When it comes to laptops for enterprises, the ones that immediately come to mind are Dell’s Latitude and Lenovo’s ThinkPad series. ASUS has now marked its entry in the commercial laptop segment as well. The company has launched a trio of laptops called ExpertBook B9, ExpertBook P2 and ExpertBook P1 in the country, which fall into the premium, mid-range and affordable segments, respectively.
An ideal business laptop is one which enhances your productivity, lasts long on a single charge and yet is lightweight enough to be carried around ease. I have had the opportunity to use the top-of-the-line ASUS ExpertBook B9 for over a week now and in my experience, the laptop ticks all the right boxes. Let’s find out why I say so.
Design and display
The ASUS ExpertBook B9 has a design that oozes of class and elegance. Weighing just 995g and measuring 14.9mm in thickness, the ExpertBook B9 is one of the more compact laptops in the market. ASUS has managed to achieve this feat by using magnesium-lithium alloy for the entire chassis. This is an ideal machine for those who are constantly on the go and need a lightweight machine that can be carried around easily.
ASUS has taken several measures to ensure the structural integrity of the laptop, which makes this compact laptop feel like a tank despite its size. The ExpertBook B9 is MIL-STD-810G certified, which means it can survive drops, shocks, vibrations, dust, heat, cold, high altitude, and humidity. Additionally, there are metal brackets in the hinges, USB ports and HDMI ports, as well as rubber pads around the processor and bottom base to reduce the shock from impacts. In short, the ASUS ExpertBook B9 is a sturdy laptop, which should survive even rough usage.
As for the other elements, ASUS has equipped the ExpertBook B9 with two Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports, one USB 3.2 Type-A port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-sized HDMI terminal. You will find the speaker grills at the bottom on either side and with the edges tapering upwards, the audio is not muffled when placed on a surface.
What surprised me was the massive vent positioned at the bottom with the cooling pipe and a part of the motherboard exposed. This is an odd position for the vent and during my stint with the laptop, I was paranoid about not having any liquids on the surface I was working on. While the rubber feet at the bottom and the ErgoLift hinge elevated the base of the laptop a bit, the open vent was a point of concern.
ASUS is offering an integrated camera on top of the display with a physical camera cover. The camera module also features face-recognition to quickly unlock the laptop with Windows Hello. There’s also a fingerprint scanner on the right side of the palm rest, which is fast and accurate.
Another unique element is the Alexa LED light bar, sitting in an indentation on the lip of the laptop. This indentation also serves as the perfect spot to lift the lid, which can be done easily with a single hand. Currently, ASUS only offers Alexa integration on ExpertBook B9 in the US and in its absence, the LED light serves as the charging indicator.
ASUS is offering the ExpertBook B9 in a single size, with a 14-inch IPS LCD display with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels resolution. The screen offers a 178-degree viewing angle and 300 nits of brightness, which is bright and sharp for indoor usage.
The anti-reflective matte coating on the display makes sure that it is legible even in glaring light. The screen is also quite immersive with a 94 percent screen-to-body ratio. ASUS has fitted the screen with Panel Self Refresh technology, which detects what’s being displayed on the screen and adjust the power usage accordingly. ASUS claims that using this technology, the power consumption can go as low as 1-watt, which is impressive.
Keyboard, trackpad and audio
The ASUS ExpertBook B9 is equipped with a full-sized chiclet-style QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard is well-spaced out and has good key travel, which made it a delight to type on. However, I found myself putting the laptop to sleep by mistake quite often, because of the odd placement of the power button, where delete button usually is. The ErgoLift hinge system is something I have come to love since I reviewed the ASUS ZenBook Duo. The hinge lifts the middle of the base up a bit to provide a 5.5-degree slant, which makes typing comfortable for longer hours.
ASUS had introduced unique its NumberPad technology on ZenBook range of laptops, which integrated an illuminated numpad in the trackpad of the device. The brand has now introduced NumberPad 2.0 on the ExpertBook B9, which allows simultaneous use of the numpad and trackpad. However, there have been instances where I intended to use the numpad, and it was registered as a trackpad gesture and vice-versa.
The touchpad itself is fairly large and very responsive. There’s a tiny numpad button in the top-right corner of the touchpad. You’ll need to long-press the button in order to activate the illuminated number pad. There’s another button in the top-left corner, and long-pressing this lets you switch between the two brightness levels of the numpad.
ASUS has equipped the ExpertBook B9 with 1W speakers on either side which are Harman Kardon certified. In my experience, the clarity of the audio from the laptop is top-notch. ASUS has equipped the laptop with a SmartAMP feature that is intended to amplify the speakers but also protects them from loud volume. However, the volume from the speakers is on the lower side.
Performance and battery
The ASUS ExpertBook B9 is equipped with an Intel Comet Lake Core i7 (10510U) processor. The 10th-gen Intel Core processor is accompanied by 16GB RAM and 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. The RAM is soldered on the motherboard, but the SSD can be upgraded in the future if need be, using the dual M.2 slots.
The ASUS ExpertBook B9 boots Windows 10 Pro out of the box. ASUS has added the MyASUS app launcher to the interface, which adds a ton of utilities to the laptop. It lets users set a maximum battery recharge level (60 percent, 80 percent and 100 percent) to prolong the battery’s lifespan. The MyASUS app launcher also offers hardware monitoring, fan control, colour calibration, Wi-Fi connection enhancements and a Link to MyASUS for connecting the phone to the laptop.
The ASUS ExpertBook B9 scored 3,283 points on PCMark 10, which is pretty impressive, but the laptop scores lower in graphics benchmark as it features an Intel UHD GPU. It scored 317 points on 3DMark and 863 points on Cinebench. Considering the ExpertBook B9 is a business laptop intended mainly for office work, the low graphics performance isn’t surprising.
During my average workday, I had at least 10 tabs open on the RAM-hungry Google Chrome browser, multiple IM and social apps including Slack, and Microsoft Word, running together simultaneously. I am yet to experience any instances of freezing or hanging on the ExpertBook B9. I also juggled between several data-heavy Google Sheets during my stint with the laptop and the ExpertBook B9 handled them without breaking a sweat.
One of the most important criteria while picking up a business laptop is longer battery backup and the ExpertBook B9 excels in this department. In fact, the 66Wh battery powering the premium laptop is probably the biggest battery I have seen on a compact laptop to date and it didn’t disappoint. With the usage I mentioned before in this review, I was able to get two full working days out of a full charge (around 16-17 hours). Additionally, the fast charger provided with the laptop fully charges the battery in about an hour, which again is an impressive feat.
From an extremely lightweight yet sturdy build to an impressive 16-17 hours of battery life, the ExpertBook B9 means business (pun intended). The stylish design and the futuristic NumberPad further adds to the overall appeal of the laptop. If you are looking for a powerful laptop for your business needs, the ExpertBook B9 is a great choice. The laptop starts at Rs 1,02,288 in India.
Pricebaba’s rating: 9 / 10
- Durable, lightweight design
- Day-long battery life
- Good performance
- IR camera and fingerprint sensor
- Issues while using touchpad and numpad together
- Odd placement of the delete key