Recommending a business laptop with portability features has never been a problem. My answer: “Just buy the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.” It’s as simple as that. Well, that was until Asus sent us the ExpertBook B9450, a feather-light 14-inch laptop with an incredible battery life of any notebook we’ve tested to date. Along with its epic endurance, this ultra-portable business machine has a sleek yet durable chassis, a solid 1080p screen, and plenty of security features, including a fingerprint sensor and an IR camera. This is our Asus ExpertBook B9450 Review.
Other notable additions include an illuminated numeric keyboard integrated into the touchpad and a light bar on the front of the laptop. The ExpertBook B9450 could be the ideal business notebook, if not for inconsistent performance and whimsicality with the touchpad and keyboard. Either way, the B9450 is The Best Asus laptop released in recent months and a great alternative to The Best business laptops such as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and HP Elite Dragonfly.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 Review Design
Asus must have cast a magic spell on this laptop because its incredible lightness does not match the overall size of the 14-inch device. This illusion can be attributed to magnesium-alloyed materials, which Asus claims to be lighter yet more durable than aluminum. Speaking of magic, Asus’ unique shades of color always play a game with our eyes. The ExpertBook turned out to have a grey slate finish in our dimly lit office, until my colleague, who suspected some deception, pointed a flashlight at the lid and unveiled the midnight blue finish with a pearlescent sheen glistening with tiny pink and blue sparkles.
The appearance is stunning, like a tad pretentious for more reserved business users. On the semi-transparent lid is a chromed Asus logo that shines like a mirror. Open the lid, and you’ll see more chalky midnight blue surfaces. Thin plastic edges flank a 14-inch display, but the re’s plenty of room above the panel for an infrared webcam with a sliding hatch. As you type, you’ll notice that the ExpertBook B9450 is slightly lifted from the back. This is due to the ErgoLift hinge, which tilts the deck down for a more comfortable typing experience.
Asus deserves praise for putting an HDMI port in a laptop that’s so thin. Also on the left side of the Asus ExpertBook B9450FA, are two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a micro-HDMI port for a wired internet connection via RJ-45 Ethernet (sold separately). On the right side of the laptop, there is a USB 3.1 Type-A port, a Kensington lock, and a headphone/mic connector.
Keyboard and TouchPad
Before I talk about typing experience (it’s okay) on the ExpertBook, I’d like to take a moment to complain about the power button – my worst enemy. It doesn’t just stand next to the Delete button, and it also has the same size and shape. Like most normal people, I instinctively tap the button in the upper right corner to delete a letter or extra space. When I do that on the ExpertBook, I finally take the ultimate measure to shut down the laptop completely. I think that’s one way to fix a typo. But seriously, Asus has to adjust this keyboard layout.
Then let’s talk about the keys themselves. The y’re good! Not great, but good. They provide a decent amount of key travel, and every punch of a key ends with a plush landing. You’re not offered the same snappiness on a ThinkPad keyboard, but the re’s still a decent click on the ExpertBook keys. When I’m doing nothing, the operating force of the keys is a little too high, and therefore typing feels a little slow. Apart from that, I like the fact that there are three backlit settings, the brightest of which are visible under direct light.
I am torn across the touchpad. My cursor kept track of my swipes and gestures, but tap-to-click didn’t always respond well. I found myself tapping multiple times to make the touchpad click. It only happened occasionally, but problems with the touchpad are not something you should encounter of 2021. What you should meet are touchpads with built-in LED-lit numeric keys. Unfortunately, in this case, I had trouble turning on the ExpertBook B9450’s.
I had to press the icon in the top right corner of the touchpad several times before the number pad appeared. The same goes for adjusting the brightness by tapping the icon in the opposite corner. I hope Asus will be able to improve the sensitivity of these buttons in future models; otherwise, the built-in numeric keypad will work properly.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 Review Display
The ExpertBook B9450’s 14-inch, 1080p non-touch display is quite bright and colorful, but its greatest asset is an anti-glare coating. And, because of the matte finish, I had no issues watching videos or writing articles in a sunny café with light rays through the surrounding windows. I wish the screen were a bit lighter. Anyway, I enjoyed the saturated gold and the red shades that shine from the superhero armor in a trailer for Wonder Woman 1984. The screen is also very detailed because I could see the little headstamp at the bottom of a floating bullet.
According to our colorimeter, the screen of the ExpertBook B9450 covers 117% of the sRGB color gamut, which corresponds to the panel of the Elite Dragonfly and is more colorful than that of the SX14 (113%). None of these laptops have a screen as vibrant as the average top laptop (124%). As I said, the display of the ExpertBook B9450 is not very bright. With 302 nits, the screen is surpassed by the SX14 (428 nits), Elite Dragonfly (373 nits), and the average premium laptop (354 nits).
