The ProArt StudioBook 15 ($1,999 as tested) from Asus is a mobile workstation flavored for the mainstream. Designated an Nvidia GeForce RTX Studio model, it delivers strong creative performance at a lower price than the business-savvy HP ZBook 15 G6, the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 2, and the Dell Precision 7540, including a powerful 6GB GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card. Though it serves up a beautiful 4K screen in style, its puzzling omissions of a webcam, Thunderbolt 3, and biometric features make it a distant second choice behind the MSI P65 Creator, which offers all three for less money.
True Desktop-Replacement Hardware
The StudioBook 15’s key specifications (in the model H500GV-XS76 configuration tested here) include an Intel Core i7-9750H six-core, 12-thread processor (2.6GHz base and up to 4.6GHz turbo), the above-mentioned Nvidia GPU, 32GB of DDR4 memory, and a 1TB solid-state drive with Windows 10 Pro that’s really two 512GB drives striped in RAID 0. System memory tops out at an interesting, seldom-seen 48GB, as 16GB is soldered/non-removable and the one DIMM slot accepts up to a 32GB module. The standard warranty is unfortunately just one year.
My configuration is the starting point; for nearly twice the price, the $3,899 W500G5T-XS77 model bumps the memory to 48GB, doubles the storage to 2TB, and vaults the GPU to an all-powerful 16GB Quadro RTX 5000 to go toe-to-toe with the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition.
But that loftily priced configuration is meant for an entirely different market. The bread-and-butter product is, no doubt, the model I’m reviewing. It’s a fine kit for the money as far as hardware goes; Acer’s ConceptD 7 CN715-71-70LR offers just half the memory (16GB) for $2,299, though MSI’s P65 Creator undercuts it by $100 to $200 in its Creator-1084 guise.
The Dell Precision, HP ZBook, and Lenovo ThinkPad models I mentioned in the intro aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons with the StudioBook 15. Their enterprise focus means they offer a lot of technologies that an individual wouldn’t need (and are not offered in the StudioBook 15), such as Intel vPro remote management and SmartCard readers.
Those features doubtless raise their prices, but not as much as their Nvidia Quadro graphics cards do. I built the Dell Precision 7540 out to $3,055 on Dell’s website with a 6GB Quadro RTX 3000, the workstation equivalent of the 6GB RTX 2060 in my StudioBook 15. It’s a formidable premium that, in the absence of absolute requirements for such hardware, might not buy you better results. Hitting this fact further home are the StudioBook 15’s independent software vendor (ISV) certifications, which are rarely seen outside of enterprise-grade notebooks. (See the Asus product page for a list of tested apps.)
A Sleek Design
The StudioBook’s blue-gray outsides give it a sleek, professional look. Its chassis, measuring 0.8 by 14.2 by 9.9 inches, is trim for its screen size. At 4.4 pounds, it’s just a smidge heavier than the MSI P65 Creator (4.2 pounds) and still on the light side for a laptop that packs this much performance.
The build quality is topnotch. The keyboard surround, the palm rest, and the lid backing are magnesium alloy, the latter with a fine brushed pattern that glints in bright light.
The rest of the laptop is plastic, but it’s hard to tell at a glance. The chassis is strong and flex-free.
The StudioBook 15’s gorgeous 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) display is surrounded by thin bezels and has an anti-glare finish to keep reflections down. It has wide viewing angles and is downright dazzling at maximum brightness.
Asus claims the panel covers 100 percent of the Adobe RGB color gamut, which I didn’t verify, but its rich hue doesn’t leave much to question. The included MyAsus app lets you dial in the color temperature to your needs.
Great Layout, Lackluster Feel
This Asus gets major points for its productive keyboard layout. The function keys (F1 through F12) are clustered in groups of four; a column of Delete, Home, Page Up, Page Down, and End keys line the right side; the arrow keys, while not full-size, are in the intuitive inverted-T arrangement; and there’s even a set of dedicated media playback keys. The white backlighting has three brightness levels.
All those upsides make it even more unfortunate that the typing experience is mediocre. The key travel distance is too shallow to provide more than spectral feedback; it’s like tapping lifeless plastic squares.
The StudioBook 15’s buttonless touchpad, meanwhile, is centered within the palm rest, instead of against the main part of the keyboard layout…
Despite that, I had no issues with my right palm (which is directly over the pad, hence touchpads are usually centered with the keyboard) accidentally registering. The pad is average-size and has good tactile clicking action.
Don’t Look, Ma: No Webcam
The StudioBook 15’s lack of a webcam is surprising. It has an array microphone for voice calls, but you’ll need to invest in an external camera to join your friends’ or coworkers’ video chats. It also has no built-in biometric features, such as a fingerprint reader (let alone an IR face recognition webcam) for Windows Hello, which a professional-oriented system should have.
Another omission on a notebook this expensive is Thunderbolt 3. A USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port on the system’s right edge, which supports DisplayPort over USB-C, is mild consolation.
Other connectivity over there includes a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports and a Kensington-style cable lock slot. There’s no media card reader.
Left-edge connectivity includes the power jack, Gigabit Ethernet, an HDMI video output, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, a microphone jack, and an audio combo jack. An Intel AX200 card provides Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.
The StudioBook 15 has a great-sounding pair of speakers under its front corners with a very convincing surround sound effect.
They aim downward, and thus project best when the notebook is sitting on a hard surface.
