The Asus Pro B9440U is a sleek, featherweight business laptop with a competitively low price.
Starting at $1,000 (converted, that's about £790 and AU$1,320), the stylish Windows 10 Pro notebook successfully squeezes a damn-near bezel-less 14-inch screen into a 13-inch chassis. It also has the latest Intel seventh-generation Core i-series processors, a fingerprint reader and a long-lasting battery.
Comparable laptops for business use usually cost a bit more, like the $1,700 Apple MacBook Pro and the $1,579 HP EliteBook x360, but they offer high-end features like 4K screens and a multitude of ports. Yet the Asus's low price comes at the sacrifice of a few features: there's no webcam and it only has two USB-C ports.
But if you don't need more than a straightforward business laptop, the Asus Pro is a simple, travel-friendly bargain.
The Asus Pro B9440U isn't your cookie-cutter business laptop. This thing's got subtle style. Its attractively slim and lightweight design is humbly demure, as well as a few design touches that elevate it from boring and basic to interestingly nuanced.
When the magnesium alloy lid opens up, the keyboard slightly lifts to an elevated angle of 7 degrees. From the side, it makes the laptop look like it's propped up on a kickstand. It's a little funky, but I like it. It's also more natural position to type in, and it feels comfortable when using it for long periods of time.
Considering laptops and ergonomic design don't usually go hand-in-hand, it's a thoughtful touch. While I found the keyboard perfectly fine, I like the springy, fluid feel of Lenovo's business keyboards better.
A fingerprint sensor sits above the keyboard, on the top-right corner, that works with Windows 10 Hello. I used it rather than a regular password, and it worked as advertised about 98 percent of the time. Obviously, without a webcam, you won't get the Windows Hello facial recognition log-in feature.
A few angular accents, most notable when flipped over to reveal the two speakers on its bottom, give it some extra flair. Additionally, it's MIL-STD 810G-rated for durability, meaning it's a little tougher than your average notebook.
The bezel on the Asus Pro B9440U is so thin, a 14-inch display sits inside of its 13-inch chassis. The screen's FHD resolution (1,920x1,080) is satisfyingly sharp when watching HD video, but the screen lacks punch for brightness and vibrant colors, which is often an issue with matte displays.
It'll do if you're traveling and feel like catching up on "The Leftovers," but if you're buying a laptop to be your binge-watching buddy, you'll find a better viewing experience elsewhere. Same goes for photo editing or graphic design.
That's not to say the screen sucks. It looks and works well when editing text documents or spreadsheets and surfing the web. It's impressively effective antiglare coating significantly helps reduce glare in bright, well-lit environments. And, no, it's not a touchscreen.
The laptop's minimalist approach is reflected in its limited port selection. It has two USB-C ports, one on each side, but only the one on the left side can charge it. (I learned this the hard way.) The option of more ports is just a dongle or dock away. It's compatible with the Asus SlimPro Dock USB-C docking station, as well as other third-party USB-C docks.
One of the best features about USB-C is its fast-charging capability, and that was one of my favorite things about the Asus laptop. From zero percent battery life, it consistently boosted its reserves to 50 to 60 percent after charging for only half an hour. Even if the laptop was on the verge of dying in the middle of the day, I was confident that a short charge could go a long way if I really needed it to.
Windows 10 Pro has additional sophisticated features for power users or traditional businesses, like the ability for the computer to be remotely controlled during a remote desktop connection. Since it runs Windows 10 Pro, the Asus Pro B9440U can do more than what a laptop running Windows 10 Home can do, however, for most people -- myself included -- the extra features are unnecessary.
The Asus Pro B9440U chugged along smoothly when I had multiple tabs open, music streaming and videos playing. It did get a little warm when pushing it to its limits, but not to dangerously hot levels. It's also speedy to boot. After powering up, I never waited more than 10 seconds to see the Windows 10 log-in page.
In our streaming-video battery testing, the Asus Pro B9440U averaged 10 hours, which is a really good score. During my time with it, surviving an entire work day with heavy use was an easy feat. It didn't hurt that recharging was very quick.
In benchmark testing, it fell behind the HP EliteBook x360 and the Apple MacBook Pro in multitasking performance, GeekBench 3 multi-core scores and battery life. It did outperform the LG Gram, just not in battery life -- unsurprisingly since that's one of the top five laptops we've tested with the longest battery life.This may look bad, but considering the Asus laptop costs hundreds of dollars less than these models, it paints a clearer picture of the Pro B9440U as an affordable alternative to high-end models.
Video conferencing is common in business circles, so it's an interesting move on Asus's part to omit one on this business model. However, the omission allows for the sexy, thin bezels and large screen. It's a trade-off.
If you use your phone for video calls anyway, or you prefer a bigger screen over a webcam aimed directly up your nose, or you just don't need it, this isn't a big deal. If you rely heavily on your computer's webcam to conduct meetings, it's probably a deal-breaker.
The sleek and subdued Asus Pro is a dark horse in the business laptop category. If you can live without a webcam and a multitude of ports, it's an affordable alternative with enough style and substance to justify its $1,000 price.
It won't appeal to gamers or consumers who want to watch video, but business users that needs a svelte machine, prime for traveling with professional features should consider the Asus Pro B9440U.
|Asus Pro B9440U|
|Price as reviewed||$999|
|Display size/resolution||14-inch 1,920x1,080 display|
|PC CPU||2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U|
|PC Memory||8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz|
|Graphics||128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620|
|Networking||802.11ac Bluetooth 4.0|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Pro (64-bit)|