Asus Expertbook B5: Utilitarian in design and reliable in performance
Asus' Expertbook B5 B5302CE continues to extend the Expertbook series' run of solid, reliable enterprise laptops that are utilitarian in design, durable, and highly portable.
The Expertbook B5 is made up of a mix of magnesium-aluminium alloy and aluminium alloy, giving it a clean, matte gunmetal look. The laptop feels sturdy when out and about, providing minimal give in terms of its build, which lends to a sense of security.
It features a 13.3-inch FHD display, a webcam with privacy shutter on the top bezel, Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, Intel Iris Xe GPU, 512GB SSD storage, and two M.2 slots for up to 2TB of extra storage.
Measuring 309mm x 210.6mm x 16.9mm, and at a mere 1.1kg, this is a lightweight and small laptop that's extremely easy to carry around, but with enough connectivity options to get things done, with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a microHDMI port, a 3.5mm audio jack, a USB 3.2 port, and a full-sized HDMI port.
Looking at the specs of the Expertbook B5, the one word that comes to mind is "adequate", as it is not trying to chase the cutting edge, nor is it trying to dazzle. This is a machine meant purely for everyday office work.
When surfing websites and writing, the Expertbook B5 leads to slight frustration as the laptop can't display enough information on the screen, requiring constant scrolling and switching between windows.
This is because when the windows are snapped side by side, the already cramped screen becomes even more cramped, resulting in each individual window being more tedious to navigate properly.
When working on Google Sheets, more often than not, the screen won't be able to display the grid optimally and remain easy to edit, which can also be an issue for many.
The small screen space also means that the browser tabs get scrunched up very quickly, thus becoming more difficult to navigate especially when one has to reference other sources and switch tabs frequently.
There is a good reason for the 13.3-inch display though. This is because the laptop isn't meant to be a primary workstation.
Instead, it is meant for those who need the versatility of a laptop while having it be easily portable and not clunky or inconvenient to carry around.
When having to work off-site, there will be moments when one has to decide between lugging an extra load around or rushing back to their workstation after events.
With the Expertbook B5, due to how light it is, there is no need to dread carrying it for long periods of time. In exchange for smaller screen real estate, this laptop is the perfect "just in case" machine to bring out for events or travel when necessary.
The Expertbook B5 serves the user well when one is simply working on a single word document or reading.
While the same can be said for any laptop in general, it is an essential function of a laptop, and users can rest easy knowing that the laptop does its job competently.
While it takes a bit of time to connect back to the internet and load up tabs fully after waking up from sleep mode, it isn't a major issue if one is simply using the Expertbook B5 for simple administrative tasks.
As for the audio, the Expertbook B5's stereo speaker along its bottom is, again, adequate but lacks a bit of volume. As such, it's best to pair the laptop with headphones. Battery life is good, with a full charge lasting between six to eight hours with moderate to heavy use.
The Expertbook B5's bit of flair comes with its trackpad, which doubles as a number pad with the ASUS NumberPad 2.0. By tapping the top right corner of the trackpad, a number pad appears on the trackpad and can be then used as such.
However, when that happens, the function of the trackpad and number pad are laid over each other, so it takes a bit of getting used to.
There is also a fingerprint reader integrated with the power button on the right side of the laptop. It is a nice addition, and works well, even if it can be a bit awkward to access at times.
Overall, the Expertbook B5 is an enterprise laptop that lives and dies by its compact 13.3-inch display. It is small enough for those who are looking for a laptop with the size and portability of a tablet, though its size also means that it's unlikely to be one's main workhorse.
The price starts at $1,698 and is justified by its hardy build quality, though it's the type of laptop that will make one yearn for an upgrade if it's the only laptop at one's disposal.
This article was first published in Geek Culture.