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HP Elite Dragonfly Max review: Premium convertible, killer webcam

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max is designed for executives who’re on Zoom calls as a lot as they’re in in-person conferences. The Elite Dragonfly Max encompasses a five-megapixel (1440p) webcam that provides twice the decision of the usual 720p laptop computer webcam, and it’s flanked by 4 microphones for higher Zoom audio.

Given that it might be years earlier than you come back to pre-pandemic journey ranges, I query HP’s determination to outfit the Elite Dragonfly Max with a 13.3-inch show as a substitute of a roomier 14-inch panel. Then there’s the value: It’s sky-high at $2,789 on HP.com. It competes properly in most methods with different premium enterprise convertibles, however for that worth the uncooked CPU efficiency and battery life are shocking disappointments.

This assessment is a part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for info on competing merchandise and the way we examined them.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max options: First-class

Based on its specs, the HP Elite Dragonfly Max mannequin we reviewed has a top-end CPU, ample RAM, adequate solid-state storage capability, and considerable connectivity. Here are the small print:

  • CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i7-1185G7
  • Memory: 16GB
  • Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Display: 13.3-inch, 1920×1280 IPS contact
  • Webcam: 1440p with bodily digital camera shutter
  • Connectivity: Right facet: Two Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.0, headphone/microphone combo port. Left facet: SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps Type-A, SIM card
  • Networking: Wi-Fi 6, 5G WWAN, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Biometrics: IR facial recognition, fingerprint reader
  • Battery capability: 4-cell, 56 Watt-hours
  • Dimensions: 11.98 x 7.78 x 0.63 inches
  • Measured weight: 2.59 kilos (laptop computer), 0.62 kilos (AC adapter)

Our $2,789 Elite Dragonfly Max is the top-end unit within the line. You can save $550 by choosing the $2,239 baseline Elite Dragonfly Max, which encompasses a Core i7-1165G7 CPU (which has barely decrease clock speeds than its higher-end Core i7-1185G7 sibling) however in any other case the very same configuration. These fixed-configuration fashions transfer out and in of inventory, however the customizable Elite Dragonfly Max, starting at $2,409 on HP.com, is an alternative choice. With it, you may develop the reminiscence to 32GB and the storage as much as a 2TB SSD, and go for cell broadband. All fashions function the identical 13.3-inch, Full HD (1920×1080), touchscreen show with HP’s Sure View privateness function.

Black magnificence

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max oozes C-suite fashion with a skinny, but rugged magnesium chassis completed in an alluring matte black. It’s certain to show heads within the boardroom or business-class part of an airplane. It’s additionally rugged: The Dragonfly Max handed MIL-STD 810H assessments to show its sturdiness in opposition to shock, warmth, chilly, humidity, and different excessive situations. 

The easy, matte end can be efficient in repelling fingerprints and smudges. Should you need to wipe down the system, the Dragonfly Max is designed to be wiped down 1,000 occasions (per HP) with out staining or fading. That’s greater than 19 years of wipes on a once-per-week schedule. The laptop computer features a utility—HP Easy Clean—that disables the touchscreen, keyboard, and touchpad for 2 minutes so you may wipe down the machine with out inflicting wacky enter errors. 

hp elite dragonfly max easy clean Matt Elliott/IDG

HP’s Easy Clean utility disables the keyboard, touchpad, and touchscreen so you may wipe down the Elite Dragonfly Max with out disturbing your work.

There are different useful utilities on board. HP Sure View might be toggled on with the press of a perform key to maintain prying eyes from seeing the contents of your display—it makes it almost inconceivable to see the show except you’re seated instantly in entrance of it. Another utility lowers the temperature of the laptop computer when it’s in your lap, sacrificing a bit in efficiency to keep away from scorching your thighs. The Dragonfly Max additionally reduces battery utilization when it senses it’s been put in a bag, and accelerates the wake-up time once you take it out.

