HP is one of the biggest names in the world of consumer and business laptops, but the firm has often felt a little outside its comfort zone in the gaming space when compared to the likes of Asus and Razer. The HP Omen 15 marks an attempt to introduce a new design language and a more mature vibe to its gaming range, and it shows.
This new machine doesn’t just look different on the outside – it’s got new hardware, too. The laptop we’ve reviewed pairs a Ryzen 7 4800H processor with GTX 1660 Ti graphics, 16GB of memory, 1TB SSD and a 1080p 144Hz display for $1149.
If you don’t want this precise Omen, there are several alternative specifications. For example, if you’d like more power, the $1799 model pairs an Intel Core i7-10750H processor and an RTX 2070 graphics core with a 4K display. Or if you’re on a tighter budget, a $1049 machine serves up the Ryzen 7 4800H and GTX 1660 Ti GPU alongside 8GB of memory and a 512GB SSD, just to name a few compelling combinations.
Checking out the HP Store, we also found the cheapest Omen costs just $919. That model has a Core i5-10300H processor, a GTX 1650 Ti GPU, 8GB of memory, a 256GB SSD and a 1080p, 60Hz display. Besides the CPU and GPU, it’s possible to choose between 8GB and 32GB of memory, and to opt for larger SSDs or RAID 0 options. Finally, the 1080p display can be found in 60Hz, 144Hz and 300Hz refresh rates. It’s impressive versatility, especially if you want to save cash, prioritize CPU power, or opt for a faster refresh rate.
Features and Design
The new Omen 15 is noticeably more mature than older HP machines – there are no outlandish angles, bold hinge designs or second screens here. It’s made from dark grey aluminum that is anodized on the lid and smooth on the inside, and the rear has minimal air vents – an improvement on the aggressive designs found on many gaming notebooks. The hinges are discreet, the speaker grille uses a neat triangular pattern, and the aggressive red logo has been replaced with a stylish, shimmering diamond. This laptop looks superb.
In terms of connectivity, you get a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port that offers 10Gbps of bandwidth alongside Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort 1.4 and charging support, and there are three USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports. Elsewhere, there are MiniDP and HDMI outputs, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an SD card slot and an audio jack. There’s a basic 720p webcam without IR functionality and no fingerprint reader option.
The versatility continues on the inside. The base panel is easy to remove with a Phillips-head screwdriver, the memory uses SO-DIMM slots rather than soldered-down modules, and the NVMe SSD can be easily accessed.
It’s not all rosy though – the HP’s chassis does have some problems. The screen shows some flex; the material beneath the panel bends far too much, and the corners are weak. It’s not a terminal issue, but a protective sleeve would be a good idea if you want to take the Omen on the road. The base is sturdier, but the aluminum still rattles.
The Omen is also a tad chunky. The HP weighs 5.4 pounds, which is almost a pound heavier than slimmer (and usually more expensive) gaming machines of similar size. The body is 25mm thick and that figure rises to nearly 30mm if accounting for the rubber feet.
As usual with 15.6″ gaming laptops, the Omen’s keyboard has no number pad, and its keys have a reasonable 1.5mm of travel. The typing action is quiet and fast – so it’s ideal for typing, fast games and casual titles. The full-size cursor keys are welcome, too. However, the buttons are very light, without the sense of weight that’s found on the best gaming keyboards. The keyboard has other minor issues. The space bar tends to rattle and the power button is nestled between the Backspace, Delete and F12 buttons, which depending on your preferred controller scheme could be bad during gameplay.
To tweak the keyboard’s RGB LEDs you have to use HP’s Omen app, but this is limited to four lightning zones – it’s not per-key lighting – and no effects are available. The rest of HP’s Omen app is basic. It provides primitive system diagnostic and specification info, three different performance modes and rudimentary game tracking options.
The trackpad is fine. For casual games and slower titles it should be fine, but a proper gaming mouse will be far better, of course.
The 1080p display supports Nvidia G-Sync that runs at 144Hz which is great, if not a must-have for a mid-range gaming laptop. It’s great for mainstream esports games, and easily good enough to cope with single-player titles at smooth framerates. Happily, G-Sync worked well here, with no ghosting or tearing.
The display’s brightness level of 333cd/m2 is fine for indoor use, but it’s not bright enough for outside, and it’s paired with a black level of 0.36cd/m2. That figure is on the high side, meaning that dark areas don’t have enough depth. It also creates a contrast ratio of 925:1, which robs colors of a little vibrancy. Color reproduction have a decent Delta E of 2.16, but the color temperature of 7,098K is a little cool.
The HP’s display also rendered a middling 87.3% of the sRGB colour gamut with 91.2% volume, and it got nowhere near handling the Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 gamuts. The Omen’s response time sits at around 13ms, which is fine for standard gaming but not good enough for high-level esports players.
Overall, the HP display’s contrast, color temperature and gamut coverage levels are decent, and should be good enough for mainstream gaming.
The speakers are reasonable – loud and crisp enough to handle gaming and media. There’s not enough bass and the top end is a bit tinny, so a headset would still be better.
