Recommending a portable business laptop has never been an issue. My answer: "Just buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon." It's that simple. Well, it was until Asus sent us the ExpertBook B9450, a featherweight 14-inch laptop with the longest battery life of any notebook we've ever tested.
Along with its epic endurance, this ultraportable enterprise machine has a slim yet durable chassis, a solid 1080p display and plenty of security features, including a fingerprint sensor and IR camera. Other standout additions include an illuminated number pad integrated into the touchpad and a light bar on the laptop's front edge.
The ExpertBook B9450 could be the perfect business notebook if not for inconsistent performance and quirks with the touchpad and keyboard. Regardless, the B9450 is the best Asus laptop released in recent months and a great alternative to the best business laptops, like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and HP Elite Dragonfly. It's also one of the laptops with best battery life.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 price and configuration options
The ExpertBook B9450 isn't on sale as I write this review; our specific unit is listed as "coming soon." For $1,799, this model will come with an Intel Core i7-10510U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.
Asus ExpertBook 9450 specs
CPU: Intel Core i7-10510U
GPU: Intel UHD
Display: 14 inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels
Size: 12.6 x 8 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Asus says it will also sell the ExpertBook B9450 with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and either 512GB, 1TB or 2TB of storage. We haven't seen any listings yet with these specs, but we'll update this review when we know the price.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 design
Asus must have cast some magical spell on this laptop, because its incredible lightness doesn't match the physical size of the 14-inch device. That illusion can be attributed to magnesium-alloy materials, which Asus claims to be lighter yet stronger than aluminum.
Speaking of magic, Asus' unique colorways always play tricks on our eyes. The ExpertBook appeared to have a gray slate finish in our dimly lit office until my colleague, suspecting some trickery, aimed a flashlight on the lid, revealing its midnight-blue finish with a pearlescent sheen that glistened tiny pink and blue sparkles. The look is stunning, if a tad garish for more reserved business users.
On the semirough lid is a chrome Asus logo that reflects like a mirror. Open the lid, and you'll find more chalky, midnight-blue surfaces. Thin plastic bezels flank a 14-inch display, but there is enough space above the panel for an infrared webcam with a sliding shutter.
You'll notice when typing that the ExpertBook B9450 is slightly lifted from the back. This is because of the ErgoLift hinge, which tilts the deck downward to provide a more comfortable typing experience.
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At 12.6 x 8 x 0.6 inches and 2.2 pounds, the ExpertBook B9450 is lighter and thinner than the Vaio SX14 (12.6 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches, 2.3 pounds). The Asus even weighs less than the Elite Dragonfly (11.9 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches, 2.5 pounds), despite having a wider chassis.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 security and durability
Lightweight doesn't mean feeble. The ExpertBook B9450 is rated to military-grade durability, which means it can withstand extreme conditions. The laptop passed multiple MIL-STD 810G tests, including panel pressure, shock and drop, and extreme temperature and humidity.
On the inside, the ExpertBook B9450 will ship with optional Intel vPro chips for remote manageability and more robust security along with a TPM 2.0 chip for ensuring data is encrypted. Hardware security features include a fingerprint sensor and IR camera for secure and fast login via Windows Hello.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 ports
Asus deserves no shortage of praise for fitting an HDMI port into a laptop this thin.
Also on the left side of the ExpertBook B9450FA are two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a micro HDMI for a wired internet connection via an RJ-45 Ethernet (sold separately).
Asus ExpertBook B9450 display
The ExpertBook B9450's 14-inch, 1080p nontouch display is fairly bright and colorful, but its biggest asset is an anti-glare coating.
Because of the matte finish, I had no problems watching videos or writing articles in a sunny cafe with light beaming through surrounding windows. I just wish the screen were a tad brighter. Regardless, I enjoyed the saturated gold and red hues glistening off the superhero armor in a trailer for Wonder Woman 1984. The display is also plenty detailed, as I could see the tiny headstamp on the bottom of a floating bullet.
According to our colorimeter, the ExpertBook B9450's screen covers 117% of the sRGB color gamut, which matches the panel on the Elite Dragonfly and is more colorful than the one on the SX14 (113%). None of these laptops have a display as vivid as the premium laptop average (124%).
As I mentioned, the ExpertBook B9450's screen isn't very bright. At 302 nits, the display is outshone by the screens on the SX14 (428 nits), Elite Dragonfly (373 nits) and the average premium laptop (354 nits).
Asus ExpertBook B9450 keyboard and touchpad
Oops, typo. Let me delete that letter. Wait, why is my laptop restarting?! Before I get to the typing experience (it's fine) on the ExpertBook, I'd like to take a moment to complain about its power button — my new worst enemy. It's not only positioned next to the Delete key, but it's also the same size and shape.
Like most normal humans, I instinctively tap the upper-rightmost key to delete a letter or extra space. When I do that on the ExpertBook B9450, I end up taking the extreme measure of shutting down the laptop altogether. I guess that's one way to fix a typo. But seriously, Asus needs to fix this. Please Asus, separate the power button from the keyboard before I fling the ExpertBook like a frisbee the next time I accidentally shut it down before saving an in-progress article.
With that rant out of the way, let's talk about the keys themselves. They're good! Not amazing, but good. They deliver a surprisingly decent amount of travel and each punch of a key ends with a plush landing. You don't get the same snappiness offered on a ThinkPad keyboard, but there is still a decent clickiness to the ExpertBook's keys.
If I'm nitpicking, the actuation force of the keys is a bit too high, and, as a result, my typing felt a bit sluggish. On an unrelated note, I like that there are three backlit settings, the brightest of which can be easily seen under direct light.
