IT Pro Verdict
Outstanding design and build
Plethora of ports and features
HP has a reputation for producing solid business 2-in-1s, but some of them have felt a little cheap and cheerful compared to, say, the MacBook Pro, or Dell’s seductive XPS line.
That’s not a criticism you can make of the Elite Dragonfly G1. As soon as you lay eyes on its striking midnight blue chassis, it’s clear that this is a premium machine. Delve into the spec and you’ll discover an impressive collection of business-centric features too, not to mention 24-hour battery life and a weight that sneaks in under a kilogram. Could HP’s new convertible be a serious challenger to the Dell XPS 13?
HP Elite Dragonfly G1 review: Design
The Dragonfly is an exquisitely designed piece of hardware. Its chassis is made from an ultralight CNC magnesium alloy, with sharp diamond-cut accents, and painted in a matte “dragonfly blue” finish. The hue seems to shimmer and shift as the light plays across it, while inside the narrow black bezels around the display provide a tasteful note of contrast, as does the glass-coated touchpad.
This isn’t just a thing of beauty, however. It feels every bit as solid as an enterprise-grade laptop should, yet somehow weighs just 990g. That’s an amazing achievement: we’re accustomed to thinking of 1.2kg as light for a laptop, but this is significantly lighter. Although its 16.1mm height is a touch thicker than most, you really feel the difference as you carry the Dragonfly around.
HP Elite Dragonfly G1 review: Display
The Dragonfly is available in a handful of different display configurations. All feature glossy 13.3in touchscreens, but options include a 1,000cd/m2, 1080p screen with Sure View and a 550cd/m2, 4K panel. We tried the cheapest option – a 1,920 x 1,080 IPS display with a quoted maximum brightness of 400cd/m2 – and even this left us highly impressed.
For a start, the panel outperformed HP’s brightness claims, with a peak luminance of 462cd/m2. While that doesn’t eclipse the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1’s beaming 538cd/m2, it’s much brighter than average, and comfortably beats alternatives such as the HP Spectre x360 and the Huawei MateBook 13 (which achieved 376cd/m2 and 333cd/m2 respectively).
Colour accuracy was top-notch too, with 97.4% coverage of the sRGB colour gamut putting the Dragonfly G1 in the same class as the Dell and the Surface Laptop 3. Factor in a strident 1,835:1 contrast ratio and even this low-end configuration is a joy to behold, and perfectly suited to regular visual work.
HP Elite Dragonfly G1 review: Keyboard and touchpad
We’ve made clear that the Dragonfly G1 looks and feels great; we’re delighted to say that it’s also a pleasure to use. The chiclet-style keyboard uses rubber-dome keys (made from 50% recycled materials), all of which are a good size and shape – there are none of those annoying half-sized keys that have blighted the experience of typing on previous HP devices.
The action is hard to fault too, with a deep 1.3mm travel range and good physical feedback. It’s nowhere near as loud and clacky as a mechanical keyboard, but that means you won’t annoy those around you when you’re working in the office.
The glass-coated touchpad is smooth and responsive too, and while the buttons are again near-silent, they still have a clear, definite action. Sadly, our experience here wasn’t entirely seamless, as we encountered some minor input confusion while performing click-and-drag functions.
HP Elite Dragonfly G1 review: Specs and performance
That the Dragonfly features an 8th-gen Intel Core i7 chip is underwhelming, given most devices released now are fitted with 10th-gen CPUs.
Nevertheless, our configuration was fitted with a quad-core Intel Core i7-8565U chip, complemented with 16GB LPDDR3 SDRAM and a 512GB SSD hard drive. While this is a strong setup, a result of 77 in our benchmarking tests is an average result, and disappointing for a device hoping to compete with the crème de la crème.
