Asus’ ExpertBook range has been around for a few years, but this latest evolution, the Asus ExpertBook B9450, offers some head-turning features. Update: Check out the updated model, the Asus ExpertBook B9400 (which has updated components) below this review.
The new Magnesium Lithium alloy, used on the lid and base, is 17 per cent less dense than traditional magnesium alloy. It increases the sturdiness and lowers the weight to the point where the 33WHr battery version (which promises 12Hr battery life) weighs just 870g (plus the 35g weight of an Ethernet dongle and power brick). We reviewed the 66WHr variant of the Asus ExpertBook which weighs just 1kg but promises 24-hour battery life in return. So, does this combination of durability and longevity make the Expertbook the ultimate business notebook?
Key specs of the Asus Expertbook B9450
14-inch, matte, 1920 x 1080, non-touchscreen LCD; 1.8-4.9GHz Intel Core i7-10510U processor; 16GB RAM; 2x 1TB NVMe hard drives; Intel UHD 620 GPU; 66Wh battery; 1kg. SKU: B9450F. Full specs here.
Ergonomics and Handling
The Asus ExpertBook’s 14-inch LCD screen is surrounded by a very thin bezel – just 4mm at the sides and 7mm at the top. The top requires increased girth to house a Windows Hello-compatible, HD, IR webcam (with privacy slider) and four omnidirectional microphones. These, partnered with dual, Harman/Kardon speakers, don’t just make it great for web-conferencing but also enhance voice interaction via Cortana and also Alexa. There’s even an Alexa status light built into palm rest which can be seen when the laptop is either open or closed.
Opening the laptop up provides a five degree incline to the keyboard for more comfortable typing and improved cooling. However, the (reinforced) hinge also allows the screen to fold down completely flat.
The Asus ExpertBook B9450’s display is crisp, evenly lit and gets both bright (for outside work) and dark (for dimmed business-class cabins). Asus’ MyAsus software allows you to control the colour-hue automatically or manually or set it to eye-saver mode, depending on your preference. The Expertbook’s energy-efficient panel also has dedicated memory built into the LCD for when what’s displayed is static – so system resources aren’t tapped into.
Below the Asus Expertbook’s screen is a well-featured, full-sized, Scrabble-tile keyboard that, with just 1.5mm of travel, is very comfortable to type on for extended periods. A touch-button at the top-right of the glass-covered trackpad transforms said trackpad into a responsive number pad. Our only key-related annoyance is the half-height arrow keys.
Asus Expertbook B9450 Connectivity
Connectivity is impressive. It features two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports on the left (one of which is used for charging) plus a full-sized HDMI 2.0b port and a mini HDMI. The latter can be used with a (supplied) dongle to turn it into an Ethernet port. On the right is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port plus a 3.5mm audio jack. Inside, Wi-Fi 6 is included, as is BlueTooth 5.
Performance and Battery
The 10th Generation Intel CPU offers a great combination of power and efficiency. It’s flanked with 16GB of RAM and our version sported two 1TB NVMe drives. Graphics comes via an Intel UHD 620 GPU. It’s not the greatest for gaming, but it’s not completely incapable. While it couldn’t quite complete any 3DMark tests it did manage 15fps throughout most of the mid-range SkyDiver test. You’ll be able to play some low-end competitive shooters in your downtime.
It scored 3407 in PCMark 10 which isn’t particularly fast for even an office notebook but is nonetheless impressive for such a waif-like ultraportable. It didn’t quite manage 24-hours in our test but managing 20hrs 14mins in PCMark’s Modern Office test is nonetheless incredible. Asus’ claims that a 60 per cent charge can be made in 40 minutes was in line with our observations. You can also set power management for aggressive charging or longevity and switch to silent running (it only makes a mild, unintrusive swooshing noise when under load).
The Asus Expertbook 9450 is available with an optional TPM 2.0 module which can work with the fingerprint reader for extra security.
It’s also certified to the military-grade MIL-STD-810G standard and so will survives drops and spillages in addition to operating in many hostile environments. Asus also makes the points that it uses steel hinges and I/O port reinforcements to further guard against mechanical failings.
