HP Omen X Desktop review

HP’s latest gaming desktop is big and badass to a fault

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Our Verdict

The HP Omen X Desktop rides on its side and the edge of absurdity. Too big and conceivably expensive for its own good, this is an extreme PC for gamers who revel in excess.

For

  • Unique and minimalistic styling
  • Easily accessible
  • Immense upgradability

Against

  • Larger than life presence
  • Costs a pretty penny and then some

HP wants the world to know it’s serious about PC gaming, and to that end has introduced the Omen X Desktop, one of the most impressive and largest pre-built desktop gaming PCs we’ve ever tested.

While some desktops, like the Alienware Aurora and Acer Predator G1, have decided to go down in size, HP is going to opposite route to give gamers room to max out their systems. At the same time, this system caters to PC gaming novices, with Ultra gaming ready components from the get go, a nearly tool-less upgrade process and four hot-swappable bays ready for all your storage needs. 

However, all of these standout features come with a substantial starting price of $1,699 (£1,999) – or $2,599 (£2,499) for our review configuration – for a computer that’s too large for its own good.

Spec sheet

CPU: 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.2GHz with turbo boost)
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1080 Founders Edition; Intel HD Graphics 530
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,133MHz)
Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD; 2TB HDD (7,200 rpm)
Optical drive: Ultra Slim-tray SuperMulti DVD burner
Ports: 8 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB-C 3.1, Ethernet, SD card reader, 2 x HDMI, 2 x DisplayPort, microphone jack, headphone jack, optical audio out
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2x2); Bluetooth 4.0
Weight: 62.2 pounds
Size: 16.54 x 6.5 x 15.79 inches (W x D x H) 

Design

We’ve seen plenty of cube-shaped PCs already out there, with computer cases like the Fractal Design Node 804 and the Corsair Carbide Series Air 540. However, the Omen X Desktop is different in that it stands on a single edge as a diamond-shaped monolith.

The Alienware Area 51 might have been the first PC maker to pull a head turning design change, but HP is taking it to the nth degree. 

The Omen X Desktop stands on a single corner that’s only an inch-thick. It might look like it’s about to roll over, but two wide sheets of metal act as legs to keep it firmly planted on your table or the floor. 

It’s a good thing they’re there, too. You wouldn’t want this PC rolling away, especially when its galvanized steel chassis alone weighs 40.12 pounds. Our own fully loaded review units tips the scale at 62.2 pounds. 

The Omen X Desktop also takes up a ton of space with 19.85 x 15.98 x 20.28-inch dimensions. It just barely fits on our benchmarking table and easily dwarfs the 27-inch 4K LG monitor we have set up next to it. That’s no small feat, and this machine’s conspicuously large frame may not squeeze as easily in most homes – namely, small apartments.

Tall, dark and brooding

Despite its looming physical presence, HP’s desktop goes for a minimalistic and sedate look. A simple powder coat covers the entire exterior, giving it a uniform finish and purely black paint job. Meanwhile, all the ports and system lights are all tinted in a very specific shade of Pantone 185 red for an added touch of attention to detail.

While there isn’t much color on this case, it makes up for it with eight customizable RGB lighting zones split up cross its diamond-shaped face. As with most lighting setups, it comes with the usual preloaded options for static lighting and color-shifting. We had a ton of fun playing with the latter, as each light up square is split into top and bottom sections allows us to set up a pattern that trickles down the front of the case.

You’ll probably find the most utility out of the system monitor mode, which ties each lighting quadrant of the case to a specific component like the CPU, GPU and so forth. These lights intensify in hue depending on how hard you’re stressing these parts of the machine.

While the Omen Control center software offers access to plenty of colors, it’s asks for too much precision with lackluster controls. For example, it asks for specific color values, like 356 Red, but you can only click around ineptly at a color wheel that will often leave you with slightly off shades.

Aside from the lighting, there’s also a few tasteful small flourishes on this machine. A few decals dot the chassis, noting where the removable panel and hard drive bays are. On the left side of the case, there’s also an embossed logo styled after the old VoodooPC tribal mask and the word “Omen” inlaid with silver lettering.

Easy peasy upgrades

Like other PCs before it, the Omen X Desktop’s tipped-over design aids in cooling. Rather than having the desktop sit flat on its bottom, it pulls cool air and vent heat through all sides of its cubed chassis. 

