Asus ExpertBook Review

Asus ExpertBook Review
Unveiled in January 2020, the Asus ExperBook B9450 is a high-end notebook aimed at professionals who put mobility first, but at the same time don't want to compromise on build quality or performance.

Con weighing less than a kilogram and ultra-compact dimensions, the ExpertBook B9450 fully achieves the first goal, but also boasts a record autonomy and is able to carry out any task with great speed. In short, it is a fantastic computer, but the price is steep.

Design

The Asus ExpertBook is a 14 "notebook that immediately stands out for how small it is. This is thanks to a screen with very thin frames and a 16: 9 aspect ratio, which allowed Asus to contain the height of the notebook. It is also very thin, 1.49cm, although this is relatively ordinary and common to many other Ultrabooks on the market today.

Asus has chosen a lithium-magnesium alloy for the chassis, which guarantees lightness and strength, along with unexpected stiffness. This is particularly noticeable in the keyboard support, which is particularly solid and rigid, very pleasant to use. The whole notebook is more than durable, and seems ready to accept harsh treatments without creasing.

The surface has a matte and rough finish that is very pleasant to the touch and above all dirt resistant. A very important aspect, because the notebook will always be "presentable", even when you pass from the airport bar to the customer's office, without having the opportunity to clean it.

Above the screen there is a 720p video camera, suitable for video calls, and infrared sensors for facial recognition, which in our case has always worked perfectly. Under the keyboard, on the right, there is the fingerprint reader - a more secure biometric access system. This also works flawlessly, but we would certainly have preferred to find it integrated into the power button.

Asus proposes the ergolift hinge again, so opening the notebook the keyboard lifts up, tilting slightly. A solution that we know and appreciate by now, and once again we have noticed how the notebook is more comfortable and ergonomic than the models with standard design. Furthermore, in this model the screen opens to 180 degrees: it is not a completely necessary thing but it is certainly pleasant to have it, because it ensures that we can always find the best possible position, wherever you are.

ports and connections, we find two Thunderbolt 3 on USB-C, one HDMI in standard format and one LAN port in miniHDMI format. The latter is a completely unusual choice on the part of Asus and we do not fully understand it. If he had wanted to avoid the use of an adapter, a standard Gigabit Ethernet port would have been needed, but since the adapter is still necessary (and not included in the package), we might as well limit ourselves to the USB-C ports. On the right we find a USB-A port, precious for connecting a common pendrive or older peripherals, the jack socket and the one for the Kensington lock (which is not seen so often).

Overall the design of this Asus ExpertBook is excellent: materials and assembly are exemplary, the solidity is what we would like from any laptop, the screen bezels are thin but not so much that you have to sacrifice the position of the webcam.

The the only small drawback is that the left CTRL key makes a somewhat annoying metallic noise, but we are pretty sure that it is only a problem of our sample. And even if it doesn't, it's not that kind of flaw that drives you crazy.

Display

We anticipated the fact that this notebook has a 14-inch Full HD screen. A now common measure for ultraportable, which is progressively replacing the traditional 13.3 ”. This is because modern design solutions allow you to insert a larger screen while maintaining the same size and weight. Indeed, sometimes we also have lighter and more compact computers than usual.

The screen is very bright and this, combined with the anti-glare treatment, makes it easy to read in any situation. We hardly ever felt the need to push beyond 50%, which is also good news to increase battery life.

While this is a work-oriented product, Asus has equipped this computer with one HDR screen. This is good news but it's more theoretical than concrete, and you certainly won't be able to enjoy a TV series on Netflix as you would on a modern TV. The Asus software still manages to give some small improvements in these cases. If you want to use your computer for personal entertainment, you can count on more than good image quality, which is also good news.

Keyboard and touchpad

The Asus ExpertBook offers a standard keyboard, with large, well-spaced keys. The travel is a bit long and the response relatively soft. It allowed us to write quickly and without errors right from the start: 71 pm in Italian and 57 in English is an excellent result for the writer with a keyboard never used before, especially with one in which the Enter key is a thin one. br>
Something to complain about the layout, in particular about the positioning of ù and Enter, which often leads to a new line when you want to write an accented u instead. You get used to it, but better hope. The navigation keys are superimposed on the directional arrows: a compromise that is not ideal, but it is necessary to insert keys of the right size. Although it is certainly preferable to have dedicated navigation keys, it is a relatively acceptable solution.

