HP Elite Dragonfly review: The corporate laptop that's too good for your boss

It's thin, light, and beautiful, with a battery that won't quit.

Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

The HP Elite Dragonfly is a corporate laptop made to please your manager—and isn’t that the best way to get ahead in the working world? With a fingerprint-resistant finish, a beautiful cerulean magnesium body, and shoulder-friendly weight, the Elite Dragonfly is sure to earn you permission to leave 15 minutes early on Friday (thanks, boss!).

Just remember, the Elite Dragonfly is designed for the boardroom, not the racetrack, so don't expect blazing speed. What you will get is a solid configuration with some premium options; good performance, amazing battery life; and let's not forget the truly classy design. Hmmm, maybe this is laptop is too good for your boss? 

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them. 

Incredibly light weight, insane battery life

The Elite Dragonfly’s main claim to fame is its weight, which approaches 2.2 pounds when equipped with the base 38-watt-hour battery. The trade-off is that paltry battery capacity. HP also offers a 55-watt-hour battery for additional cost. Personally, we’d opt for the larger battery (supplied in our review unit), which increases the weight by just 3 ounces to 2.5 pounds.

Because your boss is likely to be butter-fingered, the Elite Dragonfly also has a better chance of hitting the floor—and maybe surviving—as HP said it passes nine MIL-STD drop tests in drop, shock, and vibration.

hp elite dragonfly 7 Gordon Mah Ung

HP’s Elite Dragonfly is a lightweight convertible laptop (shown with optional $79 HP Active Tilt pen).

What’s inside still matters, though, and like most corporate premium laptops, the Elite Dragonfly features the top-end, 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8665U. You can view the full details of the Core i7-8665U on Intel’s ARK database, but in performance you get about 200MHz higher clocks in Turbo Boost and 100MHz higher base clocks on paper. Most important is actually the support for Intel’s vPro feature, which enables easier management of the laptop in a fleet environment, where 200 or 2,000 have to be accounted for.

The Core i7-8665U also supports Intel’s TSX-NI and Stable Platform features. Even though the latter promises better performance for multi-threaded apps, it’s supported on very few CPUs despite being introduced four generations ago with the Haswell line. 

hp elite dragonfly 12 Gordon Mah Ung

The 8th gen Core i7-8665U can technically hit higher clocks than the more common Core i7-8565U, but more importantly has vPro support switched on.

HP Elite Dragonfly specs and features

The Elite Dragonfly embraces its executive-laptop status, delivering a feature list that’s first-class all the way. Here are the details:

CPU: 8th-gen quad-core Intel Core i7-8665U with vPro support

GPU: Integrated Intel UHD620 

RAM: 16GB LPDDR3/2133 in dual-channel mode

Display: HP offers three screen options for the Dragonfly: A 4K UHD OLED screen that hits 500 nits; a blazing 850-nit Sure View Gen 3 FHD screen that lets you switch on a privacy mode so those to your right and left can’t read the screen; and a power-sipping 1 watt FHD screen, which was configured in our review model. 

Storage: Our review sample included 512GB capacity Intel H10 Optane Memory hybrid drive. You can read our review of the H10 for the full details on the drive, but we’re generally fans of it. 

hp elite dragonfly 11 Gordon Mah Ung

Despite its relatively thin body, the Elite Dragonfly still features USB Type A and full-size HDMI ports, along with two Thunderbolt 3 ports. 

Ports

You won’t have to worry about your boss barging into your cubicle to steal—borrow—another dongle. The Elite Dragonfly features two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an analog combo jack, a wedge-style lock port, and a USB Type A port. The Elite Dragonfly also somehow manages to pack a full HDMI port into its svelte body. We wish the Thunderbolt ports weren't both on the right side, however, as they could impede mouse usage. 

Our review unit featured an Intel 4G XMM7360 modem CAT 9 modem. That’s Intel’s older and slower 4G chip. If you want a CAT 16 modem, HP also offers an XMM7560 upgrade. And yes, if your boss asks, just say it’s a “5G modem” anyway.

hp elite dragonfly 10 Gordon Mah Ung

The Elite Dragonfly's left side features USB Type A, power, lock port, and a SIM slot.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The input devices are top-notch, starting with a full-travel dome keyboard. There are two levels of backlighting (plus, no lighting at all). Keys are generally well placed, but HP does combine many key functions, such as pressing the function key and the right shift button to access the print screen. HP’s reason for not having a dedicated print screen button is so it can have dedicated keys to access the calendar as well as several IP-based video conferencing apps.

One feature we do like is the the dedicated mic mute button. It lights up, so no one can say they didn't know they weren't on mute when they bad-mouth the CEO during a videoconference.

Speaking of privacy, HP has also cleverly integrated a physical shutter over the camera. Unfortunately it also blocks the infrared camera, so you can’t use the Windows Hello facial recognition when the shutter's active. Luckily there’s a fingerprint reader as an alternate authentication method.

The Synaptics trackpad is glass and fairly smooth. The trackpad is compliant with Microsoft’s Precision touchpad requirement, which is an indication of its accuracy.

hp elite dragonfly 5 Gordon Mah Ung

The HP keyboard is a full-travel rubber dome design and features dedicated keys for the calendar, VOIP and muting the microphone. 

Oleophobic coating

Here's another fairly unique features on the Elite Dragonfly: an oleophobic coating to help it repel fingerprints and other greasy marks. We tested it against our typical snack fare, and and found it effectively repelled most smudges from fingers that had recently handled corn chips and nacho tortilla chips. However, it was no match for the gold standard of potato chips, which caused our fingers to leave a snail-like trail on the palm rest. The oleophobic coating helps, but don’t expect it to work miracles.

Security features aplenty

As a corporate laptop, the Elite Dragonfly is hardened against attacks, including those to the BIOS. HP says it can both detect scary UEFI-targeting root kits and recover from them. The Dragonfly also integrates Bromium’s security technology in its Sure Click feature. It basically takes the sandboxing approach of many browsers, but enforces it in hardware.

Set up as a consumer would, the Sure Click would automatically sandbox PDF files in micro-virtual machines. By default, risky attachments are opened in micro-virtual machines using the Chromium browser. 

With its hardware-based security, the Elite Dragonfly lets you set up the laptop with measures ranging from prudent to Draconian. As with all security procedures, the levels of pain are up to the administrator.

Keep reading to learn about performance and than insanely long battery life.

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Gordon Mah Ung

Gordon Mah Ung

PC World (US online)
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