We’ve been enormously impressed with Asus’ Expertbook laptops in the past. They’ve been incredibly well made and impressively portable. This 16-inch version promises more of the same and we only had to pick it up to see that it could be yet another winner. So, will our Asus Expertbook B5 review show that this is the next portable laptop you should buy?
Table of Contents
|Screen||16-inch, matte, 60Hz, 3,840 x 2,400, OLED display|
|Processor||3.4-4.7GHz Intel Core i7-1260P CPU|
|Memory||16GB DDR5-4800 RAM|
|Graphics||1.4GHz Intel Xe|
|Hard drive||1TB PCIe NVMe|
2 x Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x USB-A 2.0
1 x Gigabit Ethernet port
1 x HDMI 2.0b
1 x MicroSD card reader
1 x 3.5mm audio
|Extra Security||TPM 2.0|
Windows Hello facial recognition & fingerprint
Webcam privacy slide
|Dimensions||348 x 261 x 20mm|
Features, Ergonomics and Design
The Asus Expertbook B5 looks like a smart, matte, blue-black box with stylish, sharp lines and you only have to pick it up to realise that it’s something special. It’s a 16-inch laptop but it feels impossibly light and rigid. This is what we’ve come to expect from Expertbooks.
The lid is adorned with a stylish, glossy Asus logo and, in the top corner, an Expertbook moniker that has a traffic-light LED next to it which shines amber or red if you’re on a conference call. Hopefully, any colleagues who would benefit from that information will know what it means but, in our eyes, it’s an innovation that has potential.
Opening it up reveals the bright (400-nit) 16-inch OLED screen which, unlike other OLEDs, doesn’t announce itself by being a glossy mirror. It’s not matte, and it’s not totally unreflective, but it’s impressive for an office-friendly OLED.
The ‘HDR’ screen displays a crisp and clear Windows Desktop. Multimedia, generally looks stunning thanks to the very-vibrant colours, generally excellent contrast and smooth colourful and monochromatic gradients. However, despite true blacks being displayed and contrast being generally excellent, highlights regularly blow out in HDR mode to the point where detail gets lost. This can be improved by turning HDR off, but transitions become blocky and banded when doing so.
Still, designers will like the 100 per cent coverage of the difficult DCI-P3 colour gamut along with the incredibly fine, UHD, 3,840 x 2,400 resolution.
This all said, the 60Hz refresh rate means that fast-and-frantic movement can get blurry. Fortunately, the fast pixel response time helps remediate this, but not to the point where rapid gaming becomes possible.
The touch-type, Scrabble-Tile keyboard is very accurate and brilliant for long periods of typing. There’s a usable, reduced-width number pad but the arrow keys are squished. The latter facet is mitigated (a little) by being separated from the other keys, but it’s not ideal. Everything is white-back-lit and the 1-4 number keys have broader, translucent boarders… for some reason.
The large trackpad is accurate, smooth and its buttons are well-actuated. The twin speakers are relatively good in they get loud and have decent fidelity. There’s not much bass, though..
The webcam is supported by IR for Windows Hello facial-recognition log-in (so does the fingerprint reader, which doubles as the power button on the side) plus a three-microphone-array that captures decent audio – even in loud environments. However, we were disappointed with the average, HD camera quality which exhibited over-sharpening in conference calls and generally looked poor, even in good lighting. This was disappointing considering Asus’ recent demonstrations of expertise in this area.
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There’s also a problem with the hinge of the laptop. While it itself is strong and stiff, the upper screen wobbles a lot when knocked. We found this made video conferencing and basic video capture problematic.
Ultimately, there’s lots to like here but the web-conferencing issues let the side down.
Inside our Asus Expertbook B5 review unit was a 12th-Gen, 3.4 – 4.7GHz Intel Core i7-1260P processor (with 4 Performance cores and 8 Efficiency cores), 16GB of quick DDR5-4800 RAM plus a fast 1TB hard drive. In the general-computing PCMark 10 test it scored 5,682 which is reasonably nippy for a thin-and-light computer.
In the CPU-based Cinebench rendering tests, the Asus Expertbook B5 scored 1,815 and 10,218 in the rapid R15 test and the longer R23 test, respectively. While it’s no hardcore rendering machine, it’s not without power and those wanting to create multimedia on the move will just have to wait a little while longer compared to beefier laptops.
3D Performance comes via the integrated Intel Xe graphics which runs at a faster-than-normal 1.4GHz. It wouldn’t run the difficult 3DMark ray-tracing tests but it did run the AAA-gaming-title-mimicking Time Spy and Fire Strike Extreme 3DMark tests: the Asus Expertbook B5 scored 1,898 (average 10.5fps) and 2,434 (average 11fps) respectively. So, (unsurprisingly) it won’t play the latest and greatest games without dramatically reducing the resolution and detail settings).
In the lesser, 3DMark Night Raid test, which apes casual and competitive games, it scored 17,508 which is an average of 98fps and illustrates that it is capable in this area.
We also ran our difficult CS:GO test which stresses the entire system. Here, it only averaged 16fps for the whole test and this plummeted to 2fps in the most-difficult one per cent of frames (1% Low test), so competitive players wanting to use this laptop for gaming will be out of luck.
On the left are two Thunderbolt 4 ports (one is used by the power supply), a Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI 2.0b and a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port.
On the right is a microSD card slot, a USB-A 2.0 port, a 3.5mm audio jack plus the power switch which doubles as a fingerprint reader.
Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5. These aren’t the most-cutting edge connectivity ports, but having such a variety is impressive.
Portability and Battery Life
Despite being a 16-inch, wide-bodied laptop, the Asus Expertbook B5 somehow weighs just 1.55KG making it truly ultraportable. Many 16-inch gaming laptops weigh double this, meaning it feels otherworldly. The power supply and cables also add just another 397g too. Extraordinary.
The chassis feels solid enough to survive life on the road, but you wouldn’t want to bash the lid too hard. That said it’s MIL-STD 810H certified for toughness, spill-resistant and has an international, pickup-and-return warranty for peace of mind.
Meanwhile the rather-small 50Wh battery ran our PCMark for an impressive 10 hours and 10 minutes which is very impressive. A larger battery would appeal to some buyers but we reckon the judicious weight-saving mission, that Asus has been on, has really paid off as the lightweight nature of this not-small, 16-inch is what defines it and market leading.
Price and Availability
Our spec of the Asus Expertbook B5 has an RRP of $2,299 but has low availability to the point where it’s only available to order and comes with a premium at $2,761 – which is a bit pricey for what’s on offer. Furthermore, you have to order it specially from the supplier. Update: There are now cheaper and updated SKUs available including this 14-inch version for $1,955.
Conclusion: Should you buy the Asus Expertbook B5?
We want to love Asus’ Expertbook, but the wobbly screen and poor webcam really made us struggle with day-to-day usage. These are important elements of any ultraportable notebooks and even though Asus regularly knocks these features out of the park, it’s missed the mark here and hampered its general usability. It’s low availability is also problematic.
That’s not to say the Asus Expertbook B5 isn’t desirable. It’s otherwise a joy to use and incredibly portable for a big screen OLED laptop and many people will still love it.
Asus Expertbook B5 Scores
The Asus Expertbook B5 is an amazingly light, 16-inch, ultraportable, OLED laptop for seasoned road warriors. However, it’s hobbled by a poor webcam, wobbly screen and limited availability which hikes the price.