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ASUS ExpertBook B9450CEA First Impressions

Posted July 15, 2021 | ASUS | ASUS ExpertBook | Hardware | Mobile | Windows | Windows 10


The ASUS ExpertBook is billed as the world’s lightest 14-inch business-class laptop, and it makes a strong case with its 1.94-pound curb weight. That’s quite lightweight when you consider that most of its competition weighs over 3 pounds.

I can’t recall whether I’ve ever reviewed an ASUS PC before, but I don’t believe so, and I was excited to be given the opportunity. I was especially happy about this particular PC choice, as well. As noted, the ExpertBook is a business-class offering, and it appears to meet the quality-level and set of capabilities that one would expect from such a PC. That it is so lightweight is, of course, an obvious selling point. Perhaps the selling point.

ASUS says it achieved this ungodly light weight by adopting a new magnesium-lithium alloy that is both lighter and stronger than the magnesium-aluminum alloy that is more common in this part of the market. And it presses its case by pointing to the MIL-STD 810H durability tests that the laptop passed.

I can’t speak to its long-term durability yet, of course, and I will probably never be able to do so. But the next things I noticed after the ExpertBook’s lightness was that its display lid was particularly thin and that the entire exterior of the PC has an almost coarse feel. It’s not a bad feel compared to most laptops, just different. It doesn’t look or even feel like all the Lenovo, HP, and Dell PCs we typically see out in the world.

That’s a good thing. And I like the subtle design cues that further differentiate the ASUS, especially the angled creases that extend from the keyboard to the back corners of the bottom deck. They create a unique look, one that should go over well with the target audience.

The ExpertBook is an Intel Evo-class PC. It’s powered by a quad-core 11th-generation Intel Core i7-1185G7 vPro processor with Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and two (!) M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0-based SSD drives, each with 512 GB of capacity; this can be configured as RAID 0, RAID 1, or as two separate drives.

Expansion is likewise impressive, with two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports, one full-sized USB-A 3.2 Gen-2 port, one full-sized HDMI port, and a mini-HDMI port that can be used with a bundled Ethernet dongle. There’s also a combo audio jack, of course.

The display is my only obvious niggling complaint up front, as it’s a 16:9 panel at a time when most premium PCs, at least, are starting to move to 16:10.

But that’s excused by the system’s very small bezels on every side—this PC features a 94 percent screen-to-body ratio—and it is a bright 300-nit 14-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display with anti-glare and wide-view capabilities.

The other display oddity is more of a note than a complaint: The hinges connect under the back of the body, so when you rotate the display backward, the back of the keyboard deck lifts upward. This is fine, as it creates an angled typing experience that most should find pleasant. But it’s a little bit unusual.

And yes, the display can lay flat, though the keyboard deck is angled upwards at the back, of course.

The backlit and spill-resistant keyboard is full-sized and appears to be excellent, though the built-in Power key is in the spot where Delete should be, and that will require a bit of training. There’s a fingerprint reader on the wrist rest, too, and the 720p webcam supports Windows Hello facial recognition.

The touchpad is interesting. It’s a very wide glass precision touchpad and appears to work well in early use. But it also supports an integrated number pad for those that need to input a lot of numbers; it’s activated by clicking in that top right of the touchpad. Fun!

Thanks to its very large and 66 watt-hour battery—an unusual size—the ExpertBook will provide all-day battery life, ASUS says, though I’ve not seen an exact time estimate. Its USB-C-based fast charger can go from 1 percent to 60 percent in just 40 minutes, however. Connectivity is modern, with both Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5, but no cellular wireless.

I’ve only just started examining the software loadout, but ASUS is providing a minimal number of utilities, most of which appear to be truly useful. Of most interest is MyASUS, which, among other things, includes a useful fan profile feature that can switch between Performance, Standard, and Whisper modes, and a toggleable AI noise-canceling audio feature. The only real crapware on here is McAfee Personal Security, which I’ll remove.

The retail price for this configuration, which I believe is the only configuration is $1699. Overall, this looks impressive and I can’t wait to use it more.

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