HP Attacks Alienware with Omen Gaming Laptop

It's for you gamers! It's all for you! HP is resurrecting the Omen series from its long dormant Voodoo line of gaming PCs, giving the monstrous moniker to a new gaming laptop. Available today with a starting price of $1,499, the 15-inch Omen is targeting the portable gaming market, placing itself in direct competition with models from Alienware, Razer, MSI, Lenovo and Maingear. 

In terms of the design, the Omen is a stunner with its black machined aluminum chassis. The notebook's interior shows off a backlit keyboard and speakers with an extra-wide touchpad. After discussing the touchpad with consumers, HP decided against adding the Windows 8.1-friendly ControlZones it has used on other laptops, because they weren't conducive to gaming. 

More: Best Gaming Laptops 2014

The bottom of the notebook is outfitted with rubber feet to ensure that the fans pull in cool air while rear-mounted vents dispose of the resulting hot air. The hinge supporting the display elevates the panel protecting it from a constant barrage of hot air.

So how much gaming notebook does $1,499 buy you? The base model of the Omen will feature an Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M GPU with 2GB of RAM. You can upgrade to a 256GB PCIe SSD and 4GB of VRAM for $100 and $200, respectively. HP will also offer configurations with 16GB of VRAM and 512GB of storage. but the company has yet to announce the pricing for those options. 

HP chose to go the full HD route with the display, equipping the Omen with a 1920 x 1080, 15.6-inch touch-screen panel, which promises to cover 72 percent of the color gamut. However, HP hasn't disclosed which gamut it's measuring against: the very basic sRGB or the much-broader NTSC standard. The competing Razer Blade 14 has a sharper 3200 x 1800-pixel panel. In terms of sound, you can expect a Beats audio experience.

Hoping to hit that portability sweet spot, the Omen sports a thickness of 0.78 inches and weighs 4.7 pounds. That's actually heavier than the Maingear Pulse 15 (4.6 pounds, 15.4 x 10.5 x 0.75 inches) and the MSI GS60 Ghost (4.2 pounds, 15.4 x 10.5 x 0.78 inches). Only the Lenovo Y50-70 Touch is thicker and chunkier, weighing 5.6 pounds and measuring 15.2 x 10.4 x 0.9. inches. The Razer Blade 14 is 4.4 pounds and 13.6 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches.

At the moment, the closest thing Alienware has to the Omen is its Alienware 13, which is more portable. It weighs 4.5 pounds and measures 12.9 x 9.3 x 1.0~1.1 inches.

On the Omen's sides, you'll find four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, a mini DisplayPort, and a combination headphone/microphone jack.

The Omen will ship with a backlit keyboard, which offers 1.5mm of vertical travel (1.5 to 2 mm is good) and six programmable buttons located on the left side of the keyboard. You can customize the keyboard and the speaker backlighting using the HP Omen Control application, which also allows you to adjust the fan speed, assign shortcuts, create individual profiles and disable the touchpad. The laptop comes with HP Performance Advisor software to help you tweak the system for maximum speed. 

In terms of battery life, HP claims that the notebook will get 4.5 hours of regular use (Web surfing or watching videos). That's not bad for a gaming rig this size.

If you have a jones for peripherals, HP will sell the Omen Gaming mouse X9000 for $59.95 and the Omen Gaming Backpack for $79.99. 

We're eager to put HP's Omen to the test and see how it stacks up against the gaming competition.

Sherri L. Smith
Editor in Chief

Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.