Gaming laptops are having a moment, and HP wants a bigger role. What better way to join the party than by offering a powerful gaming rig at a reasonable price? Enter the Omen 17, a $1,629 gaming laptop with an RTX 2070 GPU and a 17.3-inch, 1080p display with a 144-Hz refresh rate.
The new Omen 17 is an improvement over its predecessor in many ways: The laptop was redesigned with a slimmer, more sophisticated chassis; its RTX graphics offer a serious performance boost; and its 1080p, 144-Hz display gets quite bright. So despite the Omen 17's short battery life and mostly plastic chassis, it's one of the best gaming laptops at this price.
Pricing and configurations
The Omen 17 starts at $1,299 for a model with a 17.3-inch, 1080p display with a 60-Hz refresh rate as well as a Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB NVMe SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU (6GB of VRAM). Walmart has a configuration for just $1,219 with all the same specs with the exception of 8GB of RAM.
From there, you can upgrade to our $1,629 review unit, which has a 144-Hz display, along with a Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB NVMe SSD plus a 1TB 7,200-rpm HDD, and a GeForce RTX 2070 GPU (8GB of VRAM).
For $2,629, you can go with the maxed-out version, which packs a Core i9-9880H CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB NVMe SSD and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics (8GB of VRAM).
HP sapped the color from the Omen 17, leaving us with a more sophisticated design.
A sleek, chrome-silver badge replaces the bright-red logo from the previous Omen 17, and gone is the flashy red X on the center of the lid.
While I miss the carbon-fiber weave, the contrasting solid-black material and brushed-metal triangle pattern on the lid of the new model look just as good.
Even the deck of the new Omen 17 has been cleaned up. HP stripped the keys of their red font and replaced them with a traditional white type. The same goes for the Omen branding below the keyboard and the Voodoo tribal mask below the display. The only bit of red remaining on the 2017 Omen is an illuminated power button.
HP may have opted for an understated black-and-gray color scheme with the new Omen 17, but the gaming laptop retains the aggressive lines of its predecessors. Angled vents on the sides and rear make the Omen 17 look like a sports car.
A pair of hinges located toward the center of the deck lift the Omen's display, which leaves gaps below the screen on the right and left sides. I don't mind the resulting floating-screen effect, but the location of the hinges caused the display to wobble when I adjusted the angle of the screen. While I'm nitpicking, I wish the plastic lid and base of the laptop were metal, like the deck.
The Omen 17 is an imposing beast: At 15.9 x 11.6 x 1.1 inches and 7.1 pounds, this laptop is best left on a desk.
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Competing gaming laptops with Max-Q graphics, like the 17-inch Lenovo Legion Y740 (16.2 x 12 x 0.9 inches, 6.6 pounds) and Dell G7 15 (14.4 x 10.8 x 0.8 inches, 5.5 pounds), are predictably thinner and lighter than the Omen 17, while gaming rigs with full RTX GPUs, like the Digital Storm Avon (15.5 x 10.2 x 1.6 inches, 5.7 pounds), are thicker but lighter.
I have no complaints with the selection of ports offered on the Omen 17.
On the right side of the laptop are an RJ45 (Ethernet) port, an HDMI input, a Mini DisplayPort, two USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 input and discrete headphone and mic jacks.
On the left side, you'll find a third USB 3.0 port and a full-size SD card slot.
The 17.3-inch, 1080p display gets plenty bright and vivid, and gamers will also appreciate the panel's 144-Hz refresh rate when playing fast-paced games.
When I played Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the display kept up with my frenetic gameplay as I sprinted at a group of Orcs, swinging my mithril blade like a madman as their hideous bodies hit the ground.
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The display was sharp enough for me to see the war paint splattered across the heads of enemies and the ancient patterns on the hilt of my sword. The blue hues of my flaming sword and the dark shades in my cape weren't dull, but they didn't stand out on the matte screen, either.
