iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Asus B1 Notebook Review

January 29, 2002

"Professional Notebook for Professionals"- The B1 series from ASUS has everything a professional needs for successful work, states the company.

Asus B1 specification

  • Processor - Intel Pentium III, 256K On-Die Cache with SpeedStep 100 MHz FSB 800 MHz/850 MHz/900 MHz/1 GHz or Celeron 700 MHz/800 MHz/850 MHz (the tested model had a 1 GHz PIII)
  • Chipset - VIA Twister (ProSavage PN133T) with Savage4 NS 87591 KBC integrated graphics, O2Micro Cardbus Controller
  • RAM - up to 256 MBytes of SDRAM (2 SODIMM) (the tested model has 256 MBytes)
  • Display - 15" TFT XGA 1024x768
  • Video system - integrated, provides a possibility to install 8/16/32 MB of the shared memory into BIOS
  • External monitor modes supported:
    • VGA 640 x 480, 256/32K/64K/16.7M colors
    • SVGA 800 x 600, 256/32K/64K/16.7M colors
    • XGA 1024 x 768, 256/32K/64K/16.7M colors

  • Audio system - 3D effects and full-duplex. Built-in speakers and microphone, optical SPDIF-out
  • PC Cards slot - PCMCIA 2.1 can take one Type III or two Type II/I cards, supports 32-bitPC CardBus and SmartCard Function
  • Hard Drive - 10/20/30 GBytes Ultra ATA33/66/100 (the tested model had 20 GBytes Fujitsu MHN2200AT - Ultra ATA/66)
  • Modular 3.5" 1.44 MBytes FDD (optionally, provided in the tested model)
  • Modem and network:
    • Mini-PC COMBO card, with V.90 Modem and 100 Base T DAVICOM 9102/A PCI Fast Ethernet Controller.
    • Worldwide regulation, CTR21, JATE, FCC passed

  • I/O ports:
    • 16550 UART-compatible serial port/D-sub 9-pin
    • EPP/ECP parallel port/D-sub 25-pin
    • PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse port
    • IR port with IrDA V1.1 support
    • Headphone-out jack
    • SPDIF optical out, combined with headphone jack
    • Microphone-in jack
    • Line-in jack
    • VGA port/Mini D-sub 15-pin for external monitor
    • TV-out
    • RJ11 Modem jack
    • RJ45 LAN jack
    • 2 USB ports
    • 2 IEEE 1394 ports

  • CD/DVD
    • 5.25" ATAPI 24X (max.) CD-ROM drive (Modular Type)
    • 5.25" ATAPI 8X (max.) DVD-ROM drive (Modular Type) - Toshiba DVD-ROM SD-C2502 on the tested model
    • 5.25" ATAPI CD-RW 8/4/24X drive (Modular Type)

  • AuthenTec FingerLock Sensor Module (AES4000) (optionally, provided on the tested model)
    • USB : 13.3 frames/second high-rate frame capture 250-1000 DPI image density
    • identification before booting supported

  • Optional Type II PC-card smart card reader / holder, reads/writes all ISO7816-1, -2, -3 smart cards (lacks on the tested model)
  • Dimensions and weight
    • 326 x 267 x 32 mm
    • ~3.3 kg

  • Power subsystem
    • Li-Ion batteries, 5500 mAh
    • 60W 100–240V AC adapter
    • 2.5–3 h running from one battery (3–3.5 in the energy saving mode) and 5–6 (~6.5) with 2 batteries
    • ACPI 1.0 support

Preinstalled software:

  • ASUS DVD2000 (PowerDVD v3.0 & WinDVD v2.6)
  • IBM ViaVoice v8.0 - Windows voice interface
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader v4.05
  • Trend PC-Cillin 2000 - antivirus
  • ASUS ChkMail Program
  • Instant Key Utility
  • ASUS PC Probe - provides information of the system
  • ATKACPI Utility - energy-saving settings


  • notebook
  • power supply unit with a cable
  • telephone cable
  • TV-out adapter
  • ViaVoice headset & mic
  • cable for connection of the FDD to a parallel port
  • 3.5" Floppy Drive
  • small USB mouse (!!!) with the ASUS's logo
  • 2 cards with addresses of after-sales services and URLs connected with ASUS products (forum, FAQ, online stores, download etc.)
  • printed-out user manual
  • manual for utilities and drivers
  • FingerCard manual
  • ASUS' international warranty
  • IBM® ViaVoice v8.0 set
  • CD with drivers and utilities
  • CD with FingerCard Application
  • CD with ASUS DVD2000

First impressions

The design is easy to recognize as straight lines and angles typical of ASUS prevail. The B1 is wider and higher than the T9400 and has a bit more curves, that is why it looks a little better.