Weighing solely 2.59 kilos, the Dragonfly Max is a straightforward journey companion. Compared to different premium enterprise laptops, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 9310 weighs 2.9 kilos and the bigger 14-inch HP Spectre x360 14 weighs 3 kilos. The smaller 12.3-inch Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ with the Signature cowl/keyboard is just barely lighter at 2.42 kilos. If you’re prepared to sacrifice 2-in-1 versatility, the 13-inch Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano weighs a mere 1.99 kilos.

Stellar show and webcam

The Elite Dragonfly Max’s 13.3-inch, Full-HD contact show is most outstanding for its brightness ranking of an astonishing 1,000 nits. While in a side-by-side comparability it didn’t seem any brighter with Sure View disabled than the 500-nit show on my MacBook Pro, it’s however one of many few shows I’ve skilled that may be considered simply in direct daylight. You ought to be aware, nevertheless, that enabling Sure View enormously dims the show.

At any setting, the show’s colours appeared vivid, with deep blacks and brilliant whites. Its HP Eye Ease function reduces blue gentle, and does so with out including the yellowish tint that you just’ve seen in different options. Eye Ease is at all times on and may’t be disabled, not that you just’d need to. After utilizing the Dragonfly Max for every week, my MacBook Pro’s display appeared chilly and blue by comparability. 

My solely grievance in regards to the show is its measurement. At 13.3 inches, with a 16:9 facet ratio, the show begins to really feel cramped, particularly should you’re making an attempt to scroll a big spreadsheet or doc. I’d fortunately carry round a couple of extra ounces for a 14-inch show. 

The Elite Dragonfly Max is properly geared up for the videoconferencing period. The five-megapixel webcam above the show can document 1440p video at 30 frames per second. With twice the decision of the 720p webcams discovered on almost each different laptop computer, the video it captured was excellent, with correct pores and skin tones and colours, and little noise or graininess. There’s additionally a bodily privateness cowl. Video calls sound clearer, due to the laptop computer’s 4 microphones—two front-facing and two world-facing. 

Who wants passwords when the Elite Dragonfly Max provides biometric choices? There’s a separate IR digital camera for Windows Hello face recognition. (The privateness cowl additionally blocks the IR digital camera, so that you’ll have to open it to make use of this function.) Alternatively, you might use the fingerprint reader positioned under the lower-right nook of the keyboard.

The laptop computer’s 4 audio system—two that fireplace upward on both facet of the keyboard, two that fireplace from the entrance fringe of the underside panel—present wonderful audio output for such a compact laptop computer. The full sound displays clear highs and mids and one thing resembling a bass response—uncommon for any laptop computer.

Keyboard, touchpad, connectivity

The keyboard and touchpad are each stellar. The keys provide a agency response with the correct quantity of journey, they usually’re very quiet when pressed. The typing expertise is aided by the inflexible, magnesium chassis, which doesn’t flex, even underneath heavy-duty typiing. The keyboard options two ranges of backlighting, and there’s a mic mute button among the many Fn keys that helpfully shines a small LED when you’re muted. Given its deal with videoconferencing, nevertheless, I used to be stunned to seek out no devoted Fn keys to begin and finish calls. The touchpad was correct in recording my mousing gesture and provided agency clicks, and its matte end made for easy gliding, even throughout a moist July’s week of testing.

hp elite dragonfly max keyboard Matt Elliott/IDG

Even heavy typists needs to be instantly comfy utilizing the Dragonfly Max’s sturdy, agency keyboard.

The highlights of the Dragonfly Max’s port choice are its pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports, however I want they had been break up throughout both sides of the laptop computer as a substitute of each positioned on the appropriate edge. I’d additionally transfer the USB Type-A port from the left edge to the appropriate, as a result of it’ll doubtless be used to attach a mouse, and most of the people are right-handed mousers. 

hp elite dragonfly max ports Matt Elliott/IDG

A pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports spotlight the Dragonfly Max’s connectivity, though having each positioned on the identical facet of the laptop computer is rather less versatile.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max efficiency

In our testing, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times for the Elite Dragonfly Max. It turned in wonderful software efficiency, nevertheless it exhibited lackluster multimedia capabilities and battery life.

