Sometimes, less is more, especially if the alternative would put a serious hurting on your wallet. In a genre that is typically feast or famine, HP found a way to make a gaming laptop that's relatively affordable, without making too many sacrifices. For $1,149, you get a laptop with a powerful Intel Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GTX 1650 GPU that packs a surprising wallop. This is one of the best gaming laptops you can buy and a great choice for gamers looking for a reasonable amount of power without breaking the bank.
HP Omen 15 pricing and configurations
The base model of the Omen 15 costs $749 and has an Intel Core i5-9300H processor with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB of VRAM.
The $1,149 model I reviewed is outfitted with a Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB of VRAM. The $1,299 version gives you a 1TB HDD in addition to the 512GB SSD and a GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB of VRAM.
The Omen 15 is simultaneously bold and understated. The lid, made of black metal, is bisected into fours, creating two smooth triangles and a pair of slightly raised, brushed aluminum rhombuses. A glossy silver Voodoo emblem references the notebook's heritage, while the word Omen sits demurely on the hinge.
Opening the laptop reveals a black deck made of black plastic, which is meant to imitate the striated portions of the lid. A rather large touchpad resides in the center of the palm rest, while a skinny power button sits in the top-left corner of the deck above the keyboard. Speaking of the keyboard, the keys are black with red accents and sit in a notable recess in the center of the deck.
At 5.4 pounds, the 14.2 x 10.2 x 0.8-inch Omen 15 is noticeably heavier than the Asus ROG Zephyrus G GA502 (4.5 pounds, 14.2 x 9.9 x 0.8 inches) but weighs the same as the Dell G3 15 (2019) (5.4 pounds, 14.4 x 10 x 0.9 inches).
Although the Omen 15 is formidable in its own right, the right kind of accessories can turn it into a bona fide battlestation. Luckily, HP added plenty of ports to make this happen.
On the right sits a USB Gen.1 Type-A port and an SD card reader. The left side of the machine has two USB 3.1 Gen.1 Type-A ports, a USB Gen 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port (with DisplayPort capabilities), an HDMI 1.4 port and jacks for a headset and power.
Watching movies and playing games on the Omen 15 reveals warm, bright vistas. When I watched the 1080p trailer of The Photograph, I was impressed with how well the 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 panel handled darker skin. None of the actors looked washed out or ashy, and detail was clean enough that I could see the fine hairs in Jasmine Cephas Jones' billowing afro.
And when I played Red Dead Redemption 2, the detail was so fine, I could see the individual hairs of the fur lining Arthur's collar. Regarding color, Javier's black, red and white poncho caught my eye with its vibrant color, as did Arthur's deep-blue jacket.
The Omen 15 can reproduce 102% of the sRGB color gamut, which is just above the 100% minimum. That's enough to surpass the Zephyrus' 71% and the G3 15's 63%. However, it couldn't overcome the 109% mainstream gaming average.
But no machine can hold a candle to the Omen 15 when it comes to brightness. The notebook averaged 320 nits, outshining the 277-nit average and the 240 and 272 nits put up by the Zephyrus and the G3 15.
Despite its bottom-mounted speakers, the Omen 15 packs big audio. Air Lennox's "Shea Butter Baby" filled my bedroom with loud, albeit crowded sound. While the singer's twangy delivery was on point and the percussion was clean, at maximum volume the keyboard sounded diffused, which bled into the guitar. If you want more precision, I'd suggest investing in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
Still, as I played Red Dead Redemption 2, I was impressed by how clear the whipping winds sounded as they seemingly tore across my bedroom. A lone guitar punctuated a man's dying breath. Later, a shot from my revolver rang out, landing with a meaty thud in an enemy's chest.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Omen 15's keyboard is a bit mushy, but still provides a comfortable typing experience. And I appreciate having a full number pad. I managed to hit 65 words per minute, which is lower than my usual 70 wpm. Still, the keys are nice and big and well-spaced.
Even though the keyboard has backlighting, it is somewhat muted by the red-tinted keys. Still, it was bright enough to see in a darkened room.
The 2.2 x 4-inch touchpad is smooth to the touch and allowed my fingers to easily glide along its surface. Windows 10 gestures such as pinch-zoom, two-finger scroll and three-finger swipe were fast and responsive. While I love discrete mouse buttons, I wish the Omen 15's had a bit more snap as the feedback was a bit soft for my tastes.
Gaming, graphics and VR
HP outfitted the Omen 15 with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB of VRAM. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could play Red Dead 2 at a solid frame rate. I rode into town and found myself in a drunken bar fight. I threw a haymaker at 43 frames per second on Ultra settings that landed squarely on my opponent's jaw and put him down for the count.
