The latest high-end Chromebook to shoot for the Google Pixelbook Go’s crown, the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook (2023) comes close, especially at $1,000. It’s better than the more expensive Windows version too. With a swish design, a great keyboard and more power than you’ll need. It’s only battery life that slightly lets the side down.
- Excellent performance
- Top quality build and great keyboard
- Super bright display with capable touchscreen
- Surprisingly good (and loud) speakers
- Middling battery life
- No headphone jack
- Twice the price of other good Chromebooks
- Bright 2K touchscreen displayAt 1200 nits, its got one of the brighter screens we’ve tested on a laptop. The 2650 x 1600 multitouch display is really excellent.
- Powerful 12th-gen Intel Core i5 processorThe 12th-gen Intel Core i5-1235U CPU hits 3.7 (up to 4.4 GHz max boost) to give this Chromebook some serious power, backed by the ample 16GB of RAM.
- Classy design with a great keyboardWe loved typing on the HP Dragonfly Pro and it’s even got RGB lighting. The build quality is truly premium too.
High-end Chromebooks are a niche market. The limits of ChromeOS mean you can reach the software’s peak with modest hardware. However, devices like the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook are making the case for luxury Chromebooks.
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook aims to fit the bill. It costs twice as much as some of our favourite Chromebooks but is very much a premium laptop with loads of power, a great design, and a seriously bright screen.
It’s arguably a more exciting proposition than the Windows version of the device we also gave high praise to in our recent review. While maintaining a near-identical design as its AMD-led, Microsoft-favouring counterpart, on paper, it’s got a better screen, a more user-friendly keyboard, more connectivity options and the heralded Intel Evo distinction (or marketing guff depending on how you see it).
With Google’s own Pixelbook now absent from the market (and thoroughly missed) has HP crafted the ultimate spiritual successor?
However, the question remains. Unless you’re planning to use virtualisation software to also run Windows or macOS on this hardware, should anyone really spend $1,000 on a Chromebook? Let’s take a look.
Design and Keyboard
- Traditional keyboard layout, unlike the Windows version
- Interesting inclusion of RGB
Just like the Windows version, the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is something you’ll be proud to whip out of your laptop bag.
The rigidly-built laptop is a seriously attractive machine, with a matte off-white (“ceramic white”) finish that’s pleasant to the touch. It’s been said that the “sparking black” version doesn’t do all that much sparkling, but the white option does stand out in a crowd. The keyboard is full size and there’s a large and responsive trackpad. Overall this feels like a very well-proportioned (12.4 x 8.7 x 0.7 in) notebook, but it’s not the lightest around at 3.33 lbs. You can’t just throw this in the laptop bag and forget about it.
Unlike many of the other top Chromebooks on the market, such as the ASUS Chromebook CM3, Chromebook Flip CF5, and HP’s own Chromebook 360x, this is a traditionally built machine with no acrobatics and no option to detach the display.
Connectivity-wise, there are four USB-C ports for charging and connecting displays and accessories, all capable of a 40Gbps data transfer rate. That’s one more than the Windows version. Neither has a headphone jack. Or options for HDMI/USB-A/MicroSD/Ethernet, so it’s dongle central if you want to use those standards. All four ports are Thunderbolt 4 (again an upgrade on the Windows version which offered Thunderbolt 3 at 10Gbps). There’s nowt else to connect devices with and, unfortunately, the 3.5mm headphone jack is among the absentee list for ports.
The Chromebook keyboard is already a massive win over the Windows version of the Dragonfly Pro. Why? For the simple reason, it has a normal keyboard without the awkward column of hotkeys on the right side, which offer access to a subscription-based HP Care Pack offering 24/7 live support. That care package still exists (for $10.99 a month), but it doesn’t shift a load of keys over to the left to annoyingly make its presence known.
The presence of those hotkeys undermined a lovely full-sized keyboard with bouncy keys and reassuring travel as well as a satisfying click. There are none of those shortcomings here and the lowercase key markings are an attractive touch too.
The keyboard has RGB backlighting but isn’t inherently geared towards gaming (cloud or otherwise). On the Google Store product page, Google brags it’s the first Chromebook to have an RGB keyboard on a “non-gaming” Chromebook. Of course, there is cloud gaming you can enjoy, plus the joys of the Android catalogue on the Google Play Store, which the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook has no problem with handling.
The keyboard is lined by a pair of speakers from Bang & Olufsen that sit on either side of the keys rather than above. There’s also plenty of room to rest your wrists on either side of the trackpad and, overall, it’s a really lovely typing experience.
Display and Sound
- Bright QHD+ panel
- Great webcam
- Impressive speakers
The Dragonfly Pro Chromebook has a fantastic screen that outstrips the alternate Windows option. The 14-inch diagonal touchscreen display is seriously bright. In fact, at 1,200 nits, the IPS-based display is apparently the brightest display ever witnessed on a Chromebook and we’ve seen nothing to disprove that.
Indeed, it almost blew my eyeballs out when I turned up the brightness to max for the first time, but thankfully there’s an ambient light sensor to ensure the brightness matches the environment. You’ll only ever need to max out those nits in the brightest sunlight when trying to watch an episode of Game of Thrones Season 8 when the producers forgot to bring the lighting rigs.
The QHD+ resolution of 2560 x 1600 (compared to FHD+ on the Windows model that’s $400 more expensive) within a 16:10 aspect ratio is plenty for the majority of Chromebook experiences. You can watch HD video ‘til your heart’s content there’s a solid pixel density for editing pics.