We in contrast the Elite Dragonfly Max in opposition to two different high-end 2-in-1 convertibles,  the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 9310 and the HP Spectre x360 14, every of which options the Core i7-1165G7 CPU; and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7+, a 2-in-1 with removable keyboard, which makes use of a Core i5-1135G7 CPU. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano is predicated on the Core i7-1160G7 CPU; it’s not a convertible, nevertheless it’s a equally sized premium enterprise laptop computer properly value contemplating. All 5 techniques function 16GB of RAM and built-in Intel Iris Xe graphics.

hp elite dragonfly max pcmark 10 Matt Elliott/IDG

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max led the pack on PCMark 10’s productiveness suite. It will deal with all of your mainstream functions with aplomb.

Our first benchmark is PCMark 10, which measures efficiency on on a regular basis computing work together with workplace productiveness duties, internet shopping, and video chats. It’s a detailed race—just about any fashionable laptop computer can deal with mainstream functions with ease—however to its credit score, the Elite Dragonfly Max completed first among the many 5 premium enterprise machines right here. 

The story adjustments once you have a look at purer CPU efficiency. We first have a look at Cinebench, a kind of CPU dash. The Elite Dragonfly Max’s numbers aren’t unhealthy, however they path these of comparable competitors by a major margin.

hp elite dragonfly max cinebench Matt Elliott/IDG

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max’s Cinebench numbers are wonderful, however they path the outcomes of different premium enterprise laptops.

We use the HandBrake utility to transform a 30GB film to Android desk format, an intensive job that taxes the CPU—and the laptop computer’s capability to maintain it cool. Here, once more, the Elite Dragonfly Max trailed the competitors.

hp elite dragonfly max handbrake Matt Elliott/IDG

HandBrake is a strenuous check that heats up the CPU, penalizing laptops that should throttle efficiency to handle warmth. The HP Elite Dragonfly Max clearly made some sacrifices to remain cool.

The Elite Dragonfly Max will not be the primary skinny, gentle, and small laptop computer to falter on CPU efficiency due to thermal constraints. However, it’s value noting that the Dell XPS 13 9310 2-in-1, essentially the most comparable machine in our comparability, blows it out of the water on each assessments. 

Although Intel’s Iris Xe integrated graphics is surprisingly good, as our assessments have proven, not one of the Iris Xe-equipped laptops right here will probably be confused with gaming machines, particularly the Elite Dragonfly Max, which introduced up the rear on our 3DMark benchmark.

hp elite dragonfly max 3dmark Matt Elliott/IDG

None of those skinny, gentle, and small laptops might be mistaken for a gaming machine, however the Elite Dragonfly Max is essentially the most underwhelming of the lot. 

While a few of the lackluster efficiency above might be chalked as much as the constraints of smaller laptops, the battery life is the largest disappointment. We check laptop computer battery life by looping a 4K video utilizing the inventory Windows Movies & TV app, with display brightness set to about 250 nits and the quantity dialed to 50 p.c, with headphones plugged in.

hp elite dragonfly max battery life Matt Elliott/IDG

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max lagged behind many of the competitors in battery life, even some that had smaller batteries.

It could seem harsh to ding a laptop computer that ran for almost 11 hours on battery, however contemplate the competitors. Sure, the Elite Dragonfly Max, with a 56Wh battery, outlasted the Surface Pro 7+ and its 50Wh pack. But the Dell XPS 13 9310 2-in-1 has a 51Wh battery, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano has a 48Wh battery, but each lasted longer than the Elite Dragonfly Max. (The HP Spectre x360 14 has an outsize benefit with its 66.5Wh provide.). You’ll have the ability to get via all however the longest workdays on a single cost with the Dragonfly Max, however competing fashions appear to be extra environment friendly.

Competing priorities

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max boasts a good looking, rugged enclosure and a bunch of considerate utilities that enterprise execs are sure to take pleasure in. It additionally provides a beautiful (if small) show, surprisingly strong audio output, and a 1440p webcam that places 720p cams to disgrace. Its first-rate design and lengthy record of options assist to justify its lofty worth, however its efficiency on the entire left us wanting. Even a gentle disappointment is noteworthy when a laptop computer’s worth approaches the $3,000 mark. 

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