Strikingly trendy, with thoughtful features, a comfortable keyboard, a fantastic widescreen display and quiet operation, the ASUS ExpertBook B9 comes across as a near-perfect business laptop.
ASUS is better known as a manufacturer of mid-range laptops, game accessories and luxury ZenBook series models. However, the company has been offering business-class laptops for several years. These devices are mainly for work, and they can be recognized by the letter B in the code. ASUS ExperBook B9 is the latest addition to the corporate laptop category. It meets the latest trends in design and equipment.
But first, according to tradition, check out the technical characteristics of the hero of my review.
ASUS ExpertBook В9 specs
|Display||14″, 1920 × 1080 (60 Hz), IPS|
|CPU||Intel Core i5-10210U (4/8 cores/threads, 1.6-4.2 GHz);
Intel Core i7-10510U (4/8 cores/threads, 1.8-4.9 GHz) Intel Core i7-1165G7 (4/8 cores/threads, 2.8-4.7 GHz)
|RAM||LPDDR3 SDRAM, 2133 MHz, 8/16 GB
LPDDR4 SDRAM, 4266 MHz, 32 GB
|GPU||Intel UHD Graphics 620
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
|Storage||2 × Samsung PM981 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 512/1024/2048 GB
2 × Samsung PM981 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 2048 GB
|Ports||2 × USB 3.2 Gen 2 × 1 Type-C/Thunderbolt 4;
1 × USB 3.2 Gen 2 × 1 Type-A;
1 × HDMI;
1 × RJ45 (via Micro HDMI);
1 × TRS 3.5mm
|Network||IEEE 802.11ax (WiFi 6);
Ethernet 1 Gbps
|Weight||0.87 kg (33 Wh) / 0.995 kg (66 Wh)|
|Overall dimensions (L × H × D)||320 x 203 x 149 mm|
What’s in the box?
Here I was somewhat surprised. Usually, manufacturers try to put everything that is on the market in a business laptop set. This is especially true for packaging.
And then a laptop arrived in an ordinary mustard-colored cardboard box, where in a separate branded box was only the laptop itself, a 65 W power adapter with a sufficiently long cable, an interesting Micro HDMI-LAN adapter, as well as some documentation.
Sometimes a branded carrying case is also added to the bundle, but, unfortunately, not this time.
What’s interesting about ASUS ExpertBook B9?
During testing, I was convinced that ASUS ExpertBook B9 fully lives up to its name: it is a working machine aimed at professionals. The device supports the current level of ultraportable devices, the manufacturer focused on its lightness and battery life, as well as on the smaller details.
This is a fairly powerful business laptop with a 10th or 11th generation Intel processor, complemented by 16GB or 32GB of RAM and two 1TB and 2TB SSDs, respectively. You will also be pleasantly surprised by the extremely wide 14-inch 16:9 display with very thin bezels. The device has an excellent IR camera with Windows Hello and a fingerprint reader for owner identification.
The ExpertBook B9 proves that ASUS can create great business laptops. In a particularly compact and lightweight magnesium body, the manufacturer combines all kinds of technical improvements, such as a hidden Numpad. The battery life is excellent.
Quality premium design
When you first pick up a laptop, it’s surprisingly light. ExpertBook B9 weighs about 1 kg. Plus, ASUS also has a commendable tendency to ignore the gray, boring machines that are common in business segment. Thus, the Taiwanese company introduced an unusual, almost black color, which the developers called Star Black, and it makes a great impression at first sight.
Interestingly, under direct illumination, a pearlescent effect also appears, the surface shines in blue, green and red colors. A positive feature of this surface is that it does not collect visible greasy fingerprints, but, on the other hand, there is a possibility of slight scratches on the outside. Of course, with proper handling the surface will retain its original appearance for a long time.
Despite the fact that the laptop is very light, it can be opened with one hand. There is a small recess on the front panel that allows you to easily grip and lift the screen, the position of which can be adjusted with one hand.
