The concept of a premium Chromebook is still outrageous to many. It’s not hard to see why, with so much focus on budget devices from the companies making them. But the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is as premium as it gets. No corners are cut, with nothing built down to a budget. This is a high-end laptop, period.
It mimics the Windows version of the Dragonfly in that regard. The best of HP design is blended with the top hardware available from Intel. This is an expensive Chromebook, too, unapologetically. With no new Pixelbook from Google anywhere in sight, there’s a vacancy for a new hero product. And HP is happy to try and fill it.
The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook was announced right at the beginning of 2022, and since then it has been an eager wait. Its primary target market may well be the enterprise, but this is still just about the most desirable of today’s best Chromebooks. So, is it as good as we hoped? Is it worth that high asking price? And should you get one?
Navigate this review:
Pricing and availability
The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is available to order now from the HP website with prices starting at $1,559 for the default configuration. There are extensive options that can be applied covering virtually all aspects of the hardware.
The default option comes with a 12th Gen Core i3, a Full HD anti-glare display, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The asking price can be reduced by changing the display to the QHD+ option with no anti-glare, removing the included pen, and reducing the SSD to 128GB. This makes the cheapest HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook $1,412.
It’s also worth noting that for just $3 HP will upgrade the included power adapter from 45W to 65W which is absolutely worth doing.
This review was conducted using a pre-production sample loaned to XDA by HP, used over the course of three weeks. HP had no input on the content of this review.
HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook: What’s in the box?
When you order an HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook and crack open the box, here’s what you’ll find inside:
- HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook.
- Digital Pen.
- 45W USB-C power adapter.
As previously mentioned, the pen can be removed at the point of order if you don’t want it and the power adapter can be upgraded to a 65W unit.
HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook specs
|Specification||HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook|
|Dimensions and Weight||
Design and features: First Chromebook with a haptic trackpad
- Convertible design with a 3:2 aspect ratio
- Digital pen support (pen included)
- Thunderbolt 4 ports
- The first haptic trackpad on a Chromebook
Whether Chromebook or Windows, HP is making some of the finest-looking laptops in the world right now. The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is yet another notch on that belt. It ticks all the boxes. For one, HP went with the superior 3:2 aspect ratio, with two-fold benefits. Firstly, it provides more vertical screen space, so that’s a win. Secondly, as a result of the increased tallness, you end up with more space for a larger trackpad. Another win.
The result is a 13.3-inch ultrabook form factor with a large trackpad and a larger feeling display than its size would suggest. Folded up, the laptop is still extremely portable, though slightly squarer in form than a traditional 16:9 machine. It is, as you would expect, remarkably thin, too at just 0.6-inches when closed. Weight starts at just 2.6lbs, too, so it really is a “toss in the bag” kind of laptop. Given its enterprise targets, that’s even more important. The thin nature of the chassis didn’t mean excluding legacy ports, though. There’s still a full-sized HDMI output and a USB-A connector that you pop down. Clever.
The visual aspects of the design are striking, too. For one, it doesn’t have that screaming Chromebook logo on the lid like so many others. It’s still there, but it’s subtle and small. It only comes in one color, blue, which is fine because it’s gorgeous. HP took all the guesswork out of which color to buy and just made the Dragonfly in the best one. Job done. This is arguably the best-looking Chromebook right now.
It’s also one of the most versatile. The bezels on the display are slim, but not too slim, for being convertible you need a bit of something to grasp when using the Dragonfly as a tablet. ChromeOS still isn’t perfect in its touch-optimized mode, but it’s probably less frustrating than Windows 11. Pop the display right the way around and the hardware keyboard turns off and you have yourself a large tablet. The fingerprint scanner still works though, which is a nice touch, so you still have secure, easy login.
This mode is also the best to make use of the included digital pen. The pen snaps to the side of the laptop to charge and, well, just works. There’s no pairing process to worry about, just snap it on for a few minutes, get it juiced up, and get to your digital scribbling. Or you can use it like a stylus. It’s a great pen, and even though I’m not the biggest fan, I did find myself really enjoying using it. ChromeOS offers a selection of features other than writing and drawing, but even just as a way to jab at the screen and scroll through web pages, I’m happy with it.
The display is covered in Gorilla Glass 5, so it’s tough, and the version I have here has the QHD+ resolution and 400 nits brightness. It’s plenty bright enough indoors, but as this one doesn’t have the anti-glare finish, outdoors and just rooms with bright lights can be an issue. You get a lot of reflections, and so the additional brightness on the 1000 nits option would probably be the one to get if anti-glare doesn’t grab you.
HP is still partnered with Bang & Olufsen for its audio, and while it’s hardly a concert in your office, the speakers are excellent. The dual stereo setup is positioned at the front edge of the laptop. As such, whichever mode you use it in, the sound will never be muffled by a desk or even by its own chassis. As far as laptop speakers go, these are very good and quite loud.
The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is built for Chrome OS Enterprise, so the hardware has certain important and desirable features. The most impressive is Intel vPro support, with this being the first Chromebook yet to support the feature. This provides important hardware features such as enhanced security, Wi-Fi 6, and Thunderbolt 4, all of which of course, the Dragonfly has.
The webcam has an integrated privacy slider and the Dragonfly also benefits from HP’s excellent fingerprint scanner. Every so often you’ll need to revert to your password or PIN code for added security, but most of the time you’re logged in with that single tap.
Also of interest to the enterprise crowd, and perhaps to some consumers, is cellular support. In the U.S. both Verizon and AT&T are listed as supported, and there are plans for a 5G version in the future. Alternatively, pairing an Android phone to ChromeOS still provides support for instant tethering.
HP also has its own app for seamless drag-and-drop functionality between the Dragonfly and your smartphone. And that includes those with an iPhone, something ChromeOS doesn’t offer with its own comparable feature.
