HP introduced a new gaming portfolio of desktop PCs, laptops and even a monitor under the Omen brand to woo gamers last year. The PC maker recently updated its 15-inch Omen laptop with a redesigned chassis, refreshed hardware and a new gaming control centre app.
The new Omen 15 has a more extroverted, angular chassis typical of most gaming laptops. But unlike some of its rivals, the only LED on the Omen 15 is the keyboard backlight. Turn this on as soon as possible, as almost all the keys are black, with faint dark red markings that are hard to make out when not illuminated. However, the WASD keys are red with white backlighting.
The keyboard itself does not use mechanical switches. But it has good key travel and a tactile feel that translated to a better-than-expected performance in my typing test. While it does not have extra macro keys, the keyboard has a couple of gaming shortcuts.
The Omen key launches the Omen Command Centre app, which lets users monitor the temperatures and utilisation levels of the processor and graphics chip in real time. The app's Network Booster feature can be customised to give bandwidth priority to gaming apps or downloads. If both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections are available, the laptop can use both at the same time.
The laptop is not particularly sleek, and its 2.6kg weight is average for its size. I am impressed by its Bang & Olufsen-brand speakers. Gunshots sounded especially crisp, making gunfights more intense.
Its 15-inch IPS screen offers excellent viewing angles and vibrant colours.It also supports a high 120Hz refresh rate and Nvidia's G-Sync technology for a stutter-free gaming experience.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz)
GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with Max-Q Design 6GB GDDR5
SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB Type-C 3.1, 3 x USB 3.1 Gen 1, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet port, SD card slot, audio jacks
BATTERY: 70 watt-hour
VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5
BATTERY LIFE: 1/5
The Omen is equipped with a mid-range Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip. It is a Max-Q Design variant with slightly lower clock speeds than the standard version. In my testing, it is not quite as fast as a full-speed GTX 1060.
In Crysis 3, the Omen managed around 60 frames per second (fps) compared with the 70fps I got with the MSI GE63VR Raider (GTX 1060). Nevertheless, the Omen should handle most games at its native 1080p resolution with aplomb.
The Omen is more expensive than a similar laptop from Aftershock PC, but cheaper than the MSI GE63VR 7RE Raider. But both rivals offer a standard GTX 1060 and an RGB backlit keyboard.
• Verdict: HP has made significant improvements to its second iteration of the Omen 15 gaming laptop. While competent, it is solidly middle of the pack in terms of value and performance.