Reviews

Asus ExpertBook B9 Review

When you go shopping for a new laptop to keep you connected and working on the go, you’re on the lookout for something both light, powerful and functional. That’s where Asus has positioned the ExpertBook B9, with the tagline ‘The master of lightness and power’. While it’s a little kitschy for a tagline, the follow up: ‘The world’s lightest 14” business laptop’ certainly turned my head. 

Asus have sent over an ExpertBook B9 for review. It comes with a 14-inch Full HD resolution display powered by an Intel UHD 620 Graphics card and the latest 10th gen Intel core i7 processor (there is an option for an i5 too). The laptop also includes 16GB RAM and a whopping 2TB of storage and powering it all, a 66Wh battery. 

The ExpertBook B9 sells for $3,199 here in Australia, so it’s a fairly big price for a laptop, but what can it offer you? Well, I’ve been using the laptop for a couple of weeks and here’s what I found. 

To start with, I love the ultra-thin form-factors, but I also prefer the functionality of full-sized ports – dongle life can be frustrating living on a single, or even dual USB-C port – as well as a light and durable laptop. That’s where a more business focused laptop like the ExpertBook B9 comes in. 

It’s a business laptop, but that’s not to say the ExpertBook B9 is what most people think of as a business laptop. It’s far from clunky, it’s sleek, weighs less than a kilo and fits a 14-inch display into a tiny little body that’s only a little longer than some of the ultra-thins and when closed it’s surprisingly compact. 

The display is non-touch, but has a nice matte overlay which makes it easier to read in higher glare environments. The display attaches with a sturdy hinge which can move up to 180-degrees if needed.

The lack of bezel surrounding the display shows how Asus got this screen into the chassis, but even with those minimal bezels they’ve even included a Windows Hello compatible webcam (with IR Camera) at the top of the display, which is lightning fast,works in the dark and is pretty decent quality on a video call – but it is still only 720p resolution. You can also manually disable the camera with a tiny slider which is awesome for privacy. 

The laptop itself is a looker too. The Star Black colour is mostly black, but flecked with a glitter effect like a night sky which surrounds the chromed Asus logo on the lid, and around the keyboard which is slightly recessed due to it being spill resistant (accidents happen).

It’s not just a spill resistant keyboard, this thing is built to last. From the magnesium‑lithium alloy chassis which makes it super light, it’s also incredibly tough with a MIL-STD 810G US rating for drops, durability and more.

I would like to see an improvement to the foam pads on the base, they cushion the laptop nicely when placing it down, but offer no resistance when keeping it in place on a surface. Some rubber would be nice.

The keyboard is very responsive to type on with a little bit of travel on the nicely spaced keys, and there’s a tiny bit of springback to the keys as you type.. The typing experience is enhanced with the hinge design. Called ErgoLift, the hinge tilts the keyboard down slightly which makes it easier to type on a flat surface, though can be a bit uncomfortable on the lap after you’ve watched a movie or two.

That hinge also lifts the laptop off any surface you use, creating a nicely ventilated area underneath near the vent for air to move freely and keep it cool. It’s probably thanks to this that I don’t recall hearing a fan, even when running some games – though there’s a Fan Profile option in the myAsus software for you to configure if you do. 

The trackpad is quite nice to use and works quite well with most applications, or you can always plug in a mouse or attach it wirelessly.

The hero of the trackpad though is the ability to turn it into a Numpad. A long press on the capacitive button on the trackpad lights up the numbers and lets you automatically begin entering data. You can still use the trackpad with no issues at all – seriously, magic. 

It’s hard to fault the sound on the ExpertBook, it’s got Harman Kardon certified speakers which sound fantastic though can be a bit muted on speech. There’s four omni-directional mic’s built-in to ensure it picks up your voice for video calls, they work well too. 

The ExpertBook B9 has a wonderful array of ports, including dual Thunderbolt 3 compatible USB-C ports, a full-sized USB 3.1 Type-A port and both a HDMI and micro-HDMI port, though this is for use as your ethernet connector via the RJ45 to micro HDMI adapter included in the box.  You have a combo headphone/mic jack on the side as well, and finally a kensington lock hole to let you secure it. 

One thing I would like to see is a second USB-C port which would make it more convenient for charging no matter where you sit. You could also utilise a secondary port for other things like a USB-C to RJ45 adapter, doing away with the need for the micro HDMI adapter, which if you lose it, you’re not going to be able to replace it easily.

micro HDMI to RJ45 adapter

Charging is easy, and fast – you can get to 60% charge in 39 minutes – but the powerhouse of a battery just keeps on going. Running at 50% brightness, I charged my phone, I surfed the web, watched movies and more and couldn’t kill the battery in a day. 

I didn’t see the 24 hour battery life that Asus claimed, though my use was fairly media heavy, I did get on average about 16-18 hours of solid use out of the laptop though which is impressive for any laptop.

Wirelessly, the laptop includes support for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.0. you’ll see this a fair bit in new laptops this year. Bluetooth works as usual and the updated Wi-Fi support is great, but I can’t test out the Wi-Fi 6 support yet as my router – and likely yours – doesn’t support it.  Wi-Fi 6 routers will appear and you’ll get those faster speeds when you connect – just make sure to use a VPN on any public Wi-Fi spots ;). 

Of course Windows 10 is included on the laptop, Pro for this model though Home is an option on the website – and you get a trial of Microsoft Office, but only the customary trial period. 

There’s a bit of bloatware, you get Mcafee Personal Security, and there’s a few games like Candy Crush in there ready for you to uninstall use.

Of course Asus includes their own software. The MyAsus panel does need you to login or setup an account to get updates, but there’s not much to it and provides some decent functionality. The Asus Business Manager software is included which helps admins do more behind the scenes stuff.

Performance wise, the laptop ran well. I installed Steam and let loose with some remastered Command and Conquer, as well as some Tomb Raider. It’s not a gaming powerhouse, so the graphics were scaled back but it gets you there.

Side-note:
Asus included a lovely sleeve with the ExpertBook B9 they shipped me, and it’s just the ticket for sliding it in and out of a bag, briefcase or backpack. 

A growing number of phone makers have been including a very basic tpu case in their boxes for a while now, I’d love to see the trend move to laptops. 

Should you buy it?
Overall, this laptop is a killer. It’s certainly indicative of what Asus has to offer on the laptop front that this business machine is something you could solidly consider for home use without batting an eye. 

The laptop is so thin and light that going back to even my slim ultra-thin it felt heavy. On that alone it’s brilliant, but Asus included a MIL-Spec rating, so I’m not worried about handing it off to my 9-year old to do homework on, or watch YouTube.

The full-sized ports are another big plus, Asus has managed to include them without making the laptop too thick which is just amazing. 

At $3,199 it’s not going to be a light decision to purchase this notebook, but it’s pretty good value when you take into account the whole package. The Expertbook B9 impresses for business users, but it also makes for a tantaslising proposition for the personal user. 

If you’re in the market for a new business laptop – or a whole fleet of them for your business – you can get the Expertbook B9 in Australia from Asus resellers. 

Asus ExpertBook B9 Review
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