HP Elite Dragonfly G3 Review

You might think it’s just a scrawny bug, but entomologists will tell you that the dragonfly might just be the world’s most successful predator: its nearly 360-degree vision, unbeatable agility (including up to 9G acceleration), and the Ability to predict where his prey will be will give him a 95% kill rate that would be the envy of tigers and sharks. Just ask HP, which puts the Dragonfly name on its lightest, highest-end business laptops and workstations. While previous models were convertibles, the Elite Dragonfly G3 is a clamshell ultraportable. It’s pricey (starting at $1,999; $2,686 as tested), but its impressive battery life, full array of ports, and square 13.5-inch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio make it an enticing alternative to devices like the Dell XPS 13 Plus and the Apple MacBook Air M2.

The design: renewed and recycled

Available in Slate Blue or Natural Silver, the Elite Dragonfly G3 features a sleek chassis made from partially recycled magnesium and aluminum with what HP calls “rounded cushion corners.” (They make it easier to open with one hand.) Its larger screen makes it a bit deeper at 0.64 x 11.7 x 8.7 inches, but at 2.2 pounds it’s half a pound lighter than the ultraportables from Apple and Dell , to match the upcoming be-reviewed Gen 2 version of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano. The laptop has passed MIL-STD 810H tests against road hazards such as shock, vibration and temperature extremes; There’s some flexibility when grabbing the screen corners, but none when pressing down on the keyboard deck.

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HP Elite Dragonfly G3 Right Angle

(Image credit: Molly Flores)

The $1,999 base model combines an Intel Core i5-1235U processor with 16 GB of RAM, a 512 GB NVMe solid-state drive, and a 1920 x 1280 pixel IPS touchscreen. Our $2,686 review unit has a non-touch display with the same resolution, but steps up to a Core i7-1265U (two performance cores, eight efficient cores, 12 threads) and adds the standard Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5G mobile broadband.

HP offers two other display options: a 1920 x 1280 version of the HP Sure View Reflect panel with a privacy filter, and a 3000 x 2000 pixel OLED display for users who crave the richest colors and highest contrast. All models rely on Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics. Windows 11 Pro is preinstalled.

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 left ports

(Image credit: Molly Flores)

While the XPS 13 and MacBook Air only have Thunderbolt 4 ports (the Dell doesn’t even have a headphone jack), the Elite Dragonfly G3 has a much handier arrangement. There’s a USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 port on each side, but the left edge also has an HDMI video output (and the SIM card slot), while the right side adds an audio jack and a USB 3.1 Type-A port Security notch for cable.

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HP Elite Dragonfly G3 Right Ports

(Image credit: Molly Flores)

style and safety

It would have been nice to see the OLED panel, but the standard display is almost as impressive, with ample brightness and good contrast. Viewing angles are wide and colors are rich and well-saturated. Fine details are clear. Best of all, the screen’s square 3:2 aspect ratio lets you see more of a document or webpage with less scrolling. It’s a view that’s easy to get used to and makes old-school 16:9 widescreens look squashed.

Front view of the HP Elite Dragonfly G3

(Image credit: Molly Flores)

A 5-megapixel webcam blows away cheap 720p cameras and captures ultra-sharp 2560 x 1440 16:9 or 2560 x 1920 4:3 stills and video. Images are colorful and reasonably well-lit, with an HP Presence utility offering automatic framing and lighting adjustment, and blurring the background if desired. One keyboard button, no slide latch, toggles the webcam for privacy. Two top-of-the-line microphones feature automatic noise cancellation and speech leveling so you can be heard when you’re within 10 feet of the PC.

Both webcam face recognition and a fingerprint sensor (it replaces the right Ctrl key on the bottom row of the keyboard) are available for password-free Windows Hello logins. An Auto Lock and Awake feature uses the webcam to secure the system and reboot when you leave and return. The Elite Dragonfly G3 also features HP’s Wolf Security Suite with AI-based malware protection, Sure Click execution of apps and websites in virtual machine containers, and defense against BIOS corruption with settings and operating system recovery over an office network.

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 Keyboard

(Image credit: Molly Flores)

I’ll never accept that HP laptops had the cursor arrow keys arranged in a row, with hard-to-hit half-height up and down arrows stacked full-size between left and right instead of the proper inverted T. But other than that, the Dragonfly’s backlit keyboard is fast and comfortable, with decent travel and feedback. A large, buttonless touchpad requires only a gentle press for a quiet click.

