PCs

Asus ExpertBook boasts excellent battery stamina

Asus' latest ExpertBook B9450 business ultrabook reminds me of Sony's Vaio notebook series in its heyday in the early 2010s, when it was the gold standard for sleek, premium computers.

For one thing, the ExpertBook is just as expensive, with my Core i7 review set priced at $2,688.

But more importantly, it is amazingly portable for a 14-inch notebook at just 870g. In fact, it is almost as light as a Windows tablet such as the 12.3-inch Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (770g) - despite having an additional keyboard.

As I've become used to notebooks that are almost twice as heavy, the ExpertBook feels practically weightless in my bag.

Asus says it uses a magnesium-lithium alloy that is lighter than the usual magnesium-aluminium alloy for the notebook's lid and cover. Despite being just 15mm thick, the laptop has passed several military-grade tests for durability.

The ExpertBook also aces my informal strength test - it stoutly resists my attempt to bend the chassis. I am also impressed with the hinge design, which lets me open the notebook lid with just one hand.

The outside of the ExpertBook is coated with a matt, almost sandpaper-like finish that feels grippy.

Its dark-blue colour is appropriate for a business setting, though on closer look, there are tiny embedded specks on the laptop's surface that reflect light, as if it was dusted with glitter.

With its slim 4mm-thick screen bezels, the ExpertBook is very compact, with hardly any wasted space at the sides.

The top screen bezel accommodates a 720p Web camera with an infrared sensor that can unlock the computer via facial recognition, even in the dark. The camera has a physical lens cover to block its view for privacy.

Alternatively, you can use the fingerprint sensor located below the keyboard. Both biometric methods work flawlessly in my test.

Its matt screen looks lovely with rich balanced colours. But it could be brighter - its 300-nits brightness rating is average for a premium laptop.

  • FOR 

  • • Incredibly portable 

    • Ample ports and connectivity options

    • Excellent battery life

  • AGAINST

    • Expensive

    • Runs warm

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $2,688

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-10510U (1.8GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Intel UHD Graphics 620

    RAM: 16GB DDR3

    SCREEN SIZE: 14 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Type-A Gen 2, HDMI, RJ45 via micro-HDMI port, audio jack

    BATTERY: 33 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4.5/5

    DESIGN: 4.5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4.5/5

The backlit keyboard offers three levels of illumination. It is tactile and has good key travel, but I still prefer the ones on Lenovo's ThinkPad notebooks.

Not only is the touchpad wider than usual, but it also becomes an LED-illuminated number pad when you press and hold the icon at the touchpad's top right corner.

A handy extra is the Calculator app, which can be opened instantly when you swipe the left top corner of the touchpad.

The ExpertBook comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which can also be used to charge the laptop's battery. It also supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard that offers faster transfer speeds with a Wi-Fi 6 router.

And if the Wi-Fi network is not stable enough, the ExpertBook can also connect to an Ethernet cable using the included dongle that plugs into its micro-HDMI port.

While its performance in the PCMark 10 benchmark is average, with an overall score of 3,661, the ExpertBook blows me away with its battery stamina.

Despite a relatively small 33-watt-hour battery, the laptop lasts seven hours and 35 minutes in The Straits Times' video-loop battery test. And if this uptime is not long enough, Asus offers a heavier variant of the ExpertBook (980g) with a larger 66-watt-hour battery at $2,698.

A cheaper Core i5 model ($2,298) with a 66-watt-hour battery is also available.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2020, with the headline 'Asus ExpertBook boasts excellent battery stamina'. Print Edition | Subscribe