HP Elite Dragonfly Max review

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max is a lightweight stunner that’s big on security

HP Elite Dragonfly Max review
(Image: © Laptop Mag)

Laptop Mag Verdict

The HP Elite Dragonfly offers incredible security features, solid performance and endurance in a seriously lightweight, durable shell.


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    Sleek, durable chassis

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    Packed with security features

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    Extremely bright, vivid display

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    Solid performance

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    Great battery life


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    Doesn’t ship with a pen

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HP Elite Dragonfly Max specs

Price: $2,409 ($3,013 as reviewed)
CPU: Intel Core i7-1185G7
GPU: Intel Iris Xe
Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe TLC SSD
Display: 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080
Battery: 13:09
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, 5G LTE
Size: 12 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 2.5 pounds

HP’s going to the max with this one. After redefining what it means to be a business laptop with the HP Elite Dragonfly, the company’s kicking things up a notch with the HP Elite Dragonfly Max. The latest iteration of the laptop sports Intel’s 11th Gen processor and integrated Iris Xe graphics with a speedy SSD and one of the brightest displays I’ve ever seen. But it keeps the things that made the OG Dragonfly a hit in the first place: a gorgeous lightweight chassis with some serious durability and oodles upon oodles of security features. Barring armed guards standing watch, I’d dare say this system is the Fort Knox of business laptops. 

However, all that sleekness, durability and security does not come cheap as $3,013 is a steep price to pay, meaning that all but deep-pocketed C-Suite employees or companies looking to buy the laptop in bulk will pony up the funds. But if you’re looking for an incredibly powerful and secure ultra-portable business laptop, you can’t go wrong with the HP Elite Dragonfly Max, the latest entrant to our best business laptop and best 13-inch laptop pages. 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max pricing and configurations

The Max stands for maximum price. I wrote reviews, took meetings and watched a few episodes of Netflix’s Sexy Beast on the $3,013 iteration of the HP Elite Dragonfly Max. The laptop has a 3.0-GHz Intel Core i7-1185G7 vPro processor with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe NVMe TLC SSD, a Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G LTE (CAT 20) chip, an Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 (2x2) and a 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 touchscreen with HP Sure View. 

The $2,409 base model drops you down to a 1.2-GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU and loses the vPro and the 5G LTE support. The system can also be configured with up to 2TB of storage and several other bells and whistles if you’re so inclined.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max design

It’s not the scintillating Dragonfly Blue of the original Elite Dragonfly, but I can’t deny that the Sparkling Black magnesium chassis is striking in its own right. There’s just a hint of shimmer that makes you want to inspect the body of the laptop that much closer. A pair of short and long strips of silver chrome is embedded into the center of the lid for a modern, stylish take on the HP logo. Both 360-degree hinges have a sliver of black chrome lining the edges for a more understated shine. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The 360-degree hinges are rather slim, but sturdily built. I had no problem switching the Dragonfly Max from a traditional clamshell to either tent or tablet mode. And it took some pretty vigorous shaking to dislodge the lid out of clamshell mode, which speaks to the sturdiness of the hinges.

Now for the laptop’s interior. The deck is made from more of that lovely Sparking Black magnesium. A generous touchpad takes up a large portion of the palm rest with an island-style keyboard directly above it. Just below the end key sits the fingerprint reader. You’ll find a speaker vent on either side of the keyboard, signaling top-firing audio. 

At 2.5 pounds, the 12 x 7.8 x 0.6-inch Dragonfly Max is the lightest system among its competitors. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (11.7 x 8.2 x 0.6 inches) weighs 2.9 pounds while the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 6th Gen (12.3 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches) and Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 (12.2 x 8.5 x 0.5 inches) weigh 3 and 3.2 pounds, respectively.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max security and durability

Beneath the Dragonfly Max’s sleek appearance lies a host of security features, perfect for people working with sensitive information or those who just want to make sure their personal information is safe. The most noticeable feature is the fingerprint scanner embedded in the palm rest. Next up is the physical switch at the top of the lid that controls the webcam shutter and the secure lock slot along the left side of the device. Both the webcam and fingerprint scanner are Windows Hello-compatible. The laptop also has HP SureView which, when enabled, launches an integrated privacy screen that keeps prying eyes from peeping at your sensitive documents. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

But HP didn’t stop there; the laptop also has a TPM 2.0 chip that securely stores artifacts to authenticate your system. HP DriveLock and Automatic DriveLock protect your hard drive from being accessed by unauthorized persons using a system of two passwords. HP SureClick opens untrusted documents and websites in a virtual machine to keep unsavory malware at bay and you also have HP SureSense, an AI-powered software designed to detect and repel malware, ransomware and all the bad actors waiting to infect your computer.

In case you leave your laptop somewhere or some sticky-fingered bandit purloins it, you can quickly track down your property with the Tile tracker embedded in the laptop. Using a mix of Bluetooth and Tile’s network of finder devices, the tracker will help you find your laptop even if it’s powered off. 