Two top-firing tweeters and two bottom-front-firing woofers produce loud and clear sound with crisp highs and mids and even a little bass; The sound isn’t distorted or harsh even at maximum volume, and it’s easy to spot overlapping tracks. The HP Audio Control software offers dynamics, music, movie and speech presets as well as an equalizer. Other house-brand utilities range from HP Quick Drop for sharing files with your phone to HP Easy Clean for disabling the keyboard, touchpad and (if you have one) touchscreen for a few minutes while you apply a disinfectant wipe.

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HP Elite Dragonfly G3 rear view

(Image credit: Molly Flores)

Test of the Elite Dragonfly G3: Five heavy lightweights compete against each other

For our benchmark charts, we compared the Dragonfly Elite G3’s performance not only against the Dell XPS 13 Plus and the Apple MacBook Air M2, but also against two 2.5-pound, 14-inch ultraportables: the VAIO SX14 and the Editor’s Choice and Award-winning Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10. You can see the basic specifications in the table below.

productivity tests

UL’s PCMark 10 core benchmark simulates a variety of real-world productivity and content creation workflows to measure overall performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets, web browsing, and video conferencing. We also run PCMark 10’s Full System Drive test to evaluate a laptop’s storage load time and throughput.

Additionally, three benchmarks focus on the CPU, using all available cores and threads to assess a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads. Maxon’s Cinebench R23 uses the company’s Cinema 4D engine to render a complex scene, while Primate Labs’ Geekbench 5.4 Pro simulates popular apps ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning.

Finally, we’ll use the open-source HandBrake 1.4 video transcoder to convert a 12-minute video clip from 4K to 1080p resolution (lower times are better). While Adobe Photoshop itself appeared to be running well, our usual automated extension for the Photoshop benchmark, PugetBench, crashed repeatedly on the Dragonfly and is off the charts.

The HP performed well in these tests, easily erasing the 4,000 points in PCMark 10 indicating excellent productivity for Word and Excel, although its 15-watt Core i7-1265U mobile processor can’t match the 28-watt P could -series chips in Lenovo and Dell. It’s not suited to heavy workstation-class apps, but it’s fine for the day-to-day tasks it was designed for.

graphics tests

We test Windows PC graphics with two DirectX 12 gaming simulations from UL’s 3DMark, Night Raid (more modest, suitable for laptops with integrated graphics) and Time Spy (more demanding, suitable for gaming rigs with discrete GPUs).

We also run two tests from the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5, which emphasizes both low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like image rendering. The 1440p Aztec Ruins and 1080p Car Chase tests rendered off-screen to accommodate different screen resolutions, practice graphics, and compute shaders using the OpenGL programming interface and hardware tessellation, respectively. The more frames per second (fps), the better.

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Neither the Elite Dragonfly G3 nor any other productivity-oriented ultraportable is a fast gaming machine; His after-hours pursuits are casual gaming and streaming media, not CGI combat or virtual reality.

Battery and display tests

We test laptop battery life by watching a locally saved 720p video file (the open-source Blender movie tears of steel(Opens in a new window)) with a display brightness of 50% and an audio volume of 100%. We make sure the battery is fully charged before testing, with WiFi and the keyboard backlight off.

We also use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and its Windows software to measure a laptop screen’s color saturation — how many percent of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 color gamuts or palettes the display can display — as well its 50% and maximum brightness in nits (candelas per square meter).

Apple and HP are in a class of their own when it comes to battery life; Showing remarkable endurance for a 2.2-pound portable device, the Dragonfly will easily get you through a full work day or school without having to hunt for the nearest outlet. The 3:2 aspect ratio display’s appeal lies in its spacious view with reduced scrolling, not the gorgeous colors of the XPS 13’s high-resolution OLED panel, but it’s bright and easy on the eyes. (Again, Dragonfly buyers can opt for an OLED screen if they have the cash.)

A great grab-and-go companion

If it cost a few hundred dollars less, the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 would win Editors’ Choice and join the X1 Carbon as our favorite ultraportable – it offers an attractive, tall display, solid performance, great battery life, and a whole host of ports in a remarkably slim 2.2-pound package. If you can afford it, and especially if you need mobile broadband for connectivity where there is no Wi-Fi, it’s a near-perfect choice.

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