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Jan 06, 2024

Asus' latest ExpertBook B9 and B5 come with OLED displays and a lightweight design, plus all the features you'd want in a business laptop.

Asus may be best known for its gaming hardware, and while I've given the ROG Ally and other ROG products their time to shine, the company had a whole separate booth for its home and business-oriented products at Computex 2023. The company had two of its latest laptops at the show, the ExpertBook B9 OLED and ExpertBook B5 OLED, so I took the opportunity to check them out on the show floor. I also got to see the recently-launched Zenbook S 13 OLED, which looks fantastic.

Asus has been trying to grow its business brand for a while now, but the latest ExpertBook B9 OLED and B5 OLED are some of the most interesting laptops the company has done. The ExpertBook B9 laptops have always been the lightest in the lineup, and the latest model still comes in at just 990 grams of weight, so it excels in portability. It also comes with a sharp WQXGA OLED panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio, which should be great for getting work done, but also for consuming media.

That being said, this is definitely a business laptop, and Asus has loaded it with features for that market. It has plenty of connectivity options, including USB Type-C and Type-A ports, as well as HDMI. And even with this thin design, the company still offers a way to get a wired Ethernet connection through a micro-HDMI port and an adapter that turns it into an RJ45 Ethernet port. On top of that, you can add NFC support, so you can unlock the PC or sign into corporate resources using a physical security card. On the topic of security, you also get Windows Hello support via fingerprint and facial recognition, and presence detection can also lock your PC when you walk away from it, or wake up when you're back.

Asus also built some cool features for businesses here. It has background noise cancelation for the microphone, and you can turn it on or off with the push of a button on the keyboard. The lid also has a small red LED with productivity in mind. With some keyboard shortcuts, you can turn on the light to let others know you're in a meeting or don't want to be interrupted, which is a really cool idea.

Numbers 1 through 4 on the keyboard are also function keys that can be used to turn certain features on or off, including that red indicator light. You can customize these shortcuts to do different things, and they're pretty cool.

The ExpertBook B5 OLED is basically the same, but in a larger 16-inch chassis. It's obviously not as light, but it weighs just 1.4 kilograms, and I was pretty surprised at how easy it was to pick up considering its size. If you need a larger screen, this is still pretty portable. Asus also makes use of the larger chassis to give you more ports, including a second USB Type-A port and a full-size RJ45 Ethernet port. It misses out on NFC support, but it has a lot of the same features as the ExpertBook B9.

It does pack in more power, though, including optional Intel Arc A350M graphics. The OLED display is also sharper, in up to Ultra HD+ resolution. And of course, there's also space for a number pad with this larger chassis.

While I was at the booth, I also wanted to check out the new Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED the company announced earlier in the year. This is the company's most premium laptop, and I absolutely love how it looks. Asus is using a new manufacturing process for the lid that involves an electrochemical treatment for the aluminum on the lid, which gives it more of a textured look and feel compared to plain old aluminum. I love how it looks, especially with the new simplistic Asus monogram. It's just beautiful.

It's more than looks, though. This electrochemical process also enhances the durability of the aluminum. According to Asus, the hardness of the material goes from around 5H after die casting to roughly 8H, and the company was willing to prove it at the show. There were a couple of aluminum panels for attendees to try and scratch using different tools, and you can clearly see that the treated aluminum has nowhere near the same level of damage. That big line you see on both panels was done by Asus itself using the same process, and you can see just how much deeper the damage is on the untreated aluminum (on the right).

I tried scratching both with a pencil, and there were almost no marks left on the treated aluminum. The ones that were there were easily removed by just rubbing it with my finger. It's really impressive stuff.

Otherwise, the Zenbook S 13 OLED is still a super light laptop, weighing just 2.2 pounds. There are lighter laptops out there, but considering this is using aluminum, that weight is still very impressive. It also comes in at just 11.8mm thick (at its thickest point) and somehow still fits both USB Type-A and HDMI ports, in addition to Thunderbolt. I really love how committed Asus tends to be to including a lot of ports on all of its laptops, no matter how thin and light.

And yes, as the name suggests, the laptop also has an OLED panel, coming in a very sharp 2.8K resolution. It looks great, just as you'd expect. Asus has been doing this for a while, so it's no surprise. It covers 100% of DCI-P3 and reaches up to 550 nits of brightness.

The Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED is already available, and it costs $1,399, but considering that includes the stunning OLED display, an Intel Core i7, and 32GB of RAM, that's not really that expensive.

One last thing I found pretty interesting at the show was the Zenbook Pro 16X OLED Asus was showing off, and it's mostly because of what's inside of it. Of course, it packs the latest INtel processors, but Asus actually worked really closely with Intel and created something that's closer to a mobile SoC. Asus actually calls it a SoM (system-on-module), and it's basically the result of Asus trying to push the RAM and processor as close together as possible, creating a unique and more compact module.

The reason for this is actually to improve performance. By reducing the distance between the RAM and the CPU, transfers between them are actually significantly faster, and this is pretty much the only laptop you can get right now with RAM speeds up to a whopping 7467MHz. It reduces power consumption and latency, too, so it's pretty cool stuff. If we're going to sacrifice upgradeability by having soldered memory anyway, it's definitely cool to have an even more integrated package that offers more performance.

On that note, the laptop comes with 13th-generation Intel Core H-series processors and up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 graphics, so there's plenty of power here. The combined TDP goes up to 175W.

The laptop is cool for other reasons, too. The keyboard is actually angled. When you open the lid, the top of the keyboard raises, so you have a more comfortable typing angle, but also to improve airflow to the components inside the laptop. It's an idea taken from the Zenbook Pro Duo laptops, which does something similar but for the secondary display. Doing it with the keyboard is an interesting idea, but it makes sense since most desktop keyboards are angled as well.

Of course, it also has an OLED panel, coming in at 3.2K resolution and featuring a 120Hz refresh rate. This model doesn't seem to be available just yet, though, and you can only buy last year's version.

I've been covering the tech world since 2018, and I love computers, phones, and - above all that - Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.