To further bolster efficient cooling, the Omen X Desktop’s interior is split into a three-chamber arrangement. This includes one main compartment for the core components, another for the power supply and lastly storage with four hot-swap bays – which is a real rarity these days, when most modern PCs don’t even have one. 

While this setup is unique, it’s also the reason the Omen X Desktop is so dang large.

HP designed its latest gaming PC with maximum upgradability in mind, and as such there’s plenty of room for a second graphics card, space for a 360mm cooler along the top and, of course, easy access to storage. Unfortunately, you’ll be stuck with a Micro ATX motherboard, which makes triple graphics cards an impossibility.

The Good news? You won’t need to find your screwdriver to make any of these upgrades either. A set of fasteners and an Alan key are hidden behind a removable, magnetic front panel. Just as well, the storage bays are even easier to pull out, thanks to fabric loops attached to each drive cage.

Value

We’ll reiterate the fact that the Omen X Desktop is an expensive system, starting at $1,699 (£1,999) for an Intel Core i7-6700, AMD Radeon RX 480, 8GB RAM and 1TB HD. A self-built system with the same specs goes for around $999 and the difference in price really comes down to HP’s premium case.

HP is offering an Omen X Desktop bare chassis for $599 (£549) and as the name suggests, this package only includes the galvanized steel computer case without any other components. This price isn’t just lofty, it’s almost six times more expensive than most cube cases you’ll find on the build-it-yourself market.

The price is somewhat justifiable given the build quality and ease of access you get with HP’s design, however, it’s an expense most gamers likely won’t and can’t afford. 

The Omen X Desktop’s price isn’t any easier to swallow when beefed up specs and optional liquid-cooling bring our configuration to $2,599 (£2,499). Meanwhile, in Australia, the only available, 2TB hard drive configuration goes for AU$4,499.

You can get the same Intel Core i7-6700K and Nvidia GTX 1080-power from the more affordable $2,299 (£1,999, AU$2,999) Lenovo Ideacenter Y900 and $2,199 (about £1,735, AU$2,940)  Acer Predator G1 – with more RAM and/or SSD storage no less.

Benchmarks

Here’s how the HP Omen X Desktop performed in our suite of benchmark tests

3DMark: Cloud Gate: 31,636; Sky Diver: 34,627; Fire Strike: 15,815
Cinebench CPU: 919 points; Graphics: 147.82 fps
GeekBench: 4,385 (single-core); 17,447 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 4,356 points
The Division: (1080p, Ultra): 91 fps; (1080p, Low): 212 fps
GTA V: (1080p, Ultra): 64 fps; (1080p, Low): 178 fps

Performance

Given the two high-performance parts inside, the Omen X Desktop runs like a dream. At 1080p, everything plays swimmingly at or well above 60 frames per second (fps) even with Ultra settings. What’s more, we managed to play Titanfall 2 at the same silky frame rate with everything kicked up to max and a 4K screen resolution. More graphically intensive games, like Gears of War 4, don’t quite hit 60fps but are still offer a playable experience at 45 to 30 fps.

Compared to other equally-powerful systems, the Omen X Desktop’s benchmark results fall completely in line with the Alienware Aurora R5 and Acer Predator G1.

Verdict

HP wanted to go big and loud with its most hardcore gaming PC yet. However, it’s a little too loud and big for its own good. This desktop is simply way too huge to fit into the lives of most gamers, with a premium price that will turn off all but those with money to burn.

Make no mistake, though, there’s value in the Omen X Desktop. It’s a marvel of design, build quality and impeccable attention to detail. This is easily one of the most accessible PCs if you want to tinker around without knowing much about computers.

That said, the Lenovo Ideacenter Y900 offers the same components with more memory and the same performance for a lower price. Ultimately, this gaming desktop is best for someone who wants to revel in excesses of PC gaming with a desktop that's bigger than everyone else's.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin has been a writer for the better part of five years covering everything from green energy to high octane cars, videogames and tech, biohacking, and even city politics. At TechRadar he's settled into a life as the Computing Editor while also covering cameras and shooting video. He can be often found in the lab testing a half dozen laptops at a time or deciding which camera bags to carry for the day.