“This doesn’t look like a business laptop.”
“Really? This is a 2-in-1?”
If my colleagues’ comments have taught me anything, it’s that looks can be very deceiving because the HP Elite Dragonfly is both those things and more. Priced at $2,169, the Dragonfly has the alluring good looks typically associated with a premium laptop which belies its MIL-SPEC tested durability. From there, you have a host of security features including Intel vPro and a physical webcam shutter. Throw in a comfortable keyboard, solid performance from the 8th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU and almost 13 hours of battery life and you’ve got a laptop that mobile professionals will actually want to use on an everyday basis. Either way, it’s one of the best business laptops on the market.
HP Elite Dragonfly pricing and availability
The base model of the Dragonfly costs $1,549 and has a 1.6-GHz Intel Core i5-8265U processor with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and Intel UHD 620 Graphics. The mid-tier model costs $1,849 and bumps you up to a Core i5-8365U CPU, 16GB of RAM, Intel VPro and a 1920 x1080, 1,000-nit display with HP SureView technology.
My lovely review unit is $2,169 and has an Intel Core i7-8665U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD and 32GB Intel Optane Memory H10 SSD. My version also has the larger 4-cell battery, optional pen and sleeve.
HP Elite Dragonfly design
Maybe my family’s more techie than I thought. This is the second year in a row that I’ve brought home a laptop home to review over Thanksgiving. The first was the HP Spectre Folio, which my Mom ooh-ed and ahh-ed over. But when I pulled out the Elite Dragonfly, even my Nana was impressed with the design –– and trust me, she’s hard to impress.
But it’s hard to blame them. I’ve been simply enraptured with the notebook since I first laid eyes on it. The dragonfly blue CNC magnesium chassis is like a midnight sky and the glossy white HP logo is like the moon, playing peek-a-boo in a cloudy sky. The notebook simply looks too sleek to be a business laptop.
The entirety of the keyboard deck is made from the same tantalizing blue-colored metal. The keyboard is also blue with white lettering highlighted by bright backlighting. The keyboard is flanked by a pair of top-firing speakers sporting a funky geometric pattern. The actual speaker box is made with 15% ocean-bound plastic, making the Dragonfly the world’s first laptop to utilize the material in the actual build, making it beautiful and eco-friendly.
To ensure that the laptop always looks this lovely, HP has given the system an oleophobic coating, which makes the surface stain-resistant and easy to wipe.
However, the stars of the show are the two 360-degree hinges. The silver chrome-accented hinges allows the laptop to seamlessly transform from a traditional laptop into a tablet and into modes useful for giving presentations or watching video.
The Elite Dragonfly’s claim to fame is that it’s lighter than air -- specifically the 2.8-pound, 12 x 8.4 x 0.2~0.6-inch MacBook Air. And at 2.5 pounds, the 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.6-inch Dragonfly lives up to the lofty claims. It’s even lighter than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (3 pounds, 12 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches) and the Dell Latitude 7300 (3.1 pounds, 12.1 x 8.1 x 0.7 inches).
HP Elite Dragonfly durability and security
This laptop is a beauty, but it’s a beast when it comes to durability. The Dragonfly has passed 19 MIL-SPEC-810G tests meaning that this slim laptop can withstand drops, shock and vibration as well as extreme temperatures and altitudes.
The Dragonfly is secure as it is sleek. Not only is there a fingerprint scanner embedded into the right side of the palm rest, you also get an IR camera capable of facial recognition scans for use with Windows Hello logins. Concerned about potential peeping Toms taking over the webcam? Just move the physical switch above the camera to close the shutter.
Our laptop also features Intel’s vPro technology which allows the IT department to remotely access the laptop to update or erase data. And in case the Dragonfly is hit with a virus, the laptop is equipped with a self-healing BIOS.
HP Elite Dragonfly ports
A laptop this svelte doesn’t really have room for a lot of ports.
