[Review] Portable for Business Experts: The Asus ExpertBook B5 (B5302C)
Asus ExpertBook B5 (B5302C)
+ Lightweight and highly portable
- RAM not expandable
+ Two Thunderbolt 4 ports
- Subpar audio
+ Minimal design
+ Great keyboard and NumberPad 2.0
It’s been more than a year since we last reviewed an ExpertBook. The unit that we’re reviewing this time is the ExpertBook B5 that Asus launched three months ago. The B5 series comes in two variants: one with a traditional clamshell and the other has a 360° convertible flip design. The ExpertBook B5 that I received is the clamshell variant.
As the ExpertBook series is designed specially for working professionals a.k.a the experts, they are built with a light form factor, and this B5 is no exception.
This unit here weighs only 1.15 kg coupled with a 16.9 mm thin chassis, making it perfect for people who are always on the go. The ExpertBook B5 uses pure aluminum for the top and bottom cover and magnesium-aluminum alloy for the keyboard area. While Asus prioritises the lightweight concept, the laptop still doesn’t lose its durability as it has MIL-STD 810H certification. This means it is resistant to acceleration, shocks, extreme temperatures, drops, humidity, and more.
In terms of its design, it is very minimalist with a clean grey-black finish and a single Asus logo on the lid, which I presume is what ‘fancy’ means to business professionals. It only comes in one colour: Star Black. The lid itself is light enough that you can easily lift it with a finger.
The Ergolift hinge is also available on this unit, where it lifts up the keyboard to an ergonomic angle to bring comfort for typing. This also enables better airflow so you won’t burn your fingers when you accidentally touch the upper part of the keyboard after using it for some time. Besides that, you can open the lid to a 180° angle flat for a more versatile viewing experience.
Display and Audio
The ExpertBook B5 sports a 13.3-inch Full HD LCD display with a 78% screen-to-body ratio and an anti-glare coating. To top that off, it has 300 nits of brightness, making it suitable for working both indoors and outdoors. Watching videos and Netflix is also a pleasure on this unit as it covers 100% of the sRGB colour gamut.
While the top and side bezels are decently slim, I am slightly disappointed by the waste of space at the chin as the bottom bezel is around three times the size of the top bezel, which houses a 720p HD webcam along with a privacy shutter in case you don’t want hackers targeting your webcam to watch you doing *ahem*.
With this size, you can’t expect high-quality audio from its two down-firing speakers. The highs and mids are doing pretty well that you can still enjoy watching movies and listening to music, but if you’re looking for punchy bass on a laptop, this one’s not for you.
Since it’s a business laptop, Asus makes sure that the professionals can experience focused conference calls and meetings with the active noise canceling feature. The two-way AI noise-canceling technology includes an upstream function that filters noise around the speaker and a downstream function that blocks noise from the person at the other end of the conversation.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The spacing on the keyboard is designed for comfortable typing along with a 1.5 mm key travel distance. According to Asus, the keyboard resists spills and splashes so a little accidental plain water spills is okay. Though I wouldn’t recommend coffee spills as it would make the keyboard sticky.
Missing on the keyboard layout is the power button, and it is replaced by the two new keys: one mutes the microphone and the other enables ANC. The power button is moved to the side of the laptop with an integrated fingerprint sensor. It took me a few days to get used to the new placement of the power button, though.
The touchpad also doubles as a Numberpad with the Asus NumberPad 2.0. Tap and hold the NumberPad icon on the top right corner of the touchpad to turn it on and off. To adjust the brightness of the NumberPad, simply touch and hold the icon on the top left. The software is designed in a way that even if you left the NumberPad on, it can still recognise if you’re controlling the cursor to navigate a page, instead of automatically typing out gibberish numbers. I had no problem with unintentional activation of the NumberPad since it’s at a corner and I usually use the middle area of the touchpad for navigation.
One thing I like about the ExpertBook B5 is the crazy amount of I/O ports despite its thin profile. It features two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt, one microHDMI port for LAN, one HDMI port, one USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port for the mouse that comes with the box, an audio jack, and a Kensington lock. Asus also includes a microHDMI to Ethernet adapter in the box although it comes with Wi-Fi 6.
The unit that I received is powered by the 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor and Intel Iris Xe graphics. It has 8 GB of 3200 Hz DDR4 RAM, which is not upgradable, and 256 GB of NVMe SSD storage. It also supports RAID technology for improved data reliability or faster operation.
Overall, it’s capable of handling your usual office workloads. If you need extra storage and have extra bucks to spend, there’s also another variant coming with 512 GB of NVMe SSD storage. Since this one’s a business laptop, don’t expect to play any heavy games on it.
You’ll get a 65 W Type-C charger for fast charging. I managed to start and finish my day of work with it, and it’s still alive after 8 hours.
Buy or no buy?
Priced at RM4,299 the ExpertBook B5 is a pretty good business laptop. It offers a premium build and design with an 11th Gen Intel Core processor, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, beautiful display, security features, NumberPad 2.0, and most importantly, Asus managed to cram everything in this highly portable device.
Despite that, I'm quite disappointed that the RAM available on this unit is small for today's standards and the fact that it's not upgradable can be a headache for certain users who need to perform heavy work tasks. So, if you need one with higher performance, the 512 GB variant comes with the 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor at RM5,199, albeit also with 8 GB of RAM.