In the overall Chromebook conversation these days, there is much discussion concerning price, value and general bang-for-your-buck. With Chromebooks being more about utility, speed, security, and simplicity than other competing devices that run Windows or MacOS, the general feeling is you want a Chromebook that’s good at lots of stuff, but also good about not draining your wallet.
The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook flips all of this on its head, and with an absolute laundry list of features, HP has built this device with a different sort of user in mind. This Chromebook is for people like myself who know that ChromeOS is their operating system of choice – for that speed, simplicity, and security mentioned above – and still want some of the niceties that come with more-expensive laptops. If that sounds like you, the Dragonfly Chromebook might be right up your alley.
Before we begin, however, I think a quick look back is in order. A lot of people have scoffed at the price of the Dragonfly. It’s expensive, and the version I’d recommend to most people starts at an MSRP of $1149 and the prices just go up from there. Recently, however, the standard version with the Core i3 has dropped as low as $869, and that vastly changes our conversation around this Chromebook.
Remember the original Pixelbook? At $999, that device’s price tag was originally scoffed at, too, but over time the general consensus was that it was one of the best laptops ever made. Google put premium materials in that device and HP has done the same thing with the Dragonfly, so we have to keep that in mind as we talk about this Chromebook. Instead of cutting corners, HP just built a high-quality laptop. Instead of giving us reasons why things are left out here and there, HP just went and included everything. Is it expensive? Yes it is, but as you’ll see in this review, if you are looking for all the features HP put into this Chromebook, it’s simply going to cost more money. Period.
Built to impress
Looking at the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, you know right away that you’re dealing with quality. The dark blue color of the all-magnesium-alloy chassis, the curves, the feel and the craftsmanship all shine. The clean HP logo, the Chromebook logo at the bottom, and the chrome-lined hinges just scream quality. There are no misaligned parts, no creaks, and very tight tolerances all around. If you are looking for a gorgeous Chromebook, this one is high on the list.
While it is thin and light (16.5mm and 2.8 lbs), it is also just substantial enough to include all the ports you want and need in a productive, portable Chromebook. There are 2 Type C USB 4.0 Thunderbolt ports, a USB 3.2 Type A port, a microSD card slot, headphone/mic jack, and full-sized HDMI port. It’s enough connectivity to keep you productive in just about any scenario, and I was able to work without a dock when I chose to do so at the desk.
The fan ports are also well positioned and tasteful, allowing plenty of airflow while not disturbing the overall aesthetic of the Chromebook. HP clearly took some time to make this look nice, and those design choices are part of what make this such a compelling Chromebook to look at and hold.
Under the lid
Things only get better from there. Open the lid and we get a beautiful, high-res 13.5-inch 3:2 QHD panel that hits 400 nits of brightness. I’ve talked about aspect ratios plenty, but the quick version is this: 3:2 screens are great for web-based content, they make your screen feel way larger, and this specific combo of screen size and aspect ratio actually gives you the same height as a 16:9 15.6-inch screen. It is so great for mobile use and as we’ve seen with devices like the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 and 713, this screen size and resolution is an absolute win all around. As for the display itself, the colors are super vibrant, it is crazy bright, and viewing angles are perfect. Seriously, I have not a single complaint with this screen.
Under that screen sits the keyboard and trackpad, and again, these are as good as it gets. The keyboard is spacious, backlit, and one of the nicest typing experiences I’ve ever had. There are some added keys up top, too, allowing for one-click access to keyboard backlight on/off and a microphone mute. The other standard keys are up there as well, making this one of the best function rows we’ve seen on a Chromebook to date. As a welcome and expected addition, there is a fingerprint scanner just under the right side of the keyboard, too, and as always, it works well and I love having it there.
We then come to the trackpad, and it is quite special. It is the first all-haptic trackpad on a Chromebook, and it has been a delight to use. There’s no worry with travel or build quality since it has no moving parts and the haptic feedback feels natural and very click-like.
The benefits of a haptic trackpad are numerous. First, it will never wear out. Second, you can adjust the firmness of the click based on your personal preference. Third, it can be clicked at any place on the surface and feels the exact same. Finally, it makes way for some interesting interactions, giving you a small bump when you change virtual desks with a 4-finger gesture or when you snap a window to either side of the screen. I’m not gonna lie: I’m now very spoiled by it.
To the right of that trackpad is the spot for the wirelessly-charging USI pen that comes with the Dragonfly Chromebook. The pen is solid-tipped and is basically the same one you get with the HP Chromebook x2 11, only in the new dark blue color to match the rest of this handsome Chromebook. It is USI and works as you’d expect, but it has a couple unique and handy tricks up its sleeve.
