ASUS is a renowned, Taiwan-based manufacturer making incredible progress in the Chrome OS space in recent times. It revealed three models at the event of CES 2021 back in January this year, and it appears that the company has been pushing the lines of innovation to newer horizons. The Chromebook Flip CX5 is one of the three released devices, and it’s nothing short of a dazzling workhorse. Next up is the Chromebook Flip CM5 and this unit is also something to write home about, with just one substantial flaw seeping into reality, and that is its 250-nits screen brightness.
Moving on, that leaves us with the last unveiled device of the global event: the ASUS Chromebook CX9. At first glance, this machine has promised to pack all the bells and whistles and is unlike any other Chromebook ever made. However, it does fall in the premium, flagship standard of Chrome OS laptops, with its base model coming in for about $750, so do keep that in mind before lunging in.
As presumed, the Chromebook CX9 measures up to become a formidable beast, but when it boils down to it, will the device truly hold its stance? In this Chrome Ready review article, we’ll be finding out just that as we take the machine out for a spin and find out its major strengths and weaknesses, along with reviewing it in general and leaving our final thoughts on the matter at hand. So without any further ado, then, let’s jump right in with the technical specifications.
ASUS Chromebook CX9 specifications
- CPU: Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor
- Display: 14″ LCD FHD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 wide view anti-glare display
- Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics
- Hard Drive Size: 128GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD
- RAM: 8 GB
- Camera: 720p
- Ports: x1 USB-C, x1 USB-A, 3.5mm headphone jack, microSD card reader slot
- Battery: 50WHrs, 3S1P, 3-cell Li-ion, 13-14 hours runtime
- Charging Speed: 50% in 45 minutes
- Weight: 2.50 lbs
- Price: $749.99
ASUS Chromebook CX9 in-depth review
The ASUS Chromebook CX9 is flat-out amazing if we’re to talk about its design. The device feels beyond premium, and picking it up is no less than pure delight. There’s much that goes into making a device that has this standard of build quality, so it’s crystal clear how ASUS has put significant thought into the CX9. It’s got that gorgeous navy blue color on it that the manufacturer has labeled as “Star Black,” but it’s more of a dark blue-ish color. Nevertheless, it’s beautiful, and it’s here to stay. Moving on, the device weighs about 2.50 pounds, and it’s sturdy and lightweight in equal measure, with the latter characteristic being outright spectacular for a device this premium. The chassis is made out of aluminum alloy, hence the reduced weight. We cannot stress how well-built, compact, and artistically tailored this Chromebook truly is—a blatant 10 out of 10 score for the design bar none.
There are some laptops out there that sport an “Ergo Lift.” This is when you lift the hinge of your device and see the keyboard being elevated from its place, thereby providing a better angle for you to type at and making the phenomenon more comfortable. The Chromebook CX9 does something similar but a lot better. The keyboard comes up significantly and lends the device a futuristic overall look, especially when it blends with the color scheme and the build of the rest of the device. Furthermore, the device complies with US MIL-STD 810H military-grade toughness and is exceptionally durable, as the manufacturer says. You can take your CX9 on a jungle cruise with as many knocks and bumps you can run into, but at the end of the day, you’ll certainly find the Chromebook in the same tip-top condition in which it was. To compile the extent of this device’s durability, here is a round-up of the tests it has gone through:
- Hinge Test
- Port Durability Test
- Panel Pressure Test
- Keyboard Durability Test
- Shock Test
- Drop Test
- Vibration Test
- Humidity Test
- Altitude Test
- Temperature Test
Casting a lens on the screen, ASUS has decided to go all-out on the CX9 Chromebook. On paper, the unit’s base model comprises a 14″ LCD FHD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 wide view and an anti-glare display that makes short work of any noticeable imperfections or anything of the like. On top of that, the screen’s brightness checks the mark of 400-nits, which is an absolute show-stopper. Moreover, the four-sided 92% screen-to-body ratio allots the whole unit an immersive, nano-edge look. The IPS panel with 178° wide viewing angles is just brilliant but typical of this Chromebook. What’s more, the higher-end models of the CX9 afford a screen that goes as clear as 4K UHD resolution with an optional touch-enabled screen and Intel Iris Xe graphics, but those units don’t come cheap and are priced well over $1100. Lastly, they aren’t available for purchase as well at the time of writing. All in all, there are no complaints whatsoever with the display of the CX9, and all it does is leave a striking impression. However, the device does not have a convertible form factor, but it can lay flat out on a table at 180° so you can lay out some notes using a USI stylus or collaborate with other people at work.
