[Review] A Professional Workstation: The ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro X (W730G5T)
Here at Salty, we've reviewed a wide range of ASUS laptops before, including gaming entries from their ROG range, as well as ultra-portables like the ZenBook, and productivity machines like the VivoBook series. Today, we're going to be taking a look at something a little different - ASUS' first foray into the professional workstation sector, the ProArt StudioBook series.
The unit we have on hand today is the ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro X W730G, but do take note that ours is a Taiwan media review unit, and as such its specs will vary from local retail units. As it has a non-standard configuration, there also isn't an official price tag for our particular unit, so instead of delving too deep into benchmarking and performance, we'll be taking a look at the overall package as well as the features unique to this series of laptops.
Without further ado, let's go!
Though it is marketed as 'Star Grey with Rose Gold accents', the StudioBook Pro X looks much less exciting than it sounds. That's not to say it's not decent-looking though - the brushed metal surface definitely looks very professional, and the gold accents give it a subtle touch of luxe.
As sophisticated as it looks, the StudioBook Pro X can still take a decent amount of abuse thanks to its MIL-STD-810G certification, which means that it should tolerate shocks, drops, as well as various temperature and humidity conditions.
NVIDIA Quadro GPU
Okay, so one of the big sells of this thing is that it's running an NVIDIA Quadro GPU which supports ECC memory, which is a type of data storage that detects and corrects the most-common kinds of internal data corruption. This is especially useful for people who work on sensitive data, like engineers or (very rich) art students working on their only copy of their final year project (back up your shit, kids).
The Malaysian version of the StudioBook Pro X is equipped with an insanely powerful Quadro RTX 5000 with 16GB of GDDR6 VRAM, but unfortunately our version only has the rather paltry Quadro T1000 with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM.
Anyway, if you're buying a local retail unit, you can expect to have massive performance with ray tracing capabilities courtesy of RTX.
However, this probably is one of the things that contributes to the hefty size of the StudioBook Pro X. It's a bit of a chonker in terms of thickness, and it weighs 2.5kg, which is a little bit more than I'm used to.
16:10 colour-accurate display
Another standout feature is the four-sided NanoEdge display, which allows for a 16:10 ratio, providing 17" of screen real estate within a 15" form factor. This means you get more screen with less size, which is definitely a boon for creators on the go. The tall-ness of the 16:10 took some getting used to, but is great once you get past it.
As a laptop designed for creators, it understandably has a modest refresh rate of 60Hz. What makes it great is that it is Pantone-validated with 97% DCI-P3 coverage and Delta-E < 1.5 colour accuracy. Professional standards are usually Delta-E < 2, so you know that the StudioBook Pro X will definitely deliver on that aspect. One disappointing thing, however, was that there was no option to upgrade to a 4K display from the standard FHD it carries.
It folds flat though, so there's that.
Oh, and ASUS managed to fit in a webcam despite the ultra-slim bezels, which is a plus - however it doesn't support facial recognition. But no worries, as there's a fingerprint scanner located to the right of the touchpad.
ASUS ScreenPad 2.0
Now, the first thing you will notice when you power it on is undoubtedly the ASUS ScreenPad 2.0. Unlike your vanilla touchpads or the ASUS NumberPad, the ScreenPad 2.0 is a fully functioning touchscreen display. It has a ton of features, including the aforementioned numberpad, handwriting recognition, an app navigator, task groups, and more.
However, when not using a mouse I prefer to turn it off, because the cursor will travel between the two screens in touch pad mode, which can get exceedingly annoying when you're trying to open up a program from the taskbar. As I'm not the target audience for this laptop, I found myself using it to display my Spotify playlist most of the time. (I know - somewhere across the ocean, ASUS product engineers are weeping. I'm sorry.)
Of course, it also eats up more battery when it's turned on all the time. One good thing is that you can adjust the resolution and refresh rate of the touchpad, which is handy if you want a crystal clear display to use as image references while digital painting for example. I can envision content creators making great use of this secondary display, though as a boring ol' writer I found it too small to use as a second screen for referencing articles (hence its use as a glorified music player).
