HP Omen X 2S Review: It Takes Two to Tango
HP has been pretty bold with its Omen range and the top of the line Omen X got an update where the company added a second display. Now having two displays on a laptop does sound interesting and can even have its advantages, but there’s nothing new about it. Asus has done it with the ZenBook and then there is also the more recently launched ZenBook Pro Duo. But the new Omen X 2S is one of the only dual-screened laptops aimed specifically at gamers.
Now the secondary touchscreen sits right above the keyboard and one can use it to have a constant eye on your Discord or Twitch chats or even check your hardware vitals. I’ll talk more about this in a bit, but let’s check out the other features.
Overall the machine looks like a pretty good gaming laptop. It isn’t the slimmest one out there, but still feels sleek enough to carry around in a backpack. The design did remind me of the Pavilion Gaming notebook refresh that I reviewed earlier this year with a matte black finish all around.
There is a distinct ‘X’ pattern on the lid with an RGB LED-lit Omen logo. Since the keyboard has been moved to the bottom, the trackpad is on the right side and can take a few days to get used to. There are plenty of ports too, including three USB 3.0 Type-A connections, a Thunderbolt USB-C port, Ethernet and a full-sized HDMI apart from the standard headphones and charging ports. The power adapter is heavy, which isn’t surprising, but HP seems to have made an attempt to offer a slim profile with rounded edges.
There is no compromise on power as it is loaded with high-performance hardware. It comes with the 9th-gen Intel Core i7 six-core processor option with up to 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU. And if you think that this isn’t enough, you can even go for a Core i9 processor. There is plenty of storage as well, with two 512GB super-fast SSD drives paired together in a RAID 0 configuration which can be upscaled to two 1TB drives.
The gaming experience is satisfying, especially since it comes with a 144Hz G-Sync 1080p display. It is bright and smooth but somehow feels a bit dull in terms of colour reproduction and contrast, compared to other premium gaming laptops.
When it comes to playing games though, the Omen X 2S does not disappoint. Games like PUBG and Fortnite can easily run around 100 fps at the highest settings while Rise of Tomb Raider saw 60-70 fps at ultra settings. CPU temperatures went up to 75 to 85 Celsius under load, and heavy benchmark testing pushed it to over 90 degrees Celsius which is surprising since HP is said to be using a liquid metal thermal compound on the CPU, which should help in dissipating heat better than regular thermal paste.
Despite having a forward-facing keyboard though, the key travel is decent and offers nice feedback. As with most gaming notebooks, you get the option of customising the lighting effects. The touchpad sitting on the right bottom edge is soft and it feels good to use, but the left and right buttons felt mushy and a bit unnatural.
So let’s get to the highlight feature. The secondary display does exactly what it sounds like. It is basically an extension of the main display so you can drag and drop almost anything. For instance, you could be writing articles on the main display, while WhatsApp Web is active on the bottom so you can keep an eye on your messages. Or maybe have Spotify in case you need to quickly jump through your playlists while hunting down enemies on the main screen. Since it is a touchscreen, you don’t even need to pull down your cursor. You could even bring down important information like maps or certain instructions down to the bottom screen while gaming.
I particularly found HP’s Omen Command Center somewhat useful on the secondary display, especially while playing games. I could easily see the vitals of the laptop like thermals, increase or decrease fan speeds, turn on the performance mode and so on. Apart from that, the secondary display can also be used as a Numpad, although I didn’t find it very intuitive as I prefer physical keys, especially when punching in numbers.
Honestly speaking, while the secondary display is a value addition, there are a few shortcomings. First of all, HP has put a large glossy glass panel which is a bit deceiving as the actual display is only in the middle, measuring around 6-inches. And because of that, the keyboard goes all the way down, hence no place to rest your wrists. If you are planning to use the secondary screen for chats, be ready to squint a lot as text looks really tiny.
I didn’t expect a lot in the battery department, considering the power-hungry hardware topped up with that second display. I got about 2 hours of battery life with the brightness set to 50 percent and with the second display turned off. So make sure you keep the power brick handy.
So is this worth the money? The Omen X 2S is clearly a unique gaming notebook and offers the flaunt value one might be looking for. It’s a good attempt at bringing something new to the market, but the concept is still fresh and definitely needs some more work. As a gaming notebook alone, you won’t find yourself complaining over the performance. Having said that, at its premium price, there are some really good options out there including the Alienware as well as options from Acer and Asus.