Article updated on March 29, 2023 at 4:00 AM PDT

HP Victus 15: Ultra-Affordable Gaming Laptop for First-Timers

Wait for it to go on sale and the Victus 15 is one of the lowest-cost ways to buy your first gaming laptop.

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Matt Elliott
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Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
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7.0/ 10

HP Victus 15-fa0031dx


  • Ultralow price for gaming laptop
  • Speedy 144Hz display
  • Decent battery life


  • Dim display
  • Grainy 720p webcam
  • Keyboard lacks RGB lighting

There are two types of budget gaming laptops: Ultralow-cost models well under $1,000 with entry-level Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics and models priced between roughly $1,000 and $1,200 equipped with a low-end GPU from the superior GeForce RTX series. The HP Victus 15 is solidly in the former category. It costs $800 at Best Buy and can frequently be found on sale for as little as $580. It's based on a 15.6-inch, 1080p display with a 144Hz refresh rate and powered by an Intel Core i5-12450H CPU, 8GB of RAM and GeForce GTX 1650 graphics.

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I wouldn't pay $800 for a laptop with a midrange Core i5 CPU, a meager 8GB of RAM and an aging GTX 1650 GPU because you can usually find a budget model with a better CPU, twice the RAM and -- most importantly -- an RTX 3050, 3050 Ti or even 3060 GPU on sale for less than $1,000. So, the question becomes, is the Victus 15 a good buy when it's on sale for less than $600? At that price, it begins to make sense for those just dipping their toes into the 3D-gaming waters and looking to play older or more casual games rather than rocking the latest AAA titles with ray tracing and other quality settings dialed up.

HP Victus 15 gaming laptop in a living room
Matt Elliott/CNET

Enough 3D performance for some

Our Victus 15 test system (model 15-fa0031dx) has been available at Best Buy for nearly a year and is based on an Intel Core i5-12450H CPU and GeForce GTX 1650 graphics. Released at the beginning of last year, the 12th-gen Alder Lake CPU is relatively new. While some high-end, high-priced laptops have been released with 13th-gen Raptor Lake CPUs, we've yet to see a lower-end model based on a mainstream 13th-gen Core i5 or Core i7 chip. The Victus 15's GPU is another story. The GTX 1650 was released nearly four years ago and has been surpassed by three generations of GeForce RTX graphics processors.

The only place you'll find the GTX 1650 GPU these days is in not just a budget gaming laptop but an entry-level budget gaming laptop. You really can't drop down a level without entering integrated graphics territory. That said, this four-year-old GPU isn't entirely useless. While it will struggle with the latest, most demanding AAA titles, it's more than capable of playing most games at 1080p at medium to high settings. 

HP Victus 15 gaming laptop

Price as reviewed $800
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch 1,920x1,080 144MHz 16:9 display
CPU 2GHz Intel Core i5-12450H
Memory 8GB DDR4 3,200MHz RAM
Graphics 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Graphics
Storage Samsung MZVL2512HCJQ 512GB SSD
Networking Wi-Fi 6 MT7921 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5.3
Operating system Windows 11 Home 21H2

For casual gamers looking to play around with co-op shooters, the Victus 15 is a cheap way to get there. We experienced smooth gameplay at 1080p on both CS:GO and Riftbreaker. The laptop averaged 105 frames per second on the Riftbreaker GPU benchmark and an even more impressive 191fps on the CS:GO benchmark. Both tests were run at 1080p with High settings enabled. It also achieved a playable 61fps on the newer and more demanding Guardians of the Galaxy -- also at 1080p and High settings. 

On our Shadow of the Tomb Raider test (1080p with Highest settings), however, it dropped to 46fps. When we dialed back the detail settings to High, the Victus 15 averaged 53fps. It was able to surpass 60fps only when we dropped the settings to Low, where it averaged 73fps. (It got close at Medium settings, with an average frame rate of 58fps.) 

Gaming laptops rarely, if ever, deliver long battery life, so all we are looking for from such a machine is a passable runtime. And the Victus 15 delivers just that. It lasted for nearly 6.5 hours on our demanding streaming video battery-drain test, which placed it in the top half of the other budget gaming laptops we are using for comparison in this review. Don't plan on getting anywhere near that if you're gaming, though. 

