Lightweight and fast machine for business

The AsusPro P5440 has a plain and safe design.
The AsusPro P5440 has a plain and safe design.PHOTO: ASUS

The AsusPro P5440 is a more conventional business laptop than last year's B9440.

For the B9440, the commercial PC arm of Taiwanese tech firm Asus went for a radical design that ditched the Web camera to accommodate a near-bezel display. It had only USB Type-C ports, but a dongle with HDMI output and a standard USB Type-A port were included.

Thankfully, the P5440 restores these missing features. It has a Web camera above the screen, surrounded by bezels that are slim, but not razor-thin like the ones on some consumer laptops.

There is no need for a dongle because it has a single USB Type-C port, two full-size USB Type-A ports and an HDMI port. There is also an SD card reader.

While it is slightly thicker and heavier than the B9440, the new model is portable for an ultrabook. It weighs about 1.2kg, thanks to its magnesium-alloy chassis.

It is a bland grey colour with no design flourishes. Sedate, safe and business-like.

The chassis feels slightly more creaky than a unibody aluminium version. There is a bit of flex, especially in the middle of the keyboard.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $2,298

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-8550U (1.8GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce MX130 2GB GDDR5

    MEMORY: 8GB DDR4

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

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, HDMI, SD card slot, audio jack

    BATTERY: 50 watt-hour

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Its 14-inch screen has a matte finish and good viewing angles. Its 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution is typical and more than adequate for its target audience.

I like the raised rubber bumpers on the screen bezel that prevent the screen from touching the keyboard when the lid is closed.

This lid can be opened to 180 degrees, which is useful when you need to show another person the contents of the screen in a meeting. It can also be opened using one hand.

Asus says the spill-resistant keyboard has 1.5mm key travel. It certainly feels deeper and more comfortable to type on than some ultrabooks. Its backlight offers three levels of brightness. But unlike many business laptops, there is no pointing stick in the middle of the P5440's keyboard.

The touchpad is of a decent size and is smooth. Its surface does seem to get grimy easily. It is a precision touchpad that supports Windows 10's multi-touch gestures.

Conveniently located next to the touchpad is a small squarish fingerprint sensor, which nowadays is a must-have feature for any business laptop worth its salt. It is quick to authenticate my identity and I prefer it to facial recognition, which is unavailable on the P5440.

Another common hardware security feature in the P5440 is its Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which can be used for Windows 10's BitLocker feature to encrypt the contents of the laptop's solid-state drive (SSD).

My review unit, which is the top model available here, comes with a 512GB SSD that uses the fast PCIe interface. As a result, it produced read and write speeds of 1,742MB/s and 1,578MB/s respectively, compared to around 500MB/s for both tasks with an SSD that uses the slower Sata interface.

But to my annoyance, the laptop comes with a bunch of preinstalled apps or shortcuts to app downloads. These leisure apps and games are out of place on a business PC, but the fault lies with Microsoft, not Asus.

It lasted five hours and 45 minutes in the video-loop battery test, which was slightly shorter than I had expected.

• Verdict: A conventional and lightweight business laptop with the latest hardware.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2018, with the headline 'Lightweight and fast machine for business'. Print Edition | Subscribe