Meet the HP Omen X 2S, a $2,849 gaming laptop with a dual display and intense RTX 2080 performance packed into a sleek design.
Unfortunately, the Omen's secondary display is underwhelming in real-world use, and the main display on this machine is rather dull. Additionally, the Omen's speakers produce poor audio for a premium gaming laptop.
Regardless, the Omen X 2S' performance is killer, and if you can deal with the second display's shortcomings, you could get some interesting uses out of it.
Price and Configuration Options
I tested the $2,849 model of the Omen X 2S, which comes with an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB NVMe SSD and a 1080p, 144-Hz display. You can get the base model for $1,799, but that version drops you to an RTX 2070 GPU and a 256GB SSD. To max this demon out, you're going to have to shell out $4,299, which will net you a Core i9-9880H CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD and a 1080p, 240-Hz display.
The Omen X 2S' aluminum hood sports an hourglass-like design that starts at the hinge and leads up to the tip of the lid. Upward and downward triangles are carved into the metal, and just above the center of the lid is a glossy, red Omen logo. A smooth, matte- black surface covers either side of the sleek hourglass shape. The hinge also stops short on either end of the laptop, revealing the deck.
Popping open the Omen X 2S unveiled the forward-facing, RGB-lit keyboard, which is reminiscent of the Asus ROG Zephyrus S' design. Above the keyboard is the Omen X 2S' dual-screen display (more on that later). The Omen X 2S' side bezels are pleasantly narrow, but the top bezel is a little chunky.
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At 5.2 pounds and 14.3 x 10.3 x 0.8 inches, the Omen X 2S is a little thicker and heavier than the Acer Predator Triton 500 (4.8 pounds, 14.1 x 10 x 0.7 inches), not to mention the Omen's 17-inch competitor, the MSI GS75 Stealth (5 pounds, 15.6 x 10.2 x 0.7 inches).
On the left, there's the power jack, an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, a drop-jaw RJ45 Ethernet port and a headphone jack, while the right side features one USB 3.0 port and a Thunderbolt 3 port.
The Omen X 2S' 1920 x 1080 display is bright and features a smooth 144-Hz refresh rate, but this screen is rather dull compared to those on most premium gaming laptops.
In the Zombieland: Double Tap trailer, hundreds of zombies ran toward fireworks in the dead of night, and I could see the detail on each of their decaying heads as well as the trees that surrounded them. When actor Luke Wilson showed up in his Big Fat Death monster truck, the bloody paint job on the towering vehicle was decently colorful, but it didn't really pop.
I played Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and although I was hiding in the shadows, I could still spot the camo pattern on Lara's pants as well as the pair of pickaxes hanging from her belt. The sun hit the lush greenery that surrounded me, and while this all looked nice, the scene could have been bolder. When I turned down the settings, I fully embraced the 144-Hz refresh rate as I jumped and ran smoothly around the jungle.
Our colorimeter clocked the Omen X 2S' panel at 107% of the sRGB color gamut, which is far from the 144% average for premium gaming laptops. The Predator Triton 500 didn't do much better (117%), but the GS75 Stealth (161%) kicked ass like a $3,000 gaming laptop should.
Despite that, the Omen X 2S' panel averaged a solid 306 nits of brightness, climbing above the category average (295 nits) as well as the Predator Triton 500's score (277 nits). However, the MSI GS75 Stealth's panel took the victory once again, netting 339 nits.
HP outfitted the Omen X 2S with a glossy, 1920 x 1080, touch-screen panel on the deck. This panel acts as a completely separate display, similar to a dual-monitor setup, so you can use this screen for anything.
For example, I can throw the Spotify app down there and decide which song I want to listen to while I game, or I could even put up a YouTube video guide that I used find a collectible in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. And since this display is a touch screen, you don't need the mouse to interact with it, thus keeping the flow of your game going -- well, partially, since using it will still pause your game.