I'm torn about the touchpad. My cursor kept up with my swipes and gestures, but tap-to-click wasn't always responsive. I found myself double and triple tapping to get the touchpad to click. It happened only occasionally, but touchpad issues aren't something you should encounter in 2020.
What you should encounter are touchpads with built-in LED-illuminated number pads. Unfortunately, in this case, I had some trouble turning the ExpertBook B9450's on. I had to press the icon in the top-right corner of the touchpad multiple times before the glowing number pad appeared. The same goes for changing the brightness by tapping the icon in the opposite corner. I hope Asus can improve the sensitivity of these buttons in future models, because the built-in number pad otherwise works well.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 audio
The dual speakers on the bottom of the ExpertBook B9450 sounded pretty good, all things considered. The speakers were loud enough to fill a small room, and I didn't hear any distortion when I cranked up the volume to 100%. There was even a bit of thump to the bass in Glass Animals' "Your Love (Déjà Vu)" and the electric instruments in this energetic pop song were properly separated. Yes, David Bayley's voice was thin and the treble was harsh, but I've heard a lot worse from other portable notebooks.
That said, if you want the best audio quality, go treat yourself to a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 performance
Our ExpertBook B9450 — equipped with an Intel Core i7-10510U CPU and 16GB of RAM — handled my real-world performance testing without breaking a sweat. There wasn't a hint of lag when I streamed a Champions League game between FC Bayern and Chelsea on TNT's streaming site while 15 additional Google Chrome tabs loaded in the background. The ExpertBook chugged right along, even when I played four 1080p YouTube videos on those tabs.
However, there is a crucial distinction between the ExpertBook B9450's CPU and those of other premium laptops. The Core i7-10510U processor inside the Asus is a lower-tier Core i7 with four cores compared with the six-core Core i7-10710U found in devices like the Dell XPS 13. For this reason, the ExpertBook B9450's performance is short of class leading, although the trade-off might be worth endurance gains (please 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 last-gen processors. The category average tops all three laptops, at 15,863.
Unfortunately, the four-core processor struggled in our real-world benchmark, needing 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 equipped the ExpertBook B9450 with a speedy SSD. The 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD inside of our unit duplicated 4.97GB in 6 seconds at a rate 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 graphics
Graphics performance isn't the ExpertBook B9450's strong suit, so you might need an eGPU to play your favorite games.
The ExpertBook's integrated Intel UHD graphics ran the racing game Dirt 3 at a measly 23 frames per second, which is below our 30-fps playability threshold. The SX14 (33 fps), Elite Dragonfly (31 fps) and premium laptop average (60 fps) all passed that crucial threshold.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 battery life
I'm in complete disbelief. When our lab tester told me the ExpertBook B9450 lasted for 16 hours and 42 minutes on our battery test, I stared at her for at least 3 minutes, waiting for the punchline. It never came. Still not convinced, I insisted we rerun the test. The Asus scoffed, putting up another 16-plus hours of endurance.
That is the longest any laptop has ever endured on our battery test to date, and it's not even close. Surely then, something must be wrong with our test, right? To find out, I brought the ExpertBook to a cafe without a charger.
The laptop saved me my job. I wrote articles, updated spreadsheets, streamed music and even joined a video call with the display brightness between 80% and 100%. The ExpertBook had a 14% charge remaining after 9 hours of demanding work.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 webcam
Asus hasn't made a good webcam in over a decade, so it's no surprise that the B9450's 720p camera has subpar image quality. My hair and beard were nondescript blobs through a haze of visual noise in a selfie I snapped in our dimly lit office. Color reproduction seemed OK — the jacket behind me was the proper shade of green — but that doesn't excuse how the camera overexposed the light hanging above me.
As always, an external webcam will give you the best image and video quality for conference calls or chatting with a family member from afar.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 heat
Thin laptops tend to get hot, and the B9450 is a prime example. The underside of its magnesium-alloy chassis warmed to a scalding 109 degrees after we played a 15-minute, 1080p video. Fortunately, the bits your skin actually touch — the center of the keyboard and touchpad — stayed below our 95-degree comfort threshold, reaching 90 degrees and 78 degrees, respectively.
Asus ExpertBook B9450 software and warranty
Asus didn't overload the ExpertBook with preinstalled apps. But what it does have is very useful.
Asus' MyAsus app is one of the best support apps around. It has a modern interface and is loaded with features and helpful information. Warranty info and links to support docs (including one that looks for potential Blue Screen errors) are presented on the front page. You can do all sorts of stuff from there, like run diagnostics tests, manually adjust the fan model and change display modes (Vivid, Eye Care).
There is even a direct line to Asus' support support and tons of walkthroughs on how to fix common problems. Most importantly, MyAsus will keep the B9450 up to date with the latest software and security updates. Made specifically for laptops like the ExpertBook, Asus' Business Manager app gives you additional security features, like the ability to encrypt your hard drive. There is also an app for connecting to Asus' SimPro Dock.
I don't mind Alexa being preinstalled on the ExpertBook, given how it integrates with the hardware, but it's time to do away with McAfee Personal Security and those casual games (Candy Crush Friends, Farm Heroes Saga) that come with Windows 10 Pro.
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 right: The ExpertBook B9450 has a very attractive, midnight-pearlescent chassis that is both superlightweight and durable. The 14-inch, 1080p screen is relatively bright and vivid, and the anti-glare finish makes it great for outdoor use. But the clear highlight of the ExpertBook B9450 is its ridiculously long battery life, which lasted for more than 16 hours. It's worth reiterating: that's longer than any other laptop.
Asus could use a big win this year, but small quirks prevent the ExpertBook B9450 from being inducted into our 5-star Hall of Fame. Among those blunders is a finicky 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 certain tasks.
Despite those flaws, the ExpertBook B9450 is a fantastic laptop that gives the X1 Carbon a serious run for its money.