HP's gaming notebooks had a good, if not exactly thrilling year. Highlights included two Editors' Choice awards, for the company's Omen 15 and 17 laptops, which saw a new design language. Those laptops are still a little too red, to the point of nearly comedic effect — shouting, "This is what a true gaming notebook looks like."
HP did both well and poorly on laptop screens, producing one of the best and one of the absolute worst screens we saw. Unfortunately, HP's gaming laptops didn't wow us with anything special, giving the company room to improve.
We recommended all of HP's Omen and Pavilion laptops this year. Both the HP Omen 15 and the Omen 17 earned 4 stars and Editors' Choice awards, while the Pavilion Power 15t got 3 stars. That's an average score of 3.7.
Both Omens got points for fresh looks in the past year that made them seem far more premium, as well as easy-to-upgrade storage and RAM, and bright displays. With the Pavilion, there are some tradeoffs. While the design is nice and you get decent graphics performance, but the display was dim and dull, and the SSD was slow.
HP gave its Omen line of notebooks a much-needed design revamp. Yes, it's still holding on to that stereotypical red-and-black color scheme associated with gamers, but the company managed to pair it with a unique look. Both the Omen 15 and 17 use a mix of carbon fiber and plastic that intersect in four red lines to form an eye-catching "X."
We just wish HP used more premium materials. We also wish the company would add a RGB customizable keyboard instead of the same ole' red and black.
But if red and black really isn't your thing, HP has the Pavilion Power 15t, which ditched the red for lime-green accents. With its curved edges and green-and-black keyboard, the notebook is really lovely, but for the unnecessary green darts at the rear of the lid. One of the superfluous accents fell off, hinting at subpar construction.
HP managed to create both one of the best and one of the worst displays we’ve tested during our review period. The Omen 17’s 4K display is crisp and vibrant, covering 176 percent of the sRGB gamut and averaging 300 nits of brightness. While the 15-inch Omen 15 isn't as colorful, its display still produced more than 100 percent of the sRGB gamut and is even brighter than the 17-inch model.
The Pavilion Power 15t, however, provided an awful viewing experience, due to its crushingly low color (68 percent), brightness (173 nits) and color accuracy (4.2).
HP gave its Omen 15 and 17 laptops a significant redesign in late 2017, serving up some of the most visually stunning gaming notebooks on the market, complete with big speakers and keyboards that are surprisingly clicky despite their low travel.
However, the latest Omens don't have the customizable lighting offered by many of HP's peers (though the revamped Omen 15 will when it launches later this year). Ultimately, HP delivered some solid and great-looking gaming notebooks this year but didn't bring much of a wow factor.
HP gives decent utilities to its higher-tier gaming notebooks and little to the less-pricey models. For example, the Omen 15 ($950 to start, $1,659 as tested) and Omen 17 ($1,899) both come with Omen Command Center, which allows you to monitor GPU and CPU usage, as well as a Network Booster app for prioritizing which apps get the most bandwidth.
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That software feels lacking on the Omen 17, as it doesn't allow for overclocking of the GTX 1070. Sure, you can create custom macros, but that's a bare necessity.
Things get sparser with the HP Pavilion Power 15t (tested at $1,139, starting at $879), which includes only the Nvidia GeForce Experience utility set with such tools as Battery Boost, Game Optimization and ShadowPlay for livestreaming.
Configurations and Warranty (3/5)
HP has really stepped up its repertoire in the last year. The company revitalized the design of the Omen 15T, giving it an edgier design more akin to its heftier sibling, the Omen 17T. And after we came down hard on the company in 2017 for not offering a GTX 1080-powered system, HP introduced the range-topping Omen X. With machines ranging from $1,000 to about $2,500, gamers of all types and interest levels should find an Omen laptop that fits their budget. Though, the lack of a 13-inch machine hurts the brand a bit.
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HP also happens to offer one of the more generous warranty policies in the business. Although it’s still the standard one-year warranty, the company will cover the cost of all shipping during service. Additionally, HP allows you to manually replace certain components, like the RAM and storage, without voiding the terms. If something goes wrong with the new parts, of course the company isn’t liable — though it’s good to know you can open your computer yourself without automatically breaking the warranty.
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