HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook review

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook review: The MacBook of ChromeOS laptops

As the first 12th gen Intel Chromebook available, the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook sets a high bar. With the excellent build quality and unique features, this ChromeOS laptop is very appealing. I liken it to Apple’s MacBook line of laptops: Very nice machines that command a premium price compared to similar competing options. Read on to find out why in my HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook review.

[saswp-review id=”review”]

Internal hardware and HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook specs

For reference, I’m testing a model of the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook provided on loan from HP. This particular configuration isn’t available but would cost around $1,400 to $1,500 if HP offered it. I have a full listing of the available configurations and their suggested retail prices here.

Currently, HP is only offering the base model with a $1,149 MSRP, which has a few downgraded components from my review unit. Notably, it uses a Core i3 instead of the Core i5 in my test model. Local storage is half of what the test unit has as well: You’ll get 128 GB of SSD. And you don’t get the 2256 x 1504 resolution screen with 400 nits of brightness as the model I’m reviewing. You’ll have a 1920 x 1280 display with the same brightness. Gone too is the Intel Iris Xe GPU; the base model uses Intel’s UHD graphics.

The base model is currently on sale direct from HP for $979.99 if you’re interested in it.

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook and pen

Although I don’t have that base model for testing, I’m comfortable saying that you won’t give up that much if you choose it. I wouldn’t expect there to be a noticeable performance difference for traditional Chromebook usage, for example. And other than the items mentioned above, you’re still getting everything else: The same amount of memory, the haptic trackpad, ports, and even the fingerprint sensor are all there.

Having said that, here are the specs of my HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook review unit:

CPU10 core (12 threads) Intel Core i5-1245U CPU (3.3 GHz E-cores / 4.4 GHz P-Cores)
GPUIntel Iris Xe graphics
Display13.5″, QHD+ (2256 x 1504 resolution), IPS,
400 nits
Memory8 GB LPDDR4-4266 MHz memory
Storage256 GB SSD M.2 PCIe NVMe
Connectivity802.11ax (2×2) WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
InputBacklit, textured keyboard, haptic trackpad
1080p webcam with privacy shutter, dual-array microphone, fingerprint sensor
Ports2 USB Type-C 4.0 / Thunderbolt ports, 1 USB Type-A SuperSpeed port,
1 HDMI, microSD card reader,
headphone/microphone combo jack
Battery4-cell, 50 WHr capacity
Weight2.8 pounds
SoftwareChromeOS automatic updates through June 2030

Enough about the internals. Let’s turn to the outside of the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook.

Fantastic design, materials, and quality

When I first unboxed the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook review unit, my mind immediately thought of an Apple laptop. And that’s not a bad thing unless you don’t like Apple’s MacBooks.

Visually, the HP has many design similarities and the same premium feel as what Apple offers. The 13.5-inch display has minimal bezels on the side and reasonably small ones on the screen’s top and bottom. There’s a generously-sized trackpad, which (like Apple) uses haptics. This thin Chromebook weighs a low 2.8 pounds thanks to the premium materials used: HP says it’s a magnesium alloy.

My first impressions still hold true. Build quality is impeccable on my HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook review unit as well. Everything is where you’d expect or want it to be as well. There’s a fingerprint sensor to the right of the haptic trackpad. Top-firing speakers are above the keyboard at the top of the chassis and there are two front-firing ones closest to you. If you get the option HP stylus, it magnetically attaches to the right side of the chassis. It’s secure, out of the way, and wirelessly charges there as well.

Right side ports of this HP Chromebook

Unlike Apple’s laptops, you’ve got a wide range of ports on both sides of the chassis. A USB Type-C 4 / Thunderbolt 4 on each side, for example. HDMI output on the left and USB Type-A on the right. Plus a microSD card slot and, on my review unit, an optional SIM card slot for LTE support.

Left side ports of this HP Chromebook

There are air intake grilles under the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook. Given that every configuration uses a 12th gen Intel U-series processor, they all need a fan to move heat from the CPU. And yes, you will hear that fan running. In my usage, however, I hear it less often than I do on my 8th gen Intel Core i5 Chromebook from 2018. When it does run, it’s also quieter than on my daily driver.

