HP Omen 17 review

A monster of a gaming laptop that's relatively affordable

TODO alt text
Great Value

Our Verdict

Sacrifices in the HP Omen 17's fit and finish are a small trade-off for the graphical prowess it's capable of.

For

  • Affordable price
  • 4K, G-Sync Display

Against

  • Plastic-y build
  • Large physical Size

It seems like crazy talk to call a $1,799 or AU$3,699 (about £1,470) a bargain, but that’s exactly what we’d call the HP Omen 17 when it burst onto the scene. It’s like the design process consisted of someone bursting into an HP engineering lab, throwing a GTX 1070 on the table, pointing at it and loudly proclaiming “let’s make this a laptop,” then left the room. The HP Omen 17 is kind of like HP found some gamer’s secret wishlist of ‘dream features in a laptop,’ and used it as a design document – focusing on graphics, display and storage. 

The HP Omen 17 is a G-Sync enabled, 4K 17-inch gaming laptop that actually makes Ultra-HD gaming seem like some attainable thing. We wouldn’t exactly call it a cheap laptop, but when you see what it’s capable of, the price tag seems like a downright bargain. More powerful than the Asus ROG Strix GL502 and less expensive than the Gigabyte P57X, the HP Omen 17’s price tag almost seems like a fantasy.

And, while the version of the HP Omen 17 we reviewed here has since been discontinued by the manufacturer, you can still find it refurbished or used. Or, you could go with the refreshed version with an 8th-generation Coffee Lake processor.

Design

As far as gaming laptops go, the HP Omen 17 is conservatively designed. It lacks the aggressive angles and sharp lines of most other high-powered laptops. Apart from its enormous size, you'd be hard pressed to know it's a gaming laptop at all save for the throwback HP Voodoo logo on lid.

The computer is plastic through and through, and it definitely feels that way. At no point in time did I feel like I was going to snap something off by handling it, but I also never felt like I was holding a premium laptop. The Omen has the plastic-lunchbox feel of the Gigabyte P57X , lacking the higher-end brushed-aluminum of most gaming laptops, including the Asus.

The face imitates the look of carbon fiber, which gives it a little more of the powerhouse gaming-laptop feel, and the backlit, chiclet-style keyboard has a tactile feel to it. Keys are yielding and responsive, but otherwise unremarkable.

Two big knocks against the design of the Omen 17 are its trackpad and its hinges. The lid hinges have a metallic finish, but look tacky. I also notice an audible squeaking, which can make for some spooky sound effects around Halloween, but otherwise, they don't inspire much confidence in their longevity. 

The trackpad is clunky and imprecise. It's multi-touch enabled, which is always a welcome feature, but clicking it just doesn't feel nice. At all. There's no crispness to it. If, for some insane reason, you want to use it for gaming, you're going to have a harder time than usual. Get a mouse or just hook up a console controller.

One of the most surprising and impressive things I encountered in my time with the Omen was how quietly it runs. The Omen has dual fans and quad heat pipes, with three exhausts to help move air, and it almost seems like sorcery. 

It gets hot, without question, but it never reaches a point where it feels alarming so, and the fans are easily drowned out by background noise. Do they run silently? No, but they're never distracting, and that's pretty impressive given how much power the Omen 17 has inside.

When it comes to size, the HP Omen makes itself known while sitting on your lap at a beefy 7 pounds. That makes it heavier than the Asus, perhaps not too surprising given the ROG Strix is a smaller 15-inch laptop. It's also a bit heavier than its 17-inch Gigabyte P57X competitor, which weighs 6.6 pounds.

Where the weight really becomes noticeable is when you pack up the computer and power brick and sling it over your shoulder. The power brick is one of the closest I've ever seen to resembling an actual brick used in construction, and its bulk and the Omen's hefty base weight means your back is going to be angry with you.

A Glaring Issue

There's something to be said about 17-inch gaming. Having all that extra screen real estate makes for a more immersive experience, and it helps better show off all those glorious pixels. The fact that the display is G-Sync enabled adds even more immersion while smoothing out screen tearing impressively.

As nice as it is having a gigantic, 4K, G-Sync enabled screen, don't even think about using it outdoors. In fact, the screen glare is so bad I had a hard time using it in my dining room where the indirect sunlight was coming through the windows.