Speaking of getting in on a pixel-by-pixel level, the display’s multi-touch functionality works well for zooming in on photos and scrolling web content as well as playing touchscreen games like Alto’s Odyssey downloaded from the endless options on the Google Play Store. The trackpad comes in handy there too. Unlike many Chromebooks we test, it’s not a convertible and there’s no fancy flipping action with the hinge to make more use of that touchscreen in different configurations.
Considering it’s the same price as the 2020 Samsung Galaxy Chromebook OLED, which not only had superior display technology and 4K resolution, but also had that flexible 3-in-1 hinge and an included stylus, you might be entitled to expect a little more for the price point.
The webcam above the display is also better than the Windows version of the laptop. Here it’s 8MP (compared to 5 on the W11 version), with a pair of mics. The image clarity for video calls is very good. I could even see individual stubble hairs, which may or may not be a good thing depending on who you’re zooming with.
We mentioned those Bang & Olufsen stereo speakers and they’re actually really nice with good separation of the audio channels. The sound is detailed with a certain amount of nuance, and warm with plenty of discernable bass when not pushed too far towards what is a very (and surprisingly) loud top volume. It gets unpleasant above two-thirds volume. The sound also deteriorates when the laptop is lifted off a flat surface as the bumpers beneath the laptop seem to absorb some of the harsher elements.
- Strong productivity performance
- Previous gen processor
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is powered by Intel and has the Evo label attached, which means it meets a certain number for modern productivity laptops and has passed what Intel says are thousands of real-world tests. Those criteria pertain to fast Wi-Fi, all-day battery life, easy syncing with a smartphone and top-notch video calling (with background blur and noise cancellation).
Top-notch performance is also a given and here there’s a 12th-generation Core i5 processor on board (10 cores, 12 threads). It’s clocked at 3.67GHz and reached those speeds consistently during CPU diagnostics tests within the ChromeOS. It has the ability to reach 4.4GHz in turbo mode. This laptop also has 16GB of DDR5 RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. Again, quite far beyond the Chromebook’s traditional remit.
Unless you’re doing some serious, serious multitasking this power is probably more than you’ll ever need for a Chromebook, which has traditionally been focused around web apps. Some of the more demanding gaming experiences might put it to the test.
Benchmarking Chromebook performance and comparing results with Windows models are tough, as few of the major testing apps have a native option for ChromeOS. Running on ChromeOS, the Android version of Geekbench 6 scored 1659/5117 for single/multi-core performance.
At least in multicore tests, that’s slightly below the AMD Ryzen 7 powered Windows version (1679 / 7145), but three times higher than some of our favoured options in the Best Chromebooks guide.
The small fan is hidden away at the display hinge and it doesn’t really take much to get that fan a-fanning. Just did some mild web browsing while the laptop was resting on a pillow on my lap. It also gets quite warm on the underside in those circumstances. However, there are two quite pronounced bumpers running the width of the device to prevent surface contact when on a desk.
- Doesn’t quite reach a full day
- Speedy recharging
The advertised battery life is up to 11.5 hours, which fulfils the Intel Evo criteria of all-day battery life. However, the proof of the pudding is the eating… and the eating says this wasn’t quite enough to keep us fully sated throughout a long work day.
As has often been the case with premium Chromebooks, the battery life drain caused by all that power and a super bright display can let the side down. Around two hours of web browsing and document creation and a little Spotify playback, with the display at 75% brightness and with the keyboard backlit, cost us 28% of battery life.
However, when the brightness was lowered to around 25% capacity, we were able to leave a YouTube video at 1080p running for a little over ten hours before the battery conked out. That was running no other tasks at all though.
So, the display brightness plays a huge role here, so keep that in mind to elongate where possible. You can be a little more economical by turning off the RGB backlighting too. You don’t necessarily want to be scrimping to stay in line with the advertised battery life and, even so, this Chromebook doesn’t top the 12.5 half hours we eked from the Windows-equipped HP Dragonfly Pro during standard usage.
Charging the laptop was super rapid though. Thanks to the rapid charge tech we were able to get up to 50% battery life in just 30 minutes and then back up to full strength in 75 minutes with the lid closed and the device in hibernation mode.
Should you buy it?
You’d love a high-end Chrome OS experience
There are cheaper, well-performing models available but, if you want your OS of choice to be coupled with the nicest laptop experience possible, you’re in luck.
You’re on a more restrictive budget and demand true all-day battery life
You can get a good Chromebook for half the price of the HP Dragonfly Pro. Also, the absence of a headphone jack might be felt.
The HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook (2023) is an excellent entry into the high-end ChromeOS stakes and, in terms of the display, keyboard and port options, it’s better than the Windows 11 version of the device which costs $400 more.
I loved the design and build quality, the keyboard is a joy to type on, the display is extremely bright and performs well and all the power you’ll need for most ChromeOS-based tasks is right here.
$1,000 on a Chromebook is always eye-raising, considering the traditional remit of these machines, but the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook goes a long way towards justifying the price tag and the extra expenditure over some of the other models around. Only the battery life lets it down.
If you’re after something more affordable, consider the £399/$399 Acer Chromebook Spin 513 or, if you want some luxury and long battery life, look for a deal on the still excellent, but now a few years old, Google Pixelbook Go.
How we test
Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life.
These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real-world checks, such as how well it runs popular apps.
Used as our main laptop for over a week.
Tested performance in a wide range of scenarios with industry standard benchmarking tools.
We tested the screen through real-world use.
We tested the battery with a benchmark test and real-world use.
You might like…
Unfortunately not. This is a traditional laptop design with a touchscreen, but it only has a single configuration.
Yes, there is multitouch capability.
Yes, there’s access to the Google Play Store here.