HP Elite Drag­on­fly

Price: $2,100 (£tbc) from fave.co/2HjnADV

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

The HP Elite Drag­on­fly is a cor­po­rate lap­top made to please your man­ager – and isn’t that the best way to get ahead in the work­ing world? With a fin­ger­print-re­sistant fin­ish, a beau­ti­ful cerulean mag­ne­sium body, and shoul­der-friendly weight, the Elite Drag­on­fly is sure to earn you per­mis­sion to leave 15 min­utes early on Fri­day (thanks, boss). Just re­mem­ber, the Elite Drag­on­fly is de­signed for the board­room, not the race­track, so don’t

ex­pect blaz­ing speed. What you will get is a solid con­fig­u­ra­tion with some premium op­tions; good per­for­mance, amaz­ing bat­tery life; and let’s not for­get the truly classy de­sign. Hmmm, maybe this lap­top is too good for your boss?

In­cred­i­bly light weight, in­sane bat­tery life

The Elite Drag­on­fly’s main claim to fame is its weight, which ap­proaches 1kg when equipped with the base 38Wh bat­tery. The trade-off is that pal­try bat­tery ca­pac­ity. HP also of­fers a 55Wh bat­tery for ad­di­tional cost. Per­son­ally, we’d opt for the larger bat­tery (sup­plied in our re­view unit), which in­creases the weight to 1.13kg.

Be­cause your boss is likely to be but­ter-fin­gered, the Elite Drag­on­fly also has a bet­ter chance of hit­ting the

floor – and maybe sur­viv­ing – as HP said it passes nine MIL-STD drop tests in drop, shock, and vi­bra­tion.

What’s in­side still mat­ters, though, and like most cor­po­rate premium lap­tops, the Elite Drag­on­fly has the top-end, 8th-gen In­tel Core i7-8665U. You can view the full de­tails of the Core i7-8665U on In­tel’s ARK data­base (fave.co/2Sm­cynK), but in per­for­mance you get about 200MHz higher clocks in Turbo Boost and 100MHz higher base clocks on pa­per. Most im­por­tant is ac­tu­ally the sup­port for In­tel’s vPro fea­ture, which en­ables eas­ier man­age­ment of the lap­top in a fleet en­vi­ron­ment, where 200 or 2,000 have to be ac­counted for.

The Core i7-8665U also sup­ports In­tel’s TSX-NI and Sta­ble Plat­form fea­tures. Even though the lat­ter prom­ises bet­ter per­for­mance for multi-threaded apps, it’s sup­ported on very few CPUs de­spite be­ing in­tro­duced four gen­er­a­tions ago with the Haswell line.

Fea­tures

The Elite Drag­on­fly embraces its ex­ec­u­tive-lap­top sta­tus, de­liv­er­ing a fea­ture list that’s first-class all the way. Here are the de­tails:

CPU: 8th-gen quad-core In­tel Core i7-8665U with vPro sup­port

GPU: In­te­grated In­tel UHD620

RAM: 16GB LPDDR3/2133 in dual-chan­nel mode Dis­play: HP of­fers three screen op­tions for the Drag­on­fly: a 4K UHD OLED screen that hits 500 nits; a blaz­ing 850-nit Sure View Gen 3 FHD screen that lets you switch on a pri­vacy mode so those to your right and left can’t read the screen; and a power-sip­ping 1-watt FHD screen, which was con­fig­ured in our re­view model.

Stor­age: Our re­view sam­ple in­cluded 512GB ca­pac­ity In­tel H10 Op­tane Mem­ory hy­brid drive. You can read our re­view of the H10 for the full de­tails on the drive at fave.co/38p0x6J, but we’re gen­er­ally fans of it.

For a full list of spec­i­fi­ca­tions, go to page 43.

Ports

You won’t have to worry about your boss barg­ing into your cu­bi­cle to steal – bor­row – an­other don­gle. The Elite Drag­on­fly fea­tures two Thun­der­bolt 3 ports, an ana­logue combo jack, a wedge-style lock port, and a USB Type A port. The Elite Drag­on­fly also man­ages to pack a full HDMI port into its svelte body. We wish the Thun­der­bolt ports weren’t both on the right side, how­ever, as they could im­pede mouse us­age.

Our re­view unit fea­tured an In­tel 4G XMM7360 mo­dem CAT 9 mo­dem. That’s In­tel’s older and slower 4G chip. If you want a CAT 16 mo­dem, HP also of­fers an XMM7560 up­grade. And yes, if your boss asks, just say it’s a ‘5G mo­dem’ any­way.

Key­board and Track­pad

The in­put de­vices are top-notch, start­ing with a full-travel dome key­board. There are two lev­els of back­light­ing (plus, no light­ing at all). Keys are gen­er­ally well placed, but HP does com­bine many key func­tions, such as press­ing the func­tion key and the right shift but­ton to ac­cess the print screen. HP’s rea­son for not hav­ing a ded­i­cated print screen but­ton is so it can have ded­i­cated keys to ac­cess the cal­en­dar as well as sev­eral IP-based video con­fer­enc­ing apps.