Performance & Benchmarks
One thing we’re not short on is mobile workstation reviews, which pack the charts below. The Dell Precision 7540 is the most formidable with its eight-core Xeon CPU and a 16GB Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000, while the Razer uses the same basic GPU in a power-limited Max-Q guise.
The least powerful system is the MSI Prestige 15, whose low-clocked six-core CPU is rated for just 15 watts (the others are all 45-watters).
Throughout my testing the StudioBook 15’s two cooling fans remained quiet, if not inaudible, with just the sound of air being pushed through the exhaust outlets. The chassis also didn’t develop any hotspots. Under the all-important day-to-day usage scenario, I couldn’t tell if the fans were on or not. That’s always a blessing; nothing is more annoying than a laptop’s fans constantly going on and off.
Our first test is UL’s PCMark 10, a holistic performance suite that simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We use it to assess overall system performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheeting, web browsing, and videoconferencing. PCMark 8, meanwhile, has a storage subtest that we use to assess the speed of the system’s boot drive. Both tests yield a proprietary numeric score; higher numbers are better.
I consider the StudioBook 15’s slightly low score in PCMark 10 to be an anomaly, as it performed much more competitively in all our other tests. I’m not 100 percent sure what held it back, but I suspect the screen: A laptop having a 4K native resolution does sometimes stress the machine more on this specific test versus a 1080p panel. It certainly wasn’t storage bandwidth, as its PCMark 8 score is on par with the others.
Next up is a pair of CPU-crunching tests. Cinebench R15 stresses all available processor cores and threads while rendering a complex image, while in our Handbrake video editing test we transcode a 12-minute clip of 4K video down to 1080p.
The StudioBook 15 produced the leading scores among the six-core notebooks, topping all but the eight-core Dell. Asus advertises this notebook as having no CPU throttling, and while I can’t say the others did or did not throttle, the StudioBook was certainly able to maximize its CPU performance in the short (Cinebench) and long (Handbrake) hauls.
With workstations like these, we also use POV-Ray 3.7 for CPU assessment. This test uses ray tracing to render a three-dimensional image. (Note that it doesn’t use the ray tracing features of Nvidia’s RTX-class GPUs; this is purely CPU-focused.) The StudioBook 15 finished with a great time, leading the Razer by a long margin despite using the same CPU.
The final test in this section is photo editing. We use an early 2018 release of Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud to apply 10 complex filters and effects to a standard JPEG image, timing each operation and adding up the totals. This test is not as CPU-focused as Cinebench or Handbrake, bringing the performance of the storage subsystem, memory, and GPU into play.
While it didn’t top the charts here, the StudioBook 15’s time indicates it would have no problem with advanced photo-editing duties.
Workstation and Graphics Tests
We use two benchmark suites to gauge the gaming performance potential of a PC. In the first, UL’s 3DMark, we run two DirectX 11-driven subtests, the mainstream Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which is more suited to gaming rigs. Our other graphics benchmark is Unigine Corp.’s Superposition, which uses a different rendering engine to produce a complex 3D scene.
Though not explicitly geared for gaming, there’s nothing preventing the StudioBook 15 from doing so; its GeForce RTX 2060 scored very well in both tests, meeting the smooth 60fps mark in Superposition at the 1080p high preset. Its performance is on par with a GeForce RTX 2060-equipped gaming notebook in this regard.
Now let’s move on to the workstation-focused Cinebench R15 OpenGL test, which taps the hardware rendering capabilities of the GPU.
The StudioBook 15’s GeForce card is outmatched by the Quadros in the others in OpenGL tasks like this. It’s still capable, just not nearly as fast.
Our next, and most workstation-savvy, benchmark is SPECviewperf 13, which renders and rotates wireframe models using real-world viewsets from popular ISV apps. The StudioBook 15 had respectable performance in the Creo and Maya viewsets—it was never going to catch the Quadro RTX 5000-powered Dell and Razer—but it trailed in SolidWorks by a greater degree, indicating the Quadros are, again, better suited for some tasks.
Battery Rundown Test
For our last benchmark, we measure a laptop’s unplugged runtime while playing a locally stored video with screen brightness at 50 percent and audio volume at 100 percent. We use the notebook’s energy-saving rather than balanced or other power profile, turn off Wi-Fi, and even disable keyboard backlighting to squeeze as much life as possible out of the system.
The MSI and especially the Razer both outlasted the StudioBook 15, but its roughly six and a half hours is comfortably above the minimum four-hour runtime we look for in powerful notebooks.
Close, But Missing Some Essentials
The Asus ProArt StudioBook 15 offers desktop-replacement performance in a sleek 15.6-inch chassis. Its build quality is faultless, and its 4K screen is fabulous for any kind of creative work or entertainment.
But its lack of a webcam, Thunderbolt 3, and built-in biometric features are hard to overlook at this price, especially when MSI’s P65 Creator doesn’t leave them out and is slightly less expensive. The MSI remains our top choice for a 15.6-inch mainstream mobile workstation.
Asus ProArt StudioBook 15 Specs
|Processor||Intel Core i7-9750H|
|Processor Speed||2.6 GHz|
|RAM (as Tested)||32 GB|
|Boot Drive Type||SSD|
|Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)||1 TB|
|Screen Size||15.6 inches|
|Native Display Resolution||3840 by 2160|
|Variable Refresh Support||None|
|Screen Refresh Rate||60 Hz|
|Graphics Processor||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060|
|Graphics Memory||6 GB|
|Wireless Networking||802.11ax, Bluetooth|
|Dimensions (HWD)||0.8 by 14.2 by 9.9 inches|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Pro|
|Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes)||6:27|