Asus Zenbook Pro 16X vs Apple MacBook Pro 16: Laptop Creator Battle
Apple’s MacBook Pro 16 is one of the best laptops you can buy today, with a sleek design, beautiful display, great performance and industry-leading battery life. If you’re a developer, it’s been the laptop of choice since its launch in late 2021. It is important to note that Apple has announced new versions of the MacBook Pros that upgrade to the M2 Pro and M2 Max CPUs that we have. They are not yet rated but they are definitely faster than the previous M1 Pro and Max models.
The Asus ZenBook Pro 16X is a strong competitor, however, it is almost as fast when it comes to creative tasks and offers a variety of innovative features. The latest ZenBook Pro 16X, just unveiled at CES 2023, adds even more and makes it even more competitive. Can the update help take the top spot for creators?
|Asus ZenBook Pro 16X||Apple MacBook Pro 16|
|Dimensions||13.98in x 9.88in x 0.67in||14.01″ x 9.77″ x 0.66″.|
|Weight||5.3 pounds||4.8 pounds|
|processor||Intel Core i7-12700H
Intel Core i9-13900H
Intel Core i-13905H
Apple M2 Max
|graphic||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080
|Apple integrated GPU|
64GB (M1 Max)
|advertisement||16.0 inch 16:10 3.2K (3200 x 2000) OLED @ 120Hz
16.0-inch 16:10 4K+ (3840 x 2400) OLED @ 60Hz
|16.2 inches 16:10 Liquid Retina XDR (3456 x 2234) @ 120Hz|
|ports||1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x Full Size SD Card Reader
|3x USB-C 4 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x SD card reader
|Wireless||WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3||WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0|
|cam||1080p with infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello||1080p|
|operating system||Windows11||Mac OS Monterey|
|battery||96 watt hours||100 watt hours|
|assessment||Not yet reviewed||5 out of 5 stars (M1 version)|
- 1. Asus ZenBook Pro 16X
- 2. Apple MacBook Pro 16
The MacBook Pro 16 is simple in its design, with a CNC-machined aluminum unibody that’s a little boxy. However, it oozes elegance and quality, with an incredibly rigid chassis that makes it feel like one of the best laptops ever made. The display bezels are thin, with only a notch in the middle to accommodate a 1080p webcam, which breaks up the look. You can get it in silver and space gray, and either way you’re getting a laptop that’s uncomplicated but incredibly well built.
The ZenBook Pro 16X is the complete opposite. When closed, its all-metal body exemplifies today’s minimalist aesthetics, with simple lines and only the new Star Trek-esque Asus logo on the lid. But open the display and things become very different. First, the keyboard rises at an angle that Asus calls its Active Aerodynamic System Ultra mode, which delivers more airflow to the interior of the case and supports the keyboard at an angle.
The touch-sensitive Asus Dial sits next to the touchpad and allows for personalized control in apps like Adobe’s Creative Suite. And the keyboard supports white RGB backlighting for each key and LED side lighting that responds to system events. It’s packed with features you won’t find on the more serious MacBook Pro 16.
Asus has also switched to a larger haptic touchpad for the latest ZenBook Pro 16X, and this is a welcome change.
Speaking of the keyboard, we haven’t tried this version yet, but the previous generation had large, well-spaced keycaps and light, snappy switches, but the angle took some getting used to. The MacBook Pro 16 uses Apple’s Magi Keyboard, which is thinner but has excellent keycaps and spacing, and the most accurate and consistent switches available on a keyboard today.
The MacBook Pro 16 also has a giant Force Touch haptic touchpad that sets the standard for precision and comfort. Asus has also switched to a larger haptic touchpad for the latest ZenBook Pro 16X, and this is a welcome change. Again, we didn’t test it, but it’s big enough (although not as big as the MacBook Pro 16) and includes Asus’ NumberPad 2.0 LED number pad with haptic feedback.
Both laptops have excellent connectivity, with the MacBook offering an additional Thunderbolt 4-capable port and a MagSafe power connector. The ZenBook Pro 16X has faster wireless connectivity and both laptops have 1080p webcams. The Asus uses facial recognition for password-free login, while the MacBook uses the Touch ID fingerprint reader.