The Omen 17's display covers 104% of the sRGB color gamut, making it slightly less colorful than the panels on the Avon (111%), Legion Y740 (122%), G7 15 (114%) and the mainstream gaming average (133%).
The HP makes up for its relatively underwhelming colors with excellent brightness. The panel averaged 368 nits, making it brighter than the displays on the Avon (277 nits), Legion Y740 (247 nits), the G7 15 (303 nits) and the category average (279 nits).
Keyboard and touchpad
I expected the Omen 17's keyboard to have deeper travel, given the laptop's large chassis. Thankfully, the typing experience is saved by snappy, responsive keys. I also like the key sizing and spacing and that the Omen 17 has a full number pad.
Gamers will appreciate the keyboard's 26-key rollover, which ensures that every key press is registered, even if multiple keys are pressed simultaneously.
The Omen 17's keyboard is four-zone backlit. Three of the zones are divided equally across the keyboard, while the fourth is for the WASD keys. HP's Command Center software made it easy for me to change those colors with a few clicks.
The lighting looks nice, but we expect per-key lighting at this price for those gorgeous dynamic effects.
The matte finish on the Omen 17's 4 x 2.2-inch touchpad offered a bit too much resistance for my liking, but that didn't prevent me from using Windows 10 pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scroll gestures. I also really like the Omen 17's left and right, clicky discrete buttons.
The dual speakers on the side of the Omen 17 aren't the loudest, but Jay-Z's vocals sounded clear when I blasted "No Church in the Wild." There was even a decent amount of heft in that pulsating bass line. Kanye West's auto-tuned voice pierced through the thick synthesized drumming and the speakers were crisp enough to extract the strange animal noises toward the end of the song. I just wish I didn't have to bring the volume up to 40% to listen comfortably in a quiet office.
Gaming, graphics and VR
The engine behind the Omen 17 is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU with 6GB of VRAM. This is a full-blown GPU, which explains the Omen 17's capable gaming performance (and chunkier chassis). I had a lot of fun slashing my way through hordes of Orcs in Middle-earth: Shadow of War at a buttery-smooth 97 frames per second, even with the game on Ultra settings.
On the Omen 17, you can scavenge through caves at 63 fps playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The Avon tied the Omen 17 on this benchmark, while the Legion Y740 (64 fps) edged them both out. The G7 15 (49 fps) and mainstreaming gaming laptop (44 fps) are well behind these heavyweights.
On the Hitman benchmark, the Omen 17 set a pace of 106 fps, which matches the Legion Y740 but can't keep up with the Digital Storm Avon (108 fps) and G7 15 (117 fps). It does, however, crush the mainstream gaming laptop average (80 fps).
The Omen 17 played Metro: Last Light at 75 fps, just short of what the Avon (80 fps) achieved but ahead of the Legion Y740 (74 fps), G7 15 (60 fps) and category average (50 fps).
As expected, the Omen 17 cranked it to 11 on the Stream VR benchmark, so you'll have no problems playing the latest virtual reality games.
Equipped with an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU and 16GB of RAM, the Omen 17 isn't just for gamers but also creators and power users who use demanding programs.
The proof is in the pudding: The Omen 17 blazed through my typical workload when I used it as my work PC for a day. I quickly jumped from page to page, only to look up and realize that 25 Chrome tabs were running in the background the entire time. The Omen 17 scoffed at me when I tried tripping it up with 15 more tabs, four of which played 1080p YouTube and Twitch videos.
That quick performance was quantified in our benchmark tests. The Omen 17 scored a 23,803 on the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance test, which bests the Avon (23,784, Core i7-9750H), Legion Y740 (22,287, Core i7-8750H) and category average (20,664) but comes in second to the G7 15 (Core i7-9750H, 23,885).
Our video-transcoding test proved difficult for the Omen 17, which needed 10 minutes and 16 seconds to convert a 4K clip into 1080p resolution. That's not a slow result (the category average is 10:32), but the Legion Y740 (9:30), Avon (7:01) and G7 15 (8:05) completed the task faster.