On the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the Omen 15 was a frame ahead of the Zephyrus, which has its own 1660 Ti GPU 44 to 43. The G3 15 with its GTX 1650 GPU managed only 30 fps. All three systems were short of the 47-fps mainstream gaming laptop average.
When we ran the Shadow of the Tomb Raider test, the Omen 15 matched the 45-fps average and beat the Zephyrus' 35 fps. On the Middle-Earth: Shadow of War benchmark, the Omen 15 matched the 68-fps average. The Zephyrus and the G3 15 achieved 61 and 44 fps, respectively.
During the Hitman benchmark, the Omen 15 scored 78 fps, beating Zephyrus' 73 fps and the G3 15's 62 fps. However, it couldn't topple the 83-fps average. The HP scored 60 fps on the Grand Theft Auto V test, besting the category average (56 fps), the Zephyrus (57 fps) and the G3 15, which notched 38 fps.
If you have an Oculus Rift S or an HTC Vive Cosmos handy, the HP Omen is capable of accommodating a VR headset. The notebook scored 5.5 on the SteamVR Performance test. However, the G3 15 did slightly better with 5.8. The Zephyrus was the only notebook to beat the 8.6 average with a score of 9.2.
Thanks to a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-9750H processor with 16GB RAM, the Omen 15 can handle its fair share of work. It had no problem streaming an episode of The Mandalorian while running an additional 25 Google Chrome tabs. The laptop kept plugging along even after I launched Red Dead Redemption 2.
The notebook held its own on our synthetic tests, scoring 19.956 on Geekbench 4.3, an overall performance test. It beat the Zephyrus' 14,106 (AMD Ryzen 7 3750H) and was just below the 20,448 mainstream gaming average. The G3 15, which has a Core i5-9300H CPU, fell behind with 16,650.
On the Handbrake test, the Omen 15 took 12 minutes and 34 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p. That time was longer than the 10:45 average but shorter than the Zephyrus' 14:23 and the G3 15's 14:01.
The Omen 15's 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD duplicated 4.97GB in 7 seconds, a transfer rate of 728.3 megabytes per second. That was more than enough to blow past the 417MBps category average, the Zephyrus (424MBps, 512GB M.2 PCie NVMe SSD) and the G3 15 (299MBps, 128GB SSD).
Gaming laptops aren't known for their battery life, and the Omen 15 isn't going to change that narrative. The laptop lasted only 3 hours and 5 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits). It fell short of the 3:55 mainstream gaming laptop average as well as the 6:41 and 4:48 put up by the G3 15 and the Zephyrus.
Even though I was fighting my way through an icy storm in Red Dead 2, the Omen was running rather warm. Our heat gun registered the touchpad at 84 degrees Fahrenheit, with the center hitting 108 degrees after 15 minutes of play. The undercarriage reached 131 degrees, which is well above our 95-degree comfort threshold.
Once the laptop cooled down, we reran the test. This time, we played a 15-minute full-screen YouTube video. The touchpad, middle and bottom of the laptop measured 81, 90 and 95 degrees, respectively.
The Omen 15's 720p webcam delivers accurate colors, but you can forget about any meaningful detail. It captured the deep brown of my wooden bed frame as well as my light pink shirt.
However, nowhere in the picture could you see any of the natural patterns in the headboard, as you'd expect from a piece of wood. Also, my hair looked like pixelated blobs on my head. If you're looking to stream, I'd recommend investing in an external webcam.
Software and warranty
HP outfitted the Omen with a number of manufacturer-branded software, the most important of which is Omen Command Center. Since its inception, Command Center has been a one-stop shop to check system diagnostics, adjust fan speed and customize keyboard lighting (depending on the system). HP has expanded the program's capabilities, adding an AI-based software that maps your League of Legends play and indicates where you can improve. And with the Game Stream functionality, you can stream your game to another device, provided it's on the same local network.
Other HP-branded software includes JumpStart, which guides you through registering your laptop and setting up Windows update schedules. Then there's PCHardware Diagnostics, which helps identify if the laptop is having any hardware problems, and Privacy Settings, which allows you to tweak how much if any information you share with HP. In addition, you get Support Assistant, which puts you in contact with tech support if you run into an issue.
The HP Omen 15 is a great midtier gaming laptop. For $1,149, you get a system that packs a punch on both the gaming and overall performance. Not only can the Nvidia GTX 1650 GPU play AAA titles, it can play them well, and the display and audio ain't too shabby, either.
If you're looking for a bit more endurance, and save a bit of cash, you'll want to check out the $849 Dell G3 15. But if you're looking for an affordable gaming laptop that doesn't cut too many corners, the HP Omen is for you.