HP Elite Dragonfly G3: Two Minute Review
Premium and ultraportable, two concepts combined in one laptop, namely the new HP Elite Dragonfly G3. As the name implies, this is the third generation of HP’s super-thin, productivity-focused laptop and is as luxurious in build and materials as it is small in size.
The chassis is all aluminum and magnesium and feels very nicely put together. Strictly speaking, it’s just one step behind the very best laptops, including Apple’s portable computers, when it comes to build quality. So is the keyboard bed which is very sturdy but not as solid as some of its competitors. But at just 0.64 inches or 16mm thick, there’s literally very little to this laptop.
In terms of specs, most of the main items are as you would expect. There’s a U-series Intel 12th Gen Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB NVMe SSD for storage. Where the Dragonfly deviates slightly from the norm is the 13.5-inch 3:2 display. It’s essentially a 1080p panel with some extra headroom, increasing the native resolution to 1,920 by 1,280 pixels by default (a 3,000 by 2,000 OLED panel is optionally available in some markets).
Elsewhere you get Bang&Olufsen-developed speakers, a 5MP webcam, a 100W USB-C charger and a 68WHr battery. The latter two are quite sturdy for such a slim wearable device. Port-wise, there’s a USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 port on each side of the chassis, plus an old-fashioned USB-A on the right, which is only possible on a chassis this thin thanks to a mini-hinged cover. You also get a full-sized HDMI port on the left, which is unexpected, and a headphone jack.
As for flaws, there are three of them. First off, none of this comes cheap, with our rating setup coming in at $2,112 or AU$3.22 (around £2,000 in the UK) and even the base spec flirting at $2,000. That doesn’t compare well with the Dell XPS 13, which starts at ‘just’ $1,249.
Next up is the rather patchy execution. The component set is fine and the pure CPU performance in synthetic benchmarks is in line with expectations. But unfortunately in the real world there is an awful lot of delay when installing and loading applications.
Finally, the 13.5-inch screen has the worst viewing angles we’ve seen in years. Even if you are in an optimal position in the center of the screen, there is a visible color and contrast shift in the vertical axis. It’s terrible. By way of limitation, the battery life is pretty epic, clocking in at over 14 hours. But at this price, this laptop should be close to perfect. And that’s still a long way off.
HP Elite Dragonfly G3: Price and Availability
- Even the base price is expensive
- Doesn’t compare well with that of the Dell XPS 13 Plus
Here is the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 configuration sent to Ditching for review:
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-1255U (2 performance cores, 8 efficiency cores, 4.7 GHz max Turbo)
Graphic: Intel Iris Xe integrated
RAM: 16GB DDR5
Screen: 13.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,280, IPS
Storage: 512GB PCIe Gen 3
Optical drive: N/A
Ports: 2x USB4/Thunderbolt 40Gbps, USB-A 5Gbps, 3.5mm headphone jack, HDMI 2.0
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E AX211 (2×2), Bluetooth 5.2
Camera: 5MP webcam
Weight: 2.2 pounds (0.99 kg)
Mate: 11.7 x 8.67 x 0.64 in (29.74 x 22.04 x 1.64 cm; W x D x H)
Clocking in as configured at $2,112 or AU$3.22 (about £2,000 in the UK), this is an expensive premium ultraportable. Even the cheapest base model is a nearly $2,000 system, which is a bit of a pain when you consider that Dell’s beautiful XPS 13 Plus starts at just $1,299.
It also doesn’t look cheap next to Lenovo’s Thinkpad series. It may feel like a premium product, but simply put, the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 is extremely expensive, making some of its more obvious flaws hard to accept.
HP Elite Dragonfly G3: Design
- Super slim chassis
- Really nice build quality
- Unusual 3:2 display
The HP Elite Dragonfly series has always been a nice physical specimen and this G3 version is no exception. Admittedly, it puts an end to the 2-in-1 functionality of its predecessor. But the resizing arguably makes for a superior pure laptop design.