Even though the second screen is relatively bright, it's glossy, so it's always reflecting the main display. It would have been nice if it were matte, or better yet, if the panel could lift up to face you. As it is now, I can't focus my attention on both displays at the same time. While the second display is useful in theory, it's hindered by the flat angle, as I have to lean in to see what's happening.
You can access settings for the second screen in the Settings tab of the Omen Command Center app, which lets you customize brightness, auto-sleep times and how it auto-snaps windows.
As far as HP's claim about this being the "world's first dual-screen gaming laptop," it's dubious at best. There's a footnote at the bottom of HP's website that basically states that the company considers gaming laptops, in this case, to be laptops that are marketed as gaming laptops and that have an Nvidia GTX 1060, Nvidia RTX, AMD R9 or AMD RX470 GPU and above.
We've actually reviewed a dual-screen gaming laptop before, the Razer Blade Pro back in 2014, which apparently doesn't qualify, because its GPU is too old.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Despite its forward-facing keyboard, the Omen X 2S' keys feature decent travel and feel rather clicky.
However, forward-facing keyboards eliminate the ability to rest your palms, and while HP includes a rubber palm rest, that's just another thing to carry around. On top of that, the rest is too hard and it gets incredibly filthy way too fast. I cleaned it with a wipe, which was effective, but within seconds, I noticed dust attaching to the dense block of rubber.
While there's no dedicated numpad on the Omen X 2S, you can bring up a virtual numpad on the second display by clicking a button just above the touchpad. You can also customize the Omen X 2S' per-key lighting via the Omen Command Center.
I sped through the 10fastfingers.com typing test at 73 words per minute, which is slightly above my 70-wpm average. The keys traveled at 1.4 millimeters, which is slightly below our preferred level of 1.5 to 2.0mm and required a solid 69 grams of force.
Located in the lower-right corner, the 2.7 x 2.6-inch touchpad is soft and it feels natural to use, but its discrete buttons felt mushy and unsatisfying to click on. However, the touchpad does have Windows precision drivers, so gestures like three-finger tabbing and two-finger scrolling worked as intended.
The Omen X 2S' bottom-firing Bang & Olufsen speakers sounded low and distorted when I listened to "Letdown" by nothing,nowhere. The song opens with a soft guitar that sounded OK at first, but the higher notes were scratchy, and when the vocals hit, I couldn't bear to listen to it -- and it's a relatively soft song. When I listened to SiM's "Existence," a much heavier song, everything from the vocals to the drums sounded hollow.
When I messed with the audio settings in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the environment either sounded too soft or there was a bird piercing my ear with a distorted caw. I had the same problem discerning the voices of Lara and Jonah, which gave me the urge to put subtitles on. And when I whacked a heavily armed guard in the face with my bow, the thud sounded muted.
While the Omen Audio Control does have an equalizer, the presets are pretty bare-bones, offering options for only Music, Movie and Voice -- no gaming. You can customize the bass, treble and dialog clarity, but doing so won't improve the audio. The Music preset gave the best result, though, among those presets.
Gaming, Graphics and VR
Powered by an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM, the Omen X 2S revved through Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 64 frames per second as I trekked through the forest and planted my pickax in the back of several nice gentlemen.
On the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the Omen X 2S averaged 61 fps, which is just slightly behind the premium gaming laptop average (64 fps). With the same GPU, the Predator Triton 500 (62 fps) and MSI GS75 Stealth (65 fps) did slightly better.
However, the Omen X 2S crushed on the Hitman benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), scoring 111 fps. That flies above the category average (105 fps), the Predator Triton 500's result (86 fps) and the MSI GS75 Stealth's showing (96 fps).
The Omen X 2S nailed 81 fps on the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (Very High, 1080p), which once again wiped out the competition and the average premium gaming laptop score (79 fps). The Predator Triton 500 (60 fps) and the MSI GS75 Stealth (77 fps) were even behind the average.
