ASUS ExpertBook B9 (B9400CB)
Ultralight with an ultra-long battery life, the ExpertBook B9 might just be the best ultraportable ASUS has ever made.
- I can’t feel my laptop
- Truly all-day battery life
- AdaptiveLock redefines convenient security
- Excellent array of I/O
- RAID1 despite ultraslim form factor
- Surprisingly good performance
- (Too) familiar design
- A tad too minimalist?
If thin and light business laptops are what you need, then you should know about the ASUS ExpertBook B9. With it still holding the distinction as the lightest 14″ business laptop in the world for three years running, this is the laptop to look out for, and I think the 12th Gen Intel Core refresh makes it just that much better.
ASUS ExpertBook B9 — What’s Good
I can’t feel my laptop
Coming in at just 1.005kg, it’s actually lighter than my water bottle. I personally consider any laptop below 2kg to be sufficiently portable, but when I carry a laptop that’s this light, I can’t help but be amazed every single time I pick it up. When I pick up the bag off the floor, I doubt myself, whether I actually packed my laptop. Lifting the laptop off the table to pack it up as I head to my next destination brings an actual smile to my face, as I am just awed by how light my laptop for the day is. And what I really like about the ExpertBook B9 is that this laptop doesn’t sacrifice much, unlike the ASUS Zenbook S13 OLED that had to give up screen size and usable ports to hit its 1.1kg weight.
All-day battery life
ASUS actually dropped the estimated battery life for the 12th Gen ExpertBook B9 by an hour, claiming 16 hours instead of the 17 of the 11th Gen ExpertBook B9. However I also found that it was able to deliver much closer to its claims in PCMark’s battery test, with 15 hours and 13 minutes on the clock before the battery gave up the ghost. That’s a full hour more than the 11th Gen version! In my normal usage, I managed to squeeze out over 11 hours, which is more than enough for a full workday. The AdaptiveLock is also very helpful when it comes to conserving battery during idle, aside from its primary security purpose.
AdaptiveLock redefines convenient security
AdaptiveLock is the holy grail of security. At least, it is to me. Leave your laptop, and it locks the laptop. Come back, and it wakes the screen up. You might not even see the sensors behind this cool feature above the display, but the ASUS ExpertBook B9 packs a proximity sensor along with the webcam, that’s covered by a physical shutter in orange to allay all privacy concerns. And yes, if you also harness the IR facial recognition system, you can be logged back into your laptop before you even realize. And yes, as it locks and turns off the display when you are away, it also helps to save you some precious battery life, which the ExpertBook B9 already has plenty of.
Excellent array of I/O
I must hand it to ASUS for their ability to make the ExpertBook B9 this thin, and yet still keep all the essential I/O options on hand. We have a full-sized USB-A capable of 10Gbps, full-sized HDMI 2.0b port, two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, and a 3.5mm audio jack. Even LAN was not forgotten, although you will need to use the microHDMI dongle for that.
Instead of the fancy folding LAN ports that some Japanese laptop makers came up with, ASUS decided to include a microHDMI to LAN dongle with the ExpertBook B9. This lets your ExpertBook B9 to work better with MAC whitelists with the Ethernet controller built into the laptop itself, instead of what you get with usual USB-based LAN adapters. The wireless connectivity is also up to date, with WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 to round off the list.
RAID1 despite ultraslim form factor
And the cool stuff doesn’t end there. For some reason, ASUS seems to peddle configurations of the ExpertBook B9 with RAID0, which I think isn’t particularly beneficial, since it supports quick PCIe 4.0 x4 SSDs already. What are you going to do with 7GB/s reads? The chance that one SSD goes belly side up and you losing all your data is not something I think business users will be too inclined to gamble on.
I think a more practical use for the dual SSD slots for mission critical deployments would be RAID1, as you can go to sleep easy every night knowing that even if one of your SSDs decide to kick the bucket, you have an exact copy of all the data on it. Or if configuring RAID arrays isn’t your thing, the ability to have 4TB of super-quick PCIe 4.0 storage in such a slim laptop is quite unique. Heck, you can’t even do that on the much thicker ASUS Zenbook Pro 16X OLED, despite that being a “Pro” model.
Surprisingly good performance
The 12th Gen Intel Core hardware does come handy to deliver some impressive performance figures. We are getting a 91% higher multi-core and 30% higher single-core scores in Cinebench R20 here, versus last year’s ExpertBook B9. GPU scores also went up by close to 40%. Overall, the performance gains are nothing to scoff at, and if you are worried that such a light laptop will come with featherweight performance, this isn’t it.
