laptop

HP Elite Dragonfly review: Luxurious, professional, expensive

High-end notebook computer sitting on a white table.

Valentina Palladino

There are more ultra-mobile professionals now than ever before, which is why OEMs are developing increasingly thin-and-light laptops that will appeal to those users. No one wants to add heft to their bag, regardless of whether they’re going off on a 10-hour flight or a 10-minute commute to work, thus increasing the appeal of thin-and-light laptops. But the most mobile among us will only go as thin and light as our performance needs allow us to—if a laptop isn’t powerful or efficient enough to help you get work done, its svelte characteristics won’t make up for that.

Enter the HP Elite Dragonfly two-in-one laptop, which is HP’s answer to this problem. It’s an ultra-slim laptop with a MIL-spec-tested design that weighs just 2.18 pounds, and it has the power and security features of one of HP’s Elite series laptops. HP is betting on the idea that professionals will choose the thinnest and lightest laptop possible that doesn’t compromise the performance or battery life they need to get things done regardless of their location—and that they’ll pay top dollar to get it. We spent a few days with the Elite Dragonfly convertible to see how well-designed it actually is and to see if taking thin and light to the extreme hinders any necessities.

Look and feel

Specs at a glance: HP Elite Dragonfly two-in-one laptop
As reviewed Lowest Best
Screen 13.3-inch FHD (1920×1080) touchscreen 13.3-inch FHD (1920×1080) touchscreen 13.3-inch 4K (3840×2160) touchscreen
OS Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home Windows Pro 64
CPU Core i7-8665U Intel Core i5-8265U Core i7-8665U w/ vPro
RAM 16GB 8GB 16GB
HDD 512GB PCIe SSD + 32GB Optane Memory 256GB PCIe SSD 512GB PCIe SSD + 32GB Optane Memory
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620
Networking Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 5 (2×2), Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 2 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB-A, 1 x HDMI, 1 x nano SIM, 1 x lock slot, 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack
Size 11.98×7.78×0.63 inches (304×198×16mm)
Weight 2.5 pounds (40 ounces) 2.18 pounds (34.0 ounces) 2.5 pounds (40 ounces)
Battery 56.2Wh battery 38Wh battery 56.2Wh battery
Warranty 1 year
Extras Fingerprint reader, IR camera, optional vPro, optional LTE, TPM 2.0, absolute persistence module, power-on authentication, HP DriveLock and Automatic DriveLock, HP Sure Click, HP Secure Erase, HP Sure Start, HP Sure Run, HP Sure Recovery, HP Sure Sense, HP BIOSphere
Price $2,169 $1,549 (available at this price point soon) $2,369
HP Elite Dragonfly laptop product image

HP Elite Dragonfly laptop

(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)

Design and durability

Being part of the Elite family, the Elite Dragonfly laptop had to adhere to certain durability and performance standards that users are accustomed to from that line. We’ll get to the performance chops in a bit, but from a design perspective, the Elite Dragonfly surprised me.

Typically, laptops that pride themselves on being thin and light above all else tend to feel only a bit more durable than a precious heirloom that your kids aren’t allowed to touch. The Elite Dragonfly feels sturdier than most laptops that I’ve used that share the same size and weight class. Measuring 16mm thick and weighing between 2.18 and 2.5 pounds, it’s an easy backpack companion, and I was happy to see that neither its chassis nor its lid flexed at all when put under pressure.

That may be due to the extra layers of magnesium used in the laptop’s keyboard area, cover, and bottom portions that reinforce its design, along with other internal structures that keep it steady and durable. The Dragonfly passed 19 MIL-STD-810G tests, and HP placed particular emphasis on testing the machine for drops, shocks, and vibrations.

Many flagship laptops aren’t MIL-spec tested, or they only pass a limited number of tests, but this type of testing is standard for HP’s Elite line. While these are not “rugged” laptops by any means, adding this level of MIL-spec durability means that you can accidentally drop this or leave it in a precarious situation and it will most likely return to you unharmed.

The Elite Dragonfly gets its name from the “dragonfly blue” finish that coats its chassis. For now, the machine is only available in this color, which will inevitably make some users scowl. It’s most similar to navy blue but with a pleasant brightness that subtly comes through whenever light hits it. Whether the blue finish speaks to you or not, it’s a welcome change from the sea of silver, barrage of black, and plethora of pink consumer electronics that dominate the market now. The entire chassis is made from magnesium, but HP also integrated post-consumer recycled plastic (including some ocean-bound plastic material) into the speaker box. That’s not something that users will be able to see with their eyes, but it’s an effort on HP’s part to be a bit more eco-friendly.

Dealmaster: All of the laptops worth buying during Cyber Monday 2019

Dealmaster: All of the laptops worth buying during Cyber Monday 2019

Valentina Palladino

Electronics sales are plentiful during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so this is one of the best times of the year to buy a new laptop. To help you make an informed decision while removing the need to wade through the sea of deals, the Dealmaster is back with all of the worthwhile laptop deals you can buy right now for Cyber Monday.

Of note from our list are a few deals on some of our favorite laptops, like the 7th-gen Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Now you can get Lenovo’s premium workstation with an 8th-gen Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and a 14-inch 1080p display for $999. This slashes $400 off the laptop’s regular price, and in general, it’s always worth waiting for the rare sales that bring the price of the X1 Carbon down to $1,000 or less. This is the newest version of the X1 Carbon, but you’ll have to settle for an 8th-gen Intel processor rather than the newest 10th-gen processors (you can get the X1 Carbon with those, but you’ll have to pay more).