The MacBook Pro 16 can be equipped with up to an M2 Max CPU, which is a 12-core ARM CPU with 38 GPU cores. It’s an incredibly powerful laptop that, in its M1 Max incarnation, is the fastest we’ve tested in the real-world PugetBench Premiere Pro benchmark running a live version of Adobe’s Premiere Pro video editing application . The laptop excels in creative applications and easily handles the most demanding productivity workflows. The M2 version will only be faster.
It should be interesting to see how the ZenBook Pro 16X competes in terms of performance. We tested the previous model with a 45-watt Core i7-12700H CPU with 14 cores (six Performance and eight Efficient), 20 threads and an Nvidia RTX 3060. It was 11% slower in PugetBench but with significantly faster in Cinebench R23. Configured with the faster 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13905H at 45 watts with the same number of cores and threads, but faster Turbo Boost speed and the ultra-fast RTX 4080 GPU, we expect ZenBook to match the MacBook Pro 16 superior performance for your money. PugetBench and applications such as Adobe’s Creative Suite can use the GPU to speed up certain operations. When fully configured, the ZenBook Pro 16X may even be faster than the MacBook Pro 16. But that remains to be seen.
Specifically, Asus and Intel collaborated on a unique system-on-a-module design that consolidates the CPU and RAM in a single component. This shortens the distance between the CPU and the RAM, increases the cooling efficiency of the system, and reduces the size of the motherboard. It has also freed up more space for the GPU components, and Asus is giving the CPU and GPU up to a total of 155 watts TDP. This should maximize performance even more, and we’re hoping Asus will send us the high-end model for review as a more direct comparison to the MacBook Pro 16.
Apple’s new M2 chips will be even faster, so benchmarks will be even more important to determine which of these laptops is faster for developers.
You can’t complain about the 16.2-inch 16:10 XDR Mini-LED display of the MacBook Pro 16, which works at a resolution of 3456 x 2234 and 120 Hz. It offers wide enough colors (although not as wide as some displays) with good accuracy to go with incredible brightness and deep contrast. It’s a beautiful display that’s good for creative work and offers some of the best HDR support around.
The ZenBook Pro 16X comes with two display options, both OLED. The first is a 16.0-inch 16:10 3.2K (3200 x 2000) panel that runs at 120Hz and the second is a 4K+ (3840 x 2400) display that runs at 60Hz. Both are virtually guaranteed to offer wider and more accurate color and contrast that’s just as deep, but probably not as bright as the MacBook’s display. This means that they are even better for creative types thanks to the wider and more accurate colors, but not good for media consumers because of the HDR, which is likely to be a little less good.
Both laptops have great displays. Which is better depends first on whether we can test a ZenBook display, and then on whether better color or better HDR is more important to you.
The MacBook Pro 16 has four speakers that deliver the best sound on a laptop today. The ZenBook Pro 16X comes with a total of six speakers and we can’t wait to give it a listen.
Both laptops are almost the same size, while the ZenBook Pro 16X is half a pound heavier. Both are portable, but you will feel the weight and heaviness in your backpack.
One area where the MacBook Pro 16 likely holds its lead is in battery life. It’s an incredibly durable machine for someone with this power, and the ZenBook Pro 16X probably won’t even come close.
A ferocious fight that will require some testing to confirm
It’s hard to say which is the better laptop without reviewing the ZenBook Pro 16X. It’s possible that it’s faster than the MacBook Pro 16 and offers more designer-friendly displays. But we won’t know that until we get our hands on it. We’re also trying to test Apple’s latest and greatest chips; M2 Pro and M2 Max
In any case, both are expensive laptops (although we don’t know the final price of the ZenBook yet), with the MacBook Pro 16 coming in at over $6,000 when fully configured, so the decision won’t be easy. The ZenBook is a bulkier laptop with more features to play with, and that can be a good thing or a bad thing. But for developers, there’s a good chance that ZenBook Pro 16X will catch on as a solid Windows alternative.
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