HP Elite Dragonfly: Ultra-Portable Laptop
The Hp Dragonfly is an ultra-portable business computer that features a 13.3-inch full HD touchscreen. A hinge that allows the screen to rotate 360 degrees. In so-called tablet mode, as well as a weight of just 990 grams. These three items alone should be enough to explain to you what type of computer it is. In the first place, it is not and cannot be cheap.
In the sea of popular 15-inch universal laptops, from time to time we get some surprises in the form of a gaming 17 or an ultra-portable 14. And while these laptops are geared towards certain niches, their specificity has always attracted users who wanted concrete things from laptops, be it games, touch screens, great autonomy, or something fourth. With a model of the elite Elitebook series called Dragonfly, HP targets business users who are often on the go. And that is clear from the very beginning.
With a case that is kept around 300×200 mm in size and only 8.2 mm thick. The HP Dragonfly is a computer that allows you to do a good part of your work outside the office. The dimensions of the case do not exceed the dimensions of a 13.3-inch screen. With a 16:9 aspect ratio. Which is primarily due to the narrow frames around the screen itself. The frames are only five millimeters on the sides, and slightly larger on the top and bottom. The screen itself is touch-sensitive and very precise, and it also has a shiny protective layer. That is our case does not have an additional Gorilla Glass coating or Sure View privacy protection. Which are optional accessories in this model. Along with the laptop, you also get a Wacom AES 2.0 pen. That will come in handy for some precise actions and tablet mode.
The screen itself has a fantastic brightness of 1000 nits that allows exceptional readability even on a very sunny day. Despite the reflective layer on the screen itself. Even at its minimum values, the brightness is still very good. The IPS panel gives excellent viewing angles and the already proverbially good color reproduction. When we say small notebook, HP Dragonfly is. With its modest dimensions. HP aimed for an ultra-portable device that has everything you need. Only in a much smaller package than you are used to.
And it is. Opening the laptop reveals a distinctive HP DuraKeys cycle-type keyboard. With nice spacing between the keys and reduced cursor up and down arrows. The function keys have additional features and in addition to the popular 12. They have also been added for presenting and answering a call and disconnecting.
The keyboard has lighting with two levels of light intensity. An additional nine keys have their signal lights that inform about the activity of some of the functions. The lighting is uniform and strong enough. In addition to the pictograms on the keys, they also penetrate around them. So you will easily cope with it.
The keyboard itself is one of the recognizable HP Elitebook models, with a mediocre stroke and a pleasant rubber texture of the buttons. The walk itself is not something we liked too much, because it produces a soft plastic-rubber sound and a very similar feeling. Although the click is very clearly defined, and the level of activation is very precise. We did not like the fact that the keys are not a little stronger and with a slightly better response. The overall impression is that the keyboard is not bad. That enables precise typing. But that is not the happiest solution if you need to enter large amounts of text regularly.
Below the keyboard is a very spacious touchpad that makes the most of the available dimensions. While the Bang & Olufsen audio system speakers are located on the left and right. Just below the right corner of the keyboard is a very precise and extremely useful fingerprint sensor. Which further raises the security aspect of the new HP Dragonfly model. The touchpad is centrally placed, with integrated keys. Very precise and spacious enough for acrobatics with gestures with two, three, or four fingers such as zooming. Switching from one application to another, scrolling, and the like.
For more precise jobs, HP comes with the Elitebook Dragonfly and the HP Active Pen 3 pen. With several tips that work great in combination with a precision screen. It has its battery, and the Bluetooth connection provides additional functionality via available keys. Thanks to the USB C port, charging can be done via the supplied cable. And an active connection also means that you will receive a warning when the pen “falls out” of range. We will complain that the pen does not have a clip to carry in the pocket. As well as that there is no way to physically carry it with a laptop. That will cause most users to simply leave it at home for fear of losing it somewhere.
The perforated parts on the left and right sides of the keyboard are located above two of the four excellent speakers of the Bang & Olufsen audio system available on the HP Dragonfly. The other two are located on the lower side. Close to the front part, and the lower part of the case has two rubber bumpers. The sound will be reflected on the surface on which the laptop is located. But also directed forward towards the user. Although not a champion in volume. This audio system has excellent sound quality for a single notebook with miniature body dimensions. The sound is nicely balanced, stereotype, with excellent treble and midrange, and bass traces. As much as the membranes allow. All in all, a very pleasant audio surprise. That we did not expect with a business laptop of this type.
The magnesium housing of this model is certainly one of the reasons that the weight is kept at a very low level and the strength at a high level. The blue-blue color of the case will look lighter or darker depending on the viewing angle. The silver edges of the hinges and the HP logo on the background successfully break the monochrome monotony of this device. The surface of the case is very pleasant to the touch and extremely resistant to fingerprint retention. That is a big plus for this model.
Magnesium is known as a very strong and resistant material, so the situation is not much different with this model either. The case does not show any signs of twisting, cracking, or sagging, except when you press hard on the middle of the screen. But we failed to cause any changes in the display, which is very commendable. The case itself is practically the same thickness for the most part. With a slight taper towards the front. This narrowing causes a very inconvenient opening, although there are special cuts on the front of the case. Which we didn’t really like because it is a model that is intended for travel. That usually means frequent opening and closing.
