HP is probably known for one thing when it comes to laptops, and that’s ubiquity. I personally can’t go anywhere without seeing an HP laptop somewhere. Be it in college, a coffee shop, or even the train as I type this, I can generally spot one or two HP laptops out in the wild. HP doesn’t just make bog-standard, low-end laptops though, they also make laptops aimed at enterprise – business notebooks, as they call them. Between the HP Pavillion series, to the HP Spectre, there’s a new entry in the wide portfolio of the American firm. We got to have a look at the HP Elite Dragonfly at the company’s press event in Liffey Valley last year, and now we have a device of our own to test and review.
Note that we had to cut short parts of this review due to lack of time, largely in part due to the COVID19 pandemic currently ongoing. We hope all of our readers are staying safe during this period of time.
The device we received from HP arrived on March 4th, 2020, along with the HP Active Pen G3. While we received the device from HP, this did not influence our opinions at all and the company does not sponsor IrishTech. All sponsored posts will always be marked as such.
Our HP Elite Dragonfly Specifications
We received the lower-end model for review from HP, so we don’t get that super high-resolution display. Still, 1080p is perfectly fine for a 13.3-inch screen.
- 400-nit 1080p display
- i7-8565U CPU @ 1.8GHz (turboboosts to 2GHz, with Intel UHD Graphics 620)
- 16GB of DDR3 RAM (check if DDR3 or DDR4)
- Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
- 500GB Intel SSD NVME
HP Elite Dragonfly Design and Ports
The HP Elite Dragonfly also offers up 2 USB-A ports and an HDMI port, impressive for an ultrabook. The MacBook Pro that I use, for example, only has 4 USB-C ports and nothing else. I need to use an adapter for USB-A and for HDMI. HP impresses greatly here.
The HP Elite Dragonfly is light… really light
Despite being sent all of the marketing material for the HP Elite Dragonfly (which, trust me, does not skip the fact that this is the “world’s lightest 13-inch business convertible”), I was surprised by just how light it actually is. I’ve been going around my house holding it in one hand when carrying it up or downstairs, I’ve tossed it in my bag without barely even feeling it was there. As I write this on the train going up to Dublin, my bag was7light enough when getting on that I had an irrational worry that I had left my laptop at home. That is how light this laptop is.
HP says that the HP Elite Dragonfly comes in just under a kilogram for the smaller battery model, which is the one that we got. Not that that’s a bad thing – you’ll still get up to 16.5 hours of usage if you’re not doing anything too intensive on a single charge. The company achieved such a light form-factor by using magnesium instead of aluminium to build the chassis. This laptop is incredibly light, it’s portable, and with the ultra-thin bezels on the display, you’re not really losing out on much screen real estate. Despite the lightness, the keyboard feels fantastic to type on as well. HP didn’t cheap out on the keyboard switches here, that’s for sure.
Convertibility is versatility
Not only is the HP Elite Dragonfly incredibly small and light, but it’s also versatile in that it can rotate a full 360-degrees. The HP Elite Dragonfly doubles up as a tablet, thanks to the touchscreen (with an optional pen as well, more on that in a bit). When you bend the screen all the way around, Windows enters tablet mode. Tablet mode switches on gesture controls, makes switching between applications easier, and turns on automatic rotation so that you’re not required to use the laptop in any one specific orientation. I’ve already made great use of this mode for watching Netflix and YouTube – it’s effectively a 13.3-inch full HD tablet.
I do have one mild complaint about using it as a tablet though, and that is that because the quad speakers are upwards-firing on the keyboard, when in tablet mode, they are downwards-firing. This means if you’re in bed, for example, the audio can be quite muffled. A small complaint, but something to keep in mind if you intend on using it as a tablet a lot. This hasn’t really been an issue for me, though.
In tablet mode is where I find that I use the HP Active Pen G3 as well, primarily for taking notes in university. Microsoft OneNote supports notetaking via a pen natively, and it’s perfect for more mathematical operations that would otherwise be tedious to write out in text with correct notation. There once was a time where I tried to take mathematical notes using Latex, a programming language used for creating documents that allow for such fidelity over mathematical notation. I recommend… not doing that. Just make life easier on yourself by taking notes on paper or getting a device with a touchscreen and stylus.
While you could technically use any capacitive touch stylus on the HP Elite Dragonfly, I do recommend picking up the HP Active Pen G3 for it if you intend on writing a lot on the screen. It has a great build quality and feels like a pen.
While we’re saving our proper in-depth performance testing for the final review, initial impressions indicate that the HP Elite Dragonfly is an excellent performer. I’ve been using it as my daily-driver since receiving it, primarily to work on a full-stack web development project for university, and I’ve not had any issues whatsoever. While it’s not a particularly intensive working environment, I had no issues switching between VS Code, Google Chrome, and Spotify on the regular, and the battery life fared well too.
Just to be clear though… this is not a gaming laptop. You will not really be playing any games on this device whatsoever. There’s no discrete GPU, so you’re entirely reliant on the onboard Intel UHD 620 GPU present on the chipset. It’s not bad and I was able to test and play Minecraft at 60FPS, but you’re not even going to be playing games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive at competitive framerates, let alone the latest and greatest blockbuster titles. Not to mention, but despite the battery life being a selling point of the HP Elite Dragonfly (for good reason), gaming will destroy that battery life very, very quickly.
There was one weird issue though, and that was that once an hour or so if I was listening to music, the laptop would freeze for about 2 seconds and the audio would pause. This was the only major issue I ran into when using the HP Elite Dragonfly as my daily driver. In all other aspects, the performance was perfect.
The battery life on the HP Elite Dragonfly is excellent, and it will certainly last you a day of intense usage. Even if you do drain it, the included 65W charger will get you back up and running very quickly. It also charges using USB PD, so my 65W RAVPower charging brick was able to charge the HP Elite Dragonfly at full speed using my MacBook Pro’s USB-C to USB-C cable. On the merits of battery life alone, it’s very much worth picking up. I could use it for hours just to watch Netflix or browse the internet, though gaming will tank the battery life. Thankfully, this isn’t a gaming laptop and you won’t really be doing much of that on it.
The HP Elite Dragonfly is an expensive, but excellent buy
The HP Elite Dragonfly was a laptop hard to let go of, offering a premium experience in a light, versatile package. That convenience and premium experience comes at a cost though, and it’s rather steep. It merely starts at upwards of €2000, with more expensive models adding on a few hundred euros. Still, if you’re interested in checking it out and maybe picking one up for yourself here in Ireland, you can find it on HP’s own store.