So I was surprised to find a full HDMI 1.4 port along the laptop’s right side along with a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headset jack.
On the left sits a USB 3.1 Type-A Gen 1 port, a nanoSIM slot and the power button.
HP Elite Dragonfly display
Even though the Dragonfly is designed for work, you’d be forgiven if you took some time to watch a movie or two on its vivid, 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 touch panel. I know I watched quite a few things. For instance, actress Issa Rae’s burgundy dress clung jealously to her lithe frame, purposely accentuating her warm brown skin and plum-colored hair during The Photograph trailer. Details were sharp enough that I could see the chipping paint on the deck of the small boat where a pair of young lovers lay in flirtatious repose.
The Dragonfly’s screen reproduced 117% of the sRGB color gamut. It’s only a few points short of the premium laptop average. However, it still had richer hues than the competition. The MacBook Air only managed 100% while the Latitude and Yoga did slightly better at 103 and 106%.
Averaging 373 nits, the Dragonfly is pretty bright, easily overtaking the 362-nit average and the 317 and 343 nits put up by the Latitude and the Air. But the Yoga was the brightest at 402 nits. However, for an additional $73 you can also configure the notebook with a 1,000-nit panel with HP’s privacy-protecting SureView technology baked in. Or, you can make the jump to 4K for an extra $197.
The 10-point capacitive touchscreen is both fast and responsive, keeping up with my poor attempts at drawing. To take full advantage of that gorgeous touchscreen, you can get the optional ($75) HP Rechargeable Active Pen G3. It provides 4,096 points of pressure, which allows for precise pen strokes. And best of all, it’s USB-C rechargeable so you won’t have to go searching for a AAAA battery.
HP Elite Dragonfly audio
The Dragonfly is louder than its namesake, but not by much. The top-mounted speakers and smart amplifiers barely filled my small bedroom. They reduced the City Girls’ bombastic trash-talking anthem “You Tried It” into a loud whisper gossip session. Despite attempts to tweak the sound with the preinstalled Bang & Olufsen Audio Control software, the bass was very diffused. The only thing that sounded half-way correct were the vocals.
The speakers did a little better on Atlantic Starr’s “Send For Me,” delivering fairly clean percussion, particularly on the cymbals. By themselves, the bass guitar, violin and keyboard sounded fine, but when they came together, the instrumentals became muddy. I definitely recommend investing in some headphones to offset the middling audio quality.
While the audio isn’t the best, I appreciate that the B & O software allows you to control the noise-cancelling microphones embedded in the computer. That would make it easier to block out background noise when on a regular or conference call.
HP Elite Dragonfly keyboard and touchpad
The Elite Dragonfly’s island-style keyboard has just the right amount of snap that deliver a nice clicking when depressed. And the large, but well-spaced keycaps make it hard to miss a key. Heck, even the arrow keys are huge. The backlighting is bright enough that you can comfortably type in a small room.
When I tackled the 10fastfingers typing test, I reached 72 words per minute. That’s slightly higher than my normal 70 wpm. All in all, it’s a very comfortable keyboard that made writing this review that much easier.
The 2.5 x 4.3-inch glass touchpad features Windows Precision drivers which makes performing Windows 10 gestures like two-finger scroll, three and four-finger tap a breeze. The glass touchpad is cool to the touch and allowed my fingers to glide effortlessly across its surface.
HP Elite Dragonfly performance
Armed with a 1.6-GHz Intel Core i7-8665U processor with 16GB of RAM, the HP Elite Dragonfly is ready to handle your day-to-day multitasking with graceful aplomb. Despite me watching The Mandalorian on Disney Plus, with 16 additional tabs open in Google Chrome, running a combination of Twitch, Tweetdeck and Facebook, the svelte system didn’t register any slow down. Still, I would love to see this slim workhorse get a bump to a 10th Gen Intel CPU instead of its current 8th Gen chip. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t need vPro, but I want as much performance power as possible.