The camera is located above the screen and is centrally positioned, with a light sensor and two microphones on the left and right. The third microphone is located on the back of the case. That is a great option for conference calls, and the camera also has a protective slider that physically covers the lens and prevents its misuse.
The ventilation system is made through an opening on the underside of the case. As well as in the space between the hinges so that there is airflow when the computer is in tablet mode. The cooling system is efficient at lower loads. With noticeable heat transfer, especially to the right and upper half of the housing. With two long longitudinal rubber bumpers on the underside of the case. It is possible to have air and sound circulation when the laptop is on a flat surface. That is very important for both the temperature and the acoustic capabilities of this small laptop. Although small in size, during charging and a little more demanding work. It happened to us that the cooling system fan went into very high revs and went from a calm and quiet mode to a noticeably noisy and aggressive work.
Connectivity and Battery
As it has modest dimensions, we did not expect too much from the available connections. On the left side, there is a USB 3.1 A-type. A power button with a signal diode. And a nano security Kensington lock, next to which there is a place for a nano-SIM card on models that support it. The full-size USB port supports the HP Sleep and charges function. So you can use it to charge other devices, even when the laptop is turned off. The right side has a full-size HDMI 1.4 port, a combined audio port. Two USB-C / Thunderbolt connectors with HP Sleep and charges function.
Through which the battery is charged. Otherwise, the Dragonfly comes with batteries declared at 38 and 56 Wh that allow for enviable autonomy. Our model came with a dual-cell battery with a realistic 37 Wh. While the 56 Wh models have a weight that is some 200 grams more than ours.
Charging is done via a 65-watt USB C charger of small dimensions and a high-quality twisted cable that. Thanks to several different operating modes, can also be used to charge phones, consoles, or other laptops. This also means that you will be able to charge the battery to 50 in just over half an hour. While the whole charging process from 0 to 100% will take a little longer than two hours. The measured autonomy of over 6 hours of combined mode can easily be increased to almost twice as much by activating the energy-saving profile and screen brightness. So you don’t have to worry during the day if your battery will last all day outside the office.
The memory controller supports operation with LPDDR3-2133 and DDR4-2400 MHz memory. And in our case, the system has 16 GB of slower but more economical memory available. There’s also an Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU. That takes care of the image and the occasional not-too-demanding gaming.
The storage subsystem uses a combination of NVME SSD (QLC 3D NAND) with a capacity of 512 GB and Optane storage of 32 GB for a very lively system operation. Optane memory is used to speed up the most commonly used applications and compensate for the slightly slower performance of the QLC SSD. In practice, we did not notice any serious difference compared to modern SSDs. While test applications showed slightly slower performance when copying and working with small files. Especially when the fast cache is full.
Recently, the Intel Core i5 has become an increasingly desirable choice for high-end ultra-laptops. As it offers excellent performance with slightly lower consumption. In practice, the TDP limited to a maximum of 25W allows for some fifteen seconds of operation at 3.8-3.9 GHz. After which the load speed drops by twice. To a much more modest 2 GHz, which is a known pain of the ULV processor. However, for business users, the occasional need for fast performance is much more common than continuous operation at maximum frequency. So it can be said that most users will be able to appreciate the higher operating clock.
Impression in work
For those for whom tasks such as rendering or video processing are everyday tasks. ULV processors are still something to avoid if you do not want to spend a good part of the day looking at percentages until the end of the project. We will also mention that in such situations, the laptop can heat up nicely. Which can be uncomfortable if you hold it on your wings while working. And a good part is transferred to the keyboard.
The graphics subsystem made up of UHD Graphics 620 GPUs integrated into the CPU is there more for the sake of image than games. However, in moments of leisure, these graphics will be able to provide a somewhat decent number of frames (30+) for slightly less demanding World of Tanks and Dota 2 titles, and slightly older games like Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider. Of course, you should be very reserved in terms of resolution, level of detail, and quality of animations, but with optimal settings, you can count on a playable number of frames per second That is what is most important. Unfortunately, popular games like Apex Legends and Fortnite both in 1280×720 resolution and detail at a minimum simply fail to switch fps well over 25. That in battles drops below 20 frames per second making these titles unplayable.
On the one hand, the HP Elitebook Dragonfly is the ultimate portable machine that offers a lot in an unrealistically lightweight package. A fantastic screen, solid hardware, exceptional design, and extreme mobility. On the other hand, when you have a two-year-old Core i5 processor. Mediocre battery life, serious heating under load, and a soft keyboard in a configuration that costs around 1500 dollars.
If you are on the move very often and you need to have a laptop with you at all times. You do not want to burden yourself with heavy fifteen. Then HP Dragonfly is the logical direction in which you should go. This is a machine that will be connected to the hub in the office with a thunderbolt connection and connected to a large monitor, mouse, and keyboard that you will use every day. Its biggest advantage is its mobility coupled with good performance. We should not forget the fantastic screen that will embarrass even much more expensive laptops.