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More than a few months ago, the HP Omen came out as a pleasant surprise for gamers late in the year, and so this quick refresh makes this machine all the sweeter. In case you were on the fence about buying a Nvidia GTX 860M-powered machine last December, I can verifiably say that the Nvidia GTX 960M update on this machine only makes it even better.

We liked

If you want a machine that doesn't follow the crowd with glowing alien heads and flaming decals, then look no farther than the HP Omen. This machine has a style unto its own, with its steeply tapered edges and thin profile. Don't think this machine is lacking in the flair department, though. HP has supplied the Omen with plenty of lights and little details to make this one of the industry's most sophisticated and attractive gaming laptops.

Beyond the skin deep beauty, the HP Omen packs enough processing brains to handle anything from everyday task to hardcore PC gaming. As a mid-range system, it straddles the line of excellent power efficiency while still offering enough performance to handle the latest games.

One of the biggest highlights of using the HP Omen for the last two weeks was being able to play Witcher 3 on an international flight to China. Whereas most hardcore gaming laptops would be too big and power hungry, the HP Omen was a perfect fit in both size and power consumption for the plane ride.

We disliked

There aren't any large problematic issues with the HP Omen. Sure, the laptop has its handful of minor flaws, like a display that's just not bright enough, speakers that lack definition for music and a slightly disappointing battery life. Otherwise, though, this is a perfectly suitable and solid machine.

Final verdict

The only thing to really mull over is the price. Starting at $1,699 (about £1,104, AU$2,209), the HP Omen is a bit pricey compared to its contemporaries. For several hundred fewer smackers, the Gigabyte P35K v3 offers far stronger gaming performance with the only big trade off being a significantly less interesting chassis.

Similarly, the Asus ROG G501 comes much better equipped with a 4K screen and plenty of memory, not to mention storage space to boot. However, I'd strongly recommend straying away from the Asus option, as the ROG G501's high-resolution screen has proved to be a huge detractor from the machine's ability to play games.

Of course, picking the HP Omen has its own appeal. It's a light, compact 15-inch machine that is by far the best looking gaming laptop to come out in a long time. Though this machine comes outfitted with a modest set of parts, this rig hardly looks or feels like an entry level machine. And frankly, the excellent build quality and unique design found in the HP Omen makes it well worth the premium.