This is possible due to the fact that the rear edge of the laptop lid sits at an angle of about 45° to the table top. That is, the back of the base is raised, which tilts the keyboard for ease of use and allows for better cooling. This is thanks to the ErgoLift hinge, which allows the lid to open. It is equipped with two hard plastic tabs for easier opening and protection of the structure. The maximum opening angle of the laptop is a full 180°. The hinge travel is smooth and, in my opinion, quite hard. The base cover contains integrated magnets.
ASUS claims the ExpertBook B9 has been tested to US military MIL-STD-810G standards. This allows it to withstand shock, falls, vibration, humidity, altitude and high/low temperatures. Not only that, the company itself also conducted its own tests to check how the hinge, ports, working panels withstand loads, as well as a test for the durability of the keyboard.
By the way, despite its small size, ASUS ExpertBook B9 has a full-size keyboard without a Numpad (by the way, it is hidden in the touchpad), but with long key travel and a fairly roomy palm rest. But more on that later.
As a business laptop, the ExpertBook B9 has most of the features you’d expect. It has all the latest I/O ports. So, on the left side there are two USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, which can also be used to charge a laptop. Nearby is a full-fledged HDMI connector for video and audio and a micro HDMI connector, which is here exclusively for connecting a LAN RJ45 adapter.
The right side of the laptop base contains a hole for a Kensington lock, designed for mechanical protection against thieves, one USB Type-A 3.1 gen. 2 and a combo audio jack for connecting a headset or headphones.
I really liked the quality of the materials. It’s so light you expect it to break at any second, but it turned out that the case is very durable.
By the way, I am always delighted with how much attention ASUS pays to the quality of keyboards in its laptops. They are always very comfortable, and well thought-out. The ASUS ExpertBook B9 has an almost black keyboard with white lettering. The letter and number markings are easy to read, even in moderate darkness, and there is a backlight with three intensity levels.
The top row of keys can quickly switch between the classic F1 – F12 and multimedia functionality to control volume, display brightness and the like. Switching is carried out using the Esc + Fn keys, indicating the status using the indicator in the Fn key. The CapsLock key and the power button, which are in the upper-right keyboard block, also have an indication directly in the key, a solution that I usually criticize. The main power button is also equipped with a diode and unfortunately it stays on continuously even when the laptop is on. By the way, this function may be blocked in the operating system. The Ctrl and Alt keys are located on both sides of the spacebar, the context menu can only be accessed via Fn + Right Ctrl. The arrows hide the Home, End and PgUp + Dn functions by half the height, which is fine for me. The Enter key is no different in size from the others, but I personally like it better when it is larger.
I worked, typed, and edited a lot using an ASUS ExpertBook B9 laptop. Even this review was written on it. And I had no complaints about the work of his keyboard. There was no need to get used it, I just turned it on and started working.
Touchpad with number pad
The touchpad is very wide, measuring 130 × 66 mm and has a smooth matte surface for navigation. The gestures are fast enough and the touchpad responds well. Whoever reads my reviews will know that I prefer the separate “mouse” buttons below the touchpad, but here it is again integrated into the touchpad. The built-in button can be pressed comfortably about half the distance from the bottom edge, the sound and hardness of pressing is about the limit of what I personally find comfortable. The touchpad itself is very convenient to use. It supports all Windows 10 gestures. It is a complete replacement for a computer mouse.
A digital NumPad is built into the touchpad, a peculiar feature of ASUS notebooks, at least for the second year in a row. NumPad is activated by pressing the upper right corner of the touchpad. It has a slightly different layout than the classic keyboard, but you can get used to it, and it will definitely speed up the input of numbers. You can quickly access the calculator app by swiping your finger from the top left corner of the touchpad to the right.
But, unfortunately, its window is not activated automatically. The mouse cursor can be controlled from the touchpad even if NumPad is activated, but in a text editor sometimes gets confused and adds digits to text. Unfortunately, the touchpad gets dirty very easily, unlike the rest of the laptop.