It’s about as stiff as you could reasonably hope for from a 16mm thick laptop chassis. In terms of keyboard flexion, only Apple’s ridiculously solid beds do better in this class of ultraportables. Despite this, the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 clocks in at just 2.2 pounds (or just under a kilogram). The trackpad is generously proportioned, with a smooth glass surface and a nice, tactile click.
HP also has a leg up on most of the competition when it comes to connectivity, including not only two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4, but a full USB-A port cleverly enabled by a hinged cover on the back. side of the chassis . The full-sized HDMI port is just as welcome and, when combined, the two larger ports really help this laptop deliver on its productivity and business-focused task.
Speaking of welcome design elements, the display’s 3:2 aspect ratio is definitely an intriguing alternative to the 16:9 or 16:10 masses. With these smaller 13-inch laptops, the extra vertical space makes for a much more comfortable screen for viewing documents, composing emails and browsing the web, which is probably where this laptop will play the biggest role.
Overall, the footprint is quite compact, thanks to the slim side panels, although the chin and forehead are slightly larger than you’ll find on say a Dell XPS 13. Still, at least a decent 5MP webcam is possible. For the record, the strong 100W USB-C power supply is remarkably compact and features a high-quality fabric-braided cable that just adds to the premium vibe.
HP Elite Dragonfly G3: Performance
- Good components
- Fragmented real-world performance
- Decent speakers
Here’s how the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 performed in our series of benchmark tests:
3DMark: Fire Attack: 4,560; Time spy: 1,541
Cinebench R23 Multicore: 6,992 points
Geek Bench 5: 1,688 (single core); 5,721 (multiple cores)
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 5,343 points
Battery Life PCMark 10: 12 hours and 18 minutes
Battery Life (Slice Mag Movie Test): 14 hours and 4 minutes
On paper, the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 looks like a winner in terms of performance. For an ultraportable, at least. The Intel Core i7-1255U CPU is one of Intel’s latest 12th-generation low-power items with two performance cores and eight efficiency cores. It clocks up to full 4.7GHz and delivers the goods duly in synthetic benchmarks.
The problem is that in the real world, the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 can be very slow when installing apps or loading data-heavy software. The 512GB SSD is a WD SN530 drive, which is somewhat disappointingly a PCIe Gen 3 rather than a Gen 4 model, and not even a particularly fast one. But it’s not that slow and can’t be entirely to blame for the Dragonfly’s sometimes very slow performance. Neither can the 16 GB DDR5 RAM.
The limited 3D performance of the integrated Intel graphics is less of a surprise, though remotely this isn’t marketed as a gaming laptop and really can’t fill that role. Another weak point is the 13.5-inch screen. It is quite bright on maximum settings. But the viewing angles are atrocious, the worst we’ve seen on a premium laptop in years.
There is better news from the Bang & Olufsen loudspeakers. OK, there’s no bass to speak of, but volume levels are good and overall audio detail is decent. Yes, a MacBook Air is still much better. But as ultraportable PC laptop speakers go, the Dragonflies are definitely above average.
HP Elite Dragonfly G3: Battery Life
- Huge 68WHr cell
- Excellent battery life
- Compact Charging Adapter
If the performance of the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 is a bit patchy overall, one aspect that doesn’t disappoint is its battery life. We measured over 14 hours of 1080p video playback and over 12 hours of daily use at 50% brightness.
So you really work without electricity all day long. We also like how compact the power supply is and the fact that it’s USB-C rather than its own barrel-socket affair.
Should you buy an HP Elite Dragonfly G3?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
HP Elite Dragonfly G3: Scorecard
|Where the||Starting at nearly $2,000, even for the base configuration, the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 looks very expensive compared to the competition.||2 / 5|
|Design||The smooth, slim aluminum and magnesium chassis of the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 is an absolute highlight and even offers surprisingly good connectivity.||4.5 / 5|
|Performance||Occasional laggy responses and a remarkably poor display undermine the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 as a performance proposition.||3 / 5|
|Battery life||There is no doubt that excellent battery life is one of the main attractions of the HP Elite Dragonfly G3. This is a true all-day ultra-portable.||5 / 5|
First reviewed in September 2022
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