To no surprise, the Omen X 2S, Predator Triton 500 and MSI GS75 Stealth all scored a perfect 11 on the SteamVR Performance Test.
Packed with an Intel Core i7-9750H processor and 16GB of RAM, the Omen X 2S juggled 40 Google Chrome tabs and five 1080p YouTube videos smoothly while Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Spotify ran in the background.
On the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance benchmark, the Omen X 2S scored a strong 23,019, climbing over the 22,953 average for premium gaming laptops. Meanwhile, the Core i7-8750H in the Predator Triton 500 (20,990) and the MSI GS75 Stealth (20,843) couldn't hit the average.
The Omen X 2S transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 10 minutes and 26 seconds on our HandBrake benchmark, coming in a little slower than the category average (9:41). But the Omen completed the task faster than the Predator Triton 500 (11:04) and the MSI GS75 Stealth (11:00).
HP's 1TB NVMe SSD copied 4.97GB of data in 6 seconds, translating to 848 megabytes per second, which speeds past the 778-MBps premium gaming laptop average and matches the showing from the MSI GS75 Stealth's 512GB SSD. However, the Predator Triton 500's Dual 512GB SSDs double-timed the Omen's result, with a wild 1,696 MBps.
The Omen X 2S did not last very long on a charge, and that's with the second display turned off. When I continuously surfed the web over Wi-Fi with the machine set at 150 nits of brightness, the Omen X 2S lasted only 2 hours and 20 minutes, which is nearly an hour under the 3:15 average for premium gaming laptops. The MSI GS75 Stealth (2:29) wasn't far off, while the Predator Triton 500 (3:04) was a little closer to the average. When we turned the second screen on and reran the battery test, the laptop lasted 2:08, which is surprising considering that the Omen X 2S is powering two separate 1080p displays.
While HP outfitted the Omen X 2S with a 1080p webcam, the test shots I took looked blotchy and the contrast was out of control. My hair was darker than a black hole, and the ceiling lights were so blindingly white that they were consuming themselves. The color didn't look too good, either. It reproduced half of the colors in my white, green, pink, blue and red shirt, but it also turned the blue into black. Consider getting an external webcam.
Since the Omen X 2S is made of aluminum, it can get pretty spicy under the hood. After I played Shadow of the Tomb Raider for 15 minutes, the underside hit 115 degrees Fahrenheit, which is over our 95-degree comfort threshold. The center of the keyboard and the touchpad weren't as hot, measuring 89 and 88 degrees, respectively. The hottest it got was 135 degrees, near the vents on the underside.
On our normal heat test, streaming a 15-minute 1080p video, the underside measured 95 degrees, the keyboard hit 83 degrees and the touchpad got 82 degrees.
Software and Warranty
Along with the mountains of typical HP software, the Omen X 2S also has the more useful Omen Command Center. With this app, you can monitor the utilization of the CPU, GPU, RAM and bandwidth. There are also tabs to customize the keyboard lighting and prioritize bandwidth. The most important tab is the performance control, which has presettings for Comfort (cooler), Default (balanced) and Performance (ramps up CPU and GPU). In the Settings tab, you can customize certain options for the second screen.
The rest of the HP-branded apps include HP JumpStart (Windows 10 tutorial), HP Support Assistant (updates HP device drivers), HP Smart (monitors printing status) and HP PC Diagnostics (run system and component tests). There's also Windows 10 bloatware like Bubble Witch 3 Saga and Netflix.
HP took power and style into consideration with the Omen X 2S, which is great, but this machine still has a few key flaws. Its second display is frustrating to use properly, the speakers sound distorted, and the display is too dull for the price.
If you're willing to sacrifice a second screen, go with the Acer Predator Triton 500. For $2,999, you get a slimmer design, comparable performance, an insanely fast SSD and a comfortable keyboard.
But overall, the Omen X 2S is strong gaming laptop and a decent choice if you want to double your screen real estate.
Credit: Laptop Mag