Indication diodes and other elements
In addition to the indicator diodes mentioned, there are 3 more in the laptop, one next to the webcam and two more on the right side of the laptop. One side LED indicates the state of charge of the battery when the power source is connected, the other runs on a solid-state drive, which is somewhat inappropriate, because many modern laptops have completely abandoned it. With the exception of the battery charging indicator, which glows orange when charging and green when the battery is 100% full, all LEDs are white and pleasantly dim.
Such indicators are usually bright, which is why ASUS scores points for this feature. Particularly annoying in some laptops is the LED on the webcam.
Sleep mode can only be recognized when the laptop is open (LED in the main switch on the keyboard). The power indication is also reflected by an elongated light element on the front of the laptop base.
Other controls include the fingerprint scanner located in the lower right corner of the keyboard.
It is very convenient to use, although it may seem too small to some, considering that the main target audience of ExpertBook B9 is men. There will definitely not be any complaints about the operation of the scanner itself, it works practically flawlessly.
Nice screen, and that’s about it
The screen, which is strange for a device of this level, is not the ExpertBook B9’s strong suit; it is inferior to its competitors. Yes, the laptop display is good, but it lacks a little something that makes the difference between a good IPS panel and a great one. We believe that, targeting professionals, ASUS assumed that the main goal of this product would not necessarily be watching hundreds of video content, or spending whole days on Netflix.
As a reminder, the ExpertBook B9 has a 14-inch IPS panel that offers Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080p) and 300 nits brightness. The manufacturer claims 100% sRGB color gamut (NTSC: 72%). A specific panel (AU Optronics, AUO623D, AUO B140HAN06.2) showed a luminosity of 327 nits (in the middle of the screen), in the corners it was slightly weaker (according to the data in some places up to 16%, almost invisible to the eye). The display has a pleasantly high contrast ratio of 1736:1, the black screen looks even, the difference in illumination of different areas is revealed by a photo with a longer exposure. The range of adjustable backlight is suitable for working in the dark as well as in daylight. The display offers pleasant viewing angles and clear colors.
You will definitely love the thin bezels around the screen. They are only 4mm thick, incredible for this type of laptop. Only the top is noticeably thicker, although only 7 mm.
It was equipped with a webcam with infrared sensors necessary for facial recognition using Windows Hello. I’ll tell you more about the webcam itself below.
ExpertBook B9 has a pleasant screen with a good color gamut. There are no particular problems with displaying content. Yes, it could be brighter, but not critically so.
Here are all the screen parameters:
- Hardware Panel ID: AU Optronics AUO623D (B140HAN06.2)
- Coverage: 99.5% sRGB, 72.5% AdobeRGB, 77.0% DCI P3
- Measured gamma: 2.2;
- Maximum brightness in the middle of the screen 272 cd/m2 on power supply;
- Contrast at maximum brightness: 1032:1;
- White point 6500K;
- Black at maximum brightness 0.25 cd / m2;
- PWM: No.
Speakers and webcam
The laptop is equipped with two rectangular speakers located at the front corners of the chassis base and directed downward towards the table top. They are designed in close collaboration with Harman Kardon. The sound quality, though, is rather mediocre. The software tries, if it can, to get the bass out of the speakers, but high frequencies still prevail. Subjectively, the laptop produces good average sound quality.
The speakers can also produce a fairly loud sound, the words are easy to understand. The output to the audio jack is clear, without annoying sounds, so listening to music with good headphones is much more pleasant than with the built-in speakers. In addition, it is possible to connect wireless headphones using Bluetooth.
As I already wrote, the webcam is located at the top of the inside of the laptop lid, above the display. It offers the traditional average gray image quality found in most laptops today. I’ve always wondered why manufacturers put such weak sensors in laptops. And the only answer I can think of is that the webcam in the laptop is used by a minimum of people. Some companies have even stopped offering a built-in webcams in certain laptop models. But, if anyone uses a webcam, these are, perhaps, just corporate clients for whom this laptop model is intended.
