Hands on: HP Omen 15 review

More power, same affordable price

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

HP lowers the bar of entry for gamers with the affordable and powerful HP Omen. But, it's hard not to see this 15-inch gaming laptop as much more than a repackaged Pavilion.

For

  • Improved battery life
  • Suave looks
  • Upgraded in every way

Against

  • Reused Pavilion shell

The HP Omen lowers the barrier to entry for would-be PC gamers once again, but, if you were a fan of 2015 version, this isn't exactly the same laptop. Whereas the last HP Omen offered high-end style with a mid-range price and specs, the new 15-inch gaming laptop offers even more power with an entry-level price of $899 (about £610, AU$1,249).

You'll be able to upgrade this affordable gaming laptop up to an Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GTX 965M graphics and even two storage drives.

HP Omen 15 review

Design

While the 2015 Omen featured a unique and bold design, the newest model is pretty much a reskinned version of the company's recently refreshed Pavilion notebooks.

While it seems like an easy shortcut on HP's part, it's arguably a smart use of resources and, allowing these machines to be so well priced. We positively loved the HP Pavilion Gaming Notebook from last year. In spite of HP simply slapping on a new green paint job and backlit keys, it offered decent gaming performance for a bargain basement price.

HP Omen 15 review

Now, with this particular machine, the major difference you'll notice is the black paint job and the added coats of soft-touch paint on the screen lid and keyboard deck. Aside from adding a rubbery texture, HP has also the soft-touch areas with a zigzag pattern that runs diagonally across the laptop.

The white backlit keys on the Pavilion have also been swapped out with a set of red lights, keeping with the Omen line's black and red color scheme.

Overall, the HP Omen is a slick – if a little unoriginal – looking device that ticks off all the angsty, edgy quirks of a gaming machine. It's also a pretty slim device, measuring in at 15.06 x 9.94 x 0.96 inches (W x D x H), which puts it on par with the Aorus X5S v5 and Asus ROG Strix GL502.

HP Omen 15 review

Specs

While I'm not completely blown away by the Omen's new design, you can't ignore the added power HP has packed in the machine. The base model comes stocked with a 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, plus a 1TB hard drive and 128GB solid-state drive.

The stock graphics card is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M GPU with 4GB of video RAM, but you could easily upgrade to a GTX 965M (plus 2TB HDD and 16GB of RAM). Unfortunately, this only affords a tiny jump in graphics power – the option for a GTX 970M would've been more helpful.

HP Omen 15 review

All said, this is a big jump in power compared to the Haswell and DDR3 memory-powered HP Omen from 2015.

HP also claims users can expect up to 6 hours and 30 minutes of battery life. Assuming the projected numbers are true, this would be a big improvement from the roughly four hours of use I got out of its predecessor.

HP Omen 15 review

Early verdict

While the design of the new HP Omen is a little less than unique, the power it offers at its starting price makes it a compelling option for those looking to buy their first gaming laptop.

Of course, there are much more attractive looking machines out there. But it's hard to not see the appeal of a machine capable of playing Doom and other modern games for under a thousand bucks.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.

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