Incredible battery life
Pro-level features not for everyone
Business laptops have had a quiet resurgence lately, with the likes of HP, Dell, and Lenovo blurring the line between their flagship consumer laptops and the long-running Elite, Latitude, and ThinkPad lines. Across the board, business laptops are getting slimmer and faster, borrowing design flourishes from the best consumer laptops available.
Of course, a business laptop is still first and foremost about getting work done, and the HP Elite Dragonfly G2 is no slouch there. It’s fast, sure, but it also comes with a host of features to help you get through the day. Truly all-day battery life, a spectacular keyboard and trackpad combo, all the major ports you’d need (no dongle required)—and built-in Tile tracking in case you misplace it—make it one of the best all-around business laptops we’ve ever tested.
About the HP Elite Dragonfly G2
The Elite Dragonfly G2 was released late 2019, updated early in 2020 with built-in Tile support. Our review unit still features an 8th-gen Intel i7 with vPro processor, though we do expect 10th-gen processors to come to market in this model sometime soon. Here are the rest of the specs from HP:
- Processor: Intel Core i7-8665U vPro (i3 to i7 configs available)
- Memory: 16GB RAM (8GB configs available)
- Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD (up to 2TB NVMe available)
- Display: 13.3-inch 1080p, 1000 nit touchscreen w/ HP Sure View (4K available)
- Ports: SuperSpeed USB-A, USB-C w/ Thunderbolt (x2), HDMI, headphone jack
- Touchpad: Microsoft Precision Touchpad
- Graphics: UHD Graphics 620 (integrated)
- Wireless: Intel WiFi 5 (2x32), Bluetooth 5.0, (LTE Cat 9 and Cat 16 available)
- Battery: 4-cell 56-WHr battery (non-replaceable, 2-cell 38-WHr available but don’t do that)
- Charger: 65-watt AC Adapter, USB-C
- Weight: 2.2lbs
- Dimensions: 11.98 x 7.78 x 0.63 inches (W x H x D)
- Warranty: 3-year limited warranty
Our review unit in this case ships with the aforementioned 8th-gen Intel i7-8665U CPU, which runs at 1.9GHz with a boost up to 2.11GHz. It has 16GB of RAM and Windows 10 Pro. Not mentioned above, this model includes a built-in privacy screen called HP Sure View, which can be activated by a key on the function row and blocks off-angle viewing.
This particular model also includes a built-in Tile tracker, which is installed into one of the M.2 slots inside. It isn’t a major hit to battery life or weight, but you can’t get the Tile tracker and a built-in WWAN/LTE modem, which is a bit of a bummer.
What We Like
Class-leading battery life in a lightweight package
Weighing less than three pounds and packing a reasonably fast (if a bit dated) 8th-gen i7 processor, I honestly didn’t expect the Dragonfly to live up to its lofty battery life claims. It blew us away, lasting for 8 hours and 50 minutes in our battery rundown test, which involves automated browsing through 50 top websites at 200 nits of brightness.
Since most laptops in this class top out somewhere around 7:30, this is pretty amazing. Web browsing isn’t the most strenuous task, but we’ve found this result correlates very well to battery life over a typical work day.
For example, I used the Dragonfly to write this review and after a half-day of constant use the battery was still over 70%. Just remarkable.
The keyboard is perfect
I’m not prone to hyperbole, but this is the best keyboard I’ve used in a long, long time. It offers remarkable travel, but the keys are set far enough into the deck that my fingers don’t get caught up when moving from key to key. I am a fairly fast typist at around 90-95 wpm and in our typing test I easily broke 100 wpm.
The keys are also relatively quiet, so you can easily dash off an email while sitting on a conference call without having to mute your line. Keyboards and trackpads should be perfected by now, but for some reason manufactures can’t stop making unforced errors here.
Here’s a hint: just copy this one. Everyone. I promise I won’t be mad. If every laptop I use for the rest of my life feels like this I will be a happy person.
The built-in privacy features are excellent for sensitive info
Though not everyone will find it useful (in which case, definitely consider HP’s similar Spectre x360 line), but for business users the built-in privacy screen is a great touch. Unlike third-party privacy screens that you adhere on top of your screen, the HP Sure View screen is built into the panel itself (no bubbles!).
Though I don’t love everything about the screen, if privacy is paramount—especially if you frequently work in public places and look at sensitive information—then this is a great option. The screen always looks very dim at off-angles, but you can boost it even further with the Sure View key (mapped to F2), which totally blacks out the screen off-axis when enabled. It’s a nice bit of boost to privacy when you need it.
