Light and long-lasting, the Asus ExpertBook B9450CBA-XVE75 ($1,841 as tested; up to $2,439.99) is a 14-inch business laptop geared toward on-the-go executives, priced to compete with premium business ultraportables like the HP EliteBook 840 G9, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10, and the ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 2. Its magnesium alloy chassis is both durable and lightweight 2.2 pounds, and its combination of an efficient Intel 12th Generation Core U-series processor (CPU) and a 66-watt-hour battery provides exceptional unplugged life. We love the ExpertBook B9's look and its remarkable portability, but it would be more useful if Asus swapped the old-school 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen display for a modern 16:10 or perhaps 3:2 panel. The company also needs to update its pedestrian webcam. For these reasons, Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon remains our Editors' Choice, with the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 earning an honorable mention.
A Reliable Design
The baseline ExpertBook B9450CBA-XVE75 model reviewed here costs $1,841 and features an Intel Core i7-1255U CPU, 16GB of memory (RAM), Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, and a 1TB solid-state drive (SSD). The 14-inch non-touch display offers full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) resolution and is rated for an adequate 400 nits of brightness. A step-up B9450CBA-XVE77 model, on sale at Amazon for $2,077, doubles the memory and storage to 32GB and 2TB respectively.
Measuring 0.59 by 12.6 by 7.9 inches (HWD), the ExpertBook B9 is among the lightest 14-inch laptops at 2.2 pounds, but its rivals aren't far behind: The 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon weighs 2.4 pounds with a slightly taller 16:10 display, while the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 matches the Asus at 2.2 pounds with a squarer 13.5-inch screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio that's arguably better for viewing more of a document or webpage at once.
This year's ExpertBook B9 trots out the same chassis as the model we looked at in June 2021 and another the year before that. You could say of its remarkable light and sturdy magnesium alloy frame, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," and its attractive deep navy color stands out among the usual silver or black of business laptops without looking out of place in the boardroom. The system's matte finish makes for a luxurious feel and does an admirable job of repelling fingerprints. Plus, with MIL-STD 810H durability certification, the ExpertBook B9 is ready to withstand the slings and arrows of regular business travel. It's rare to find this combination of portability and durability.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 (2022)
Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch (2022, M2)
Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch (2023, M2 Max)
HP ZBook Studio G9
HP ZBook Firefly 15 G8
Lenovo ThinkPad Z13
HP Dragonfly Folio G3
Dell Latitude 7420
Lenovo ThinkBook 14s Yoga Gen 2
Microsoft Surface Pro 8
Dell Latitude 5430 Rugged
HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
On the other hand, you could say that despite its impressive chassis, the ExpertBook B9 is overdue for an update. Over the past year or so, a bumper crop of laptops have switched to taller 16:10 or 3:2 aspect ratio panels with considerably higher resolution than good old 1080p. With more vertical space, these screens feels roomier and easier on the eyes (at least for productivity apps, if not video viewing, which isn't a business laptop's focus anyway). After using a taller 16:10 display, going back to a 1080p panel feels like leaving the airy first floor of a house with cathedral ceilings for a basement with low headroom.
Retro aspect ratio aside, the ExpertBook's screen is sufficient for everyday apps, with a sharp picture and reasonably rich colors. Our own testing confirms the laptop's rated brightness of 400 nits, which is more than bright enough for nearly every indoor situation and even some outdoor work if you're not in direct sunlight.
A Webcam That's Behind the Times
Since the pandemic made us all Zoomers, sharper 1080p cameras have become the norm on all but budget laptops. A business laptop in 2023 ought to feature at least a 1080p webcam, if not one of the 5- or 8-megapixel cameras vendors like HP are providing. With the ExpertBook B9's 720p cam, you'll look fuzzy or grainy to your conference colleagues.
On the positive side, the webcam does offer IR face recognition for Windows Hello logins, plus a physical shutter to protect your privacy when you're not using it. The Asus also has a proximity sensor that wakes up the system as you approach and locks it when you leave. A fingerprint reader below the keyboard gives you a second secure biometric login option.
The keyboard feels roomy and responsive, but its shallow travel can't match the plush feeling of a ThinkPad keyboard. Aiding the overall typing experience is the bottom edge of the display, which props the system at a slight typing angle. If that's not enough, save your packing materials—the accessory box that holds the power cord can be used as a laptop stand by folding it into a wedge shape. Unfortunately, I found its angle a bit too steep for comfort.
The accessory box and the rest of the ExpertBook's packaging are made from 90% recycled pulp and paper from responsibly sourced wood fiber. Asus claims the ExpertBook B9 is the world's first carbon-neutral business laptop, thanks to recycled materials, responsible manufacturing processes, and issuing carbon credits.
The wide touchpad mirrors the wide display, giving you ample space to swipe, pinch, and tap. While the keyboard travel is shallow, the pad's click response struck me as too deep to the point of feeling flimsy. I'd prefer a firmer feel and easier clicks. However, I do like the button in the top right corner that turns the touchpad into a numeric keypad. The LED grid doesn't provide the same tactile feedback as the actual keypad of a larger laptop, but it's still an innovative feature that could prove useful for spreadsheet jockeys.
