I liked the four hot-swappable drive bays, easily accessed from the outside, each with a fabric loop to pull the drive cage out by. Most of the ports and connections are on the rear panel, but a handful, including a few USB 3.0 and USB-C ones, are on the side, and also easy to access because they're pointing up towards you at a 45-degree angle.
The front lights can be customized with different colors, or to show CPU use through a simple included app. It's not nearly as customizable or flexible as case-lighting apps from Alienware or Razer, but you can still use it to cook up some cool color combos.
As with any big gaming desktop, performance is going to largely depend on the specific components you invest in. A single Nvidia 1080 GPU and a Core i7 6700K is more than enough for current games at high detail settings and even up to 4K resolution. Mafia III, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and other games all played smoothly in hands-on testing.
In benchmark tests, the system performed well, which HP attributes to its system tuning and the case's design emphasis on keeping temperatures down. It wasn't as fast as an insanely overclocked $6,000 boutique desktop from Origin PC, but was as good or better than other desktops in its price range.
Virtual reality also performs well here, plus it helps to have enough USB ports for a VR headset plus accessories. I'm making this my initial test bed for the new Oculus Rift Touch controllers, which require an extra USB port for the second sensor that comes packed in with them.
Thinking outside the box
Some visitors to the CNET PC testing lab thought the Omen X was just too big, and questioned the unusual design. I liked it a lot, and especially appreciated the modernist, minimalist look (no side-lit glass panels or extraterrestrial architecture), but the point is made that a Falcon Northwest Fragbox or Origin PC Chronos can offer similar high-end performance in a much smaller package.
But I also found the Omen X incredibly easy to use, considering I'm always plugging and unplugging accessories and frequently need to access the case interior. There's a premium to be paid, but once you're spending $2,500 or more on a gaming desktop, you may not be looking for the lowest-cost option at every turn.
That said, if anyone ever catches me paying $599 for an empty PC case, please confiscate my credit card immediately.
|HP Omen X||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080; 256GB SSD + 2TB HDD|
|HP Omen (17-inch)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD|
|Origin PC Millennium||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); (oc) 4.4GHz Intel Core i7-6950X; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; (oc) (2) 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080; 512GB SSD + 3TB HDD|
|Alienware Aurora R5||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080; 256GB SSD + 2TB HDD|
|Acer Predator G1 710||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 3.4GHz Intel Core i7-6700; 30GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 8GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080; 512GB SSD + 2TB HDD|