Similarly, there is a hardware mute key for the microphone and, while it’s not as noticeable as on some other laptops, there’s a sliding privacy shutter for the camera as well.
The port selection is a dream for a portable laptop
These days it seems like laptops force you to make a choice: modern, slim designs or built-in “legacy” ports like USB-A and HDMI. There’s no such compromise with the HP Dragonfly, which is just as thin as portable laptops like the MacBook Air, HP Spectre x360, Dell XPS 13, and others, yet still squeezes in a full-size HDMI port, a full-size USB-A port, two USB-C ports, and a headphone jack.
Why again doesn’t every laptop still have a port selection like this?
What We Don’t Like
An older 8th-gen processor is starting to feel dated
Our review unit here has an 8th-gen vPro i7 processor, which is fast, but struggles to keep up with the latest 10th-gen processors in benchmarks. I didn’t notice any real slowdowns in daily usage, though if you work with CPU-intensive software like mammoth databases, programming languages, or large spreadsheets then you may find it a bit lacking.
The main reason we’d guess this hasn’t already been updated to a newer processor is the vPro designation, which requires significantly more validation than Intel’s conventional releases. Though it won’t matter much for consumers just buying a laptop for themselves, the benefits of the vPro program are mostly realized in an enterprise environment.
You can read more about vPro at Intel’s site, but the short version is these are specific processor designs that are geared towards business needs like remote management, security, transparent supply chains, guaranteed availability, etc.
If you don’t want vPro you can configure this with conventional processors also, but currently that only includes other 8th-gen Intel Core processors.
The privacy screen makes for a very uneven viewing experience
Even when the privacy screen is turned to “off” it has a noticeable vignetting effect on the screen. The corners of the laptop are nearly always a different color than the center. This is not as noticeable with the screen at full brightness, which explains why HP opted for a screen that goes up to 1,000 nits.
It’s not overly bothersome in most situations, but if you hate privacy screens on other laptops this one won’t be any different. My main hangup with it is that it heavily restricts the vertical viewing angle. If the screen isn’t angled directly at you, it can be tough to see. At your desk? Not a problem. On a 6-hour flight where you don’t have the room to tilt the screen back? It gets annoying fast, and blasting the brightness isn’t an option if the cabin lights are dimmed down.
You can opt for a model without the HP Sure View screen, at least. Your choices are either a cheaper, conventional 1080p panel or a 4K UHD touchscreen, though that will cost you $124 more than the model we tested.
There are cheaper laptops offering similar performance
File this one under “obvious,” but like most business-class laptops, you’re paying for features that you may or may not need. Optional built-in LTE modems, remote management, enterprise-level hardware security—these are all great, but you may not need them.
Unfortunately, like it or not if you want this laptop you’re going to be paying more than you would on similar models from the consumer space. Our test unit retails for around $2,000, and that doesn’t include a built-in LTE modem.
HP’s own Spectre can be had with newer, 10th-gen Intel processors, a similar footprint and the same general specs as our review unit for less than $1,400. It won’t have as many legacy ports, but you can still get it with an LTE modem, Windows 10 Pro, and have a very similar business-ready laptop for much less money.
Should You Buy It?
If your corporate budget allows for it? Absolutely.
Putting price aside for a moment, the HP Elite Dragonfly G2 is an astoundingly good laptop. Just about every laptop we review has some kind of flaw you’ll need to deal with; it’s slow, the keyboard sucks, the battery life is only so-so, it’s heavy, it looks like it was designed in 2003...there’s always something.
The Dragonfly is nearly flawless. It’s lightweight, stunningly designed, fast enough for everyday work, it has all the ports you could want, and the battery life destroyed our tests. Oh, and this deserves a special shout-out: the keyboard is a dream to use.
If you design laptop keyboards for a competitor, just give up. Steal this design. You’ll probably get a raise.
Unfortunately, price is a consideration for most people. Though the Dragonfly isn’t absurdly overpriced—most configs are on par with a MacBook Pro or any number of premium business-ready fleet laptops—it’s definitely not cheap. Reasonably powerful versions are going to cost you at least $2,000, which is a lot to pay for any laptop with an 8th-gen Intel processor these days.
If that bugs you, I'd recommend HP's flagship consumer laptop, the HP Spectre x360. It's very similar, but ships with a 10th-gen i7 for around $1,200. If price matters less than enterprise-level security, then the HP Elite Dragonfly G2 is simply the best business-class laptop we’ve ever tested, no caveats—or dongles—required.
Meet the tester
TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.
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