Next up, we have the keyboard to talk about. The TLDR version of the review regarding the keyboard is: excellent, incredibly sturdy, and pure Pixelbook-level. It comprises dark keys with awesome LED illumination that you can crank up or down, depending on how you want it. Now, the trackpad is the other thing about the lower deck of the device that has us simply awestruck. This, by far, is the best trackpad we’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing on a Chromebook. It has a built-in number pad toggle that can be tapped to turn on. As soon as you make the click, the outline for the numbers will appear magically on the trackpad, including some commonly used special characters such as the asterisk, percentage symbol, hyphen, etc. This is distinct by every stretch of the imagination, and we haven’t seen anything like it on a Chromebook. The click mechanism is outright flawless, and there’s nothing that could raise some eyebrows.
The ASUS Chromebook CX9 has a built-in fingerprint sensor for fast, effortless sign-in to your Google account. There’s a privacy shutter placed on the 720p HD webcam of the device, too, that you can easily slide in and out. After all, the device is no less than executive class, so nifty little features like these are expected. Furthermore, the Chromebook CX9 has fairly adequate I/O. There’s a single USB-C and USB-A port, a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and a microSD card reader slot to expand your storage. The device also features Wi-Fi 6, labeled as “ultra-fast” for daily networking and usage.
To finally talk about something that’s not beyond excellent on the CX9, the Harmon-Kardon dual-speaker audio system is an average affair. They aren’t too loud, but not too quiet either – just somewhere in the middle that can only do as much as suffice the average user.
The ASUS Chromebook CX9 is a remarkable beast design-wise, but what good is all that pizzazz if the device doesn’t perform up to the mark? With an Intel Core i3 1115G4 processor, 8 GB RAM, and a 128GB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD, performance is reliable, top-notch, and consistent. It flies past the usual Google Play Store and Linux apps and can even comfortably handle other operating systems for you in a virtual machine. In addition, you might as well put through the CX9 through any ordeal you can find, but you’ll only see to it that this lustrous Chromebook overcomes everything, and its high-quality performance comes out on top each time you do that. The laptop can also be used for intensive photo editing, with powerful software like GIMP at your disposal. Finally, of course, you have Kdenlive to turn to for that purpose as well, so dive in a while knowing that if there’s a Chromebook that could do anything, this is it.
- If you’d like to know more about installing professional-grade software like GIMP or Kdenlive, check out this article for the top 20 Linux apps for Chrome OS.
ASUS offers other configurations with the CX9, with the most specced-out version boasting an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 2.8 GHz processor, Intel Iris Xe graphics, a whopping 16 GB RAM, and 512 GB of the same M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD storage. At this point, you make sure you’re getting the absolute best Chrome OS experience there is with a maxed-out screen, and performance, unlike any other Chromebook you’ve ever used. This device is as good as it gets, no matter if you’re running dozens of Google Chrome tabs at once on top of multiple Play Store and Linux applications – the CX9 is just going to power through it all without breaking a sweat. Lastly, the ASUS Chromebook CX9 is a verified Intel Evo laptop that guarantees efficient and fast performance, so you can rest assured knowing that profound goodness awaits you in this device.
3. Battery life
When it cuts down to the battery life, the ASUS Chromebook CX9, unfortunately, disappoints. The manufacturer claims that the device can last up to 14 hours on a single full charge, but that figure is significantly decreased when you turn up the brightness. However, this goes for the premium-end model of the Chromebook that has an FHD nano-edge display. If you were to opt for the lower-priced version, you’d get somewhere around 8-10 hours on a single charge, which is fairly okay.
ASUS has managed to slap on the CX9 a 50WHrs, 3S1P, 3-cell Li-ion battery that can charge pretty quickly, though. Charging from 0% to 100% takes somewhere around an hour and a half.
4. Final thoughts
There are rarely ever Chromebooks made with the same build quality level as the ASUS Chromebook CX9. The latter coming out has raised the bar for every Chrome OS laptop with its state-of-the-art “Ergo Lift” hinge design, robust build quality, sensational keyboard and trackpad combination, and, of course, FHD screen. It’s just a terrific overall package that does nothing but impresses right from the get-go. As mentioned earlier, the CX9 is going to set the standard for the Chromebooks to come ahead.
It’s a vicious workhorse that gets work done and is not afraid to go out of its line and venture onto more powerful prospects. However, it’s by no means a budget-friendly device, and its base model costs $750. For the version with horsepower under the hood, prepare yourself to pay $1100+, but it’s worth noting that whatever you pay for this Chromebook is going to be definitely worth it. We highly recommend opting for the ASUS Chromebook CX9 if battery timing isn’t much of a grave issue for you, and you prioritize build quality, design, performance, and that glorious trackpad.