The Omen 15 we reviewed came equipped with the Ryzen 7 4800H, which we’ve reviewed to great marks, it is Zen 2-based and offers 8 cores and 16 threads. That’s two more cores than the i7-10750H, which is usually offered in this price segment and we’ve just seen the 4800H easily beat the Intel counterpart across the board.
The CPU is paired with 16GB of dual-channel 3,200MHz DDR4, which is easily good enough for everyday work. There’s a 1TB Samsung PM981 SSD that offers solid read and write speeds of 3,617MB/s and 2,843MB/s. Connectivity is handled by dual-band WiFi 6 and Gigabit Ethernet. The HP deploys GTX 1660 Ti (80W) graphics with 6GB of GDDR6 memory. It’s got base and boost clocks of 1,455MHz and 1,590MHz.
There’s no disputing the performance on offer from AMD’s latest processors, especially in multi-threaded workloads. In Cinebench R15 and R20’s multi-threaded benchmarks the HP scored 1,824 and 4,174 points – the former figure is around 700 points beyond Intel’s six-core i7-10750H, while the latter result is more than 1,500 points ahead. In PC Mark 10’s Essentials test the Omen scored 9,295 points, and it returned a result of 8,023 in the Productivity benchmark. The former figure is about level with Intel’s chip, while the latter is around 1,000 points better.
It’s an impressive slate of results for the 4800H, which is almost always faster than the Intel chip – it’s a few percentage points quicker in single-threaded tasks, and often between 20% and 40% quicker in productivity workloads and multi-core scenarios. If you need a laptop for tougher workloads, AMD’s chips are far better right now.
Happily, the Omen delivers virtually identical performance to the Ryzen 7 4800H that we tested in CPU review, with no throttling issues or speed problems on the HP. The full suite of benchmarks is available in our Ryzen 7 4800H review. And if you want to know more about Intel’s rival part, head to our Core i7-10750H review, which also includes the Ryzen 7 in the results.
The GTX 1660 Ti is a solid GPU for 1080p gaming. Playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider with high settings, the HP returned an average frame rate of 81fps. That score is only a couple of frames behind the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 we reviewed last month, which uses a Ryzen 9 CPU and the RTX 2060 Max-Q.
Elsewhere, the HP delivered minimums either around or beyond 60fps in Battlefield V, Far Cry New Dawn and GTA V and regularly returned minimums beyond 70fps. Even in tougher titles like Metro Exodus and Control, the HP Omen 15 remained playable, although cutting back on graphics settings will deliver a smoother experience.
Our deep-dive into Nvidia’s laptop GPUs saw the GTX 1660 Ti fall behind the full-power RTX 2060 by 13% – meaning there’s not a huge amount between the two. It’s an even closer situation between the GTX 1660 Ti and the RTX 2060 Max-Q. The two configurations are closely matched, with the GTX 1660 Ti creeping ahead in the majority of games. More data is available in our deep-dive article, but rest assured that the Omen has the gaming grunt to play single-player games at solid framerates and esports titles at the speeds required by the 144Hz screen.
The Omen’s thermal performance is reasonable. When the laptop is running games or work applications in its default performance mode, noise levels sat at a decent 43db with an occasional peak at 47db, which is decent. When running less-demanding tasks the laptop sat at around 41db. When gaming the internal temperatures were fine, with the GPU and CPU peaking at 69 and 81 degrees. The area above the speaker grille became extremely hot, but it’s unlikely that anyone will touch that part of the laptop during normal use.
On the battery life front, the HP Omen is decent but not great. This is something typical of gaming laptops, where full day battery life is usually not a feature nor a priority. In a video playback test the HP lasted for 5 hours and 22 minutes, and in a work benchmark the HP ran for 4 hours and 11 minutes. When gaming with the screen at full brightness, the Omen ran out of juice after 2 hours and 11 minutes. You’ve got enough power here to handle gaming on your commute, but cutting it close.
The new HP Omen 15 marks a departure from HP’s gregarious older models, and it succeeds in several key areas. It undoubtedly looks the part and it has good versatility inside and out thanks to solid connectivity and ports.
The HP is a decent performer, too: the GTX 1660 Ti has enough power to handle 1080p gaming and esports titles at appropriate framerates, and the Ryzen CPU is excellent – better than Intel in the vast majority of situations, and a much more capable option for productivity.
The HP is cheaper than some of its rivals, too, which bodes well – but it also means that the Omen falls a little short in a few areas. The screen is good enough but not great, and the body is a little thick and heavy, with inconsistent build quality. The keyboard is too soft and has a couple of layout issues, and battery life is only okay.
Overall, the HP Omen 15 is a good option and great value if you need a versatile laptop that can play games and run through productivity tasks. It doesn’t cost quite as much as the competition, so the Omen is not a luxury gaming machine, and it sits more comfortably in the price range between $1000 and $1400 (depending on the configuration) where it competes with mainstream gaming laptops that have comparable CPU and GPUs.