Asus ExpertBook B9450 Review: Outdated Display, CPU Diminish Sleek Ultraportable – CNET

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7.0

Asus ExpertBook B9450 (2023)

Like


  • Extremely portable

  • Premium build quality

  • Long runtime

Don’t like


  • Expensive

  • 16:9 display feels confining

  • Below-average performance from previous-gen CPU

  • Grainy 720p webcam

Asus proudly declares that the 2.2-pound ExpertBook B9450 is the lightest 14-inch business laptop, and I can’t find any evidence to dispute the claim. I believe you could go as far as to say it’s the lightest 14-inch laptop of any kind — whether it’s for home or work — if not for Asus’s own Zenbook 14 Ultralight UX435, which the company quotes as weighing a scant 2.16 pounds. There was also the 14-inch Acer Swift 7 from a few years back that managed to get under the two-pound mark, but it’s no longer available. Regardless, the ExpertBook B9450 is extremely light and achieves its featherweight lightness without feeling cheap. This extreme portability, however, requires you to make a few tradeoffs.

For starters, this 14-inch laptop is smaller than most modern 14-inch models. It features a widescreen display with a 16:9 aspect ratio that provides less vertical screen real estate than the 16:10 panels that are the trend now. And if you’ve spent any time using a 14-inch, 16:10 laptop, then a 14-inch, 16:9 unit is going to feel cramped. The ExpertBook B9450’s internals are also behind the times. It features a previous-generation Intel Core processor that’s a step or two behind competing business laptops based on Intel’s current 13th-gen chips. I prefer the roomier and only slightly heavier Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 that’s also faster and longer running.

Configuration as tested

Price as reviewed $1,770
Display size/resolution 14-inch 1,920×1,080 nontouch antiglare display
CPU 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-1255U
Memory 16GB LP-DDR5 6,400MHz
Graphics 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics
Storage 1TB NVMe SSD
Networking Wi-Fi 6E 802.11ax Dual band 2*2 + Bluetooth 5.3
Operating system Microsoft Windows 11 Pro

Asus sells one version of the ExpertBook B9450. It’s a fixed configuration and costs $1,770 from Asus. For that sum, you get an Intel Core i7-1255U processor, 16GB of RAM, integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics and a 1TB SSD. The 14-inch display features a 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution and a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio display. The previous version with an 11th-gen Core i7 processor is also still available from Asus, but the 12th-gen chip in our test systems is already playing catch-up to models with current 13th-gen Intel CPUs, so the 11th-gen model is to be avoided at its current $1,700 price. There’s also a ExpertBook B9403 OLED model for $2,150 that features an OLED display and 13th-gen Intel silicon. The ExpertBook B9450 starts at £1,600 in the UK. It’s listed in Australia as the ExpertBook B9400 12th Gen Intel but not available for purchase at the time this is published.

The ExpertBook B9450 did not light our labs on fire. It finished last among similarly priced laptops on our Geekbench 5 and Cinebench tests and managed to squeak past a pair of ThinkPad X1 Carbons on 3DMark with a score that still placed it near the back of the pack. Its 12th-gen Intel Core U-series CPU could not keep up with either newer 13th-gen chips or Apple’s M2 processor. The 15-watt Core i7-1255U chip, however, helped the ExpertBook B9450 deliver a positive result on our battery drain test where it lasted for more than 12 hours. The efficient CPU also allowed the laptop to stay cool and quiet, despite its compact enclosure.

Light but tight

Asus achieves the remarkably lightweight chassis for the ExpertBook B9450 by using a magnesium-lithium alloy, which it says is the lightest metal alloy on the planet and, more to the point for laptop shoppers, lighter and more durable than laptops more commonly constructed from a different magnesium alloy or aluminum. At 2.2 pounds, it’s lighter than the 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 (2.5 pounds), the 13.6-inch M2 MacBook Air (2.7 pounds) and 13.4-inch Dell XPS 13 (2.6 pounds). In short, it’s really, really light and eminently portable.

Asus Expertbook B9450 keyboard at an angle

Matt Elliott/CNET

The ExpertBook B9450 may be light, but it’s no lightweight. It feels like a premium laptop. Many ultraportables chasing a low carrying weight go too far and end up feeling like cheap, plastic budget models — even when they’re made of metal. Not so with the ExpertBook B9450. It feels fairly rigid; there is some flex in the lid behind the display and underneath the keyboard, but nothing to a worrying degree. The metal surfaces on the top and bottom panels and keyboard deck have a pleasing, textured matte finish. The texture feels like fine-grit sandpaper, and there are tiny green and white sparkles against the matte-black surface. It adds up to a sleek-looking laptop that also feels good whether you’re typing on it or toting it around.

The keyboard is excellent. The keys offer a springy, lively response, and the hinge props up the back of the laptop to create a comfortable typing angle — while also providing greater airflow for the bottom vent. In addition to the standard row of function keys at the top of the keyboard, the ExpertBook B9450 features four extra hotkeys. The 1, 2, 3 and 4 keys are outlined in blue and are set to control Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, the proximity sensor and power modes. You can customize these four extra hotkeys with the preinstalled Asus ExpertWidget app, but there are only five choices for the four keys, and two of the functions — power mode and power plan are very similar.

