The HP Elite Dragonfly was reviewed by Jasvir Nanackchand for Hypertext.
The HP Elite Dragonfly is a stunning 2-in-1 convertible notebook that is a strong pretender to the throne of best Windows notebook out there.
While it’s ostensibly marketed as a business machine, aimed primarily at professionals and execs – it is, after all, part of HP’s Elitebook line – we think the Elite Dragonfly should instead be seen for what it is – simply, one of the best premium notebooks currently available.
From its striking design through to its powerhouse performance, this machine doesn’t only belong in the boardroom – it’s a more than capable all around performer that will leave you tearing your hair out trying to find an equally impressive competitor. And that’s coming from someone with a decided MacBook bias…
With it’s sleek and svelte aesthetic, the Dragonfly would look equally at home in the C-suite or in a more relaxed environment. Built out of magnesium, in an attractive iridescent blue colourway, HP’s design team has hit the mark here – this machine looks, feels and exudes premium from every angle.
At the standard ultrabook size of just under 14 inches, the notebook boasts two other metrics which stand out – at only 16 mm thick, and weighing in at a remarkable 997 grams – it can justifiably lay claim to being ‘lighter than air’, a sneaky marketing nod to one of its competitors. It’s ideally suited to the travelling exec, and, just about anyone else.
Despite being so thin and light, the notebook feels incredibly solid too, without a hint of flex anywhere in the chassis.
According to HP, it can withstand US mil-spec drop tests as well, and, although we didn’t mishandle it, the notebook felt pretty robust, and more than ready to withstand the occasional bump and scrape. An added bonus is the oleophobic coating, which we found worked well when it came to resisting fingerprints on its matte finish.
All in all, this is a chic, polished design that left us drooling, easily living up to its Elite name tag.
We relished looking at and using the Dragonfly’s display, an item that can make or break a 2-in-1 notebook. It’s a minimal bezel, 13.3 inch touchscreen that comes in 3 flavours – the standard 1080P offering, with which our review unit came equipped; a 1080P Sureview display, which incorporates some privacy features; and a 4K display.
We found the display gorgeous to look at, with great resolution and brightness levels. And the touch input was exceptionally accurate and responsive, both with and without the bundled stylus (an added extra which we could easily see being put to use by this notebook’s target demographic).
After a long day’s work, it was a pleasure to fold the notebook into tent mode for some late night Netflix viewing, proving that the Dragonfly would be equally at home at work, or play.
Touch and Type
One of the notebook’s undoubted highlights is its keyboard, a key factor (if you’ll excuse the pun) considering its target audience.
It over-delivered performance-wise, with great depth of travel – much more than you would expect from a notebook of this size – substantial keys, and no flex at all. Naturally it’s backlit as well. It seems more than capable of standing up to the highest productivity related demands that most of its users will throw at it.
The trackpad was very good, as well. It’s a glass unit, well sized in relation to the keyboard, and slick and sensitive. It responded well to multi-touch gestures too, a bonus on a Windows 10 machine.
The port selection on the Dragonfly is extensive, despite it being so thin and light. On the right hand side are two USB Type C Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, the latter a welcome addition when so many OEMs are forcing users to go wireless, especially in the premium segment.
On the left side there’s a USB Type A port, a Kensington lock slot, a SIM slot, and the power button. The Dragonfly also boasts a webcam with a built-in privacy shutter – obviating the need for a messy piece of tape – and a fingerprint sensor, a compulsory feature on a business machine nowadays.
We were pleasantly surprised with the array of ports on offer, with a good mix of bleeding edge and legacy connectivity options available. The built-in LTE modem is a must have for the business user, and is a great inclusion. And, despite some reviewers taking issue with the unusual power button location, we found no problems with it at all.
Another highlight was the superb audio output by the HP Elite Dragonfly, which is hands down the best sounding notebook we’ve ever heard, period. Indeed, it had us looking for the hidden subwoofer the first time we streamed Spotify.
Consisting of a four speaker setup designed by Bang & Olufsen, with two upfiring speakers next to the keyboard (why don’t more manufacturers do this?) and two beneath the left and right hand rests, the Dragonfly delivered rich, loud and clear audio no matter what the input, be it YouTube, streaming video, or streaming audio.
While you won’t be replacing your portable speaker, listening on this notebook was a pleasure, and we found ourselves jamming out on more than one occasion.
In sync with the rest of its stellar features, the Dragonfly delivered outstanding performance as well. The range comes equipped with an 8th Gen Intel Core processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 2TB SSD.
Our review unit came with an i5-8365U vPro enabled processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD, and its performance was nothing short of exceptional. We found it blazingly fast and responsive no matter what we threw at it, and it easily handled our everyday office tasks and streaming entertainment (once the work day ended, of course), without any hiccups.
Battery life was also excellent, with the notebook easily getting through an entire work day from a full charge. If your workload is light, the notebook would also have a few hours left to spare for some post-work entertainment, as well.
The Dragonfly’s battery life is right up there with the best we’ve ever seen from any Windows 10 notebook.
We did find one minor niggle, however: when the unit was plugged in and charging, the fans would intermittently spin up to unbearably loud levels. But we’re going to give the Dragonfly the benefit of the doubt here and assume that this was just an issue with our review unit.
The HP Elite Dragonfly is undoubtedly one of the best premium notebooks we’ve ever tested. From its smart looks through to its rich feature set and great performance, the Dragonfly is more than just a high end productivity machine – it’s an outstanding notebook in it’s own right.
But, with premium features comes a premium price tag, too. At R34 999 (RRP), this is a costly machine, unlikely to gain much traction outside the C-suite, or with less well-heeled consumers.
If you’re in the market for a premium notebook that isn’t a MacBook, however, the Dragonfly would definitely be money well spent.