One fea­ture we do like is the ded­i­cated mic mute but­ton. It lights up, so no one can say they didn’t know they weren’t on mute when they bad-mouth the CEO dur­ing a video­con­fer­ence.

Speak­ing of pri­vacy, HP has also clev­erly in­te­grated a phys­i­cal shut­ter over the cam­era. Un­for­tu­nately it also blocks the in­frared cam­era, so you can’t use the Win­dows Hello fa­cial recog­ni­tion when the shut­ter’s

ac­tive. Luck­ily there’s a fin­ger­print reader as an al­ter­nate au­then­ti­ca­tion method.

The Sy­nap­tics track­pad is glass and smooth. It is com­pli­ant with Mi­crosoft’s Pre­ci­sion touch­pad re­quire­ment, which is an in­di­ca­tion of its ac­cu­racy.

Oleo­pho­bic coat­ing

Here’s an­other fairly unique fea­tures on the Elite Drag­on­fly: an oleo­pho­bic coat­ing to help it re­pel fin­ger­prints and other greasy marks. We tested it against our typ­i­cal snack fare, and found it ef­fec­tively re­pelled most smudges from fin­gers that had re­cently han­dled corn chips and na­cho tor­tilla chips. How­ever, it was no match for the gold stan­dard of potato chips, which caused our fin­gers to leave a snail-like trail on the palm rest. The oleo­pho­bic coat­ing helps, but don’t ex­pect it to work mir­a­cles.

Se­cu­rity fea­tures aplenty

As a cor­po­rate lap­top, the Elite Drag­on­fly is hard­ened against at­tacks, in­clud­ing those to the BIOS. HP says it can both de­tect scary UEFI-tar­get­ing root kits and re­cover from them. The Drag­on­fly also in­te­grates Bromium’s se­cu­rity tech­nol­ogy in its Sure Click fea­ture. It ba­si­cally takes the sand­box­ing ap­proach of many browsers, but en­forces it in hard­ware.

Set up as a con­sumer would, the Sure Click would au­to­mat­i­cally sand­box PDF files in mi­cro-vir­tual ma­chines. By de­fault, risky at­tach­ments are opened in mi­cro-vir­tual ma­chines us­ing the Chromium browser.

With its hard­ware-based se­cu­rity, the Elite Drag­on­fly lets you set up the lap­top with mea­sures rang­ing from

pru­dent to Dra­co­nian. As with all se­cu­rity pro­ce­dures, the lev­els of pain are up to the ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Per­for­mance

The Elite Drag­on­fly’s per­for­mance re­flects the pri­or­i­ties of cor­po­rate lap­tops, which put se­cu­rity and re­li­a­bil­ity over raw speed. You can see that odd dy­namic right here: The 8th-gen Core i7-8665U in the Elite Drag­on­fly has a higher clock speed than the com­mon con­sumer Core i7-8565U CPU. But one look be­low and you won’t see it.

Maxon’s 3D ren­der­ing Cinebench R15 bench­mark, which mea­sures a CPU’s multi-threaded per­for­mance, shows the Elite Drag­on­fly un­der-per­form­ing against lap­tops with slower CPUs.

When we task Cinebench with us­ing a sin­gle CPU core, the sit­u­a­tion doesn’t change much: the Drag­on­fly is still a lit­tle slower than most other lap­tops. The good news is that in sin­gle-threaded tasks – which is the bulk of what’s done on small, thin lap­tops – it’s not a big deal.

Our harsh­est test of a CPU uses the free Hand­brake util­ity to en­code a 30GB 1080p file. The task typ­i­cally takes an hour on thin-and-light lap­tops, and it stresses the cool­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of any lap­top. We again see the Elite Drag­on­fly un­der­per­form other lap­tops.

If you’re start­ing to won­der just why the CPU has a higher boost clock on pa­per, but is ac­tu­ally slower, the rea­son is that it’s a busi­ness lap­top. Yes, we know, you’re won­der­ing why not just buy a slower CPU? The prob­lem is your boss still wants the best.

That’s not to say the Core i7-8665U is ac­tu­ally slower than a con­sumer Core i7-8565U – it’s just that to make it that fast, HP would have to add in, say, two fans in­stead of one, and beefier heat pipes. That adds weight, in­creases fan noise, and re­moves space for, say, more bat­tery ca­pac­ity.

The truth is, none of this mat­ters in a cor­po­rate en­vi­ron­ment. The next test is PCMark 8 us­ing var­i­ous sim­u­lated Cor­po­rate Drone tasks of word pro­cess­ing, brows­ing, video con­fer­enc­ing and spread­sheet­ing.