Asus ExpertBook B9450 hotkeys outlined in blue

Matt Elliott/CNET

Like the keyboard, the touchpad has a few hidden features. It can act as a virtual number pad, which could be helpful for data entry, but number crunchers will probably miss the tactile feedback they’d get from actual keys if they spend large portions of their day entering figures into Excel. An NFC reader is also integrated into the touchpad, which provides an easy and secure way to log into the system if your company issues NFC cards.

Asus Expertbook B9450 touchpad and its virtual number pad

Matt Elliott/CNET

With an IR webcam and a fingerprint scanner, the ExpertBook B9450 features two other biometric options for secure logins. The webcam can also sense when you get up from your laptop and will lock the system, logging you back in when it sees your face again. There’s also a physical shutter to ensure your privacy when the camera isn’t in use. The IR functionality and privacy shutter are the only positives, however, about the webcam. It’s a 720p camera that produces a grainy, poorly exposed picture.

The 14-inch display features a 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution and a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. My primary laptop for the last two years has been a 14-inch, 16:10 model, and I’ve tested and used countless other 16:10 laptops of varying sizes over that time. Going back to a 16:9 display feels very constricting as a result, especially at its 14-inch size. A larger 15.6-inch panel with a 16:9 aspect ratio doesn’t feel as tight as a 14-inch, 16:9 panel. There’s just not a lot of room from top to bottom, and I felt like I was constantly scrolling through web pages and Google docs and sheets on the ExpertBook B9450.

Asus Expertbook B9450 display has a 16:9 aspect ratio

Matt Elliott/CNET

The panel’s full-HD resolution suffices for the size, but I did find text to be a bit blurry when viewed close up. The panel is rated for 400 nits of brightness, and I confirmed that figure with my tests using a lux meter. 

The ExpertBook B9450 provides a limited but useful selection of ports. You get a pair of USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, a full-size HDMI 2.0 port and a micro HDMI-to-Ethernet port on the left. On the right reside a USB-A port and a combo audio jack. Asus includes a micro HDMI-to-Ethernet adapter in the box, along with a laptop sleeve.

Asus Expertbook B9450 ports on the left edge

Matt Elliott/CNET

With a price approaching $2,000, the Asus ExpertBook B9450 ought to provide a more modern CPU powering a more modern display. Asus sells an ExpertBook B9 OLED (B9403, 13th Gen Intel) model for $2,150 that provides not only an OLED panel with a crisper 2.8K resolution but also with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a newer, 13th-gen Core i7 CPU. Even though it costs almost $400 more than our test system, it’s the better deal. Looking to spend less? The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 costs less than our ExpertBook B9450 test system and is our current recommendation for business travelers looking for a dependable, portable and long-running ultraportable.

How we test computers

The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computer-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device’s aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both objective and subjective judgments. 

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we’re currently running on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found in our How We Test Computers page. 

Geekbench 5 (multicore)

Acer Swift Go 14 (SFG14-71) 11,804HP Dragonfly Pro 9,146Apple MacBook Air 15 9,013Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 8,431Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED UX5304V 7,999Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 7,836Asus ExpertBook B9450 7,520

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R23 (multicore)

Acer Swift Go 14 (SFG14-71) 12,789HP Dragonfly Pro 12,696Apple MacBook Air 15 8,721Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 8,376Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 8,237Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED UX5304V 6,793Asus ExpertBook B9450 5,348

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited

Apple MacBook Air 15 6,876Acer Swift Go 14 (SFG14-71) 4,116HP Dragonfly Pro 3,790Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED UX5304V 3,780Asus ExpertBook B9450 3,633Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 3,563Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 3,539

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Online streaming battery drain test

Apple MacBook Air 15 991Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 775Asus ExpertBook B9450 739Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED UX5304V 660Acer Swift Go 14 (SFG14-71) 563Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 452HP Dragonfly Pro 449

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Configuration as tested

Asus ExpertBook B9450 Microsoft Windows 11 Pro; 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-1255U; 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz RAM; 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics; 1TB SSD
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 Microsoft Windows 11 Pro; 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-1355U; 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz RAM; 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics; 1TB SSD
Acer Swift Go 14 (SFG14-71) Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-13700H; 16GB DDR5 4,766MHz RAM; 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics; 512GB SSD
HP Dragonfly Pro Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.7 AMD Ryzen 7 7736U; 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz; 512MB AMD Radeon graphics; 512GB SSD
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 Microsoft WIndows 11 Pro; 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-1265U; 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz; 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics; 1TB SSD
Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED UX5304V MIcrosoft Windows 11 Pro; 1.7GHz Intel Core i7-1355U; 32GB DDR5 RAM; 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics; 1TB SSD
Apple MacBook Air 15 Apple MacOS 13.4.1 Ventura; 3.4GHz Apple M2; 16GB DDR5 RAM; Integrated 10-Core GPU; 512GB SSD

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