HP’s Elite Dragonfly Max is the nicest enterprise laptop computer I’ve ever used. That doesn’t imply it’s the finest, all issues thought-about — relating to efficiency, battery life, and options, the Dragonfly has fierce competitors from the Latitudes and ThinkPads of the world. However there’s no enterprise laptop computer on the market that matches the class of a Dragonfly. It’s a smooth, mild, and exquisite laptop — and that magnificence is a giant a part of its hefty, hefty price ticket.

Proper, the value tag. Earlier than we get into this: The most affordable Dragonfly Max has an MSRP of $3,347 (at present listed at a still-expensive $2,409.84). You should buy my check mannequin for, oh, a reduced value of simply $2,622.24. That places the Dragonfly Max out of attain for most individuals. And admittedly, given the machine’s small however noteworthy checklist of drawbacks, I do assume it’s too excessive. Nevertheless it’s a stunning laptop computer, it’s actually enjoyable to make use of, and it’s a terrific case research within the very peak of what a laptop computer could be.

There are two Elite Dragonfly fashions you may at present purchase: the Dragonfly Max, and the Dragonfly G2. Each have been upgraded to Eleventh-Gen Intel processors and DDR4 reminiscence — HP tells me they’re aimed toward “mobile users who loved Dragonfly, but want an even faster and smarter device”. There are some new good options together with AI noise discount for video calls, and new security measures like a tamper lock. The Dragonfly Max provides an upgraded 5MP digital camera, an additional microphone, a blue mild defend, a brand new black coloration, and some further security measures.

The opposite noteworthy distinction is that the Dragonfly G2 has quite a lot of completely different configurations: You possibly can select between 5 processors, three shows, two batteries, and numerous varieties of storage, in addition to quite a few add-ons, and costs are all throughout the board. You can also make a number of changes to the Dragonfly Max, however its choices are way more restricted — two processors, one display, one battery. It’s focusing on a really particular deep-pocketed enterprise person.

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max keyboard seen from above on a fabric bench. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

It is a critically spectacular keyboard.

Ports on the right side of the HP Elite Dragonfly Max.

USB 3.1, energy button, nano lock slot, and nano SIM slot on the left.

Ports on the right side of the HP Elite Dragonfly Max.

HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm audio / microphone jack, two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports.

One factor to notice: all Dragonfly Max fashions include Certain View Replicate, one of many Dragonfly line’s largest calling playing cards. SureView mirror is a privateness display that makes it very tough for potential snoops to see what you’re doing. It’s non-compulsory on the G2, and prices an additional $145 over the usual show.

When you’re not shopping for the Dragonfly for its suave design, you’re shopping for it for Certain View Replicate. I’ve examined a number of completely different privateness screens, and Certain View Replicate is hands-down one of the best one. If I moved my head a bit to the aspect, or angled the show barely up or down such that I wasn’t going through it head on, I mainly couldn’t make out any of its contents. Somebody sitting subsequent to me on a practice and even peering over my shoulder would’ve had bother gleaning any data. It’s a powerful characteristic, and doesn’t visibly influence display brightness or glare a lot in any respect. (After all, should you’re in a state of affairs the place you’ll be collaborating or shifting your head round rather a lot, you may all the time flip the characteristic off.)

Certain View apart, the Dragonfly Max’s contact show is kind of correct and vivid, and delivers a whopping 1,000 nits of brightness — a quantity that’s uncommon for something that’s not a devastatingly costly enterprise laptop computer to achieve. (Enabling Certain View will dim the show, after all.) It’s suitable with HP’s Wacom AES 2.0 pen, which is (frustratingly) not shipped with the machine, because it did with earlier Dragonfly generations. It prices an additional $74.

I do have a pair different complaints. For one, the display is 16:9, which is falling out of trend on costly laptops for a motive. Lenovo has adopted the roomier 16:10 and three:2 side ratios on quite a few its premium ThinkPads, and HP ought to do the identical with the Dragonfly. Each provide extra vertical area and a extra snug multitasking expertise. Moreover, the display picks up fingerprints and smudges very simply, they usually weren’t trivial to wipe off. These aren’t as seen as they’d be on a dimmer display, however they did cheapen my viewing expertise a bit.