The haptic trackpad needs to be on every laptop from now on
Let’s talk a little about the haptic trackpad on the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook. It’s magnificent. And it needs to be on every laptop from now on. It’s hard to put into words just how much better it is than a traditional trackpad.
From a technical perspective, HP has worked alongside Google to ensure that owners of the Dragonfly are able to upgrade firmware through ChromeOS. This is traditionally one area Chrome OS still lacks severely compared to Windows or macOS, but that’s beginning to change.
To press, the trackpad feels just as responsive as a traditional one. You get that same satisfying click, only there’s no movement. I can liken it to the haptic home button on the iPhone SE. It’s that same exact sensation. It feels like you’re pressing it, but in reality, you’re not. It’s really clever. It also doesn’t suffer from needing to be ‘clicked’ at a certain location like traditional trackpads. You get the same responsiveness across its entire surface.
The haptic trackpad also comes into play elsewhere in ChromeOS. For example, when dragging windows to snap into place, as it snaps into position you get feedback through the trackpad. This sort of feature is simply not possible without haptics. Hopefully, we see more of these going forward.
Performance and battery life: 12th Gen Intel CPUs bring the power
- Range of 12th Gen Intel CPUs
- Fast NVMe storage
- Decent but not outstanding battery life
The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is no longer the only Chromebook with a 12th Gen Intel CPU, but the crowd is hardly packed. As such, when I say that we haven’t seen a Chromebook before with this type of performance, it’s really true. Our review unit came with the Intel Core i5-1245U. This is a 10-core CPU made up of two performance cores and eight efficiency cores. It has a base TDP of 15W, but will turbo, and HP’s cooling for it channels air out of the laptop at the back in the hinge area. Most of the time it runs pretty cool and quiet, making the most of those efficiency cores. But if you start doing something more intensive you will hear the fans ramp up.
Measuring performance in a Chromebook is a little different from a Windows PC or a Mac. But here’s the thing; this thing absolutely rips. My own current Chromebook is also from HP, running a Ryzen 5 and 8GB of RAM, and the Dragonfly is leagues faster. Linux runs better, Chrome runs better, Android apps run better, the whole experience is just, well, better. Tasks that can still trip up my own Chromebook, including areas of the XDA CMS, barely bother the Dragonfly. One of my most used apps on a Chromebook is the Linux version of GIMP, and it just feels much more like a native experience vs something running in a container than on any other Chromebook I’ve used.
There are benchmarks, though. But I couldn’t get the Android version of Geekbench to work properly, nor others from 3DMark. So we’re limited to those that can utilize the browser.
|Jetstream 2 (higher is better)||201|
|Octane 2.0 (higher is better)||79,782|
|WebGL Aquarium (10,000 fish)||60 FPS|
|WebGL Aquarium (15,000 fish)||60 FPS|
|WebGL Aquarium (20,000 fish)||34 FPS|
There isn’t a lot to directly compare this Chromebook to right now, but it’s easily at the top of the tree for performance. And while it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, the Dragonfly scored better in the top three benchmarks in that chart than my Mac Mini with the fabled M1 chip. Running in Chrome, just as on the Dragonfly, the Chromebook was the winner in every single test. For what that’s worth. What it does at least give an impression of, though, is that this isn’t to be shrugged off because “it’s just a Chromebook.” This is a laptop packing performance.
It’s also worth touching on gaming briefly. At the time of this review, the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook wasn’t whitelisted for the Steam on Chromebooks test, also known as Borealis. The hardware inside is easily capable based on Google’s requirements, so it should, at some point, be able to join in. It’s hardly a gaming laptop, but as the Steam Deck has proved, you don’t necessarily need insane power to have a good time.
Where things take a turn not necessarily for the worse, but, for the less impressive, is battery life. With all this performance comes the need to actually power it. Toss in the higher resolution display (or the higher brightness if you go for that option) and you’re looking at between 6-8 hours of real-world use. I used the Dragonfly as my main work machine for most of the review period and never managed to quite go a full day before I needed the charger. It’s not bad, but it could easily be better, especially given the enterprise focus HP is pushing.
What I did find is that when the laptop was closed it would drain more power than other Chromebooks I’m used to using. This could be a bug, it could just be how it is on this particular machine, but it certainly didn’t help eke out the battery life. It does charge quickly, though, and if you upgrade to the 65W charger you’ll be in an even better place. The charger isn’t particularly large so it’s at least highly portable.
Who should buy the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
- Perfect Chromebook for enterprise users.
- Price could be offputting for consumers.
- About the best Chromebook you can buy right now.
Exactly who should buy the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook isn’t the easiest question to answer. On one hand, everyone should buy one, because it’s about the best-performing Chromebook money can buy. And the best looking. And it’s incredibly versatile. But for consumers, the price is a big deal. This is an expensive laptop. Ignoring the whole ChromeOS vs Windows debate as to which is ‘better,’ this thing is pricey. And as such, it’s simply not going to be for everyone.
What it’s really for is the enterprise crowd. HP and Google have a solid package to offer, and there’s a compelling case (to discuss another day) that ChromeOS makes more sense for many businesses in 2022 than Windows. It’s purposely easier to manage, the Google Workspace suite covers most of the major bases and there’s always Parallels for ChromeOS for those few times you really might need access to Windows.
Without a new Pixelbook from Google, this is the new yardstick. This is the poster child for Chromebooks in 2022. Even if ChromeOS can’t truly use all that performance today, there will come a day it can. Sometimes parting with a review unit is especially hard because the device in question was so special. This was one of those times. The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is just that good.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to lament the loss of a haptic trackpad in my life.
The post HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook Review: The new poster child of Google-powered laptops appeared first on XDA.
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