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.
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.
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.