HP Elite Dragonfly G3 review: a top class compact business laptop

The HP Elite Dragonfly G3 has plenty to offer, here's our full review...

T3 Platinum Award
HP Elite Dragonfly G3
(Image credit: HP)
T3 Verdict

If you're after a premium stylish-yet-compact business laptop then the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 certainly delivers – just be aware that the price is at a premium level, so you might be able to find better value options elsewhere. But if you can afford it, it's well worth your while.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Nice and compact

  • +

    Stylish, premium build

  • +

    Good battery life

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Relatively high price

  • -

    Not the fastest

  • -

    Some unnecessary apps

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The HP Elite Dragonfly G3 is aiming to be one of the best lightweight laptops around, especially for business users. Like the HP Elite Dragonfly G2 that came before it, the laptop aims to pack plenty of everyday computing power in a chassis that's compact and light.

To be one of the best laptops on the market, the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 attempts to offer as much as possible in return for its price, which is admittedly on the expensive side. Here we'll take you through every aspect of this laptop, from the battery life to the specs and performance, to see whether it's worth it.

If the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 isn't the laptop for you then we'd recommend checking out some of our other buying guides: the best student laptops or the best 2-in-1 laptops you can buy, for example.

HP Elite Dragonfly G3: price & availability

The HP Elite Dragonfly G3 is available to buy now, and the widgets embedded in this page should give you some idea of the pricing you can expect. At the time of writing, the model we reviewed is available for around £1,800 in the UK from places such as Box and Laptop Outlet, while you'll pay around $2,000 for it in the US.

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 review: design & display

HP Elite Dragonfly G3

(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know first of all about the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 is that it's compact and lightweight. With a screen size of just 13.5-inches corner to corner, the laptop measures just 297 x 220 x 16mm, and weighs a kilo exactly. Slide this into a backpack and you're not really going to notice it's there, whether in terms of its size or its weight, and it has the perfect dimensions for working on the train or in other cramped spots.

In terms of aesthetics, there's a lot of understated style on show, from the silver HP logo on the laptop lid to the subtle backlighting on the keyboard. It looks every bit the premium device, and it feels like one too: the matte finish on the aluminium chassis definitely helps that. Despite it not weighing very much, it's a laptop that feels the opposite of cheap thanks to its considered finish.

HP has managed to find room for two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports with DisplayPort 1.4 support, one HDMI 2.0 port, and one USB-A port, as well as a 3.5mm audio jack for your wired headphones. For a laptop this thin and light, that's quite an impressive showing, and gives you plenty of options when it comes to connecting up a second screen or any other peripherals. There's support for the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard, as well as a webcam above the screen that can go up to a resolution of 2560 x 1920 pixels (i.e. greater than Full HD).

The 13.5-inch screen is available in a variety of configurations: the one on our review model offered a resolution of 1920 x 1280 pixels and 400 nits of maximum brightness, and we found it crisp and vibrant in use. From writing essays to watching movies, it's a superb screen. You can get the panel with a touchscreen option if you prefer, and with a resolution of up to 3000 x 2000, which is a lot of pixels for a display this size. We do like the 3:2 aspect ratio, which is great for viewing more of a document or a webpage at once.

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 review: performance & features

HP Elite Dragonfly G3

(Image credit: HP)

As with the screen, the internal specs of the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 vary depending on the model. Our review unit came with a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1255U processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD – it's the '4J039AV' model, if you're comparing listings online. Those specs are comfortably enough for day-to-day computing, and we had no problems working with multiple browser tabs, spreadsheets and images.

With the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, what you're not going to be doing here is running the latest and most demanding games, or doing any seriously intensive video editing. However, some lightweight gaming is possible, and the laptop has enough power inside it to serve you well for several years. Microsoft is consistently pushing out new improvements and upgrades for Windows 11 too, so the software on board the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 should continue to get better over time.

We ran the PCMark 10 benchmark on the laptop and it came through with a respectable score of 4,416: that's broadly comparable with other 13-inch business laptops on the market (not the best, not the worst), giving you an idea of where this model stands in terms of its performance. The PCMark 10 tests include simulated office work, video calling, web browsing and so on, so we're talking about the tasks you're likely to be doing in the office.

It's also worth noting that the fans on the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 don't often kick in, keeping noise levels nice and low, but we should also point out that the underside of the chassis does tend to get rather warm (perhaps due to the lack of fan action). This is a laptop that you're going to want to keep on a desk as much as possible, rather than on your lap. It's not a major issue, but something else to consider.

HP Elite Dragonfly G3

(Image credit: HP)

If you're buying this laptop then you're most likely to be using it for office tasks, and we had absolutely no problems here. The keyboard and the trackpad have a classy, premium feel, and with every tap and click you can tell that you're dealing with a high-end laptop. 

The sound system has been engineered in partnership with Bang & Olufsen, and given the lightweight nature of the laptop, it sounds decent: certainly nowhere near as good as separate speakers, but acceptable for movies and audiobooks and podcasts – even music at a push, despite limited bass response. There's also a dedicated HP audio mixing app, plus a pile of other preinstalled HP software (that we largely didn't have much use for).

In our one-hour video streaming test, the battery level dropped by 16 per cent, suggesting around 7 hours between charges overall. However, that was with the screen display set to maximum brightness (and a low volume), so if you dim it a little you'll get more than that. Provided you're not running the screen as bright as it can go and are dealing with relatively lightweight computing tasks, you'll be able to get through a full working day away from a power socket.

HP Elite Dragonfly G3 review: verdict

HP Elite Dragonfly G3

(Image credit: Future)

The HP Elite Dragonfly G3 is clearly a great business laptop – as you would expect, given the quality of the laptops that came before it in the series. It's stylishly designed and well put together, and it gives you all the features and power that you're going to need for everyday office computing tasks. We don't think that anyone who invests in this laptop is going to be disappointed.

However, there are some 13-inch models with a touch more capability in terms of performance and with even better battery life, so it's important to do your research before parting with your cash. And this HP is a little on the pricey side.

When it comes to the experience of actually using the laptop, we can't really find any faults. The screen, the keyboard and the trackpad are all a pleasure to use. It's also in the neat little extras that the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 makes a strong case and lives up to that "elite" branding – the Bang & Olufsen sound system, the high-resolution webcam, and the HDMI port on the side of the chassis all being clear examples. 

When you factor in all the different elements that the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 offers, there's no doubt it's a top-tier lightweight option. If you can afford it, it's well worth your while.

Also consider

If you're shopping for a 13-inch laptop, you've got plenty of choice. Any discussion about laptops this size has to include the Dell XPS 13, which continues to go from strength to strength and typically comes in cheaper than the HP model we're reviewing here – that depends on the spec that you're going for, and like the Elite Dragonfly G3, the Dell XPS 13 is available in a variety of configurations.

Perhaps you'd rather stay away from Windows 11, in which case the 13-inch MacBook Pro from Apple is absolutely worth a look. Now upgraded with the fantastically powerful (and power efficient) M2 chip, the laptop has a somewhat dated design now but still holds a lot of appeal – and again the starting price is lower than it is for the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 (though if you start adding internal upgrades, the price quickly goes up).

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.