Despite its lacklustre appeal, the HP Omen will go down in history books as the successor to HP’s Voodoo gaming laptops; even in its second round, it’s playing catch-up with Alienware.
The HP Omen 15 in question is admittedly denser because of what’s inside – and it’s not a regular ‘Intel Inside’ chipset. For those who demand it, there’s an Intel i9 behemoth caged well within its metal and plastic body. Sitting closely with Nvidia’s top dog – RTX 2080, because… why not?
You might not need a special bag to lug this thing around but don’t forget your paper fan, this one’s a hot mess.
Design and display
Gaming laptops are getting incredibly thinner year-after-year, edging close to being marginally thicker than MacBook Pros of yesteryear. It weighs similar too and, quite honestly, is enough to convince us that the future of desktop replacing gaming laptops will adhere to dietary plans.
There are a fair bit of unnecessary design characteristics with each laptop that comes to us for review. And the HP Omen tops that list. There’s an angular cut design near the hinge area, which has become distinct to Omen’s design language in 2019. You’ll recognise the Omen laptop when you see it.
Alienware has a ring of RGB lights at the back, which adds sophistication to its design. The Omen doesn’t garner the same level of attention. It’s a simpler design.
The brushed metal finish on the palm rest area is a favourable spot for sweaty palms to flourish. If you’re in Mumbai, it’s better to look for gloves or the aforementioned paper fan.
The hues and contrast on the FullHD WLED display have been lifted to look vivid, but it's done well within the confines of an acceptable limit. It doesn’t go overboard with one colour while managing to perform decently under any circumstances, albeit the blacks are not as appealing as on the OLED of the Alienware m15. It’s also a respectable 144Hz display for gaming.
On paper, the HP Omen 15 is an absolute beast. An Intel i9-9880H with 16GB of RAM and Nvidia RTX 2080 (with Max-Q) is a perfect concoction for effortless gaming on the go, but do you really need a battery-sapping i9? The short answer is no. For gaming, the i9 adds zero value to the laptop and it’s quite clear from the performance of the games we tested for this review.
We tested Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order on the highest settings and got around 55-60FPS. The game is quite demanding so we turned the settings down a notch to get a smoother 70-80FPS.
In graphically demanding situations, Metro Exodus performs at 50 to 60FPS on the highest settings with Ray Tracing and DLSS turned up. This is not ideal for a shooter and the recommended settings are set to Medium by the system itself.
Borderlands 3 was the same story too and it runs at around 122FPS on medium settings.
Intel’s i9 is overkill for most gaming folks out there, but unless you’re spending your day editing videos and drafting whatever it is that architects do on performance laptops, it’s not going to make you happy. The downside for picking up the HP Omen 15 for gaming is also its weight loss. Yup, you thought it's a good thing? Well, not when there’s an eight-core processor that requires more cooling than the penguins of Byculla Zoo. As a result, the cooling fans are in a constant state of ‘whoosh’. And a very noisy whoosh that too. It’s very annoying to deal with the constant fan noise while doing even the most mundane tasks – like just staring at the laptop.
Keyboard and features
Unlike other high-end gaming laptops, the HP Omen does RGB lighting a bit differently. It has four-zones for RGB lighting on the keyboard whereas, MSI and other gaming laptops offer per-key RGB keyboard even on mid-range laptops.
RGB demands aside, the keyboard itself is quite decent. There's a nice opposing feedback from the keys when you press them, and it’s very well spaced out.
Although we wished the palm area had some kind of comfortable coating, the top and the right side of the keyboard area heats up very quickly for our liking. The slim form factor is not good at dealing with heat and if not used in an air-conditioned space, the laptop is always annoyingly hot. Even while using Google Docs.
The Omen Command Center gives a clear reading of this heat. It’s also where you’ll learn that the CPU usage is on a bare minimum while playing the latest games.
There’s also a Coaching tab in the Command Center where you can link your Mobalytics account and get analytics for statistical reasoning as to why you’re still a noob. It’s only for League of Legends game though, which is not as popular as DOTA 2 here in India.
The B&O speakers on this laptop is an HP specialty. Almost all premium HP laptops have it and with this one, the clarity is mighty fine. Not up to B&O standards, obviously, but it’s tuned decently well. It favours highs and mids while the bass is non-existent.
The Omen by HP 15 – that’s the actual name – is a confusing device. It’s got Intel’s i9 processor, which is aimed at power users, but the slim profile is not acceptable of these innards. The heat issue is a major concern because the processor can reach a head-scratching 90 °C under a short gaming time and even push the fan to full throttle when it racks up the heat while charging. This is going to be a constant state because the laptop’s battery life is a bare minimum thanks to the powerful gaming innards.
For anyone looking specifically for a gaming laptop, HP’s other Omen laptops offer a better deal. The i9 is simply not worth it. And if you’re a video editor or an architectural genius, the processor has enough grunt to keep your nightmares at bay. We would still recommend something thicker, which gives Intel’s i9 enough room to breathe and stretch its legs.