When Asus said that they were sending me the ExpertBook B9, a business laptop, I wasn’t sure what to expect because I know Asus for their impressive ROG range and for their boundary pushing laptops with things like secondary displays and keypads on the trackpads. A business laptop sounds almost too restrained for a brand like that.
Before we get into the laptop itself, I need to spend just a little bit of time gushing about the packaging for the charger. I know it seems like I’ve completely lost my marbles, but bear with me. Packaged separately (in cardboard) and not just tossed loosely in the box like so many manufacturer’s do, the unassuming packaging for the charger folds open to become a laptop stand. It’s such a simple but ingenious design that it not only made me squeal with excitement and but also had me questioning why no other manufacturers did that.
I’ve reviewed a lot of laptops in my time and at various stages in my career there’s always a brand touting that their device is the slimmest, most portable laptop with zero compromises that you absolutely have to get! For the most part, with few exceptions, this hasn’t been exactly true because when a company focuses on slimness and portability as one of their selling points, you’re almost guaranteed to be sacrificing a few things.
This isn’t the case with the B9. Yes, it has an incredibly slim, streamlined body that makes it ultra-portable and super easy to slip into a bag or backpack but when it comes to compromises there were surprisingly few.
Coming in at 14.9mm thin and weighing only 880g, the ExpertBook B9 is the definition of svelte. With such a thin profile, you’d be right to be concerned about durability, but the B9 has a magnesium-lithium alloy chassis which makes it both light and incredibly durable.
With such a slim body you’d be forgiven for thinking that ports would be pretty much non-existent, well, you’d be wrong.
The B9 packs in an RJ454ethernet port via micro-HDMI, an HDMI port, two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, a second gen USB 3.2 port, 3.5mm headphone jack and a Kensington Lock.
As impressive as all of that is, one of my favourite aspects of the ExpertBook is the hinge. Great hinges have been the subject of conversation when it comes to foldable phones, but I’d argue that great hinges should be a bigger topic when it comes to laptops. Many laptops have fairly standard hinges and while there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s also nothing exciting or innovative with it.
The hinge on the B9 – Asus call it the ErgoLift hinge – is a thing of simplistic beauty that has a more positive impact on how you use your device than you might think. Not only does it keep your display at various angles, but it also slightly raises the laptop off the table or desk which makes using it more comfortable and helps with cooling.
The keyboard is another crucial factor that has a huge impact on whether or not I’d consider buying a laptop and the ExpertBook has a great one. With such a slim chassis I was not expecting the greatest typing experience, but again, Asus has pleasantly surprised me. The keyboard is well laid out with great ravel and unlike some other brands who have had to redesign their laptop keyboards because of the huge outcry from unhappy users, the keyboard on the B9 is one that will stand the test of time and ensure that your typing experience is more enjoyable than it has any right to be.
I also love the fact that the keyboard is backlit, weirdly something that isn’t available on all laptops, and that the trackpad is large enough to move around on fairly comfortably. Another feature I love is that the keyboard is spill-resistant and can survive up 66 cc of liquids being spilt on it.
A quirk of the trackpad is an LED-illuminated keypad which can be activated by pushing down a button of sorts on the top right-hand corner of the trackpad. I’ve experienced this on other Asus laptops and while I’m sure that there are people out there who would appreciate this, unfortunately I’m not one of them. Having said that, when the numeric function is activated it works well, but it’s not something I’d use often, if ever.
A great display is essential for me as I’m doing everything from video editing, to Zoom and Teams calls, to watching YouTube or Netflix on my laptop, and the B9 has a great one.
The 14-inch NanoEdge display on ExpertBook B9 has a 4mm thin bezel, 94% screen-to-body ratio and a matte display (on my review unit) which is great for combating annoying reflections and fingerprints. Speaking of fingerprints, the B9 does not have a touchscreen display, something I discovered after swiping and tapping away on the display for a solid 30 seconds before I realised that this was just a regular display. While it’s not a deal-breaker, at this price point a touch display is expected and would’ve been a welcome addition.
Security and usability
Doing as many Teams, Zoom, Webex and even Amazon Chime calls as I do every day, being able to lock and unlock my laptop quickly is fairly important. As per usual, this is something that Asus excels at and the B9 is verified as a Windows Secured-core PC.
With Asus AdaptiveLock, I’m able to unlock the B9 as soon as the infrared camera senses and verifies me. This means that by the time I’m sitting down in front of the laptop I’m able to start working immediately. There’s also a fingerprint scanner in case you don’t want to use the face unlock feature.
When I’m not using my webcam, there’s a shutter cover that ensures no prying eyes are using my webcam to spy on me.
Powering all of this is the new Intel Evo platform which many say was created to take on Apple’s mighty M1 chip. The B9 also comes with Windows 10 Pro, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 32GB LDDR4x RAM, supports RAID technology and is WiFi 6 compatible.
Battery life is yet another aspect that took me by surprise.
How Asus managed to fit a 66kWh into a sub-1kg laptop is a feat that I’ll never understand but they did and it’s phenomenal. For the average user – someone who isn’t doing video, audio or heavy duty photo editing – the B9 will get you through an entire 8 hour work day with no trouble. If you do find yourself needing to top up the charge on your device, you’ll be happy to know that it has fast charge technology which is able to give you 60% charge in 39 minutes.
The Asus ExpertBook B9 is an incredibly impressive business laptop that looks far better than its nondescript counterparts but also outperforms every expectation I had of the device.
It proves that Asus is more than just a gaming brand and is a serious contender as one of the best business laptops on the market.
Cost: R30 999
14-inch, 1920 x 1080, IPS Full HD LCD
Up to Intel Core i7-1165G7
Up to 32GB LPDDR4X RAM
2x 2TB PCIe 3.0 4 x SSD
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x HDMI, 1 x RJ45 (via Micro HDMI), 1 x Kensington lock, 1 x Audio Jack