HP Omen 17 review

A monster of a gaming laptop that's relatively affordable

Great Value

The HP Omen 17 really gives you more for less. In fact it seems like there's a catch not immediately apparent. While it lacks the aluminum lid of the Asus ROG Strix GL502, it's only a few hundred bucks more expensive than the $1399 base-model ROG, but the Omen is bigger, has a newer graphics card, and it does 4K. 

Size and graphics-wise, it's on par with the Gigabyte P57X, but price-wise, the P57X is in the neighborhood of $700 more. You could use those savings to get a pretty nice 4K TV set and hook the Omen up to it. 

Spec sheet

Here is the HP Omen 17 configuration sent to techradar for review: 

  • CPU: 2.6 Ghz Intel Core i7 6700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.5GHz with TurboBoost)
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5 RAM), Intel HD Graphics 530
  • RAM: 16GB (DDR4 2133 MHz)
  • Screen: 17.3-inch 4K (3,840 x 2,160) G-Sync screen
  • Storage: 256GB SSD; 1TB HDD (5,400 rpm)
  • Optical drive: External USB DVD-RW
  • Ports: 3 x USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, mic/headphone jack, Ethernet, SD card readerConnectivity: 2x2 802.11ac WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0Camera: Front-facing HP Widevision HD Webcam
  • Weight: 7 pounds
  • Size: 16.38 x 11 x 1.29 inches (W x D x H)

Including a USB DVD-RW drive is a nice touch, but personally I can't imagine ever needing it. The 1TB HDD is a wonderful addition for those of us who primarily buy digital. 

The 1TB HDD and 256GB SSD is an even match with the Asus ROG Strix GL502 and the Gigabyte P57x. You can also get the HP Omen 17 with a 512GB SSD, which would run everything quite nicely. Given the growing size of modern games (GTA 5, a 3 year old title, takes up almost 60GB), your best bet is the 1TB HDD, with the SSD for your OS.

Performance

For its price, the Omen 17 is an insane computer. The 4K, G-Sync enabled screen and ample storage more than make up for its plastic feel and bulk. Performance-wise, its value really shines.

If you just want smooth frame rates and high detail, go ahead and crank everything up and set the resolution to 1080p. The Omen delivers. If you don't mind lower frame rates and some sacrifices in graphical flourish, you can mostly get away with playing games in 4K and having a pleasant experience depending on how demanding the title is. 

Benchmarks

Here’s how the HP Omen 17 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 22,920; Sky Diver: 25,943; Fire Strike: 11,668
  • Cinebench CPU: 679 points; Graphics: 104 fps
  • GeekBench: GeekBench: 3732 (single-core); 13,387 (multi-core)
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3293 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2 hours and 20 minutes
  • Battery Life (techradar movie test): 3 hours and 46 minutes
  • The Division (1080p, Ultra): 71 fps; (1080p, Low): 164 fps
  • GTA V (1080p, Ultra): 52 fps; (1080p, Low): 100 fps

Games look and run incredibly well. Metal Gear Solid 5, my personal favorite game of the last decade, looks absolutely amazing with the GeForce Experience-suggested settings. I only played it on Xbox One previously, but on the Omen I could see the muscles in Snake's back as he crawled his way through the game's prologue.

Even 4K works well, which is a testament to the power of the GTX 10-series cards. The Division auto-configured itself to run in 4K and I was able to get a respectable 30 fps with everything else left on the suggested settings.

Grand Theft Auto 5, with everything turned to the max, even runs at 4K. Granted, it doesn't run well at Ultra settings, but it runs 20 fps in full 4K. Choppy frame rate aside, I found myself staring slack-jawed at the individual pebbles that make up San Andreas' asphalt streets. 

I also checked out ABZU, which has a much lower overhead than GTA 5, and cranked its settings to their max. If you ever get the chance to play ABZU in 4K on a computer that can handle it, you will not be disappointed. On the Omen's 17 inch screen, it's breathtaking.

At 1080p, the Omen just screams. It's on par with the Gigabyte P57x, which isn't surprising given the similarity of their configurations. On Ultra, I was getting an impressive 52 fps in GTA 5 and 71 fps in The Division. I've never seen the games look so great. Turning on G-Sync taps down the max frame rate, but makes for an even smoother experience.

There's no doubt this is a VR-ready machine. Spec-wise, it's perfect. The GTX 1070 is a complete animal of a graphics card and the difference between it and its predecessor in the 980 is notable. While 16GB is plenty of RAM, 32GB is even better, and the memory modules are accessible via an access plate on the bottom. 

For the low price of RAM these days, why not splurge on more memory?

It comes as no surprise that battery life is a bummer. It's about what you'd expect from a gigantic, powerful laptop, which isn't saying much. You honestly won't do much better with a competing laptop, so it's hard to knock a problem that plagues high-end gaming laptops.

Conspicuously absent from the HP Omen 17 is any sort of bundled overclocking and performance software. Some users don't trust themselves enough to delve into the settings on my CPU and GPU, but if you love to get in there and adjust voltages, there's nothing included with the computer. You'll need to venture into the BIOS or use your favorite third-party tool.

I'm happy to say the sound quality on the built-in speakers is not only good, but loud. And better still, when the volume is blaring, the speakers don't sound like they're about to burst. You'll obviously get better sound from dedicated speakers, but the built-in Bang & Olufsen sound equipment is loud and clean.