This is why ASUS offers a webcam cover, which some corporations require for security reasons. For those of you curious, the camera offers a maximum HD resolution (1280 x 720 pixels), meaning run-of-the-mill video conferencing picture quality.
Powerful Intel Core i7-1165G7 (Tiger Lake) processor with Iris Xe Graphics
By chance, I had two laptops of the ASUS ExpertBook B9 series for testing. Note that they practically do not differ in appearance, size, keyboard, NumPad, screen, ports and connection interfaces. The most interesting difference concerns the technical stuff. There is a difference here, and it is significant. We have already talked and written a lot about the ExpertBook B9450, so I will tell you about the technical equipment of the ASUS ExpertBook B9400CEA. And here there are some pretty interesting things in terms of upgrading the device.
To begin with, it runs on one of the newest and most powerful 11th generation Intel Core i7-1165G7 processors. This is the latest energy efficient quad-core chipset that belongs to the Tiger Lake U family. It was presented in September this year, which means it is completely fresh. The processor has 4 cores with 8 threads, thanks to the Willow Cove architecture. Interestingly, each core is capable of operating at frequencies from 2.8 GHz to 4.7 GHz. Whereas the maximum load on all cores is 4.1 GHz. It is one of the most powerful mobile processors to date, second only to the Core i7-1185G7.
This chipset is now able to work with Intel’s new integrated Iris Xe graphics, which is based on the Gen 12 architecture. You need to know that its performance is much higher than in the Iris Plus G7 in Ice Lake processors. When working with the i7-1065G7, the video card is capable of integrating 96 cores and operating at 400 – 1300 MHz. Although this is 50 MHz less than the 185G7, the results are really decent.
But most importantly, the new Tiger Lake series processors are based on the improved 10nm SuperFin process technology. Intel is confident that their chipsets can be compared to the 7nm TSMC process used for manufacturing AMD Ryzen 4000 chips.
The new processor and graphics have 12MB of shared L3 cache. The good news for users will be that the new Tiger Lake chipsets support PCIe 4.0 (up to 4 lanes), capable of significantly accelerating machine learning operations. They have Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 controllers, and support the new Wi-Fi 6 wireless standard.
The processor now has a dynamic TDP, and the ability to adjust the voltage from 12 to 28 W. This means that the new processor will be ideal for light and thin laptops. That is, soon they can be expected in other ASUS laptops.
The synthetic tests prove that we are dealing with a powerful enough mobile processor that can surprise you with its performance.
Enough RAM and two SSDs
Surprisingly, the new ASUS ExpertBook B9 managed to surprise me here too. It already has 32 GB of RAM of the new LPDDR4x format with a frequency of 4266 MHz. It is low power with dual channel connectivity, which is important mainly for the performance of the graphics core. The previous model had 16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3 RAM, also with low power consumption and a dual-channel connection. You need to know that the RAM is soldered on the motherboard, so the user cannot replace or expand the RAM. Although, 16 GB or 32 GB is enough for comfortable work.
The device also has a pair of SAMSUNG MZVLB2T0HMLB SSDs, 2TB each. What it means is that your laptop will have almost 4 TB of storage, more than enough. The predecessor also has 2 solid state SSDs from Samsung, but they are 1 TB each.
In addition, SSDs support RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations for faster storage and data redundancy. SSDs are equipped with a Polaris V2 controller and use Samsung’s fourth generation V-NAND (V4), which assumes 64-layer TLC-3D-NAND.
When it comes to performance, it is one of the most powerful and fastest systems out there. There is no need to even discuss speed and stability of work.
Everything works on the latest version of Windows 10 with support for all the features of this system. One of the features is support for Amazon Alexa voice assistant.
And you can configure, monitor, update it and carry out diagnostics using the MyASUS utility. It is a simple and handy utility.
There will be no issues at all with performing simple office tasks. You can open as many tabs as you want, edit photos and videos, chat, participate in video conferences.
