HP Gaming Laptops - 2017 Brand Rating and Report Card
You wouldn't immediately associate HP with gaming laptops, but the company has been making steady strides in the industry with its Omen series. But the line suffers as a result of its budget systems that force gamers to make compromises on the display and keyboard.
However, don't count the company out just yet, as HP is overhauling its line, complete with a new design and high-end specs that could make the company a serious contender soon.
Of the three HP gaming laptops we reviewed during the test period, the HP Omen 17 was the only one to get an Editors’ Choice award (it earned 4 stars). The other laptops earned 3 and 3.5 stars. We love the HP Omen 17 for its vibrant 4K display and solid battery life.
In its current iteration, HP's Omen line of laptops targets gamers who don't want to sacrifice power for budget. But that doesn't mean you'll lose out on those gamer aesthetics. If anything, the Omen and the Omen 17 are the prototypical gaming laptops with their all-black chassis and blood-red highlights.
We wish HP would have sprung for some metal instead of plastic, especially when we remember that the first Omen from a few years back was a certified aluminum stunner. There's hope in sight with the company's latest mockups of the next version of the Omens, which are looking thinner, lighter and sleeker than ever before. But for now, fans will have to settle for a middle-of-the-road design that'll be right at home with most gamers.
HP's displays are a mixed bag. On one hand, you have the 4K display on the HP Omen 17, which produces beautiful vivid, albeit inaccurate color. The panel's downfall comes from dimness, which is something that plagues the two 15-inch Omens in the lineup. And that's on top of failing to meet at least 100 percent of the color gamut.
HP has a long way to go with its keyboards. Together, HP's trio of Omens averaged 1.3mm of key travel (1.5 to 2mm is typical) with 60g of required actuation force (60 is the bare minimum for gaming), a rather flat combination.
The keyboards aren't uncomfortable to type on per se, but compared to competing brands, HP keyboards can be a bit on the shallow side -- something we noted in the most recent Omen 15 review. And keeping with that gamer aesthetic, the current-gen Omens offer only red-backlit keys.
HP’s Omen gaming line may have a great heritage stretching back to the days of VoodooPC, but the current incarnation sticks mostly to budget-friendly systems without many surprises. While we’re glad to see VR-ready systems with Nvidia Pascal graphics and optional 4K displays, HP has mostly played it safe when adopting new technologies.
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Things should change going forward, though, as the latest announcements from HP promise displays with Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync technologies baked in, and offer both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards and user-upgradable storage and RAM. The company also has a graphics amplifier on the way that can transform ultrabooks with Thunderbolt 3 into slim, gaming beasts in their own right.
Since HP isn't exactly a gaming company, its notebooks don't pack much in terms of gaming software. So while the 2017 Omen offers Nvidia's GeForce Experience, it doesn't have any HP-specific gaming software.
Selection and Customization (3/5)
HP has some interesting gaming laptops coming out in the future, but its current selection feels a bit thin. Right now, the company's gaming lineup consists of just two machines: the Omen 15 and the Omen 17. Those systems include typical options such as full-HD and 4K displays, Core i7 CPUs and up to 16GB of RAM.
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What's missing is the ability to upgrade to an overclockable processor or to an Nvidia 1080 GPU. While a lot of mainstream gamers may not care, those looking for truly top-end system will need to look elsewhere.
HP's gaming laptops come standard with one-year limited warranties that include free shipping when your system needs service. If you'd like to extend the warranty or get accidental damage protection, you can buy an HP Care Pack starting at $175. Upgrading your RAM or storage does not void the warranty