Comprehensive I/O ports
Another boon for creators is the full-range of I/O ports, including an SD Card reader and two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports that support DisplayPort 1.4 up to 40Gbps.
On top of that, it has a generous three USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A ports, a HDMI 2.0 port, an RJ45 Ethernet port, a 3.5mm audio combo jack (yes!) and of course, a Kensington lock so your colleague won't walk away with your RM24,000 laptop. Yes, that's what the local retail unit is priced at.
An amazing typing experience
One perk of having such a thick chassis is the ability to accommodate a deep keyboard, which I personally prefer. None of that shallow chiclet bullshit here, this is straight-up a deep-travel keyboard that feels damn good to type on.
The keyboard layout is great, and while the full-sized arrow keys are somewhat nested into the main cluster, you can easily tell them apart due to the different texture on its keycaps.
There are 3 brightness levels to choose from, and while they were decently bright, there was some light bleeding around the edges, which is especially noticeable on the top row due to the angle you're sitting.
The function keys also have a ton of handy shortcuts, including toggling the ScreenPad between full functionality, touchpad only, and off modes. The presence of a full-sized numpad is also a blessing for those who work with numbers, though it does make the digital option on the ScreenPad redundant.
Great battery life
This non-standard review unit on hand contains a 63Wh battery, as opposed to the substantially larger 95Wh one you'll get on local retail units. I tested it on Battery Eater using Classic Mode, which simulates creative tasks on a loop, and Reader Mode, which simulates more casual tasks such as web browsing.
On the former, it lasted slightly over 2 hours, while Reader Mode netted a whopping total of 7 hours before giving up on life. Of course, real-world use would see a mixture of the two usage scenarios, so you can expect a number somewhere in between depending on how heavy your workload is.
The power brick is a pretty standard size and weight for these kinds of laptops, though it does have a rather fancy textured finish.
Opening it up, you'll see 2 large fans supported by generous vents on the bottom, top, and back of the laptop, along with 3 heat pipes. From our limited testing, temperatures remain within comfortable range.
Our unit comes equipped with 32GB of RAM, but there's two more slots to upgrade to 64GB (ECC supported) if desired. There's also an extra m.2 slot for expandable storage.
Alright, so I mentioned that I wouldn't touch much on performance due to this being a non-standard review unit (take a shot for every time I've mentioned that), but it just doesn't feel right to conclude this review without the usual battery of tests.
Accordingly to the official product page, you can supposedly spec the StudioBook Pro X with up to 2 SSDs in a CPU-attached RAID 0 configuration, but unfortunately our unit only comes with a single 512GB SSD :') However, the speeds are still pretty fast, as shown in the CrystalDiskMark readout below:
Apart from the usual synthetic benchmarks, we also ran the laptop through a couple of gaming benchmarks just for the heck of it - hey, who says content creators can't take a break and have fun once in a while?
As you can see, our model is not a gaming machine by any means (nor is it meant to be), but you could probably get away with a game or two of older mainstream esports titles like CS:GO and Dota 2 on lower settings.
Buy or no buy?
Design-wise, the ProArt StudioBook Pro X has a ton to offer - RTX Quadro graphics, support for ECC memory, a colour-accurate 17" screen that fits within a 15" chassis, comprehensive I/O ports, and of course, the ScreenPad 2.0 which opens up a whole slew of opportunities for creators. Clearly, this is a machine purpose-built for a specific target audience in mind; if you're a designer, animator, engineer, or creator who appreciates a stable workstation with multitasking potential, the StudioBook Pro X is an excellent offering from ASUS.
Unfortunately, we are unable to comment on its price to performance value due to the reasons mentioned (many, many times) above.
For reference, the Malaysian retail unit comes with an Intel® Xeon® E-2276M processor,
NVIDIA® Quadro® RTX 5000 16GB, 1TB of PCIe SSD storage, and retails for RM23,999.
To find out more, we'll just leave the official product link here so you can check out the official specs.