With PC makers introducing new upgrades thanks to the arrival of more powerful 10th-gen Intel mobile CPUs, HP recently updated its gaming portfolio introducing two new models. While the Pavilion Gaming gets a new 16-inch model, the flagship Omen series added a new sleek looking 15-inch model. Now I’ve liked what HP has done in the past with its Omen lineup especially with the top-of-the-line Omen X it launched a couple of years back.
The new Omen 15 is claimed to be one of the most portable gaming notebooks, and while that’s not entirely true, it does look sleek. The Omen series has seen a more flamboyant design in the past having angular lines and lighting all around, however the new Omen 15 doesn’t really look like a gaming notebook. In fact it reminds me of last year’s Pavilion Gaming series from HP that was promoted to be a machine that could fit in your work as well as gaming environments.
MUTED YET STEALTHY LOOKS
The notebook comes in this stealthy black finish with a very clean look and a new shiny diamond logo on the lid. There are no flashy RGB lights except for the keyboard and overall the design feels very minimalist and toned down. I am not saying that it's a bad approach, but in my opinion it feels like HP is no longer placing the Omen branding as an all-out gaming machine. The main lower chassis comes with a metal finish and a neat ‘O15’ branding on the keyboard deck.
It is not the same case with the lid though, as it is really flimsy and wobbles even when you are using the laptop on a table. There is a noticeable amount of flex and overall I was really disappointed by how badly this has been implemented. Probably the reason for that is the 180-degree flat hinge design that allows the lid to lay flat, which to me sounds pointless. Another area of concern is the weight of this machine. While the company ‘s claims of the Omen 15 offering the smallest footprint among 15-inch gaming laptops holds true, it isn't the lightest machine having a weight of 2.36kg.
Having said that, once you open the laptop, things look good. HP offers three-sided narrow bezels around the display and you can get a Full-HD (1920 x 1080) resolution going up to 300Hz of refresh rate along with Nvidia G-Sync, which is excellent for gamers. I received the 144Hz version, which is still quite up to the mark in my books. It is an IPS panel and offers 300-nits of brightness and 72-percent NTSC and 90% sRGB colour gamut coverage. It isn’t the brightest or the punchiest panel when compared to other gaming notebooks, but I think at its asking cost the panel is not bad at all. The matte finish on the display does help in keeping reflections at bay and I was pretty satisfied with the overall performance and responsiveness.
PORTS ARE APLENTY
HP hasn’t sacrificed on the ports and I was happy to see the port selection. The notebook comes with a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support, three USB-A ports, Ethernet, an HDMI, Mini DisplayPort, and a headphone/mic jack. The notebook uses a standard barrel charging pin and additionally there is an SD card reader which is excellent and would be appreciated by creative professionals.
The keyboard is sort of a mix bag here. HP has gone for pretty standard keys which are mostly quiet, probably to address the fact that you can use it while you are at work. There isn’t any physical feedback for the actuation, like most laptop keyboards these days, although the key travel is pretty good. There is also a good amount of spacing, mainly due to the omission of a numpad. This also allowed HP to add some shortcut keys as well as full-sized arrow keys, a rare sight on laptops these days. Writing long articles is easy on this keyboard, but what restricts you is the extremely sharp finish on the edge of the keyboard deck. It would just dig into my wrists, forcing me to type in a slightly awkward and raised position.
There is RGB lighting under the keyboard, and this is the only area where you would see them. Sadly, these have limited functionality as there are no effects when compared to the ones offered by other gaming brands. The only option you get is to have a four-zone lighting setup or switch them off. In my case I just set it to a single colour all over which looked less distracting and more pleasing to the eyes.
As for the trackpad, I didn’t use it all that much as I relied on my mouse for gaming, but it is pretty good and responsive. It also felt large enough for daily workloads.
GREAT PERFORMANCE WITH CONTROLLED THERMALS
Now as for core performance, HP sent over a unit that was loaded with the 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor clocked at 2.6GHz (up to 5GHz) along with 16GB of DDR4-2933 RAM, and 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD. You can get the notebook with up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU which means that you can run all the latest, top of the line games on this machine. The unit that I reviewed included the more modest GeForce GTX 1650Ti with 4GB VRAM. This particular unit costs Rs 1,20,999 while the top of the line variant goes up to Rs 1,70,999.
Performance on the machine was pretty much up to my expectations and the notebook easily glides through most tasks. Like most of the laptops that I test, I first used the Omen 15 for my daily office work that includes about 15 to 20 Chrome tabs, a bit of Photoshop, music on Spotify and some videos on YouTube. I was pretty productive all day and didn’t notice any issues on the machine. Stressing the CPU with some benchmarks and video rendering, I noticed that while the CPU does reach its marketed TDP of 45W, it doesn’t really hit the 5GHz Turbo boost speeds. As for the GPU, the GTX 1650Ti is a pretty good chip for most games and while you can play AAA titles, you won't be able to max out on the graphics settings. For that, I would suggest the top of the line model with the RTX 2070 GPU.
HP has done a good job with the thermals as the entire keyboard remained cool for the most part while gaming. It does get a little warm in the center, but overall it isn’t unbearably hot. There is noticeable fan noise under heavy loads as it exhausts hot air from the behind, below the lid of the notebook. The Omen Command center software is also quite helpful to control fan speeds, or you can just set it to auto so the machine can adjust fan speeds on its own. Notably, HP has implemented a considerably wider fin design to offer more effective heat dissipation. In terms of storage performance, the 1TB Samsung SSD performs rather well offering claimed sequential read and write speeds of 3500MB/s and 3000MB/s and I was able to verify those using CrystalDiskMark 7. Lastly, audio performance. The stereo speakers are tuned by Bang and Olufsen and the quality is just about average. Although they should be good for your gaming sessions provided you are in a quiet room, I would still recommend a good gaming headset or external speakers.
Speaking of which, the company is also selling the X1000 gaming headset and the Omen Vector gaming mouse for customers in India to complement the new Omen and Pavilion gaming range. The X1000 is the company’s first wireless 2.4GHz headset offering 7.1 virtual surround sound and connectivity options for PC, PS4, and the Nintendo Switch dock using a USB wireless dongle that is hidden under a removable plate on the left ear cup. HP claims a battery life of 20 hours before you need to charge it using the micro USB port. The Omen Vector mouse comes with RGB lighting and an Omen Radar 3 sensor with up to 16,000 DPI sensitivity. I had a few days with the products and I found the mouse to be pretty solid, although I wasn’t entirely happy with the overall construction of the headset.
The HP Omen 15 is not your average gaming notebook. It is subtle, and minimalistic in terms of design, and the company seems to be moving away from the spunky and flamboyant looks that you see on most modern gaming notebooks. Not that it's a bad thing, in fact it serves well for someone who doesn’t want a flashy notebook, yet has enough power to squeeze in a few sessions of Fortnite during coffee breaks. While I can’t get over the flimsy lid, I think the Omen 15 is a great gaming notebook. Is it the best priced? Well, you could get similar configurations from competitive brands like ASUS and MSI, but go for the Omen 15 if you don’t care about gaming aesthetics in general.