Our Omen 17 came equipped with a 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and a secondary, 1TB SATA drive spinning at 7,200 rpm. That speedy SSD transferred 4.97GB of multimedia files in just 8 seconds at a rate of 636 megabytes per second. That puts it at the top of the pack, ahead of the Avon (434 MBps), Legion Y740 (363 MBps), G7 15 (127 MBps) and the category average (404 MBps).
The Omen 17 powered down after 2 hours and 14 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of display brightness. That's a short runtime, even for a gaming laptop. Digital Storm's Avon (2:14) and the G7 15 (3:12) endured for around an hour longer, and even the ephemeral Legion Y740 (2:30) edged out the Omen. The mainstream gaming laptop average is 3 hours and 56 minutes.
The heat levels we clocked on the Omen 17 were unremarkable. After we played a 15-minute, full-HD video on full screen, the Omen 17's touchpad hit 81 degrees Fahrenheit, while the center of the keyboard peaked at 94 degrees. Only the bottom panel topped our 95-degree comfort threshold, at 97 degrees.
As expected, the Omen 17 was much warmer when we played Middle-earth: Shadow of War on Ultra settings for 15 minutes. While the touchpad maintained a temperate 86 degrees, the keyboard (105 degrees) and underside (124 degrees) were pretty toasty. Those numbers might seem concerning, but the Omen 17 didn't feel hot to the touch.
The watercolor effect we often see on cheap cameras was in full force in a selfie I snapped on the Omen 17's 720p webcam. My face looked like it had been painted with broad brush strokes, and my beard was one uniform blob, as if it had been colored in with the fill tool.
As smudgy as its images are, the webcam does have a few redeeming qualities. For one, the lens is located above the display, where it belongs. It also captured decent colors and even accurately replicated the tricky, burnt-orange tone of my T-shirt.
Software and warranty
It's a good thing our review unit came with so much storage, because the Omen 17 is packed with preinstalled software. I counted 10 separate HP programs listed in the Windows 10 start menu. Some are quite useful, others can be uninstalled.
Gamers will want to keep Omen Command Center. Here, you can monitor your system's GPU, CPU and memory usage along with the temperature of those components. There is also a setting for allocating network bandwidth for different apps as well as new performance controls that let you choose between comfort, default or performance. You can also use Command Center to adjust keyboard lighting and assign keyboard macros.
Other apps include a diagnostics software program, HP Smart for connecting to printers and JumpStart -- a guide to some of Windows 10's most important features. HP Documentation and Privacy Settings should really be bundled into HP Support Assist, while Audio Switch feels redundant.
Windows also made a loud entrance to the bloatware party. Netflix, McAfee and Microsoft Solitaire Collection are a few of the Windows 10 apps I found preloaded on the Omen 17.
HP's Omen laptops just keep getting better. This latest 17-inch model impresses with a bright 1080p, 144-Hz display, powerful RTX 2070 graphics and a comfortable RGB keyboard. But so do a lot of other gaming laptops. What really differentiates the Omen 17 is its competitive price. At $1,629, the Omen 17 is one of the best bang-for-your-buck gaming laptops around. Of course, there were some shortcuts taken: The laptop is mostly plastic, and its battery lasts for only a few hours.
If you need better endurance, we recommend the Digital Storm Avon, which gets you similar performance but longer battery life in a lightweight chassis. At this price, you can also go with the Dell G7 15, a 15.6-inch gaming laptop with a stylish design and good performance. If price isn't an issue, then check out the $3,200 Razer Blade Pro 17, or throw caution to the winds and splurge on the ludicrous Alienware Area-51m.
All in all, the Omen 17 is an excellent gaming laptop that offers tons of power and a bright, 17.3-inch display at a relatively affordable price.
Credit: Laptop Mag