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook performance is excellent

Clearly, anytime you move up a processor generation, you’d expect a performance boost. And of course, there is one.

The performance jump from my 2018 Chromebook with Core i5 and 16 GB of RAM can easily be seen. That ol’ Acer Chromebook Spin 13 has served me very well but its age is becoming apparent. By comparison, I can see the clear performance gains in the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook. And having tested several 11th gen Intel Chromebooks recently, I can see it there too. Just not as much.

I’ll share some synthetic benchmarks to illustrate and then discuss how the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook performs for my tasks.

TestHP Elite Dragonfly
12th gen Core i5
Flip CX3
11th gen Core i7
Flex 5i
11th gen Core i3
IdeaPad 5i
11th gen Pentium
Acer Spin 13
8th gen Core i5
Speedometer 1.0412251311249.8179.9
Speedometer 2.0240145176144.099.6
JetStream 2222.375141.03151.88130.3594.436
Basemark 3.01,387.511,161.991,179.91,032.8594.18
Octane 2.077,74738,88055,36047,15235,116
Higher numbers are better

As you can guess by the benchmark results, I’ve never seen a more capable ChromeOS laptop than the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook when it comes to raw performance.

The results bear out in my typical usage, which is comprised mainly of general web work with up to two dozen open browser tabs, Linux apps for programming, the occasional Android app, plus some online video watching and video conferencing.

Even with 8 GB of memory instead of my preferred 16 GB, this Chrome OS laptop is more than capable of my daily workload. In fact, it performs so well, that I’m thinking that I can make do with an 8 GB RAM configuration for my own next purchase. I’ve shied away from that in the past because I typically have at least one Linux app running all day. It’s VS Code if you’re curious.

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook external monitor

Simply put, every activity happens instantly. Whether it’s opening or running a web app, it just happens. Firing up a Linux app when the Linux container is running? It might take two seconds if that. Switching between Virtual Desks or jumping into Overview mode to split two active windows across the screen? Nary a lag.

It’s definitely a big step up from my everyday Chromebook that’s now four years old. Maybe two steps. It’s more like a half-step up from a comparable 11th gen Core processor, however. So unless you have money to burn, I don’t think I’d upgrade from a recent 11th gen Chromebook.

Other experiences with this ChromeOS laptop

I wanted to mention a few other specific aspects about the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, so here are they are in no particular order.

  • I’ve seen more vibrant displays on other Chromebooks, such as the Acer Chromebook Duet 5, which has an OLED screen. Even so, the color saturation, viewing angles, and brightness is better than average on the HP.
  • Speaking of displays, I tested my 1440p, 144Mhz external monitor with the HP. Over HDMI, it had no issues displaying the full 2560 x 1440 screen resolution at 75 frames per second.
  • It’s nice to have a Chromebook with a 1080p webcam. I wouldn’t say the visual output is stellar, but you can see the higher quality image it captures compared to most Chromebook webcams.
  • Participants on video calls said the microphone input was good but not great. It’s surely good enough for this activity.
  • The B&O tuned speakers get fairly loud for a laptop of this size. The bass is a little light. However, I enjoyed watching movies and appreciate the two front-firing speakers that help with stereo separation and front-to-back sounds.
  • The fingerprint sensor has worked without fail.
  • Battery life is decent. There were days when I was really pushing this Chromebook with many activities and a high brightness level on the display. On those days, the battery was good for around 6 hours. Most of my normal days with everyday tasks saw the battery last closer to 8 hours. You might be able to eke out 9 hours. However, the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook does recharge relatively quickly. I’d probably carry the USB charger with me when leaving home.
  • I like the typing experience of the keyboard. There’s plenty of travel and feedback. And I’m a huge fan of haptic trackpads, having used them on other Apple laptops. The trackpad doesn’t move; instead, it provides small vibrations for your clicks and when you move windows offscreen or navigate to a virtual desk. I didn’t think HP could meet the Apple experience on this. I was wrong.
  • A stylus was included with my HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook review unit and it works well in general. It’s not going to fix notetaking software that’s not up to snuff, but with the right app, it’s great.