The opposite motive you may want the Max over the G2 is its upgraded digital camera. The Dragonfly Max has a 5MP webcam with a separate infrared sensor. Webcams are sometimes a weak level of otherwise-stellar laptops, and this webcam actually improves upon the likes of the MacBook Air. It does a greater job in low mild than I’m used to seeing from webcams, and colours had been pretty correct. Coworkers on a Zoom name remarked that they may make out surprisingly minute particulars of my feed: strands of hair, my nostril stud, and so on. After all, that doesn’t imply it delivers a nice image — my image was a bit washed out with the sunshine from my window, and there was nonetheless noticeable noise. It’s a superb expertise, however not one thing I’d purchase the Dragonfly Max simply to get.

The webcam additionally has a bodily shutter that’s simple to click on forwards and backwards (although it’s tiny and black, so discovering it takes a little bit of guesswork). The separate IR sensor means Home windows Hi there facial recognition works even when the shutter is closed. You may also register with the fingerprint reader situated under the precise arrow key, which didn’t give me any bother.

Paired with the webcam are 4 microphones (two front-facing and two back-facing) with AI noise cancelation. These picked up my voice simply advantageous in video conferences, and could be killed simply with the F8 key.

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max closed seen from above on a fabric bench.

Noise cancelation is pushed by a “deep neural network”, HP says.

HP continues together with sustainable materials in its high-end laptops, although its present pronouncements are barely extra conservative than they’ve been in previous years. As was the case on the first-gen Dragonfly, the keyboard is constructed from 50 % PCR DVDs, and 80 % of mechanical elements are recycled materials. The Max’s bezels are 45 precent post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics and 5 % ocean-bound plastics — the early-2020 Dragonfly’s bezels had been 35 % PCR plastic. However a few of the Max’s different pronouncements are a little bit of a step down from the earlier Dragonfly. The speaker enclosures are 45 % PCR plastics and 5 % ocean-bound plastics, whereas the earlier Dragonfly’s speaker field was 50 % PCR plastics and 5 % ocean-bound plastics. And 90 % of the Dragonfly Max’s cowl is recycled magnesium, whereas the earlier Dragonfly’s whole chassis was 90 % recycled. Nonetheless, it’s good to see HP pursuing sustainability with its high-end traces.

The excellent news for buyers, although, is that the recycled supplies do nothing to cheapen the chassis. The Dragonfly Max has a clean and comfy texture, and feels fairly sturdy. It has a placing, premium look rivaled solely by HP’s personal Spectre line in latest months. An indicator of low-cost plastic is that it accumulates fingerprints in a short time, however the Dragonfly remained smudge-free after over every week of testing. (The lid picked up a number of, however they had been solely seen below brilliant mild and had been simply wiped away.)

The HP Elite Dragonfly Max webcam.

The shutter is satisfying to click on forwards and backwards absentmindedly should you’re fidgety like me.

Open the machine up, and also you’ll discover a dizzying checklist of security measures focusing on C-suites and IT departments. New to those Dragonfly fashions is a tamper lock, which is supposed to detect when a possible hacker has popped the chassis open to fiddle with parts — if this happens, the PC would require a BIOS password to be entered earlier than it boots once more.

Throughout the OS is Certain Click on, a safe browser that opens web sites inside a CPU-isolated digital machine. Which means any malware you decide up whereas utilizing Certain Click on will probably be remoted from the remainder of your system, and can disappear while you shut the browser. It additionally presents protected viewing for PDFs and Workplace paperwork. I dinked round with it, and it was very simple to make use of, and conveniently ported over all my bookmarks. It has a barely completely different coloration scheme from common Chrome, so I by no means blended up my tabs.

