism for the tilting keyboard would feel. I’m happy to report that it felt sturdy and good to use. Downward pressure didn’t have any impact on the feel of the hinge. However, sometimes there was a bit of a rattle on the hinge when moving the laptop around, although it never felt like it would get damaged at any time.
You quickly get used to the typing experience with the tilt, and after a while it becomes second nature. The keycaps are very large, with plenty of spacing, and the switches are light and snappy with a precise bottoming action.
The touchpad is large, as mentioned before, but for good reason. Not only is it a good haptic touchpad which was responsive and accurate across its entire surface, but clicks also feel natural. Most interestingly, it includes Asus’s NumberPad 2.0 technology, which embeds an LED numeric keypad that can be switched on and off. Most users probably won’t find it all that useful, but if you work with a lot of numbers, then you’ll appreciate it.
Using a bright, beautiful OLED display is one of life’s true joys. If you use your laptop a lot, you just can’t go back to an IPS once you’ve been spoilt for long periods with an OLED. The ZenBook Pro 16X is definitely one of the best I’ve experienced in all but one respect.
When tested in the lab, it is spectacular on all fronts. But in the real world there is one important metric that isn’t as good as it should be – brightness. It only reaches 300 nits of brightness, which means it isn’t suitable to use outside or in direct sunlight. It means you have lots of glare on the display when using outside. For people that only work indoors, you should have no issues with the brightness.
Otherwise, this display is magnificent. Colours are extremely accurate and contrast is near perfect. The ZenBook Pro 16X display perfectly matches the laptop’s performance, providing an experience that creators will love, as will productivity users and content consumers.
Performance and Battery
The specs for this laptop can vary in region, but most should be able to get their hands on the main spec, with a 12th Gen Intel 14-core processor, this one being the Core i9 – 12900H with a top speed of 5Ghz.
Running benchmarks saw the Zenbook Pro 16X perform really well. It performed better than every other laptop in its class, undoubtedly helped by the additional cooling allowed by the tilting keyboard. So your professional endeavours should do really well on this laptop, especially high-octane video editing.
The laptop tries to be a machine for everyone, regardless of what they want to do. Gaming also comes into focus here, with Asus including on-board graphics to boost gaming performance. It has the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 installed (albeit the notebook version), which is a great performer that can handle most gaming circumstances. Gaming performance was a mixed bag, running better than comparative machines on games like Cyberpunk, but worse on others like Assassin’s Creed. We wouldn’t call this a gaming laptop, but it should serve you well if you crank down the graphics and don’t expect to be blown away.
The story doesn’t end here, though. We expected day-top-day use to be brilliant, as the benchmarks would suggest. Now, we’re not sure what the reasons are here, but at times the machine stuttered doing general tasks. Using Office documents, or with many browsing tabs open it would stutter, and sometimes freeze for a couple of seconds.
We went through all the user forums we could find and saw that this wasn’t an uncommon issue. Most likely it has to do with how Windows 11 struggles with running 32-bit and 64-bit software side-by-side at times, and something doesn’t gel well with the hardware. This isn’t a phenomenon we’ve seen on other high-end Windows 11 laptops, hence our confusion. We were able to mostly curb the issue by installing specific drivers and re-installing certain apps, but it still occurred from time to time.
The Zenbook Pro 16X has a 96Wh battery, which is close to the upper limit of being allowed on flights. That processor and dedicated graphics card sucks a lot of power, though. With the high-end hardware it would be unfair to expect a lot from the battery life. It lasted about 5 hours on battery alone doing most tasks, but gaming and creative editing packages will decrease that significantly. Perhaps this is why Asus decided not to install a really bright display, as this would’ve negatively impacted it further.
The Asus Zenbook Pro 16X OLED is a large, powerful, beautifully built laptop. The design is truly eye-catching and isn’t just form over function. The tilting keyboard help with thermal capabilities, as well as lend itself to a more comfortable typing experience. The large touchpad with integrated number pad works well in conjunction with the Asus Dial.
It has a brilliant display, albeit too dim, but will knock your socks off in most circumstances. It has a good port selection and is suitable to creative professionals to manage their day-to-day, even if it might not be the most portable machine.
The Asus Zenbook Pro 16X has a lot going for itself, but was marred by strange performance issues. It will undoubtedly frustrate most people and shouldn’t need customers to go down a complicated route to make it more usable. It might just have been our unit, or a certain batch, but others have had similar issues. Once Asus sort out the last niggles, this will be a massively attractive proposition for most. And Asus absolutely have to sort those niggles out, because it retails for around R59,000.