Should you buy the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook?

Let’s be frank. I thought this device could potentially be the best Chromebook of 2022. And as of now, it is. HP has delivered on its implicit promise of a superb, high-end, no-compromise ChromeOS laptop. That comes, however, with a cost.

As I recently noted in my 12th gen Intel Chromebook comparison, there are similar offerings from other brands that have lower suggested retail prices. Like, a lot lower, given the starting price begins at $649. And I haven’t had a chance to test those models from Acer, Asus, and Lenovo. So I can’t say with certainty that you’re getting more, at least from a performance standpoint, with the HP.

However, if you have to have all of the features that are found only in the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook and both your use case and your wallet fit it, you’ll be happy with the purchase.

I’m still leaning towards seeing how the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 pans out at $749. No, there’s no haptic trackpad but the stylus is included and the base model has a higher-powered Core i5 than the base HP model. The displays are similar although Acer is using a dimmer 320 nit panel, which I can live with. The materials, design and build quality may not quite be on par with HPs but for me, I’m not sure those are worth the premium price difference.

2022 Acer Chromebook Spin 714

And that gets me back to my original thought.

I look at the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook and see the Apple business model. Use great design and quality to command a premium price over similarly configured laptops that cost hundreds of dollars less. If you’re OK with or want that, the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook fits the bill. In the end, I may purchase this device. For now, I’m going to wait and see how the competition stacks up.

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27 thoughts on “HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook review: The MacBook of ChromeOS laptops

  1. Received my base model version yesterday. Just want to note that the HP product page is misleading for those of you also looking at the base model. It does not come with the stylus, which is displayed prominently in nearly all of the stock photos. HP Escalations gave me a $75 coupon to purchase a stylus separately, as they agreed it was misleading. Also, as Kevin pointed out, I’ve confirmed that the GPU is the 46B3 (Intel UHD Graphics), not Iris Xe as noted in the specs listing.

    1. No. Con is very much right. I love the 16:9 screen of my Pixelbook Go. Divide 2 Windows to 2:1 on the screen. Very good. Even for content creation and media consumption.

    2. Hello, George,

      On the specs list of the base model it states that it has a QHD+ display? Did your’s come with that resolution or was it 1080p?

      I’m asking because if they got the GPU wrong on the specs list they may have also screwed up on the display too.

      1. I got the base model too, and I think my screen is 2256 x 1504.
        – That’s not the 3200×1800 that HP’s spec page said (which is also incorrectly 16:9 instead of 3:2)
        – Nor is it the 1920×1280 panel that Kevin thought it would be
        Instead it’s the same as Kevin’s higher-end review unit.

        I think this is the resolution because if I open Settings, go to Displays, open the web inspector, and type chrome.system.display.getInfo(), the result specifies widthInNativePixels: 2256 and heightInNativePixels: 1504. Is that an accurate way to check, and is there a better way?

        My eyesight is not what it used to be, but it definitely looks higher res than 1920 x 1280!

        1. Adam, you can double-check the resolution by going into Settings, Display and change the screen scaling option. I suspect you’re correctly interpreting the data from the web inspector, but it’s easy to check the full resolution from the scaling section. I can’t understand how HP has messed up with the specs on these devices; so much conflicting information. Either way, if you have the 2256 x 1504 resolution display, it’s nice to look at! 🤓

          1. Oh yeah, of couse. It is indeed 2256 x 1504. I wonder if they are even actually going to ship that 1920 x 1280 screen on any units, since this is supposedly the base model, right?

            Another weird thing about the display is that the cursor is way too large at scaling factors of 100% and above. At 90% and below, the cursor is nice and small. I wonder why the switchover is set there. On my Pixelbook Go, I have to crank the display up to 130% before the cursor gets huge.

    3. @George were you able to buy the matching dark blue stylus? I contacted HP as well, and they say it doesn’t exist, and I have to buy a gray one for $89. (Well actually HP sells four different ones, and different reps pointed me to different options… but regardless, none of them match the Chromebook Dragonfly.)

