Asus Zenbook Pro 16X vs. Apple MacBook Pro 16: Which One Wins?

The MacBook Pro 16 from Apple is one of the best laptops you can buy today, with a sleek design, gorgeous display, top-notch performance, and industry-leading battery life. If you’re a creator, it’s been the laptop of choice since its introduction in late 2021. It’s important to note that Apple has announced new versions of its MacBook Pros that upgrade to M2 Pro and M2 Max CPUs, which we’ve measured so far, But it will almost certainly be faster than the previous M1 Pro and Max models.

The Asus ZenBook Pro 16X is a strong contender, though it’s almost as fast at creative tasks and offers a host of innovative features. The latest ZenBook Pro 16X, which was just introduced at CES 2023, adds even more, making it even more competitive. Can the update help content creators come out on top?

Specifications

Asus ZenBook Pro 16X Apple Macbook Pro 16
Dimensions 13.98″ x 9.88″ x 0.67″. 14.01″ x 9.77″ x 0.66″.
Weight 5.3 lbs 4.8 pounds
Healer Intel Core i7-12700H
Intel Core i9-13900H
Intel Core i-13905H
Apple M2 Pro
Apple M2 Max
graphics NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080
Integrated Apple GPU
RAM 16 gigabytes
32 GB
64 GB
16 gigabytes
32 GB
64 GB (M1 max)
an offer 16.0-inch 16:10 3.2K (3200 x 2000) OLED at 120Hz
16.0-inch 16:10 4K+ (3840 x 2400) OLED at 60Hz
16.2-inch 16:10 Liquid Retina XDR (3456 x 2234) @ 120Hz
storage 512 GB
2 terabytes
512 GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
4TB SSD
8TB SSD
touches yes number
ports 1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 3.5mm audio jack
1 full size SD card reader
3 USB-C 4 ports with Thunderbolt 4 port
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 3.5mm audio jack
1 x SD Card Reader
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
Webcam 1080p infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello 1080p
Operating System Windows 11 operating system Maxus Monterrey
battery 96 Wh 100 watts / hour
price to be announced later on $2,499 or more
evaluation It has not been reviewed yet 5 out of 5 stars (M1 version)

Design

The MacBook Pro 16 is simple in its design, with an all-aluminium CNC-machined unibody chassis that’s a bit boxy. However, it exudes style and quality, with an incredibly solid chassis that makes it look like one of the best laptops ever made. The screen edges are thin, with only a notch in the middle to accommodate a 1080p webcam that breaks up the look. You can get it in silver or gray, either way, you’ll get an uncomplicated yet incredibly well-built laptop.

ZenBook Pro 16X is the polar opposite. When closed, its all-metal chassis is an example of today’s minimalist aesthetic, with simple lines and the new Star Trek-like Asus logo just on the lid. But open the screen and things are completely different. First of all, the keyboard is raised at an angle, which Asus calls Active Aerodynamic System Ultra mode which provides more airflow to the inside of the chassis and props the keyboard up at an angle.

The touch-sensitive Asus Dial sits next to the touchpad, allowing for custom controls in applications such as Adobe’s Creative Suite. The keyboard supports per-key RGB backlighting and side LED lighting that reacts to system events. It’s packed with features you won’t find with the more compact MacBook Pro 16.

Asus also switched to a larger touchpad for the latest ZenBook Pro 16X, which is a welcome change.

Speaking of the keyboard, we haven’t tried this version yet, but the previous generation had large keycaps with plenty of spacing and the keys are light and fast, but the angle took a little getting used to. The MacBook Pro 16 uses Apple’s Magic Keyboard, which is less deep, but has excellent key spacing and key spacing, as well as the most accurate and symmetrical keys available on a keyboard today.

The MacBook Pro 16 also has a massive Force Touch trackpad that sets the standard for precision and comfort. Asus also switched to a larger touchpad for the latest ZenBook Pro 16X, which is a welcome change. Again, we haven’t tested it, but it’s big enough (although not as big as the MacBook Pro 16) and houses Asus’ NumberPad 2.0 LED numeric keypad with haptic feedback.