The Dragonfly Max is also pretty durable, passing 19 MIL-SPEC 810H tests including trials for extreme temperatures, shock, vibration and humidity. The display is also made of Corning Gorilla Glass 5 while the display is spill-proof to protect against the occasional accidental spill. 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max ports

For such a slim system, the Dragonfly Max has a surprising amount of ports

There’s a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports on the right along with a full HDMI 2.0 port and a headset jack. On the left resides the power button, a USB Type-A port, SIM card slot and a secure lock slot

HP Elite Dragonfly Max display

Just like its namesake’s wings, the Dragonfly Max’s display is absolutely stunning. Watching the Naked Singularity trailer, I enjoyed the eye candy that is actor John Boyega as he played a disillusioned public defender. His warm dark-brown skin was the highlight of the scene, offsetting the garish maroon with gold and emerald tie around his neck. Details were clean enough that I could see the crosshatch pattern in his suit jacket. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Testing the notebook’s color reproduction capabilities, we learned the Dragonfly Max covered 81.7% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. It was much more vivid than the XPS 13 or ThinkPad Yoga, which hit 70 and 71.1%, respectively. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome the 82.5% premium laptop average or the Latitude 9420’s 89%.

Averaging an impressive 707 nits, the Dragonfly Max is one of the brightest panels I’ve worked on. It was no contest against the category average reaching only 395 nits. Meanwhile, the XPS 13 got 488 nits. The Latitude 9420 wasn’t too far behind at 477 nits while the ThinkPad Yoga was the dimmest at 351 nits. 

The 10-point touchscreen is quick and responsive, allowing me to draw a flower and write in passable cursive. And while writing with my index finger is nice, I would have rather had the Wacom AES 2.0 Pen that HP has chosen for this system. Unfortunately, the pen isn’t included with the notebook. Instead, you’ll have to shell out an additional $74. 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max audio

Are the Dragonfly Max’s pair of top-firing, Bang & Olufsen-tuned speakers going to replace a good set of computer speakers? No, but they’re still pretty impressive. Listening to SiR’s “The Canvas,” I let myself be carried away by the synthy instrumental as I thought of someone special. The track floated against a deep bassline and crisp snare drum. The vocalist’s warm tenor filled the room like a sip of well-aged bourbon–– smooth and assertive. Being as there’s no subwoofer, the Dragonfly Max doesn’t provide that weighty thump you’d expect from the lower register, but it still got the job done. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

HP Audio Control is pre-installed on the device to ensure users get the optimal listening experience. Out of the four presets (Music, Movie, Voice and Off), I prefer the Music setting. For even more control, there is a 10-band equalizer. This app is also where you control the noise cancelling functionality of the mic and speakers and calibrate sound profiles for your headphones.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max keyboard

Typing on the Dragonfly Max Chiclet keyboard is a springy, clicky delight. The keys are generously spaced with bright white backlighting. I reached my usual 70 words per minute on the 10fastfingers typing test. The keys had the right amount of snap and my fingers never bottomed out. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

My fingers guilded along the 2.6 x 4.3-inch touchpad, enjoying its smooth surface. I had no problem performing Windows 10 gestures like pinch-zoom, two-finger scroll and three-finger tap. 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max performance

The Dragonfly Max has a 3.0-GHz Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB PCIe NVMe TLC SSD, making it a strong workhorse. That means it can take on all those spreadsheets, reports and presentations you have to do. I watched an episode of the new DuckTales on Disney Plus with 39 other tabs of Google Chrome, some of which were running YouTube videos, Twitch streams, Tweetdeck and some random news websites. The laptop went about its job unimpeded. 

The laptop did a solid job on our synthetic tests as well. We started with Geekbench 5.4, our overall performance benchmark. The Dragonfly Max achieved 4,928 which beat the 4,842 premium laptop average. However, it was outperformed by the competition starting with the Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU-powered ThinkPad Yoga and XPS 13, which reached 5,447 and 5,639, respectively. The Latitude 9420, which has its own Core i7-1185G7 CPU, delivered 6,037. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the Handbrake video transcoding test, the Dragonfly Max took 19 minutes and 44 seconds, falling short of the 15:43 average. The XPS 13, ThinkPad Yoga and Latitude 9420 were all faster with times of 15:52, 13:50 and 13:35, respectively. 

When we ran the File Transfer test, the Dragonfly Max’s SSD had a transfer rate of 558.6 megabytes per second, missing the 628.3MBps category average. But it was still better than the ThinkPad Yoga (512GB PCIe NVMe SSD) with its 531.3MBps result. The XPS 13 (405.6MBps, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD) and Latitude 9420 (401.9MBps, 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Class 35 SSD) were even slower. 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max graphics

The Dragonfly Max has an Intel Iris Xe Graphics GPU, which Intel says can play games but not anything demanding. The notebook scored only 18 frames per second on the Sid Meyer’s Civilization VI benchmark, which was well below the 30-fps premium laptop category average. With their Iris Xe Graphics, the XPS, Latitude and ThinkPad Yoga all performed better with scores of 21 fps, 23 fps and 34 fps, respectively.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Running the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark, the Dragonfly Max reached 4,547, coming up short against the 4,982 category average with the ThinkPad Yoga scoring 4,780 and the Latitude 9420 notching 5.258. 