Still, the Dragonfly had some tough competition on our synthetic benchmarks. For example, the notebook scored 14,071 on Geekbench 4.3, which measures overall performance. It’s enough to surpass the Air’s (7,880) Intel Core i5 CPU, but not the 16,241 premium laptop average. The Yoga (Intel Core i5-8265U CPU) reached 15,113 while the Latitude which has its own Core i7-8665U CPU notched 16,022.
On the Handbrake test, the Dragonfly took 22 minutes and 23 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. That’s slower than the 20:49 average as well as the Yoga (19:07) and the Latitude (17:35).
The Dragonfly’s 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD and 32GB Intel Optane 3D XPoint SSD took 12 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of multimedia files which translates into a transfer rate of 424.1 megabytes per second, matching the Yoga’s 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe Opal SSD. Both were short of the Latitude’s (512GB M.2 NVMe Class 40 SSD) 565.5MBps and the 517.2MBps class average.
The Dragonfly’s integrated Intel UHD 620 GPU isn’t made for gaming, but it’s perfect for productivity and some light photo or video editing. On the Dirt 3 benchmark, both the HP and the Yoga (UHD 620 GPU) reached 31 frames per second, just a frame above our playability threshold. Armed with its own UHD 620 GPU, the Latitude delivered a strong 53 fps. Still all of the notebooks missed the 59-fps average.
HP Elite Dragonfly battery life
At 6 months, real dragonflies have a relatively short life span. You won’t have to worry about that with the Elite Dragonfly. Outfitted with a 4-cell, 56 watt hour battery, the laptop lasted 12 hours and 25 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test, which consists of continuous web surfing at 150 nits of brightness.
The Dragonfly’s battery life outlasted the 8:37 premium laptop average as well as the Air (8:51), Latitude (10:00) and Yoga (10:18).
When you eventually have to recharge the Dragonfly, you can get 50% power after 30 minutes of charge thanks to fast charging technology.
HP Elite Dragonfly heat
All that work can get the Dragonfly a little heated. After 15 minutes of streaming a fullscreen 1080p video, we measured strategic points on the laptop. The touchpad measured 82 degrees Fahrenheit while the center reached 93 degrees. The bottom registered 100 degrees which is above our 95-degree comfort threshold. Still, I used the laptop in my lap for more than two hours with no ill effects.
HP Elite Dragonfly webcam
The search for a truly great internal webcam continues. The Dragonfly’s IR camera might be good for facial recognition, but noticeable visual noise will definitely make you reach for an external webcam.
Still, the webcam managed to capture most of the different blues in my sweater as well as the knit pattern.
HP Elite Dragonfly software and warranty
Since it’s a business laptop, the Dragonfly has a lot more useful preinstall software than your average HP notebook. HP JumpStarts is an introductory hub for new owners, compiling helpful tips and tricks to get you started. HP Support Assistant displays system diagnostics, installs important updates and puts you in touch with the virtual assistance for troubleshooting situations. Sure Sense protects against viruses and malware, while Power Manager lets you adjust power settings. And to make sure you maintain a little work/life balance, WorkWell allows you to schedule break reminders during the work day.
Unfortunately, the typical Windows 10 bloatware rears its ugly head on the Dragonfly. There’s the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, Farm Heroes Saga and Candy Crush Saga.
I can’t believe this is a business laptop. Probably because I really, really want the HP Elite Dragonfly to be my new laptop around town. The only thing stopping it for me is the addition of Intel vPro technology which relegates the Dragonfly to an 8th Gen processor. Outside of that, the laptop is almost perfect. It’s gorgeous and durable with a bright display and comfortable keyboard and it gets nearly 13 hours of battery life. Sure, the audio needs work, but like I said: almost perfect.
If you want a bit more performance oomph, you should check out the Dell Latitude 7300, which is currently on sale for $1,599. But if you want one of the best looking, longest lasting business laptops available, the HP Elite Dragonfly is the way to go.