The double speakers at the bottom of the ExpertBook B9450 sounded, all in all, pretty good. The speakers were decently loud to fill a small space, and I didn’t hear any distortion when I increased the volume to 100%. There was even a little banging on the bass in “Your Love” by Glass Animals, and the electric instruments in this pop song were well separated. Yes, David Bayley’s voice sounded a bit thin, and the trebles were loud, but I’ve heard much worse from other portable notebooks.
Graphics performance is not the strongest point of the ExpertBook B9450, so you may need an eGPU to play your favorite games. The ExpertBook’s integrated Intel UHD graphics run the racing game Dirt 3 at just under 23 frames per second, which is below our 30fps playability threshold. The SX14 (33 fps), HP Elite Dragonfly (31 fps), and the premium laptop category average (60 fps) all passed that crucial threshold.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 Review Performance
Asus ExpertBook B9450 – equipped with an Intel’s Core i7-10510U CPU and 16GB of RAM – tested my real performance without breaking a sweat. There was no delay when I streamed a Champions League match between FC Bayern and Chelsea on the TNT streaming site, while 15 additional Chrome tabs were loaded in the background. The ExpertBook went all the way through, even when I played four 1080p (Full-HD) YouTube videos on those tabs.
However, there is a crucial difference between the CPU of the ExpertBook B9450 and that of other top laptops. The Core i7-10510U processor in the Asus is a four-core lower-tier Core i7 compared to the six-core Intel’s Core i7-10710U found in laptops like the Dell XPS 13. Therefore, the performance of the ExpertBook B9450 is not very good, although it may be worth considering to increase endurance (read the battery life section below).
On the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance test, the ExpertBook B9450 clocked a 13,653, which is lower than what the SX14 (14,887, Core i7-8565U) and Elite Dragonfly (14,114, Core i7-8665U) scored with the latest generation processors. On average, the category is at the top of all three laptops, at 15,863. Unfortunately, the four-core processor had a hard time in our real-world benchmark, taking 28 minutes and 24 seconds to convert a 4K video to 1080p resolution using the handbrake test. That pedestrian pace was surpassed by the SX14 (16:46), Elite Dragonfly (22:23), and the premium laptop average (19:52).
On the other hand, Asus provided the ExpertBook B9450 with a fast SSD. The 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD inside our unit duplicated 4.97 GB in 6 seconds at a speed of 771.1 megabytes per second. The SX14 (727 MBps), Elite Dragonfly (424.1 MBps), and the category average (601.9 MBps) were all slower on this test.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 Review Battery Life
I’m incredulous. When our lab tester told me that the ExpertBook B9450 lasted 16 hours and 42 minutes on our battery test, I stared at her for at least 3 minutes, waiting for the punch line. It never came. Still not convinced, I insisted we do the test again. The Asus scored, and put another 16 plus hours of endurance on hold. That’s the longest a laptop has ever endured on our battery test so far, and it’s not even close.
Then there must be something wrong with our test. To find that out, I took the ExpertBook to a cafe without a charger. The laptop saved me from my job. I wrote articles, updated spreadsheets, streamed music, and even made a video call with a brightness of 80% to 100%. The ExpertBook had a 14% charge left after 9 hours of demanding work. That’s phenomenal.
Thin laptops tend to get hot, and B9450 is a good example. The underside of its magnesium alloy chassis heats up to 109 degrees Celsius after a 15-minute video of 1080p. Fortunately, the bits that touch your skin – the center of the keyboard and touchpad – remained below our 95 degrees comfort threshold, reaching 90 degrees and 78 degrees, respectively.
Price and Configuration Options
The ExpertBook B9450 is not for sale for now as I am writing this review; our specific unit is listed as “coming soon.” For $1,799, this model comes with an Intel Core i7-10510U CPU, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Asus says it will also sell the ExpertBook B9450 with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, and 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB storage. We haven’t seen any offers with these specifications yet, but we will update this review when we know the price.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 Review Conclusion
Asus is close to making the perfect laptop, but little things prevent the ExpertBook B9450 from being that device. Let’s start with what the laptop does well: The ExpertBook B9450 has a lovely, midnight peak frame that is both super lightweight and durable. The 14-inch, 1080p screen is relatively bright and vibrant, and its anti-glare finish makes it great for outdoor use. But the definite highlight of the ExpertBook B9450 is the ridiculously long battery life, which has lasted more than 16 hours. It’s worth repeating: it’s longer than any other laptop.
Asus could use a big win this year, but small peculiarities prevent the ExpertBook B9450 from being included in our 5-star Hall of Fame. Among those blunders are a fussy touchpad and a frustrating keyboard layout. It’s also worth pointing out that the performance of the B9450’s Core i7 CPU falls short on specific tasks. Despite those flaws, the ExpertBook B9450 is a great laptop that gives the X1 Carbon some severe competition.
With record battery life and a feather-light chassis, the ExpertBook B9450 is a convincing alternative to the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.
- Record-setting battery life
- Incredibly lightweight yet durable
- Attractive midnight-blue design
- Decent 1080p display
- IR camera and fingerprint sensor
- Mixed performance
- Touchpad and keyboard quirks
- Runs warm