With all of our hype and enthusiasm for the new HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook, a line on the spec sheet slipped past our peripheral and wasn’t a problem until one of our readers pointed it out. In the official press spec sheet for the much-hyped Dragonfly Pro, the listed GPU was listed as ‘Intel UHD’ instead of the supposed Iris Xe we’ve come to expect with Intel’s 11th and 12th generation Core i5 processors. That’s a huge omission from HP if that’s the case, and as we dug deeper, the research seemed pretty bad.
What is the big difference between UHD and Iris Xe?
So what’s the deal? Why is this being talked about? Simply put, there’s a huge gap in performance between Intel’s older UHD GPU and the newer Iris Xe GPU that we have on 11th-gen and higher chips. This integrated graphics solution is one of the main reasons Chromebooks will be able to play some Steam games in the near future and render videos with LumaFusion Pro without taking all day to complete the task.
While the 11th and 12th generation Intel Core i3 processors are quite fast, they lack this improved Intel GPU and are less capable at graphics-intensive tasks than Chromebooks with a Core i5 or Core i7 inside. It’s this precise distinction that makes us recommend particular configurations to certain users when it comes to more powerful Chromebooks. If you want all the power available, you’ll want the Iris Xe GPU on your side.
A ‘Pro’ Chromebook without Pro Specs
As one of our readers pointed out (thanks, George Economo!)HP’s spec sheet shows Intel UHD graphics, not Iris Xe. For a device with ‘Pro’ in the name, that seems like a big deal. And the more we investigated, the more confusing it all became. You can read this helpful article about all the setup Intel has with its integrated GPUs, but the short version is this: The Iris Xe GPU requires dual channel memory to function. If it’s not there, the motherboard defaults back to Intel UHD graphics.
The problem with this? According to some tests by the same guy who dug up all the info on this Iris Xe dual channel limitation, for certain tasks I was seeing up to 30% performance degradation on the same laptop running with and without Iris Xe. . And it all came down to whether or not the system used dual-channel memory.
Good news straight from HP
Obviously, this omission would be a massive failing on HP’s part, causing them to ship a gorgeous, ornate Chromebook with a pretty substantial flaw. Don’t get me wrong: I’d still be very interested in it, but the lack of the best integrated graphics available would be a pretty big black eye on an otherwise awesome Chromebook. Thankfully, it looks like that won’t be the case at all.
After reaching out to our representative at HP, he responded with a statement from the technical team that our concerns with the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook are well-founded, but are not indicative of the final product that will ship from HP. After presenting the same case to the HP technical team that I described above, the following was their response:
Everything below is correct for i5-1235U and the processor supports Intel® Iris® Xe Graphics. The Dragonfly Pro Chromebook can claim the Intel® Iris® Xe trademark as it supports dual-channel memory.
From that, we can deduce that HP seems to be shipping the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook with dual-channel memory and that Iris Xe graphics will be part of the equation. Our representative also pointed out that the team is officially changing the data sheet to reflect this as well, and all of that is music to our ears.
At the end of the day, if the Dragonfly Pro Chromebook lost performance by simply shipping with a single 16GB RAM instead of two 8GB RAM, that would be a serious blow. However, it appears that this will not be the case, and we are more than happy to hear it.
While I don’t think the HP Dragonfly Pro Chromebook is perfect (no Chromebook is), this device has plenty of Pixelbook Go fans on the edge of their seats, and for good reason. What HP has built into this Chromebook could set a positive trend for the professional consumer market, and I think ChromeOS is getting to a point where it deserves hardware like this. It won’t be long until we get to test this latest attempt from HP, and that day can’t come soon enough.
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