We’re told that the special Magnesium Alloy lid of the Asus ExpertBook B9450 and base go through 21 stages before milling. This includes a Micro-Arc Oxidation process which, “Is an electrochemical surface treatment that generates a solid ceramic layer that results in hardness, strength and resistance to corrosion and oxidation.” It’s finished in what Asus calls a “Star Black” coating which is inspired by the universe and inspires thoughts of “Mystery and Wisdom.” That’s a pretentious way of saying dark grey but it certainly does sparkle (slightly) under certain lighting conditions.
There are plenty of software tools to help with business deployment of the Expertbook, including Asus’ Business Deployment Suite and Asus Control Centre which offers remote hardware and software monitoring. It also supports Microsoft Autopilot deployment options and is qualifies for Intel Project Athena certification for ultraportable laptops.
Asus also offers software that allows it to partner with your phone so that you can interact with it without keeping it on your desk. There’s also a yellow-stitched, magnetically-sealed sleeve which offers a little extra protection when on the move.
Should you buy the Asus ExpertBook B9450
With prices from $3,199, Asus ExpertBook B9450 is not cheap for individual buyers, but the price that will actually be paid by companies will likely vary considerably according to their IT service providers. What we can say is that it’s incredibly well built, a joy to use and ticks every box for a business-friendly ultraportable. Demanding power users might find it a bit slow, but this should be near the top of every mobile worker’s wish-list.
UPDATE: Asus ExpertBook B9400 review
After publishing this review, we received an updated model, the Asus ExpertBook B9400, which is the same laptop with updated innards, including an 11th Gen. Intel Processor.
Key specs of the Asus Expertbook B9400
14-inch, matte, 1920 x 1080, non-touchscreen LCD; 2.4-4.7 GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor; 16GB RAM; 2x 1TB NVMe hard drives; Intel Iris Xᵉ Graphics; 66Wh battery; 1.05kg. SKU: B9400CEA-KC0407R. Full specs here.
Connectivity of the Asus Expertbook B9400
Connectivity of the B9400 is similarly good with a few improvements. It features two Thunderbolt 4 (up from Thunderbolt 3) USB-C 3.2 Gen. 2 ports on the left (one of which is used for charging) plus a full-sized HDMI 2.0b port (up from mini HDMI). On the right is a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port plus a 3.5mm audio jack. Inside, Wi-Fi 6 is included, as is BlueTooth 5.2 (up from version 5.0).
The quad-core, low-power, 2.4-4.7 GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM and two (count’em) 1TB NVMe drives combined to score 5228 in PCMark 10 which is impressive for any low-powered ultraportable and a significant increase compared to the 10th Gen Asus ExpertBook B9450 which scored just 3407. However, if you want to do hardcore rendering on the move, this still isn’t a great choice as modest Cinebench scores of 917 (R15) and 5476 (R23) demonstrate.
The B9400 processor’s integrated Intel Iris Xᵉ GPU represents a step up from the older Intel UHD 620 equivalent. It scored 3867 in 3DMark’s Wild Life Extreme benchmark which is an average of 23.2fps. In the basic Night Raid test it scored 18,315 (average 110fps) showing it can play casual and competitive games.
The 1KG chassis and 330g PSU mean it’s just as lightweight and ultraportable as its predecessor which was the lightest laptop we’ve tested so far. The tough-yet-light chassis feels tough enough to survive all kinds of knocks associated with life on the road. The ExpertBook B9400 ran PCMark’s Modern Office battery life test for 17hrs 55mins which is down on it’s lower-powered predecessor (20hrs 14mins) but still very impressive indeed.
Should you buy the Asus ExpertBook B9400?
The B9400 represents a significant upgrade over the B9450 with Intel’s 11th Gen technology demonstrating a significant upgrade over its 10th Gen. The significantly higher power comes with a minor dent to battery life, but the benefits outweigh the losses. At $3199 it’s decent value but you can obviously buy much more powerful models that are much larger for less money. Still, the ExpertBook is still the best choice if you want a portable laptop that feels like it’s barely there.
Asus ExpertBook B9400 Results
- 2D Performance
- 3D Performance
A worthy update to Asus’ already-impressive ultraportable.