Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED review: Creator-friendly laptop gives MacBook Pro a run for its money

High-res display, gobs of power and a battery that refuses to die. All at a killer price.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X
VivoBook Pro 16X OLED price in India is Rs 1,29,990. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The MacBook Pro may be the gold standard and the laptop almost all reviewers would unanimously recommend to virtually anybody who can afford it, but Asus’ new VivoBook Pro 16X is one of the most creator friendly machines available in the market today.

Its pricing has a lot to do with this, obviously. A version with AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900HX chip, dedicated Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti graphics, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD costs Rs 1,29,990. The 16-inch M1 Pro-powered MacBook Pro, for some context, starts at Rs 2,39,990. That is almost double. The 14-inch M1 Pro-based MacBook Pro starts at Rs 1,94,900, while the 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro is currently selling at a starting price of Rs 1,22,900.

Also Read | Asus VivoBook K15 OLED review: Lights up the budget laptop segment

It’s only logical to pit the VivoBook Pro 16X against the 16-inch MacBook Pro, or even the 14-inch version. While Asus’ “pro” laptop doesn’t beat either in pure performance or battery life, it can hit the sweet spot when it comes to sheer value, something that a lot of creators, especially ones who’re just starting their career, hobbyists, or for that matter, anybody who’s looking for a dependable laptop for work and play, would appreciate.

That’s not all. Asus has also added a couple of neat features and made sound partnerships, like with Adobe for instance, to really make the most out of the VivoBook Pro 16X’s excellent hardware. Laptops are a long-term investment and the VivoBook Pro 16X seems built to last, too.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED display    

In case it wasn’t clear already, the VivoBook Pro 16X has an OLED panel. This is sourced from Samsung. One of Asus’ key strategic initiatives, starting this year, has been to make OLED screens in laptops a “mass-market” thing. The company’s VivoBook K15 OLED, that starts at just under Rs 50k, is the most affordable laptop with an OLED screen in the Indian market at the time of writing this review. The VivoBook Pro 16X is, similarly, a mass-market product, and it’s only befitting to say, it’s a testament to Asus’ commitment to making OLED laptops mainstream.

Before diving into the nitty-gritties, it’s important to mention that the said laptop comes with “a set of optimisation settings proven to protect your OLED display and maximise lifespan.” In other words, Asus has taken several measures to minimise burn-in, a common issue with OLED screens.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X
VivoBook Pro 16X has a 4K OLED display with 16:10 aspect ratio. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

One of them, called pixel shift, can move the pixels on the screen ever so slightly to avoid showing static images for longer duration. The effect is subtle and barely noticeable unless of course, you’re pixel peeping. Additionally, you can choose to fire up a custom screen saver if your system remains idle for 30 minutes at length. You can similarly, also, tweak your Windows taskbar to hide automatically when not in use, or change its appearance to a relatively more transparent look.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X
VivoBook Pro 16X is made almost entirely out of metal. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Now, Asus is not making any tall claims as to the kind of lifespan increase, you’ll get, if you use any of these features—they are all available inside a handy MyAsus app—but for what it’s worth, the education and awareness that it’s putting out in a fair and transparent manner is much appreciated. Not many brands tend to do that, let alone take steps to curb the issue.

As for the panel itself, it’s—also—high-quality. It’s large at 16-inch, high-resolution at 4K 3840 x 2400p, has a tall 16:10 aspect ratio, and supports HDR. It gets plenty bright, too, at up to 550nits. It’s glossy but not overtly reflective. More importantly, for creators, colours onboard are nice and crisp and fine-tuned just about right, right out of the gate. The panel supports 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut, is Pantone validated, and TÜV Rheinland Eye Care-certified—so all good stuff there. Had it been a touchscreen, it would literally have blown our minds. Then again, that’s no dealbreaker.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED design and build

Like the budget VivoBook K15 OLED we reviewed recently, the VivoBook Pro 16X also has noticeable plasticky bezels—and an advertised screen-to-body ratio of around 85%—but at least Asus has managed to squeeze a dedicated privacy shutter for the webcam here so, that’s nice.

The rest of the VivoBook Pro 16X is built quite well. Building a creator laptop like this can be a double-edged sword, even more so for a company like Asus. On the one end, you must keep it distinct so as not to mix with the ultraportable—ZenBook—portfolio, and on the other, you must fight the temptation to not make another all-out gaming rig like the ROG. Not to mention, the VivoBook Pro 16X also has the other non-pro VivoBooks for competition. Asus has been able to play the balancing act well enough, for the most part.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X
The laptop has a virtual dial. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The design of the VivoBook Pro 16X is very minimal and understated. It’s made of metal, comes in all-black with a soft matte finish (that can get smudgy after prolonged use), and uses some plastic to complete the package. This package tries to break with convention, here and there, through subtle quirks to catch your eye. The escape key, for instance, is bright orange. The enter key would remind you of a clapperboard.

