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HP Omen (17-inch) review:

High-performance gaming minus the flashy design

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The Good The 17-inch HP Omen is available in several configurations depending on your needs and budget. Reasonably priced even with its top-end, VR-ready version. Low-key design and good battery life compared to other gaming systems. Nice ultra HD-resolution screen.

The Bad Lacks the flashy design or macro/shortcut keys found on other gaming laptops. Can get hot and loud under load. No USB-C ports. No touchscreen.

The Bottom Line The 17-inch HP Omen might not look aggressive, but you'll have no problems taking down the competition with this fully loaded gaming laptop.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.8 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Battery 8.0

For the most part, gaming laptops are made to look aggressive, with angular bodies, multicolored lights on the lid and keyboard and big stylized fan vents. You might also find extra buttons or other controls on the keyboard deck, making these systems appear more like a mobile command center than a laptop.

HP, however, took more of an "iron fist in a velvet glove" approach with the 17-inch Omen. If it weren't for the old VoodooPC logo on the lid and glowing red keyboard, it could easily pass for a regular, if somewhat husky, desktop replacement. For the Omen, it's mainly the components on the inside that make it a gaming system.

The $1,800 system I tested, for example, was a top-of-line-configuration which had a VR-ready Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card paired with a sixth-gen Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor. Combined with 16GB of memory and 256GB solid state drive and 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive, it had performance to spare even when playing at its full 3,840x2,160-pixel resolution. A similar configuration in Australia will set you back AU$3,699, while in the UK it'll run you £1,899.

hp-omen-17-17.jpg

The GTX 1070 GPU can handle the Omen's UHD display.

Sarah Tew/CNET

You can also opt to scale back on storage and get the price down to $1,600. (Note: The configuration I reviewed is currently out of stock, but expected to return.) If that's still too high for you, HP offers a lot of configurations with other 10-series cards as well as older GeForce GTX 965M cards with prices starting at a little over $1,000. But again, if you're looking for bells and whistles or typical gaming system design features, you won't find them here.

HP Omen (17-inch)

HP Omen (17-inch)
Price as reviewed $1,800
Display size/resolution 17-inch 3,840x2,160 display
PC CPU 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ
PC Memory 16GB DDR4SDRAM 2,400MHz
Graphics 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
Storage 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD (7,200rpm)
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2, Ethernet
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

That thing's huge

Everyone who saw me using the Omen 17 was shocked by its size. There's no doubt it's big, but by 17-inch gaming laptop standards it's not jaw-dropping big (although gaming laptops of all stripes are getting slimmer and lighter). In fact because of its rounded edges and subtle cooling vents, it doesn't look nearly as bulky as others this size. Make no mistake, though, this notebook is big and traveling with something this large is a literal pain.

After working day-in and day-out on a 13.3-inch system, having the extra space a 17.3-inch laptop provides is fantastic, and for gaming it lets you sink into the experience that much more. The matte ultra HD-resolution display is sharp with excellent color performance. The GTX 1070 card had no trouble keeping Battlefield 1 at playable frame rates and full resolution, either.

hp-omen-17-06.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The full-size keyboard is comfortable with enough travel even for people who hammer on the keys. Its red backlight gets reasonably bright, but it's either on or off, so if you want it dimmer you're out of luck. The clickpad works well, too, and I didn't experience any cursor jumping despite constantly dragging my right palm on it while typing.

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