Both laptops have excellent connectivity, with the MacBook offering an additional Thunderbolt 4-enabled port and a MagSafe power connector. The ZenBook Pro 16X has a faster wireless connection, and both laptops feature 1080p webcams. Asus uses facial recognition to log in without a password, while the MacBook uses the Touch ID fingerprint reader.

performance

Side view of the Apple MacBook Pro showing the keyboard surface and ports.

The MacBook Pro 16 can be equipped with up to 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 a real-world PugetBench Premiere Pro test running a live version of the Adobe Premiere Pro video-editing application. The laptop computer excels in creative applications and can easily handle even the most demanding productivity workflows. M2 version will be faster.

It’s interesting to see how the ZenBook Pro 16X competes in performance. We tested the previous model with a 45-watt, 14-core (six performance, eight efficiency), 20-thread Core i7-12700H processor and Nvidia RTX 3060. It was 11% slower in PugetBench but noticeably faster in Cinebench R23. When configured with the faster 13th Gen 45W Intel Core i9-13905H processor with the same cores and thread count, but faster Turbo Boost speed, plus an ultra-fast RTX 4080 GPU, we expect the ZenBook to give the MacBook Pro 16 a run for his 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 be faster than the MacBook Pro 16. But this is not yet clear.

Notably, Asus and Intel collaborated on a unique system-on-unit design that bundles the CPU and RAM into a single component. This shortens the distance between the CPU and RAM, increases system cooling efficiency, and reduces motherboard size. It also made room for more GPU components, and Asus offers up to 155 watts total TDP for the CPU and GPU. This should maximize performance, and hopefully Asus will send us the high-end model for testing as a more direct comparison to the MacBook Pro 16.

Apple’s new M2 chips will be the fastest yet, so benchmarks will be more important in determining which of these laptops is faster for creators.

an offer

Asus ZenBook Pro 16X frontal view showing the screen and keyboard deck.

You can’t complain about the MacBook Pro 16’s 16.2-inch 16:10 mini-LED XDR display that runs at a resolution of 3456 x 2234 and 120Hz. It delivers colors that are wide enough (though not as wide as some monitors) with good accuracy, to go along with impressive brightness and deep contrast. It’s a nice screen suitable for creative work and has some of the best HDR support out there.

ZenBook Pro 16X will come in two display options, both of which are OLED. The first is a 16.0-inch 16:10 3.2K (3200 x 2000) panel running at 120Hz, and the second is a 4K+ (3840 x 2400) screen running at 60Hz. Both are virtually guaranteed to provide wider, more accurate colors and just as deep contrast, but they aren’t likely to be as bright as a MacBook display. This means that it will be better for creative types thanks to wider and more accurate colors, but not so good for media consumers due to the HDR technology that is likely to be somewhat lower quality.

Both laptops have great displays. Which is better comes first from our ability to test the ZenBook display and then decide whether better color or better HDR is more important to you.

The MacBook Pro 16 has four speakers that provide the best sound on a laptop today. The ZenBook Pro 16X will come with six speakers, and we can’t wait to hear it.

Mobility

Side view of MacBook Pro port identification.

Both laptops are roughly equal in size, while the ZenBook Pro 16X is half a pound heavier. Both are portable, but you’ll feel the heft and weight in your backpack.

One area where the MacBook Pro 16 is likely to maintain its lead is in battery life. It’s an incredibly long-lasting machine for someone with a lot of power, and the ZenBook Pro 16X isn’t likely to come close.

A fierce battle that needs some tests to confirm

It’s hard to say what the best laptop is without reviewing the ZenBook Pro 16X. It will likely be faster than the MacBook Pro 16, and will provide more content creator-friendly offerings. But we won’t know that until we get our hands on it. We’re also still looking forward to testing Apple’s latest and greatest chips; M2 Pro and M2 Max.

Either way, they’re both very expensive laptops (although we don’t know the ZenBook’s final price yet), with the MacBook Pro 16 maxing out at over $6,000 when fully configured, so it won’t be an easy decision. The ZenBook is a tougher laptop with more features to tinker with, and that can be a good or a bad thing. But for creators, there’s a good chance the ZenBook Pro 16X will come out on top as a solid Windows alternative.

Editors’ recommendations






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