ASUS’ New Era of CoPilot+ Laptops Takes Aim at Apple and Microsoft

ASUS’ New Era of CoPilot+ Laptops Takes Aim at Apple and Microsoft

As it has been all year long (and it feels like longer), AI is the hot topic at Computex, and ASUS has just announced a slew of new AI Windows laptops covering everything from its Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand through to creative professional laptops under the ProArt label, plus a few new everyday usage Vivobook models.

Confusingly, ASUS has announced these new laptops with the line that they’re ushering in “a new era of Copilot+ PCs”, which I guess is technically true – the new laptops are based on AMD’s fancy new Ryzen AI 300 processors rather than the Qualcomm Snapdragons found in the first wave of announced Copilot+ machines.

It’s just that… hang on, let me check my watch… yeah, that prior era was just under a fortnight ago, and you can’t actually buy the first wave of Copilot+ PCs yet anyway – they won’t be out until mid-month. Call me a pedant if you must, but I’m not certain that eras work that way, ASUS!

I could not not include this image. Image: ASUS.

My own temporal quibbles aside, what ASUS has to show off is certainly interesting, but then ASUS has a long history of some genuinely interesting innovation in the laptop space. Not everything has always landed equally of course – I have long term memories of an early ASUS launch here in Australia where they desperately tried to show off an in-laptop TV tuner that failed spectacularly – but I’ll always give companies credit for trying something different.

ASUS actually did show off these laptops to media in Sydney recently as part of its launch of the Vivobook S 15 alongside all the early Copilot+ PC hype, though at the time company representatives were unwilling to go into too much detail about the underlying specifications of their new machines. That undoubtedly because of the underlying hardware, and it really wasn’t hard to guess that devices they didn’t want to talk about might have as-yet-unannounced hardware lurking under the hood.

ProArt laptops come gunning for Apple

It’s not exactly a secret that one of the big pitches for CoPilot+ PCs has been to try to wrest some creative users away from their beloved MacBook Pro with the M3 chip.

ASUS’ particular creative branding here is as “ProArt” PCs, and its new range encompasses three models, the ProArt P16, ProArt PX13 and ProArt PZ13. 

The big lad here is the ProArt P16, and as the name suggests, it’s a 16 inch laptop running with an AMD Ryzen AI 9 HX 370 processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 that ASUS states gives it 50 TOPS NPU performance from the CPU and 321 TOPS from the GPU – better, in simpler terms than the first wave of Qualcomm-based Copilot+ PCs – all in a frame that measures in at 14.9mm thin with a carrying weight of 1.85kg. Comparatively, packing a MacBook Pro M3 into your bag will hit you with at least 2.14kg of carrying weight.

ASUS ProArt Laptop range. Image: ASUS

The mid-range sibling to the ProArt P16 is the ProArt PX13, a lighter (1.38kg) convertible laptop packing in a 3K capable OLED screen, also running on the same AMD Ryzen AI 9 HX 370 platform. Convertibles have their place, though I’ve long struggled trying to work out who’s getting excited about the “tent” functionality of a 360 degree hinge. Can anyone enlighten me here about the creative business case there?

Then there’s ASUS’ take not so much on a MacBook, but instead the Microsoft Surface Pro, by way of the ProArt PZ13. Like Surface Pro devices, this is a tablet PC with a detachable keyboard, boasting a 3K OLED screen, but also the only member of the new ProArt family not to opt for an AMD processor under the hood. 

Like the already announced Vivobook S 15, it utilises a Qualcomm Snapdragon X series processor, so while it’s considerably more portable at only 850 grams – I guess it’s also taking on the iPad Pro line in that sense – it would be less powerful in pure AI graphics crunching terms than its bigger siblings.

All ProArt laptops include a free three-month Adobe Creative Suite subscription and a free six-month CapCut Pro subscription, which are nice freebies, though it’s pretty hard to imagine creative image professionals who aren’t already firmly planted into the Creative Cloud ecosystem already, so unless you can stack them, I suspect a bunch of those subscriptions will go unused.

We’ve got a full rundown on the ProArt laptops and their features here.

Slimming down with the Zenbook S 16

The ProArt P16 isn’t ASUS’ only new 16 incher, however, with the freshly announced Zenbook S16 also shown off for the first time (well, in a public way, anyway). 

Described by ASUS as “a stunning fusion of art and technology” – I’m not sure I want my laptop to deliver me concussions, ASUS, but I get what you’re pitching for there, really – the Zenbook S16 shaves even a few more grams off compared to the ProArt P16, coming in at just 1.5kg. It’s powered by a AMD Ryzen AI 9 HX 370 processor with a vapour cooling system to stop it cooking itself, because heat dissipation is a genuine challenge for very thin and light laptops. 

ASUS Zenbook S 16. Image: ASUS

One area where the Zenbook S 16 looks to impress is in connectivity, because many slender laptops, even in the larger 16 inch size do drop back to just a few side ports. The Zenbook S16 will offer up dual USB 4, USB 3.2 Type A, HDMI, SD card reader and an audio jack into its slender sides, giving it plenty of potential for hooking up to desktop peripherals when you’re not on the go. The Zenbook S 16’s webcam is Windows Hello ready, and the display is a 3K 120Hz capable panel backed up by a six speaker system, giving it potential for less work-focused streaming video binges after hours.

What may be interesting here – beyond the terrible marketing brand “Ceraluminum” (it’s even hard to say out loud, try it three times if you doubt me) for its casing – is how well the Zenbook S 16 manages its battery life. 

If AMD and ASUS are on the level in performance terms, it should be a nicely quick machine, but making it quite so light does limit how you power the Zenbook S 16, because there’s only going to be so much space for batteries in the chassis. We’ll have to wait until we can independently test it out to be sure.

AI boosted TUF laptops

On the gaming side, ASUS unveiled two new models in its own TUF (The Ultimate Force) more affordable range of gaming laptops, by way of the 14 inch TUF Gaming A14 and 16 inch TUF Gaming A16 laptops. ASUS’ premium gaming line remains its ROG (Republic of Gamers) laptops, with the TUF models typically having slightly cut-down specifications but with price points that are a tad more wallet-friendly, not that ASUS has announced any pricing for any of its new laptops as yet.

Mind you, the TUF A14 and TUF A16 on paper might just be able to give their bigger ROG siblings a run for less money. Like the bigger ProArt laptops, here you’re looking at AMD Ryzen AI 9 HX 370 processors, and while you don’t appear to get OLED screen options, you can (money depending) bump them all the way up to RTX 4070 GPUs for a little more sweet gaming power. 

ASUS TUF. Image: ASUS

The acceleration of NPU support could make the new TUF laptops real value contenders, though the flipside here – and it’s really true across the whole board – is that it’s not as though ASUS has an exclusive on new AMD and Intel processors, with plenty of its competitors announcing AI-boosted products at Computex.

Then there’s the broader question of what uses all that NPU power is going to be put to. Much of ASUS’ pitch – and again, the same approaches are being taken by its competitors – are largely around general improved performance and just a few mostly image-centric applications to date. Outside of that, you’ve got Microsoft promising real time language translation on device and, of course, Recall.

For the record, I’m still horrified by the implications of Recall, and I reckon anyone with even an inkling of an idea about privacy should be too.

Image: ASUS


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