There are a lot of things that users consider when buying a laptop from the all important price, to aesthetics, specs and of course, brand reputation. Straight off the bat, it would be fair to say Asus has ticked the brand reputation and when you look at the specs of the ExpertBook B9 and plenty more. Having had this beast in my bag as a daily use laptop for a couple of weeks, it’s time to talk about my experience.
What is it?
It’s a laptop, and what a beautiful piece of engineering it is. It’s lightweight, highly specced, highly functional and very much an investment towards your productivity. It’s been an interesting experience using a laptop this light, particularly when showing people its weight; they comment regularly it feels like a toy.
What’s in the box?
The box is predictably simple, containing the laptop, charger and an Ethernet converter. But what I wasn’t expecting was the laptop sleeve and nifty little laptop stand. I’d like to say it’s a really nice stand similar to the Curve Flex, but it’s simply a fold-out cardboard option that, if you like, I’d suggest you invest in something a little more sturdy; but it’s a nice inclusion.
Hardware and Design features
We’re looking at an Asus ExpertBook B9400CE with some sharp specs. The crazy light weight of the thing is astounding, it really does feel like a toy until you fire it up.
Depending on the SKU that you purchase, you’re either running an 11th generation i5, or i7 processor. The review unit is the latter and it’s packing Intel Iris X graphics, 32GB of DDR4 RAM and dual 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD. The screen is a 14″ IPS Full HD screen running in 16:9 ratio and 400 nits brightness and has thin bezels and, somehow, has a 720p camera at the top of the screen.
That accounts for the internals, but the physical hardware, in this case, is far more impressive. It’s quite refreshing to see a laptop of this level not purely reliant on a single connectivity option like Thunderbolt, the ExpertBook B9 has a lot of options:
- Dual Thunderbolt ports including USB-C charging
- One USB 3.2 Type-A connection
- HDMI for external screen connection
- A 3.5mm port for headphones and mic
- A Micro HDMI port and Ethernet converter supplied
The other connection options are the stock standard Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi 802.11ax, which both work very well, including an impressive range on the Bluetooth for headphone connections.
When you open up the lid, the hinge creates a slight incline on the keyboard and a small void under the machine. This provides a couple of great benefits, one being the ergonomics of typing and the other being ventilation around the machine to keep it cool.
A great touch on a keyboard is critically important for me because I spend so much time typing. Whether it’s for my paid work, general electronic communications or the work I do for Ausdroid. I was happy with the transition to the ExpertBook B9 because the keyboard felt so good from the first keystroke. It’s a soft touch with a clean feel and definitive press so you know you’ve hit the key.
This is all in a package that weighs 1 kilogram.
Daily use and performance
The boot-up time is remarkably fast for both cold boot (under 9 seconds) to the login screen, or if in standby, a tap of the fingerprint sensor brings it to life almost instantly.
As someone who is often on the move, I’ve been hesitant to go beyond a 13″ screen for some time. While this is a touch larger, I’m also really happy with it from a mobility perspective as the weight means it’s not as noticeable in my bag.
Perhaps the only disappointment for me was the sound quality of the speakers for media playback. Beyond roughly 40% of the volume capacity, it felt like the focus was on volume rather than the quality of sound because it became a bit shrill. I listen to a lot of music, so it’s not really a surprise to me that the sound on speakers about the size of my thumbprint wasn’t great. Don’t think that it’s poor quality; it’s just not going to stand up to a decent set of headphones or, if you’re at a desk, some plug-in speakers.
The 66Wh battery, combined with Windows 11 and power optimisations, results in battery life that’s sufficient for a full day of work or even an overnight trip without the need to take a charger with you. I had to stream video for quite a long time to make a dent in the available power. If you choose to do so — The Iris X graphics does a reasonable job — then gaming will deplete your battery quickly, but that’s pretty obvious, really.
My day-to-day use resulted in consistently getting nearly two days before I had to seriously consider plugging in to recharge. That’s probably a good thing because the included quick charger is pretty hefty; I wouldn’t want to carry it around day to day.
There are just so many good points to talk about with this laptop, I really had to nit-pick to find anything bad and there wasn’t much.
How much and is it worth the price?
At $2,399.00, it’s not a cheap option, is it?
That being said, the specs and connectivity are right at the pointy end of the market without stepping into the ludicrous. The look and feel of the ExpertBook B9 are beyond that which your average home user will want or need; it’s a device for the mobile professional.
The weight is so low it’s almost unbelievable and can drop in your bag, almost without noticing it’s there. But when you need it, there’s plenty of battery available, power to spare and it has a delightful touch to it.
The Asus ExpertBook B9 is an impressive bit of kit that, if you’ve got the budget, I’d happily recommend for regular and heavy users of laptops. The cost is likely to be a bit of a problem for some, but I’d suspect towards Christmas if you keep your eyes out, you may find it for under $2,000.00, which is well worth the price.