There are a lot of catchphrases and hashtags slapped across the length and breadth of this laptop, too, as if gently nudging you to “uncage your possibilities” and “own the universe.” They’re not flashy or anything, but we feel the VivoBook Pro 16X packs enough substance and could easily have done without this kind of “trying-too-hard” styling. Then again, this is subjective.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X
The keyboard is excellent. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The whole thing weighs just under 2kg. It’s not too light, not too heavy either. Asus has done well with the ergonomics. The build, though not as premium and polished as the MacBook Pro, is still quite good especially for the price. There’s no weird flex, no loose ends that we could find and believe us, we tried.

The same level of attention has been given to the keyboard. It’s full-size, backlit and includes both a numpad and fingerprint reader —this is on top of the power button and was hard to find initially since there are no visual clues per se. Regardless, this keyboard is one of the main highlights of this laptop. Typing on it has been an absolute pleasure.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X
The configuration tops out at 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The trackpad, too, is nice and spacious in part because it’s home to Asus’ Dialpad. Think a jog dial, but virtual. Asus is basically using its years of experience putting virtual numpads on the trackpad here. At this point, it feels like it’s just showing off, by coming out with something—new—that seems so basic, yet makes you wonder, why other brands never thought of it. For a little more context, Asus has simultaneously launched another laptop called ProArt StudioBook 16 that has an actual dial.

Also Read | Asus wants to democratise India’s education space with Chromebooks; to launch higher spec models above Rs 30k in 2022

Be that as it may, the virtual dial in the VivoBook Pro 16X, though it can be fiddly at times, is fun to use and very useful at least with the apps that it is compatible with. All core Adobe apps including Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Photoshop Lightroom Classic, and After Effects are supported. By default, you can use it to change screen brightness and volume. You invoke it using a dedicated toggle button on the trackpad itself by swiping inwards and it’s smart enough to not get in the way, when not in use. It’s extremely fast and mostly accurate, which is impressive considering this is Asus’ first attempt at something like this.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED hardware, performance, and battery life

There’s little doubt that the VivoBook Pro 16X with its 8-core Ryzen 9 5900HX chip and dedicated Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti graphics is one of the most powerful laptops at its price point today. Heck, it’s the most powerful 16-inch laptop that we can think of right now—at its price. It performs like one, too, and just beats the pants off any rival machine with integrated graphics including any ZenBook-equivalent.

Most laptops in this segment don’t come with a dedicated graphics card, so there’s not a lot of competition, either, which is to say, those looking at a machine like the VivoBook Pro 16X as a potential buy have a lot to look forward to. For many, a laptop like this would be an overkill, too, but you can also think of it as futureproofing. The laptop supports Wi-Fi 6 and runs Windows 11 Home out of the box. The point is, the VivoBook Pro 16X is a steal deal, in almost every perceivable scenario except maybe, for high-end gaming. It does not get too hot, though its dual fans can rev up quite a steam when stressed.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X
There is no Thunderbolt support. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

But there are still a few caveats that you must know about. Those that could come in the way of recommending the VivoBook Pro 16X as an out-and-out creator’s paradise. For starters, the configuration tops out at 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. This is not upgradable. You’ll have to increase your budget and consider the ProArt StudioBook 16 if you’re looking for a relatively more no-holds-barred machine.

Geekbench 5.3 CPU Multi7215
Geekbench 5.3 CPU Single1500
Geekbench 5.3 OpenCL / Compute62056
Cinebench R23 Multi11483
Cinebench R23 Single1439
Cinebench R23 Multi (30 minutes)11633

Then there’s the port selection. While generous for the price, you can’t help but point out that Asus could have done more. There’s one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, two USB 2.0 Type-A, an HDMI 1.4, a micro-SD card reader, and 3.5mm audio jack. Just so you know, you get the same setup in the budget VivoBook K15. Expectedly, there is no Thunderbolt support—and Asus doesn’t sell an Intel version of this laptop at this point. There is no USB-C fast charging either. Instead the laptop charges using a proprietary—120W—barrel charger.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X
Battery life is great. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

For what it’s worth, battery life is great. Your mileage may vary depending on use case, but the VivoBook Pro 16X will easily last a full day for most users with typical usage. Asus doesn’t quote a number, but we were able to get an upwards of 10-hours runtime in our video loop test which is very impressive.

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X OLED | Should you buy

Asus VivoBook Pro 16X
VivoBook Pro 16X is a great value. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The VivoBook Pro 16X OLED brings a high-resolution display, gobs of power, and a battery that simply refuses to die, all at a killer price. It may not be perfect but given its exhaustive feature set and ridiculously low-price tag, you’re bound to see through the minor quirks as you probably would when getting something way more expensive and later realising, you’re missing out on something. Well at least in this case, you’re getting more bang for your buck.  

While the VivoBook Pro 16X OLED comes highly recommended, be sure to also check out the VivoBook Pro 14X OLED which in many ways, is a very similar laptop with a smaller screen—along with an Intel option with Thunderbolt—and an even more affordable price.

Pros Cons
Gorgeous 4K display Boring design
Fast performance No Thunderbolt port
Excellent keyboard and trackpad Limited configuration
Dialpad is a useful gimmick Speaker setup could be better
Great battery life
Amazing value

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First published on: 17-12-2021 at 09:26 IST