HP Victus 15 gaming laptop in profile
Matt Elliott/CNET

Plastic chassis, dim display

There's certainly a limit to its 3D performance -- not a surprise with an $800 gaming laptop that's frequently on sale for less than $600. The laptop's design doesn't overcome its budget price, either. The all-plastic, all-black body is a bit flimsy but not too bulky. It's a hair less than an inch thick and weighs just over 5 pounds. The display hinge isn't quite tight enough, causing the display to wobble at the slightest nudge. Some flex can be felt with the plastic keyboard deck under your fingers when you are typing and particularly when mashing keys during a game. The plastic lid protecting the display also flexes a bit too much for my comfort.

HP Victus 15 gaming laptop at a angle showing the display
Matt Elliott/CNET

The keyboard feels cramped because HP decided to squeeze in a number pad. The keys have snappy response but lack RGB backlighting, a fun feature offered on nearly every gaming laptop. I wasn't expecting per-key or even multizone RGB lighting, but the Victus 15 offers neither R nor G nor B -- nor any other color than white. You get the bare minimum of keyboard backlight -- one-level white lighting.

HP Victus 15 gaming laptop with keyboard backlighting
Matt Elliott/CNET

The display offers a crisp, full-HD image across the 15.6-inch panel along with a speedy 144Hz refresh rate but is rated for only 250 nits of brightness. That's typical of budget laptops, but I measured a peak brightness of only 220 nits. Games and images looked a bit dull, even at max brightness. The 720p webcam, too, is underwhelming. It produces a grainy, poorly balanced image compared with that of 1080p cams that have quickly become the norm. 

Affordable fun for a first gaming laptop

Do you remember your first car? Unless you were born into the 1%, it was likely on the level of a Ford Taurus that could receive a dent or two without your parents getting upset. It's also likely you recall that dented Taurus fondly. You made great memories in that car, because you and your friends had the ability to cruise around without a parent at the wheel. The Victus 15 is that beloved Ford Taurus. It's not the sleekest or fastest gaming laptop, but it's an inexpensive rig that you can afford right now. You could keep saving for a pricier gaming laptop that would deliver greater gaming capabilities and more bells and whistles than the Victus 15, but the Victus 15 will let you start making fond memories online with your friends right now.

The Victus 15 can regularly be found on sale at Best Buy for less than $600. For first-time gamers, it makes sense at this price. If it's selling at its full price of $800, however, then budget gaming laptops in the form of the Acer Nitro 5 or Dell G15 are better buys. Or you could check out this RTX 3050-based Victus 15 model available directly from HP that is regularly discounted. Each cost less than $1,000 (and can be frequently found discounted closer to $800) and feature RTX 3050 or RTX 3060 graphics for better 3D gaming performance than the Victus 15 and its aging GTX 1650 GPU.

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Geekbench 5 (multicore)

Dell G16 7620 GSeries 12,520Acer Nitro 5 AN517-42 8,987Dell G15 5520 GSeries 8,932Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 8,443HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop 6,766Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15ARH7 6,252
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R23 (multicore)

Dell G16 7620 GSeries 17,942Dell G15 5520 GSeries 13,694Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 13,583Acer Nitro 5 AN517-42 12,870Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15ARH7 10,192HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop 9,718
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Wild Life Extreme

Dell G16 7620 GSeries 18,004Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 16,510Acer Nitro 5 AN517-42 15,895Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15ARH7 11,020Dell G15 5520 GSeries 10,285HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop 6,779
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Guardians of the Galaxy (High @1920 x 1080)

Dell G16 7620 GSeries 123Acer Nitro 5 AN517-42 114Dell G15 5520 GSeries 84Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15ARH7 76Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 71HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop 61
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Online streaming battery drain test

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15ARH7 488Acer Nitro 5 AN517-42 477HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop 377Dell G15 5520 GSeries 307Dell G16 7620 GSeries 287Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 277
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System Configurations

HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2GHz Intel Core i5-12450H; 8GB DDR4 3,200MHz RAM; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU; 512GB SSD
Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-12500H; 16GB DDR4 3,200MHz RAM; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU; 512GB SSD
Dell G15 5520 GSeries Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-12500H; 8GB DDR5 4,800MHz RAM; 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU; 256GB SSD
Acer Nitro 5 AN517-42 Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 3.3GHz AMD Ryzen 7 6800H with Radeon Graphics; 16GB DDR5 4,800MHz RAM; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU; 1TB SSD
Dell G16 7620 GSeries Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-127000H; 16GB DDR5 4,800MHz RAM; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU; 512GB SSD
Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15ARH7 Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 3.3GHz AMD Ryzen 5 6600H with Radeon Graphics; 8GB DDR5 4,800MHz RAM; 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU; 256GB SSD