Switching over to 3DMark Night Raid, the Dragonfly Max achieved 14,478, beating the 12,897 average. Still, it was enough to surpass the ThinkPad Yoga’s 14,169 and the XPS 13’s 9,034. The Latitude 9420 came out on top with 18,035.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max 5G connectivity

If you’re looking for internet access no matter where you are, the Dragonfly Max is for you –– provided, of course, that you’re willing to shell out for a data plan. My review unit came with an AT&T SIM Card for me to try out. Using a Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G LTE (CAT 20) antenna, the 5G AT&T SIM card worked perfectly. In my Brooklyn, New York home where I have Verizon 5G, I saw speeds of 76 megabits per second down and 5.88Mbps up. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

It’s nowhere near as fast as my Verizon Fios network, which notched 478.6Mbps down and 195.5Mbps up, but it’s more than enough to get the job done on a commute or somewhere with spotty or no internet. 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max battery life

Just because you clock out after an eight-hour shift, your laptop shouldn’t. That’s why we were glad to see that the Dragonfly Max lasted 13 hours and 9 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test, which consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. That’s much longer than the 10:49 premium laptop average as well as the XPS 13’s 10:53. However, both the ThinkPad Yoga and Latitude 9420 had longer times at 14:45 and 15:02, respectively. 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max heat

No matter what you throw at it, the Dragonfly Max is going to stay cool. We ran a fullscreen HD video for 15 minutes and then measured key spots on the system’s frame. The touchpad measured 78 degrees Fahrenheit while the center of the keyboard and bottom reached 89 and 90 degrees, respectively –– all of which is below our 95-degree comfort threshold. 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max webcam

The Dragonfly Max’s 5-megapixel camera is definitely better than what you’ll find on most laptops. Able to capture stills and video in 2560 x 1440 resolution, it did a fairly good job with the details, capturing the seams and creases in my shirt. Still, there was noticeable noise, though not as bad as you’d find on most webcams. I was really impressed with the colors as the shooter accurately captured the blue, purple and pink in my locs. And to my chagrin, it also captured my orangey new growth, letting me know that I’m overdue for a trip to the salon. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

But if you want better clarity and color accuracy, check out our best webcam page

HP Elite Dragonfly Max software and warranty

Business laptops tend to have more than the average pre-installed software. Such is the case for the Dragonfly Max. In addition to the security software, the notebook comes with HP Power Manager to toggle between performance modes and Programmable Key to create custom macros.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Need to clean off your device? Enable HP Easy Clean to disable the keyboard, touchpad and screen while you give the laptop a good wipedown. HP PC Hardware Diagnostic Windows lets you run system diagnostics to ensure the machine is operating at optimal levels. And in case of a problem, there’s HP Support Assistant for troubleshooting. 

With all that proprietary software, there wasn’t much room for much third-party bloatware. Of course, there was Microsoft Solitaire and Xbox Game Bar, but there wasn’t much else outside of that.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max ships with a three-year limited warranty. See how HP fared on Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands, our annual special reports. 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max bottom line

Lightweight, durable, secure and fairly powerful, these are the qualities every business laptop worth its salt should have. The HP Elite Dragonfly Max has all of that and more. Weighing a mere 2.5 pounds, the Dragonfly Max offers a plethora of security features, rugged durability, over 13 hours of battery life and an 11th Gen Intel processor –– all in a strikingly attractive chassis that passed 19 MIL-SPEC tests. Plus, you get an incredibly bright vivid display with a built-in privacy screen, 5G connectivity, a powerful webcam and speakers and comfy keyboard. What else could you want?

Well, a price reduction for one. The Dragonfly Max’s $3,013 price is a hard pill to swallow even with the copious bells and whistles. Plus, I can’t help but be annoyed that HP is asking you to pay for the privilege of using a pen. And the fact is, there are more powerful systems out there like the $2,902 Dell Latitude 9420 2-in-1 which outdid the HP laptop in performance and endurance. However, if you want a super-secure business laptop that’s both durable and lightweight, you can’t overlook the HP Elite Dragonfly Max. 

HP Elite Dragonfly Max Specs

Size12 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches
Display13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080
CPUIntel Core i7-1185G7
Price$2,409 ($3,013 as reviewed)
GPUIntel Iris Xe
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, 5G LTE
Weight2.5 pounds
Storage512GB PCIe NVMe TLC SSD
Sherri L. Smith
Editor in Chief

Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.