The F keys by default are remapped in the secondary function (volume, brightness, etc.), but it is possible to use the software by Asus to change this.

The keyboard can be adjusted to three different brightness levels, with a fourth being the total shutdown. We believe that the minimum level will always be the most appropriate.

The touchpad works perfectly. Fingers glide smoothly across the glass surface, and touch response is precise and reliable. In the past we did not like touchpads with integrated screen due to a certain instability but this is not the case with this ExpertBook: although it is not a perfect touchpad (there is still some unwanted vibration) you can use it without the hassles we found with previous models.

With a press of about a second in the upper left corner the touchpad turns into a numeric keypad, which can be useful when using the calculator or entering values ​​in a spreadsheet. It is a very relative utility, because when you want to move the cursor you happen to type numbers without meaning to, so you will want to deactivate it. As a rule, it will certainly remain off for most of the time, but being able to use it on occasion is certainly an advantage.

Locating the power button requires some practice, and the fact that it is not marked in no way does it help from this point of view. Once accessed, the numeric keypad has two brightness levels.

To be honest, if there was a cheaper version with a normal touchpad, it would probably be our favorite.

Performance

With an Intel Core i7-10510U and 16GB of RAM, there is little this laptop can't do. Its "natural" context of use includes office programs of all kinds, video calls, many hours spent with e-mail. Whatever your favorite programs for these activities, the Asus ExperBook will always be up to it.

Our test with PCMark 10 however did not return an excellent result, with 2,785 points against an average (from the 3DMark website ) higher than 3,800 points. However, we believe this is due to an inaccuracy of the test, as is often the case with relatively recent products.

Numbers aside, we have never had the shadow of a performance problem and we believe this is what it is. important.

Equally relevant is the fact that this computer makes you work in total silence. If it is running on battery, in fact, the Asus ExperBook almost never activates its fans. It happened once during a video call with Google Meet but we realized it by accident, because we didn't have headphones at the time.

The fan can be heard every now and then when the power cord is connected. It can happen for example when you are watching something on Netflix or even with less demanding activities. In any case, the fan emits a barely perceptible noise.

On the other hand, the performance of the integrated speakers is disappointing. They generate a clean sound, with an almost absent preponderance of mids and basses. This would be normal in a notebook, but the volume is inadequate in most situations. Using them for a video call would be a gamble, unless you are in a completely silent room. And for entertainment ... watching a film turns into a kind of effort. If you decide to take this computer, which is excellent in every other respect, it will be better to always have headphones available. Since it weighs very little, however, adding them to the bag will certainly not be a problem.

Autonomy

The autonomy tests done with PCMark10 have shown over 20 hours of duration, which is a value very high. And in a real-world context we were able to use the Asus ExpertBook for over eight hours before the 65 watt power supply needed to be plugged in.

What does this mean? That this laptop has a very high autonomy. If you have to spend the day out, you can safely leave the power supply at home (or in the office) and at the end you will still have enough remaining power to watch an episode of your favorite series.

Autonomy like this defines this notebook as a true champion of mobile work.

Verdict and competitors

The Asus ExpertBook can be found on the Asus website for € 1,899, and several online stores have it at similar prices . The version with Intel Core i5 and 512 GB SSD (instead of 1 TB) costs € 1,219.

These are high prices for a laptop, certainly not for everyone. Having said that, if low weight is your priority, but at the same time you want a nice computer that has performance, solidity and autonomy, then the Asus ExpertBook is the product for you.

If instead the combination of elements is not necessary, and you just need something, there is no shortage of competitors: Starting with the "prince" of the Ultrabooks, namely the Dell XPS 13: the model from € 1,929 gives the Asus model a hard time, with Intel CPU 11th generation and similar specs, but the screen is smaller and weighs more.

Similar rating for the HP Specter x360, which for € 1,749 offers 4K OLED screen and stylus included, as well as a 2 design -in-1. But it is heavier and the SSD is only 512GB.

In short, the direct competitors of this Asus offer more on one side and less on the other. This is clearly a short blanket and Asus with this ExpertBook has certainly managed to fill a gap, offering a high-performance, solid and reliable laptop, which represents a valid alternative to the models mentioned.

All things considered the price is therefore adequate, for a notebook which, we are sure, you will not regret.



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