HP has a good deal on the Envy x360 15t—a model with a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, a 15.6-inch FHD touchscreen, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and 16GB of Optane memory is now just $649. The Envy 13 laptop impressed us by being an affordable alternative to the Spectre series of laptops, and this deal is for the 15-inch convertible version. It’s a laptop that’s arguably as sleek as its Spectre counterpart and nearly as powerful, and this Cyber Monday price makes it even more of a no-brainer purchase.

There are also a number of Chromebooks on sale today, including our current favorite: the Asus Chromebook Clip C434 with a Core m3 processor, an FHD touchscreen, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage is now $469. Not only is this one of the best designed Chromebooks you can buy, but it’s also a fairly powerful machine for the price. You can find plenty of Chromebooks for under $400 (some good ones are even more affordable today with Cyber Monday sales), but we recommend the Asus Chromebook Flip for anyone who plans to push the machine to its limits in terms of Web browsing, app usage, multitasking, and more. We also appreciate that it has a good battery life (roughly an average of 11.25 hours in our testing), a microSD card for expanded storage, and a handy convertible design.

Those are just a few of the laptops on sale today. Check out the full list of Cyber Monday laptop deals below.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

Laptop deals

  • Asus Chromebook Flip C434 laptop – Intel Core m3-8100Y, 14-inch 1080p touch, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC for $469 at Amazon (normally $569.99).
  • HP Envy x360 15t laptop – Core i7-10510U, 15.6-inch 1080p touch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD + 16GB Optane memory for $599.99 at HP (normally $1,049.99).
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th gen) laptop – Intel Core i5-8265U, 14-inch 1080p, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $999 at Lenovo (use code: THINKBF1 – normally $1,399).
  • HP Spectre x360 13t laptop – Core i5-8265U, 13.3-inch 1080p touch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $699.99 at HP (normally $1,149.99).
  • Lenovo Thinkbook 14s laptop – Intel Core i7-8565U, 14-inch 1080p, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD for $799 at Lenovo (use code: THINKCYBER3 – normally $1,679).
  • Acer Chromebook 15 laptop – Intel Celeron N3350, 15.6-inch 1080p touch, 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC for $269.99 at Amazon (normally $349.99).
  • Acer Chromebook Spin 11 laptop – Intel Celeron N3350, 11-inch 768p touch, 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC for $219 at Best Buy (normally $329).
  • Asus Zenbook 14 laptop – Intel Core i7-8565U, 14-inch 1080p, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD for $769.99 at Amazon (normally $899.99).
  • Asus Chromebook C425 laptop – Intel Core m3-8100Y, 14-inch 1080p, 4GB RAM, 128GB eMMC for $279 at Walmart (normally $449).
  • Dell XPS 13 laptop (old model) – Intel Core i5-8265U, 13.3-inch 1080p touch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $849.99 at Dell (normally $1,299.99).
  • Dell Alienware m15 gaming laptop – Intel Core i7-9750H, 15.6-inch 1080p 144Hz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, GeForce GTX 1660Ti for $1,299.99 at Dell (normally $1,749.99).
  • NEW Dell Inspiron 15 3000 laptop – AMD Ryzen 5 2500U, 15.6-inch 1080p, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $399.99 at Dell (normally $579.99).
  • Dell Inspiron 17 3000 laptop – Intel AMD Ryzen 5 2500U, 17.3-inch 900p, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD for $429.99 at Dell (normally $609.99).
  • Dell Inspiron 14 5000 (newest model) laptop – Intel Core i5-10210U, 14-inch 1080p touch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $599.99 at Dell (normally $749.99).
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th gen) laptop – Intel Core i7-8665U w/ vPro, 14-inch 2160p touch HDR400, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD for $1,699 at Lenovo (use code: THINKCYBER7 – normally $3,809).
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E490s laptop – Intel Core i5-8265U, 14-inch 1080p, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $649 at Lenovo (use code: THINKGIVE8 – normally $849.99).
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T490 laptop – Intel Core i5-8265U, 14-inch 768p, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $749 at Lenovo (normally $1,022.95).
  • NEW HP 15t laptop – Intel Core i7-8565U, 15.6-inch 768p, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD for $429.99 at HP (normally $839.99).
  • HP Omen 15t gaming laptop – Intel Core i5-9300H, 15.6-inch 1080p, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, GeForce GTX 1650 for $699.99 at HP (normally $999.99).
  • HP Chromebook 14 laptop – AMD A4-9120C APU, 14-inch 768p, 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC for $179.99 at HP (normally $269.99).
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 7 (newest model) laptop – Intel Core i3, 12.3-inch 1824p, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD w/ Black Type Cover for $599 at Best Buy (normally $959).
  • MSI GL65 9SC-002 gaming laptop – Intel Core i5-9300H, 15.6-inch 1080p, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, GeForce GTX 1650 for $699 at Walmart (normally $899.99).
  • Razer Blade 15 gaming laptop – Intel Core i7-9750H, 15.6-inch 1080p 144Hz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, GeForce RTX 2060 for $1,799.99 at Amazon (normally $1,999.99).
  • Razer Blade Stealth gaming laptop – Intel Core i7-8565U, 13.3 inch 1080p, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD for $999.99 at Amazon (normally $1,099.99).
  • Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 laptop – Intel Celeron, 12.2-inch 1200p, 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC for $299 at Best Buy (normally $449.99).
  • Samsung Chromebook 3 laptop – Intel Celeron N3060, 11.6-inch 768p, 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC for $176.99 at Amazon (normally $239.99).