This study presents the development and evaluation of a novel partially open-loop heat pump dryer with a unit-room (HPDU). The unit-room was designed to enable the ambient air to be mixed with the return air, thereby reducing the influence of the ambient air on the system performance, while maintaining a high system thermal efficiency. A modelling system for the HPDU was developed and validated based on a real-scale experimental study. By using the modelling system, the system characteristics under different ambient conditions and bypass factors were analyzed. The energy benefit of the proposed HPDU was quantified through a comparative study with a closed-loop heat pump dryer (CHPD). It is evident that a maximal specific moisture extraction rate (SMER) and a minimal total energy consumption (TEC) existed when changing the bypass factor of the HPDU under certain ambient temperatures. Compared to the CHPD, the coefficient of performance (COP) of the HPDU increased by up to 39.56%, presenting a significant energy benefit for the application of HPDU.