  2. Of all the things to nitpick, the 3:2 screen ratio!

    I use a Pixelbook 2017 Chromebook, and EVERYONE who’s seen it LOVES the 3:2 ratio screen size!
    I’ve never met anyone who didn’t!

    Vendors just don’t listen and it’s easier to work with screen sizes that everyone else is using; so they have to go out of their way to design a screen and laptop with dimensions supporting the 3:2 ratio.

    1. Yeah it’s a weird thing to list as a “con” but it’s definitely personal preference and use-case specific. If you’re using this mainly for media consumption, you’re better off with a 16:9. I’d only recommend 3:2 for productivity users. That being said, I’d absolutely put the aspect ratio in the “pro” column. That vertical real estate is great to have when getting work done.

  3. Hi Kevin, since the base model doesn’t have the Iris Xe GPU will it not be able to run STEAM?

    1. I can only speculate on that as I have no knowledge of Google’s specific plans here. I would guess that Iris Xe graphics are required for Steam based on the devices that are approved for the Alpha. That could change over time as Google optimizes the container for Steam, but I’m doubtful.

  4. On May 5 I purchased a Elite Dragonfly Chromebook with specific specs. At the time the delivery was October 31. I got an email today saying my unit should ship on July 26, so next week. I had ordered it with a 5G modem, however, I got a message from HP that they could not get one, so they will refund me $104 and install an LTE model. Looking forward to see if it actually arrives at the end of next week.

  5. Thanks for the review. I’m struggling to decide if I should replace aging Pixelbook 2017’s that are i7’s with 16GB of RAM with the base model i3 Dragonfly, or just move on to MacBooks. This is super expensive to get the higher quality display and i5. Also there is basically no inventory.

    With Apple you get an education discount and almost immediate availability. Currently I have no retail outlet for this HP option.

    I really hope they get higher commercial availability.

    1. I agree about the availability challenge. If you’re just comparing hardware and price, the Mac may look better on paper. I always consider the software and operating system as well. 😉

  6. Can anyone confirm if the base model that’s being sold for on sale for $979.99 display is touch screen? When you look at the Display description on the Spec page for this model it doesn’t mention “touchscreen”; however for the more expensive model it clearly states “touchscreen” in the description for display.

  7. I love my ARM Chromebook. It is just silent.
    Apple already showed, that there is no need for an Intel in a notebook. Qualcomm, what is going on? We need a better Snapdragon!

    I would wait for the next Snapdragon version. Never again, a loud and hot Intel notebook.

  8. Got mine yesterday. Coming from a Pixelbook Go, which I absolutely love for its fantastic keyboard and minimalist design… but it’s getting slow. To me the advantages of the Dragonfly are the modern processor, the fingerprint reader, and the taller screen.

    So far I like it a lot. But the fan is bugging me. It’s just constantly running, and I hear it. I’m just writing documents and browsing the web, connected to my external display. No Zoom. Is this what I should expect? It’s annoying me, and I was hoping the fan wouldn’t run audibly unless I was doing something intense.

    I bought the Acer 714 first, but really did not like it. I like the build, keyboard, and mouse of the Dragonfly much better, so it’s either this or back to a PBG for me.

      1. @Kevin today the fan has barely spun at all, even though I’m doing all the same things (including running the linux container to write code). I don’t know what’s going on. Something must have been pegging the CPU yesterday, but it wasn’t anything I had done on purpose.

        1. Well, that’s good news? You never know 100% what’s going on under the hood to cause the fan to go crazy. You can certainly MAKE it go crazy, yes. But when it’s not something you’re causing, then it gets murky. 🤷🏼‍♂️

  9. I’ve heard a few comments in reddit regarding the fan noise on the Dragonfly. I wonder if that’s just an HP engineering issue. My work issued laptop is an HP Elitebook Windows 10 machine and the fan is always loud when it runs. I also had the HP x360 14c Chromebook before I traded it in for the Acer Spin 714 and the fan would occasionally be loud on the HP Chromebook. One thing I can say about the Spin 714 is that the fan is quiet when it runs and it rarely runs unless I’m on some graphic heavy website like The Verge or if I’m using Microsoft Edge via Linux distro.

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