Of course, this is not a gaming laptop, so don’t try to play heavy games. It has a new, but still integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics.
Cooling and noise
The laptop is cooled by one thin fan, which is the standard solution for thin work laptops. Air is partially drawn from the bottom of the base, which rises further when the laptop is opened, which improves air flow. Additional air intakes are located on the rear edge of the base, the ribs are partially exposed when the laptop is opened. The design of the laptop at least offers slightly more clearance (between the lid and the rib) than similar solutions. Behind the base, in its second half, there is also a hot air outlet. The more the lid is open, the better the air can flow out.
The laptop can run very quietly, the fan spins only occasionally when more power is required to start a program or a more complex calculation. You can edit or watch a video with no noise at all.
But this is not always the case. Under stress, as well as when opening some programs and games, the fan will work constantly and at high speeds; in a quiet room it can be annoying, mainly because the thin fan in a thin laptop tends to produce airflow sounds. That said, the desktop feels a little warm to the touch, especially on the left side next to the touchpad and on the keyboard, but it’s still comfortable to use for typing.
But overall, the laptop desktop is cool (room temperature), so even in this respect, working with the laptop is pleasant.
Here are the temperature tests:
- touchpad: 26° C
- left side under the keyboard: 26° C
- right side under the keyboard: 26° C
- keyboard left: 29° C
- keyboard right: 28° C
- bottom maximum: 29° C (back middle)
- power adapter: 28° C
Excellent battery life
ASUS ExpertBook B9 has a built-in Li-Pol battery with a declared capacity of 66 Wh. The developers have assured us that it can work from one charge up to 24 hours. Of course, in practice, I failed to achieve such fantastic results. All I got was 18 hours, which is still great. This is the first ultraportable laptop that can actually survive an entire day, while allowing me to work without turning off Wi-Fi or playing with the brightness of the screen.
The laptop can be powered exclusively through the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 connectors. There are two of them in the laptop, both on the left side of the base, and both of them can also be used to power the laptop. The indication of connecting the power supply and recharging is displayed by one diode on the right side of the laptop. It lights up orange when charging, green when the battery is fully charged. The laptop comes with a small power adapter measuring 75x66x29mm and weighing 324g, 65W of power and a USB-C connector.
Should you buy the ASUS ExpertBook B9?
When it comes to a portable business laptop, the price cannot be low, because this is a premium device.
With the ExpertBook B9, ASUS has burst into the business world at high speed. The list of pros goes far beyond a few criticisms, most of which can be addressed with a software update. But they have to come quickly because this is what buyers in the upper price range are expecting.
The laptop offers a compelling design that is compact and lightweight, with the required set of ports and connectivity interfaces and special features. This includes an LED notification bar and a Windows Hello camera that the company has managed to integrate despite the thin display bezels. The matte screen offers good colors, contrast and viewing angles. The only point of criticism concerns the peak brightness, which does not match the laptop’s price range.
Also the keyboard is excellent, and the touchpad with the hidden NumPad is quite comfortable. Almost from the first moment I just fell in love with this comfortable keyboard. I just sat down and started typing. This is very rare with modern laptops. One thing, though – it’s not particularity quiet.
I can assure you that the ASUS ExpertBook B9 is the best Ultrabook ASUS has ever released. Of course, there are some things that may scare you. But, if you value lightness, battery life and outstanding portability, the ASUS ExpertBook B9 is a worthwhile investment.
- ultra-lightweight yet durable body;
- nice, modern design;
- the necessary set of ports and connection interfaces;
- very comfortable backlit keyboard;
- fast touchpad with NumPad;
- good viewing angles and matte screen;
- excellent performance;
- state-of-the-art Intel Iris Xe Integrated Graphics;
- quiet operation and modern cooling system;
- excellent battery life and powerful 65 W power adapter
- lack of touch screen options;
- display not calibrated, with low brightness;
- RAM is soldered to the motherboard;
- high price
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