As you can see, that back-of-the-pack per­for­mance of the Elite Drag­on­fly sud­denly looks pretty good. The truth is the Elite Drag­on­fly is just fine for what 95 per­cent of Cor­po­rate Drone work re­quires. Just re­mem­ber to tell your boss, “it’s 200MHz faster”.

Our last pure per­for­mance test uses 3DMark to mea­sure the graph­ics ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Elite Drag­on­fly. No sur­prise, it’s ba­si­cally no bet­ter and no worse than most lap­tops us­ing In­tel UHD or HD graph­ics. We’d rec­om­mend that any gam­ing or graph­ics be kept to the bare min­i­mum. If your boss’s idea of ‘gam­ing’ means soli­taire or Flash-based games, you’ll be okay.

Per­haps the most im­por­tant test for a lap­top this por­ta­ble is bat­tery life. To test that, we loop a 4K video us­ing Mi­crosoft’s Movies & TV app. We set the dis­play at a rel­a­tively bright 250- to 260 nits, switch off Wi-Fi, and con­nect a pair of ear­buds for sound.

With its ‘1 watt panel’ and large bat­tery, it’s no sur­prise the Elite Drag­on­fly knocks it out of the park in bat­tery life. And yes, that’s about 18 hours of

video play­back. Re­mem­ber: video play­back is mostly on cruise con­trol to­day. Fire up Of­fice and sit in a spread­sheet all day scrolling around, and you’ll likely whack off a third of the run time. Fire up Chrome and fill it with 25 tabs, all loop­ing and down­load­ing con­tin­ual Flash-based ads, and you can prob­a­bly ex­pect to cut the run time in half, which is still about nine hours. Fire up any ap­pli­ca­tion that grinds on the CPU or GPU for the whole time, and you prob­a­bly shouldn’t ex­pect more than two to three hours at best.

Ver­dict

We’ll ad­mit, we’re im­pressed by the HP Elite Drag­on­fly. It tran­scends our ex­pec­ta­tions for cor­po­rate lap­tops. In­stead of bor­ing, black, and ba­sic, it is beau­ti­ful,

im­pres­sively light, and sur­pris­ingly well-equipped. For con­sumers look­ing for a lit­tle more rated dura­bil­ity and ver­sa­til­ity in a lap­top, the Drag­on­fly is worth a hard look – if you can stom­ach the price. As a cor­po­rate lap­top with man­age­abil­ity fea­tures such as vPro and the ‘faster’ Core i7-8665U CPU, it’ll set you back a huge amount. And that’s with­out the op­tional HP Ac­tive Tilt Pen. You could skip the pricier cor­po­rate fea­tures and still get a lot of lap­top. Gor­don Mah Ung

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 13.3in (1,920x1,080) FHD IPS BrightView WLEDback­lit dis­play

• Win­dows 10 Pro (64-bit)

• 8th-gen quad-core In­tel Core i7-8665U pro­ces­sor

with vPro sup­port

• In­te­grated In­tel UHD620 GPU

• 16GB LPDDR3/2133 in dual-chan­nel mode • 256GB SSD

• 2x Thun­der­bolt (USB Type-C)

• 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (charg­ing)

• 1x HDMI 1.4

• 1x Ex­ter­nal Nano SIM slot for WWAN (15)

• 3.5mm au­dio jack

• Wi-Fi 6

• Bluetooth 5.0

• 720p HD Cam­era + IR Cam­era

• HP Premium Col­lab­o­ra­tion Key­board

• Bang & Olufsen, 4 Premium stereo speak­ers • 304x197x16­mm

• 1kg

HP’s Elite Drag­on­fly is a light­weight con­vert­ible lap­top (shown with op­tional HP Ac­tive Tilt pen, £76 from fave.co/31P9zY8)

The 8th gen Core i78665U can tech­ni­cally hit higher clocks than the more com­mon Core i7-8565U, but more im­por­tantly has vPro sup­port switched on

De­spite its rel­a­tively thin body, the Elite Drag­on­fly still fea­tures USB Type A and full-size HDMI ports, along with two Thun­der­bolt 3 ports The Elite Drag­on­fly’s left side fea­tures USB Type A, power, lock port, and a SIM slot

The HP key­board is a full-travel rub­ber dome de­sign and fea­tures ded­i­cated keys for the cal­en­dar, VOIP and mut­ing the mi­cro­phone

Like most busi­ness-class lap­tops, the Elite Drag­on­fly doesn’t set any per­for­mance records

In sin­gle-threaded tasks, the Drag­on­fly again un­der­per­forms against other tech­ni­cally slower CPUs, but not by much

The Drag­on­fly also comes in well be­hind other tech­ni­cally slower CPUs in our Hand­brake stress test too

PC Mark 8 tells us it’s all good for the ma­jor­ity of work you’d do on a thin-and-light lap­top

Graph­ics per­for­mance is in line with that of all other UHD lap­tops, and fine for your boss to play Flash-based games

The HP Elite Drag­on­fly’s bat­tery life doesn’t dis­ap­point in our off­line video run down test

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