New laptops and a VR-ready desktop come to HP's Omen gaming line

The Vive-friendly Phoenix desktop gets a new name, joining affordable new 15-inch and 17-inch gaming laptops.

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HP is streamlining its PC gaming offerings, putting new and revamped products under the Omen brand umbrella. New 15-inch and 17-inch laptops are joining a rebranded VR-ready desktop formerly known as the Envy Phoenix, and future gaming products will also be part of the Omen brand.

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A pair of new laptops

The Omen line has, since its 2014 launch, consisted of a single high-end 15-inch gaming laptop. That system has remained one of our favorites for slim, attractive PC gaming rigs, and it's being joined by two new systems, with similar or better specs, but lower prices.

The company calls these both simply Omen laptops, and the 15-inch and 17-inch versions have nearly all-black bodies with red accents. There's a subtle pattern, which HP calls "shadow mesh," and the keyboard is backlit not in simple red, but in "Dragon Red" (lest you think "Game of Thrones" has a lock on all things dragon-related at the moment).

The available graphics options run from the Nvidia GeForce 950M to the newer 965M, which is a couple of steps down from the current top of the line, but still good enough for any contemporary game at mid-to-high detail levels. Both 1080 and 4K display options will be available, along with an option for Intel's depth-sensing RealSense camera.

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Like most other current HP systems, the audio carries a Bang & Olufsen logo, which means the famed audio company tuned and signed off on the sound, although it didn't actually design or make the speakers.

The 15-inch model is under 25mm thick, while the 17-inch model is less than 30mm thick. To help keep heat under control in these relatively slim (for a gaming laptop) bodies, the internal battery has been pushed toward the front, allowing the dual fans to push hot air out from the rear more efficiently.

Both new laptops are coming to HP.com and Best Buy on July 10, starting at $899 for the 15-inch and $979 for the 17-inch in the US. International price and availability details were not yet available.

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A desktop built for virtual reality

If this gaming desktop looks familiar, that's because it's a revamped version of the HP Envy Phoenix. That system was built with VR in mind, and designed in collaboration with HTC for use with the HTC Vive virtual-reality headset.

This new version, simply called the Omen by HP desktop, keeps the vertical light-up strip that runs down the front of the chassis. That light can be set to reflect system performance or temperature, using multiple colors and patterns.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Again, the main focus is the HTC Vive, and HP says the Omen is specifically tuned for a great out-of-the-box experience with that VR headset, but there's nothing stopping it from working with the Oculus Rift or just playing standard 2D PC games.

CPUs go up to the overclockable Intel Core i7-6700K, and the graphics cards will include the just-announced Nvidia 1080 series of desktop GPUs, as well as AMD R9 Fury X options. Liquid cooling is also an available option. As VR headsets require a lot of ports and connections to operate, the Omen has plenty, including six USB ports (two 3.0, four 2.0), USB-C and dual HDMI outputs.

HP is also offering a new 32-inch monitor as a perfect pairing with this desktop. The Omen by HP display has two HDMI inputs, plus DisplayPort and a built-in USB hub, and it supports AMD's FreeSync technology, which (with the right hardware) can sync GPU output with the display's refresh rate for smoother gameplay. The resolution on the display is 2,560x1,440.

The Omen desktop and monitor are coming in August, but we don't yet have precise dates, outlets or prices.