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Review: HP’s Elite Dragonfly Max Is My Favorite Business Laptop Right Now

The performance, design and collaboration features on the Elite Dragonfly Max make it a winner for hybrid work.

With its amazing performance, enhanced collaboration features and eye-pleasing design, HP’s Elite Dragonfly Max is a dream of a business laptop that any professional is sure to love in the age of hybrid work.

At least, anyone who is willing to pay for it: the HP Elite Dragonfly Max has a starting price of $2,239. And as configured for our review, the laptop costs $2,789, which includes the fastest available Intel Core i7 processor and 5G connectivity.

But for many users, I think the price tag will be worth it--especially given the growing dependence on laptops as the hub for meetings. The Elite Dragonfly Max is just that good.

[Related: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 9) Sees Improved Battery Life, Display, Security: Review]

The performance on the Elite Dragonfly Max is terrific, with web pages and applications loading rapidly. Everything just feels snappier than on other laptops I’ve been testing out lately. The Dragonfly Max is equipped with an 11th-gen Intel processor (the Core i7-1185G7) and 16 GB of RAM, so I expected it to be speedy, but it handled my fast-paced multitasking work routine with more ease than the average laptop.

Even with the strong performance, the notebook offers more than a full workday on a charge. In my battery life test, which involved using the Dragonfly Max intensively with multiple applications and tabs, I got 8.5 hours of battery life -- one of the best results among laptops I’ve tried recently.

The 13.3-inch display is excellent as well. While the resolution is average for a laptop in 2021, at 1,920 x 1,080, the convertible touch display gets a boost from its extremely high brightness of up to 1,000 nits. At one point during my tryout I switched to a different laptop, and that display looked very dim compared to the Dragonfly Max.

The notebook also comes configured with an integrated privacy screen, which uses HP’s Sure View Reflect technology. The display prevents snooping from onlookers by darkening the screen when viewed from an angle—a handy feature for anyone who plans to be doing work on the road as things begin to open back up.

Speaking of doing work on the road, the Elite Dragonfly Max features optional 5G connectivity (included at the higher price point). For my tryout, the included 5G (from AT&T) offered solid speeds including for video streaming -- making the Dragonfly Max a great option for security-conscious mobile professionals who’d prefer to avoid public Wi-Fi.

As for the keyboard on the Elite Dragonfly Max, it’s fantastic. I’d rate it as my favorite laptop keyboard yet -- even better than the always-great ThinkPad X1 Carbon keyboard. The keys are deep, sturdy and responsive, enabling the sort of fast typing that I’m accustomed to. For my reviews, one measure of a keyboard is whether or not I chose to actually write the review on that laptop or switched to one with a better keyboard. In the case of this review, I’ve opted to write it on the Elite Dragonfly Max.

In terms of the overall design, the notebook has great aesthetics to offer with an appealing “sparkling” black finish and slim bezels around the display. And even with the “Max” branding, the Elite Dragonfly Max is lightweight at 2.49 pounds.

It’s also thin, measuring 0.63 of an inch, while still allowing for work-friendly ports including USB-A, HDMI and USB-C. All around, the Elite Dragonfly Max is much more compact than the typical 13-inch laptop, thanks in part to the minimal bezels.

One of the other strong suits of the Dragonfly Max is collaboration, which is one of the areas where it stands out from the standard Elite Dragonfly G2. The Dragonfly Max includes a 5-megapixel camera (compared to a 1.2-megapixel camera on the Elite Dragonfly G2) and four wide-range microphones that are optimized for conferencing (compared to three on the G2 model). The Dragonfly Max webcam definitely offers better video quality than other notebooks I’ve tried recently, including HP’s Elite Folio. The quad speaker system

is very good too, with two top-firing speakers and two bottom-firing speakers (driven by four amplifiers) that ultimately produce loud and full-sounding audio.

Along with the emphasis on collaboration, there’s another COVID-era feature worth noting with the Elite Dragonfly Max -- a capability called HP Easy Clean. Opening the Easy Clean app puts the notebook into “sanitization mode,” which locks the device so it can be wiped down. Regardless of whether or not there is a pandemic, this is just a convenient feature to have for when your screen or keyboard needs a cleaning (it’s especially helpful for notebooks with a touch screen such as this one).

I only really found one downside with the Elite Dragonfly Max, which is that it does tend to heat up when doing some heavy multitasking.

All in all though, this is my favorite new business laptop right now. It’s fast, it looks good and everything just works. And the inclusion of 5G, enhanced collaboration and an integrated privacy screen make this an ideal device for on-the-go work.

In a nutshell, the Elite Dragonfly Max kind of has it all. For anyone that’s looking for the best mobile work experience that money can buy in 2021, this very well might be it.

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