Front view:

  • Lid latch
  • LEDs (from left to right)
    • e-mail coming
    • charging
    • power on

  • battery compartment lid
  • cover of the removable device unit (drive/ DVD-ROM / second HDD / second battery) - the photo shows a DVD-ROM drive

Rear view: connectors (from left to right):

  • serial port
  • TV-out
  • fan grill
  • parallel port (FDD port)
  • External monitor output
  • Telephone line connector
  • LAN connector
  • 2 IEEE 1394 ports

Left view:

  • volume control - between the case and the lid
  • IR port
  • PC-card connectors
  • PC-card ejection buttons
  • HDD bay
  • left speaker

Right view:

  • right speaker
  • PS/2 port
  • Audio Linear-in
  • mic-in
  • headphones jack (SPDIF-out)
  • 2 USB ports
  • power supply connector
  • fan grill
  • Kensington Lock hole provided


Like in the T9400, instant keys are hardly readable, though they are only four.

From left to right - M-mode (energy-saving mode), post client, browser and application. The latter three buttons can be adjusted with the Instant Key utility. In the energy-saving mode (which can be enabled only when the notebook is running from batter) a processor works at a lower frequency and the screen is less bright. The SpeedStep becomes activated.

The touch-pad is more convenient than that of the T9400. The upper panel is enough wide and deep so that hands may feel comfortable. The keyboard is very good.

Like in the T9400, hardware rebooting is supported; the hole is located on the lower surface of the computer.

The volume control is quite comfortable: there is a wheel on the left to turn up/down; besides, you can press this wheel to mute the sound (a green LED will go on). I think it is the most optimal solution. The sound can also be adjusted with functional keys on the keyboard. There is a SPDIF-out for 5.1 systems. However, an optical cable is not provided.

On the other hand, there is a TV adapter, though I think image quality on the 15" screen is good enough.

The notebook comes with a nice mouse, though it is not optical.


It is rather pleasant to work on this model, but there are two disadvantages. First of all, the ATMD fan (ASUS Thermal Modulation Dissipation) located on the right and dissipating up to 30 W howls awfully although it is called low-noise. Besides, the B1 series doesn't support hot replacement of modular devices. Instead, there is an adapter to connect the drive with a parallel port. It is not convenient and doesn't look effective - there is no any case for the FDD module, and one must connect it when the computer is turned off. It should be noted that the T9400 supported hot replacement.

FingerCard device

Not so long ago I tested a notebook from Acer where a SmartCard was used for access. ASUS went further. Here you can use both a smart card (when the reader is connected) and your own finger.

The FingerLock Sensor Module (AES4000) from AuthenTec is a built-in USB device which scans fingerprints. The FingerCard system can implement identification both during the booting or before. A user must register one or several his fingers by placing them against the sensor. After that it is registered automatically in the Windows. When under the Windows, new users can be registered only by the administrator. On entering the system a user can be identified according to its fingerprint and then the identification information will be automatically transferred to other applications (autofill function), for example, to a browser or FileGuard 2001 from International Integrated Systems which comes with the FingerCard. This program makes possible to encode data using the DES algorithm (quick, standard or triple), create executable files with encoded data (for computers without this program installed) and mask encoded data under BMP images. The identification system has three levels of fingerprint recognition. I do not recommend to set the maximum level as the system is sensitive enough to fingers and can make you repeat the procedure over and over again. At the minimal level one time is usually enough to identify a user, and during a week I didn't noticed any errors when other people tried their fingers.

Warranty and service

The notebook comes with an international warranty free for one year. Online support is prompt and effective.


The Taiwanese site, unlike the others, is made excellently. The descriptions of notebooks are detailed and illustrated. There is a base of drivers and BIOS updates.


You can replace a processor and a hard drive and increase the memory size, but within the warranty period it should be done in the after-sales service centers.


Score (max.) Our score
Appearance and ergonomics
Convenience of use
User support

Total: 96 scores.

We lowered the scores for

"-2" - lack of hot replacement of modular devices; "-1" - for fan noise.

"-1" - lack of user manuals and description of accessories on some sites.


Below are the test results.

ZD Business Winstone 2001 34.1
ZD Content Creation Winstone 2001 38.8
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 Business Disk WinMark 3380
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 High-End Disk WinMark 11100
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 Business Graphics WinMark 213
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 High-End Graphics WinMark 840
ZD CD Winbench 99 v1.1.1 CD-ROM WinMark 99 1440
ZD BatteryMark 4.0 without SpeedStep 2 h 40 min
ZD BatteryMark 4.0 with SpeedStep 2 h 50 min
ZD BatteryMark 4.0 with SpeedStep and energy-saving mode (M-mode) 3 h 16 min

As you can see, the energy-saving mode extends operation considerably.

Summary and conclusion

Subjective estimation - 98 scores.

The notebook looks really impressive: good performance, convenience in operation, rich multimedia functions and an original protection system. This business model looks also stylish. It costs $1695 for a basic system (Celeron 750, 128/10.0 GBytes, DVD-ROM) and $2365 for the tested system.

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