The Dragonfly’s edged out by the Spectre x360, which scored 78, and the XPS 13 2-in-1’s score of 99. These machines, however, are fitted with 10th-gen chips. Among devices fitted with the same chip, the Dragonfly outstrips the Huawei MateBook X Pro, which scored 75, but can’t reach the Asus ZenBook 14’s strong result of 89.
On further examination, we noticed that two of its cores overheated briefly during single-threaded testing, which explains a more sluggish result than we would expect. We could also feel its base warming throughout general use, suggesting its cooling system could be more effective. General day-to-day usage was otherwise smooth, and the Dragonfly capably withstood an onslaught of desktop applications combined with HD video playback and dozens of Chrome browsers.
HP Elite Dragonfly G1 review: Battery
The Elite Dragonfly’s enterprise credentials are reinforced with an impressive result of 10hrs 2mins when put through the paces of our battery testing.
Although it’s a far cry from the touted 24-hour lifespan, this claim is explicitly attached to the 4-cell 56Wh battery found in the Dragonfly’s higher-end configurations, with our model featuring a relatively modest 2-cell 38Wh unit.
The result is fantastic, however, and far exceeds the working day mark to beat a host of competing devices including the Spectre x360, which lasts 7hrs 23mins, and Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1, which registered 9hrs 7mins
HP Elite Dragonfly G1 review: Ports and Features
Although the Dragonfly is one of the most portable devices we’ve reviewed, its connectivity options are plentiful. With devices becoming increasingly slimline, it’s tougher than ever to retain USB-A ports, let alone HDMI. But the Dragonfly features both, as well as two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3.0 support. This is in addition to a 3.5mm headphone jack. Pricier configurations also include an external nano SIM slot.
It’s a fantastic setup that guarantees you’re able to make use of a full range of peripherals, as well as A/V connectivity. The lack of an SD card slot, however, may be a turnoff for those involved with visually-oriented work.
Elsewhere, the device features a small fingerprint reader nestled beneath the keyboard, and a 720p webcam with facial recognition. We were particularly impressed with the Dragonfly’s built-in webcam cover, which comes in the form of an acutely subtle slider that you can flick back and forth at the top of the lid, similar to the one found on modern ThinkPads.
This biometric support is compatible with Windows Hello, and HP’s own security software. Speaking of which, the 2-in-1 is bolstered with a full suite of software-based tools ranging from secure booting to a password and payment card manager. The Dragonfly also supports HP DriveLock, which offers an additional layer of hard drive security, and Sure Click, which offers hardware-enforced protection against threats such as ransomware and malware.
HP Elite Dragonfly G1 review: Verdict
The HP Elite Dragonfly is an outstanding debut edition for a sophisticated device that could well cement itself as an enterprise essential.
This striking 2-in-1 excels on several fronts - from fantastic connectivity to an excellent display - while leaning on its premium design and build quality to carve itself a unique identity. Moreover, a string of minor but significant features, such as a built-in webcam cover, underlines its enterprise-friendly credentials. While performance levels can’t match the beefiest devices on the market, power isn’t the Dragonfly’s key selling point - it’s practicality. Its main advantages include HP’s security software, battery life, and its sub-kilo weight.
Both immensely stylish and functional in equal measure, the HP Elite Dragonfly is highly commendable. If you’re willing to look past its premium price tag, a wealth of features combine with aplomb to render this device an absolute joy to use.
HP Elite Dragonfly G1 specifications
|Intel Core i7-8565U
|Additional memory slots
|Intel UHD Graphics 620
|Screen size (in)
|3,840 x 1,080
|Pixel density (PPI)
|Memory card slot
|3.5mm audio jack
|USB Type-C and HDMI
|USB Type-C and USB Type-A
|720p HD webcam
|Bang & Olufsen; Four stereo-speakers
|Wi-Fi 6 AX 201 (2x2)
|Dimensions, mm (WDH)
|304 x 197.5 x 16.1mm
|Weight (kg) - with keyboard where applicable
|Battery size (Wh)
|Windows 10 Pro
Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.