Worth noting though is that ASUS is quite conservative here with the power limits and cooling capabilities here, as they usually are with the ExpertBooks. The CPU quickly drops to its nominal TDP, which translate to lower power consumption and cooler temperatures, at the cost of peak performance. As such, temperatures are kept below 80°C even under full load, ensuring that you can work with the ExpertBook B9 on your lap without accidentally castrating yourself. This is quite unlike what we have seen with the Vivobook 15X OLED, which runs at over 90°C on a whim.
ASUS ExpertBook B9 — What’s Not
(Too) familiar design
In terms of design, the ASUS ExpertBook B9 is not going to wow anyone. I mean, it’s thin, but it’s not exactly the thinnest laptop we have seen. It’s also a three-year old design by now, and I feel like ASUS is probably trying to squeeze out the most value out of the tooling for the bespoke magnesium lithium chassis. But to play the devil’s advocate, ASUS ExpertBooks generally keep to safer, more conventional designs, unlike the more consumer-oriented Zenbook or Vivobook series.
Don’t get me wrong here, while the design is getting long in tooth, the magnesium lithium chassis with the rough Star Black finish and the sharp, clean lines still look great. It’s dated, but not ThinkPad dated, if you get my drift. It just isn’t as awe-inducing, as we have laptops like the ASUS Zenbook 14 OLED now in 2022, which is actually thinner. The only thing that the ExpertBook B9 has going for it is its sheer weightlessness. We don’t even get a 16:10 panel here, although to the ExpertBook B9’s credit, the 94% screen-to-body ratio is still one of the highest, if not the highest, in the industry.
A tad too minimalist?
My next complaint is that this laptop is a bit too light on features. I kinda understand why there aren’t that many features here on the ExpertBook B9, as ASUS engineers probably worked their butts off to minimize the weight and extend the battery life as much as they could. But when I look at the ExpertBook B7 Flip, I just feel like it’s a much better business laptop to bring out when I am on the go, albeit weighing close to 50% more. The Private View and 5G connectivity of the latter really comes in handy. It puts the ExpertBook B9 in a rather odd position, despite it being the ExpertBook series’ flagship.
ASUS ExpertBook B9 (B9400CBA) Specifications
|Intel Core i7-1255U, 10C/12T (2P+8E) @ up to 4.7GHz
12MB L3 cache
|32GB LPDDR5-5200, on-board, quad-channel
|Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 96EU @ up to 1.25GHz
|1TB WD PC SN735 SSD (M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD, NVMe 1.4)
1 x M.2 PCIe 4.0 slot vacant
|14″ FHD 16:9 (1920 x 1080) 60Hz AUO B140HAN06.B IPS display
400 nits max brightness
100% sRGB gamut
Low power (1W panel)
94% screen-to-body ratio
|WiFi 6E + Bluetooth 5.3 (Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211)
Intel I219-V GbE LAN (over micro HDMI)
2 x Thunderbolt 4 with display-out, USB-PD
1 x USB-A (USB 3.2 Gen 2, 10Gbps)
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x 3.5mm combo jack
|Stereo speakers with Smart Amp Technology
|66WHr 4-cell Li-po battery
65W USB-PD power adapter
|320 x 203 x 14.9 mm
Micro HDMI to RJ45 dongle
ASUS ExpertBook B9 — should you buy this?
So, is lightness all you care about? Then yes. It’s really light, and I love having a nigh weightless laptop in my bag. This is after all the world’s lightest 14″ business laptop, and it is absolutely amazing to use when you are hopping around town for your meetings. The unreal feeling of whipping out a laptop that weighs just a kilogram is something that you must experience for yourself to understand. And I also find ASUS’ ingenuity to not compromise on the core laptop experience at all to deliver a laptop this light very commendable.
Ultralight with an ultra-long battery life, the ExpertBook B9 might just be the best ultraportable ASUS has ever made. I literally can’t find anything to complain about it aside from that it doesn’t have a fresher design, or more features than I need. If only it had 5G, then I would definitely pick up the ExpertBook B9 in a heartbeat. I dubbed the ExpertBook B7 Flip “the ultimate business laptop”, but I am quite torn between these two awesome business laptops. Do I want a super-light machine with super-long battery life, or do I want to sacrifice some of that for 5G? Well, both are priced at RM8,499, so I have some thinking to do.
And oh, before I forget, the ASUS ExpertBooks are protected by a 3-year global warranty with local on-site service, 3-year battery package and 1-year Perfect Warranty, for extra peace of mind versus your regular consumer-oriented ASUS laptops. Not like those are bad in any way though, since they also come with a pretty great 2-year global warranty and 1-year Perfect Warranty.