The machine comes preloaded with a laundry checklist of different software program. There’s Certain Sense, which scans each file you obtain for malware, and might detect “zero day never-before-seen threats”, per HP. There’s Certain Run, which retains essential processes operating if malware tries to close them down. There’s Straightforward Clear, which might quickly disable the Dragonfly’s keyboard, touchscreen, and touchpad so that you (or another person) can wipe it down with out unintentionally booting it up. And there’s a Tile tracker inside, which you should use to find the Dragonfly Max should you lose it through Tile’s large crowd-finding community. It’s simple to arrange and use, particularly if you have already got a Tile account.

HP Elite Dragonfly Max seen from the front, open, on a fabric bench. The screen displays an orange, blue, and purple gradient.

The end is “Sparkling Black”.

These are simply the standout options of the Dragonfly Max — every little thing else about additionally it is laborious to beat. It helps Wi-Fi 6 and non-compulsory 5G. It’s fairly mild, at simply 2.49 kilos and 0.63 inches thick. The audio (through two upward-firing and two downward-firing audio system) is great, with bass and percussion which might be audible, if not robust. The keyboard is a delight, with simply the correct quantity of click on and journey. There’s a surprisingly strong port choice for such a skinny machine, together with two Thunderbolt 4, one combo audio jack, one HDMI 2.0, one USB 3.1, one nano lock slot, and one nano SIM slot. And the chassis by no means obtained uncomfortably scorching, nor had been the followers ever loud.

The processor — a Core i7-1185G7 with help for Intel’s vPro, did a superb job with all types of duties, together with heaps upon heaps of tabs and movies. I solely noticed a minor slowdown as soon as, after I was utilizing the Battery Saver profile and attempting to leap between Slack and Chrome whereas operating a Zoom name within the background. Switching off Battery Saver nipped that within the bud. Intel’s Iris Xe built-in graphics can assist in GPU-intensive duties or video games like Overwatch, although you wouldn’t wish to use the Dragonfly as a major gaming machine.

Battery life, although, was my largest disappointment. I took the Dragonfly Max by way of my regular workday, juggling round a dozen Chrome tabs with some Spotify or YouTube streaming and Zoom calls on medium brightness with Battery Saver on, and it lasted a mean of seven and a half hours. That end result was remarkably constant inside 20 or so minutes, no matter battery profile or what I did with Certain View. That’s not a devastating end result, and it means the Dragonfly Max could make it by way of near a full day in case your workload is just like mine. Nevertheless it’s disappointing contemplating the competitors — I obtained over 11 and a half hours out of the earlier Dragonfly, and the Dell Latitude 9420 broke 10 whereas on the Battery Saver profile. And, after all, all types of extra reasonably priced shopper laptops can final for much longer.

The HP logo on the HP Elite Dragonfly Max bottom bezel.

A beautiful, high-priced dedication.

The Dragonfly is a good machine to purchase, should you can afford it. I particularly don’t begrudge IT departments for having a look — companies usually purchase this stuff in bulk and aren’t paying full value. Nearly each side is sweet, and there are options you actually can’t get wherever else. When you’re in search of a mixture of an embedded Tile tracker, an efficient privateness display, a 2.49-pound chassis, and a 5MP webcam with a separate infrared sensor, the Dragonfly Max is mainly your solely choice.

However given how a lot cash HP is asking for this factor, I can’t assist however have a look at even delicate drawbacks with a reasonably essential eye. I don’t want a laptop computer to be utterly flawless to be able to advocate that you just spend over $2,400 on it (or upwards of $3,000, relying on the day) — I’m keen to forgive a squeaky keyboard or an oddly-placed port right here and there. However I do want it to have all-day battery life. I want its display to not be lined in smudges. On this 12 months 2021, I want it to not be 16:9. And, sure, I most likely do want it to ship with a stylus. For that motive, I feel most customers are most likely higher suited to the common G2, which begins as little as $1,819 and is way more customizable.

The Max is a luxurious product, on the finish of the day. It’s not a lot a practical buy (for many of us) as it’s a proof of idea — what might a laptop computer be if cash had been no object? The reply, because it seems, is: very good, and really costly.

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