Asus provides both USB Type-A and Type-C ports in the latest ExpertBook B9, so you'll be able to connect most of your peripherals or other devices without needing an adapter. A pair of USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support are on the laptop's left side, and a USB-A 3.2 port is on the right. At left, you'll also find both a full-size HDMI port and a micro HDMI port, the latter usable as a Ethernet port with an included adapter. The latest wireless standards, Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, are also on board. Finally, Asus includes an imitation leather carrying case in the box.
Testing the Asus ExpertBook B9: Relatively Competitive, But Not a Media Marvel
Our ExpertBook B9's Core i7-1255U is one of Intel's "Alder Lake-U" series of power-thrifty 15-watt mobile processors. It has two Performance cores, eight Efficient cores, and 12 processing threads. For our benchmark comparisons, we pitted the Asus against a mix of similarly sized business laptops with 12th Generation CPUs from both the U-series and the 28-watt P-series, all mentioned earlier: the HP Elite Dragonfly G3, the HP EliteBook 840 G9, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 2, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10.
UL's PCMark 10 simulates a variety of real-world productivity and content-creation workflows to measure overall performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheeting, web browsing, and videoconferencing. We also run PCMark 10's Full System Drive test to assess the load time and throughput of a laptop's boot drive.
Three additional benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads, to rate a PC's suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon's Cinebench R23 uses that company's Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Geekbench 5.4 Pro from Primate Labs simulates popular apps ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning. Finally, we use the open-source video transcoder HandBrake 1.4 to convert a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better).
Our last productivity test is workstation vendor Puget Systems' PugetBench for Photoshop(Opens in a new window), which uses the Creative Cloud version 22 of Adobe's famous image editor to rate a PC's performance for content creation and multimedia applications. It's an automated extension that executes a variety of general and GPU-accelerated Photoshop tasks ranging from opening, rotating, resizing, and saving images to applying masks, gradient fills, and filters.
The ExpertBook B9 performed about as expected, easily clearing the 4,000-point hurdle in PCMark 10 that indicates ample performance for everyday apps like Word and Excel (and besting the X1 Nano despite the latter's P-series processor). Its multimedia test results were in line with the similarly equipped Elite Dragonfly G3, but it lagged noticeably in our Photoshop test. These numbers reveal a laptop that will be fine at the basics but won't double as a multimedia or creative workstation.
We test Windows PCs' graphics with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL's 3DMark, the relatively modest Night Raid (suitable for laptops with integrated graphics) and the more demanding Time Spy (suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs). We also run two tests from the cross-platform GFXBench 5, which stresses both low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like image rendering. The 1440p Aztec Ruins and 1080p Car Chase tests, rendered offscreen to accommodate different display resolutions, exercise graphics and compute shaders using the OpenGL programming interface and hardware tessellation respectively. The more frames per second (fps), the better.
Neither the ExpertBook B9 nor any of the other business laptops here are built for heavy graphics lifting or gaming. Nothing in these test results will pique the interest of design or animation professionals, let alone fast-twitch gamers.
Battery and Display Tests
We test laptop battery life by playing a locally stored 720p video file (the open-source Blender movie Tears of Steel(Opens in a new window)) with display brightness at 50% and audio volume at 100% until the system quits. We make sure the battery is fully charged before the test, with Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting turned off.
We also use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and its Windows software to measure the screen's color saturation—what percentage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 color gamuts or palettes the display can show—and its 50% and peak brightness in nits (candelas per square meter).
The ExpertBook’s battery life will raise an eyebrow, especially if your job often sees you out of the office and away from AC outlets. It lasted nearly 16 hours in our video rundown, beating the other four laptops in the group and guaranteeing to serve you through even the longest workday plus some after-hours Netflix or YouTube.
As for the screen, the Asus proved to be right on par with its competition in terms of color fidelity. Again, creative media pros will want higher coverage of the Adobe RGB and/or DCI-P3 gamuts, but the ExpertBook will be just fine for general productivity apps. For brightness, the system finished at the back of the pack, somewhat short of the 400 nits Asus advertises though still suitable for everyday use. It's interesting that the display is noticeably brighter than its rivals at Windows' 50% setting, which speaks further to its impressive stamina for use on battery power.
Verdict: Ready for a Bigger Update
The Asus ExpertBook B9 is not without its charms. We like its thin and light yet durable magnesium alloy chassis and its impressive battery life. Portability, durability, and a long runtime should be high on anyone's list of priorities when shopping for a business laptop. However, the ExpertBook has relied on the same design for quite some time, and its 16:9 widescreen display and generic 720p webcam are definitely showing their age. Here's hoping Asus refreshes the system to restore it to the top ranks of business lightweights in 2024.
The 14-inch Asus ExpertBook B9 450CBA is impressively thin, light, and durable but is held back by a dated display and an unimpressive webcam.
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