First, it magnetically attaches to the side of the Chromebook. Second, it charges wirelessly while it is there. It’s a nifty trick that we’re seeing HP borrow from Apple once again, and I like it a lot more than simply providing USI support and providing a pen with no place to go. Ultimately, I’d rather see a stowed stylus for a device like this as the placement isn’t great for moving in and out of my bag on a regular basis, but that’s just my opinion. I’m sure many users will appreciate the full sized pen and a decent place to keep it stored when not in use.
We also have to talk about the sound that comes from this small Chromebook. With a quad speaker setup – two speakers face-up above the keyboard and two more on the front edge of the device – this Chromebook has a full, wide, loud audio output that falls shy of only the amazing Pixelbook Go. Catching up on shows or watching YouTube without headphones is a treat, and utilizing these speakers for video calling is exceptional. I figured they would be good from the initial reveal of the Dragonfly back in January, but I was still a bit surprised with the quality of the sound you get on this Chromebook once I started using it.
Cameras and mics
Speaking of sound quality and video calls, we have to call attention to the best webcam I’ve ever used on a Chromebook. The 5MP sensor on the HP Dragonfly along with some software tuning by HP and Google has made this my absolute favorite device for video calling. The details, contrast, exposure and colors are so much better than other Chromebooks that I’ve come to the point where I don’t want to take a video call without it. With the standard privacy shutter on board as well, there’s no doubt that this is the best camera setup we’ve seen on a Chromebook, and I really hope it sets the trend moving forward.
Additionally, HP situated the dual mic array on the very top of the lid, making these microphones work in more of a 360-degree fashion for those times you need to move around the room a bit when you are in a meeting. We tested them and regardless of whether you are in front or behind this Chromebook, your audio comes through loud and clear and when paired up with the excellent speakers and cameras HP included, it all makes the Dragonfly the absolute king of video calling in the Chromebook world.
Under the hood
Inside this Chromebook you’ll find some variation of 12th-gen Intel silicon, up to 512GB of NVMe storage, and up to 32GB of RAM. Our model is equipped with the Core i5-1245U, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of NVMe storage, making this the fastest Chromebook I’ve ever used. Not that I expected it to, but this Chromebook never struggled to do anything. Never once did I even have to consider how many tabs, windows, apps or virtual desks were open, and I don’t think I’ll ever have to.
While I’ve yet to test the 12th-gen Core i3 that comes on the base model, I’d wager it would be equally fast. Early benchmarks indicate it is slightly less capable than the Core i5, but not wildly so. The biggest change would be the lack of the Iris Xe graphics you get with the Core i5 and i7, but that will only matter for Steam Games and video editing down the road if you are interested in those things.
Finally, with all that power on board, we have to talk about the battery, and those numbers were nothing to write home about. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t exceptional, either. I was seeing a solid 8-9 hours of actual use if I kept my screen brightness under control and near 65% – 70%. Cranking it up would push me to the 6-7 hour range, and after getting used to the epic battery life of ARM-powered Chromebooks, that is a bit of a bummer. Still, with proper management, you can definitely get a full day’s work out of this Chromebook pretty easily without needing to hunt down an outlet, and with all this power at your fingertips, that feels like a win.
Is the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook worth the money?
That’s a lot to cover, but that’s how it should be with a device this expensive. When nearly every part of the Chromebook is exceptional, there’s just a lot to talk about! And I think that’s the takeaway with the Dragonfly Chromebook. HP didn’t bother trying to cut corners or curb cost: they just went for it and exceptional hardware comes at a steep price. When you look at the same generation of the Dragonfly laptops with Windows 11, you’ll find $2000+ price tags for similar specs, so it is really something to see the Core i3 version of a device with this much upside already retailing for well under $1000. Especially considering that you’ll get updates every 4 weeks until June of 2030.
In the end, it’s still a Chromebook, so there are caveats that apply just like with any other device we review. There are software limitations that exist, though they’re falling away more and more as time passes. There’s Parallels for Windows apps, there’s the Linux container for development, there’s Steam Gaming on the way, there are multiple video editors coming soon, and the power of the web is only expanding as we move forward. The list of things you can’t do on a Chromebook is dwindling, so when we talk about value propositions, ChromeOS is far less of a deterrent for general users than it used to be.
So if that’s the case, that means there is more of an argument for high-quality Chromebook hardware than there’s ever been before, and the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook leans completely into it. If you’re looking for the best deal and a way to get simple computing done on a budget, this clearly isn’t your device. But if you’re sold on the speed, simplicity, and security of ChromeOS and want hardware that comes without compromise, this is the Chromebook for you: even if it does cost a bit more.