The HP Elite Dragonfly was already the coolest corporate laptop (or the only cool corporate laptop?) when it was introduced over a year ago, and now there are two. HP has introduced a second generation: the Elite Dragonfly G2, and the Elite Dragonfly Max, the latter fine-tuned for our new workdays of serial videoconferencing.
Like the original Elite Dragonfly, the two new models are impressively lightweight 360-degree convertibles, starting at 2.2 pounds for the Elite Dragonfly G2 (same as the original) and 2.49 pounds for the Elite Dragonfly Max. The handy Tile module is still available, now integrated into the WLAN module. The eye-catching, slightly iridescent-blue, CNC magnesium shell is still the only color for the Elite Dragonfly G2. The Elite Dragonfly Max comes in that color or a new one, a slightly iridescent black. The Max also boasts some additional features tuned for videoconferencing, which you’ll see as we walk through the feature list.
Announced just before CES 2021 and due to ship in February, HP has not issued pricing for either new model. (The first-gen model we tested costs about $2,100.) However, we can compare the original laptop’s specs to what’s new this time around.
HP has upgraded the Intel Core CPUs from 8th-gen Whiskey Lake to 11th-gen Tiger Lake U-series Core i3, Core i5, or Core i7 mobile CPUs. You can also choose business-minded vPro versions of the Core i5 and Core i7, which bring additional performance, security, and stability features.
Where the original Elite Dragonfly offered up to 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM, the new generation offers up to 32GB of LPDDR4.
The Elite Dragonfly G2 has the same display options as before: a base FHD (1920×1080), UHD (3840×2160), or an FHD SureView Reflect touch display with integrated privacy screen and a 1,000-nit maximum brightness. Note that the SureView display’s high nit count exists in part to counteract a slight loss in brightness because of the SureView privacy feature and the touch capability. The videoconferencing-focused Elite Dragonfly Max offers just the latter display.
These are low-power ‘U’ chips for mobile PCs, so there are no discrete graphics.
All models offer a choice of regular or encrypted SSDs up to 2TB capacity, with either M.2 SATA3 or PCIe NVMe x4 interfaces.
In addition to Wi-Fi 6, 4G or 5G options are available for both models.
One USB SuperSpeed 5Gbps, two Thunderbolt 3, one HDMI 1.4b, one Nano SIM.
Dimensions & Weight
11.98 x 7.78 x 0.63 inches, starting at 2.2 pounds for the G2 and 2.49 pounds for the Max (weight will vary depending on components).
Webcam and videoconferencing
The G2’s webcam is your basic 720p (1.2MP) with infrared (IR), but the G2 gets a dedicated camera switch on the keyboard instead of the manual shutter of its predecessor. It also has two user-facing mics and one world-facing mic.
On the videoconferencing-optimized Max, HP ups the webcam to 5MP for superior image quality. It retains the manual switch like the original Elite Dragonfly. It also gets a fourth mic (world-facing) for a better audio experience.
In addition to all this hardware, HP builds in a raft of audio enhancement technologies including HP Audio Boost for noise reduction, HP Sound Calibration to optimize the signal to your hearing, and HP Dynamic Audio to adjust the sound quality for speech, music, or movies.
A whole lot of AI
The audio features mentioned above are only some of the AI-driven improvements in the second generation. The Elite Dragonfly G2 and Elite Dragonfly Max can detect whether they’re operating on your lap, and will lower the device temperature to avoid user discomfort (with a natural hit to performance). They can also detect whether they’ve been put into a laptop bag, and will reduce battery usage while in the bag and accelerate wake-up time when removed from the bag. HP Tamper Lock walls off the BIOS if it detects physical intrusion on the laptop.
The HP Elite Dragonfly laptops should manage to make IT departments happy with their security and management features, and make users happy with their design enhancements and conveniences. Don’t expect them to be cheap, but they should be pretty cool.
Melissa Riofrio spent her formative journalistic years reviewing some of the biggest iron at PCWorld--desktops, laptops, storage, printers--and she continued to focus on hardware testing during stints at Computer Currents and CNET. Currently, in addition to leading PCWorld’s content direction, she covers productivity laptops and Chromebooks.