Depending on your bent of mind, a Hummer H1 is either a glorious beast or an impractical monstrosity. The HP Omen X is exactly that kind of laptop. The Hummer H1 is too big, too powerful and simply impractical on today’s roads. The HP Omen X is exactly the same. It’s too big, too powerful and impractical for today’s gamer. But as with the Hummer, there is a market for a beast like this.
For a few mad ones out there, that impracticality has appeal, a machine like this is indeed glorious in its extravagance, and that’s who this review is for. Is the HP Omen X extravagant enough for you to want it?
If you’re looking for the best portable gaming machine, just drop by the nearest MSI store and pick up an MSI GS65 Stealth on your way out. If not, you may proceed.
The Omen X flies in the face of everything we take for granted from laptops these days. It’s as thick as my arm (I am quite skinny, though), heavier than a newborn child and as unwieldy as an armful of cats. This laptop is portable only in the sense that when compared to a desktop, it can be moved with relative ease.
When you see a laptop this bulky, you expect it to be powerful. All that space can’t possibly have gone to waste, right? And on that front, there’s little reason to worry. The laptop packs in some of the most powerful laptop hardware around and has features to match. But there are a couple of caveats.
First, there’s the CPU. It’s powerful, but it’s also last year’s best. CPUs available today are significantly faster and more powerful. Then there’s that “mechanical” keyboard, which feels more like a marketing gimmick than a worthwhile add-on.
When it comes to the Omen X, the real question isn’t whether it’s worth it, it’s about why you want this massive, impractical beast to begin with. If you have the reason, and the money, rest assured that you're not making a mistake. Personally, I'm hard-pressed to find a reason for recommending this beast.
VR? That’s how HP is positioning the Omen X, but remember, VR setups are usually static, and in such a case, a similarly-priced desktop will be far more powerful and effective. Also, HP themselves offer a far more enticing backpack PC with swappable batteries for exactly such a scenario.
Gaming? Let me put it this way: Between a 2 kg gaming laptop that costs Rs 2,00,000 offering 80-90 percent of the performance of the Omen, and the Omen, which weighs 4.57 kg and costs Rs 3,36,000, which would you pick? Oh, and the 2 kg one also offers twice the battery life. Follow up questions, can you really tell the difference between 80 fps and 90 fps?
3D rendering and video editing? Again, the CPU is the let-down here. The quad-core chip is simply outclassed by Intel’s newer, faster, 6-core 8th gen CPUs. You can also get PCs with more powerful Quaddro GPUs for 3D and video workloads, and they’ll be cheaper. To add to that, the 17-inch screen on the Omen X is optimised for gaming, not image quality.
Bragging rights? There’s nothing to brag about. Yes, it’s got great hardware, but so do a lot of other laptops. It doesn’t have the best display or the best CPU. It features a very generous amount of storage, but it’s not the fastest storage around. The frame-rates are great, but we’ve seen better.
The Hummer H1 is unique, it makes a statement just by existing. The Omen X doesn’t do that.
In fact, you’re better off splurging on a custom machine from a company like Origin PC, it'll at least have more "street cred."
I really do like the Omen X, especially its aesthetic, but I can't convince myself I'll ever need one.
Build and design: 9/10
If I haven’t said it enough already, the HP Omen X is massive. Its 330 W power brick alone is so large that it could dwarf a Mac Mini. Thankfully, despite its bulk, the laptop is very well built. This does not feel like a laptop that will fall apart very easily.
The other thing that strikes you is that the laptop is very lovely and has a more mature aesthetic. It’s very angular and gets that gaming laptop vibe across without the need for garish lighting effects and other unnecessary accoutrements.
The lid and the rear look particularly fetching, especially the Lamborghini-esque rear vents. Surprisingly, even the underside looks nice.
At almost 1.5-inches, the machine is thick. However, I found the thickness and size made it comfortable for typing. The palm rest extends to quite some extent beyond the keyboard and the height meant that, at least on my desk, my arms could rest on the device.
Given the size of the machine, I didn’t expect adequate cooling to be a problem, and it wasn’t, but not in the way I expected. More on that in the performance section.
I/O is also very generous and ports are spread all around the device, including its rear.
Keyboard and trackpad: 6.5/10
Now HP claims that the keyboard on the Omen X is a mechanical one. One would assume that by “mechanical” keyboard, HP is referring to the much-loved Cherry MX keys or other similar mechanical key switches. For the Omen X, however, this is not the case.
The keys are mechanical in that they’re not using a traditional rubber-dome switch, but that doesn't mean that they have the feel of a real mechanical keyboard. By the same logic, Apple's fickle keyboard on the MacBook is also a mechanical one. I'm not trying to diss HP for its choice of words here, but what I am doing is dampening your expectations.
To me, the keys just felt weird. They weren't as bad as the awful ones on the Acer Predator Triton 700, but they came pretty close. The keys just felt mushy and I’ve no idea why the keys make a “click” sound when pressed. That sound has been deliberately added, possibly to make the keyboard sound mechanical. And again, the question is why. Clicky keyboards are primarily meant for people who type a lot and want audible feedback. It's not meant for gamers. Why would we want to wake our neighbours with our frenzied, late-night gaming sessions?
As with the Triton 700, I have a feeling that these “mechanical” keys were added simply to satisfy some sort of marketing checklist. They’re not objectively better than the regular key switches you’d find in regular gaming laptops.
The trackpad is fine. Nothing notable to report here. It works, it’s precise, it tracks well and Windows gestures work fine. You’re also rarely going to be using it since this laptop is likely going to take pride of place on your desk and will have a mouse of some sort attached to it at all times.
HP was very generous with the hardware of the machine. You get an Intel Core i7-7820HK CPU – the ‘K’ in the name means its unlocked and can be overclocked, 32 GB of DDR4 RAM @ 2,800 MHz, a whopping 2 TB of SSD storage (2x NVMe drives in RAID 0 for even more ridiculous performance) AND a 1 TB HDD for when, for whatever reason, you run out of space on the SSDs. Oh, and the graphical grunt is provided by the Nvidia GTX 1080, which comes with 8 GB of GDDR5 memory.
If that wasn’t enough, you also get a 17-inch FHD display that supports a refresh rate of 144 Hz and G-Sync. G-Sync is an Nvidia technology that reduces visual tearing in games.
I/O consists of an HDMI 2.0a port, 1x Mini DP port, 2x USB-C slots rated at Thunderbolt 3, 3x USB 3.1 Type-A ports, 1x 3.5 mm headphone jack, 1x 3.5 mm combo jack and 1x 3.5 mm stereo mic in. There’s also a LAN port (RJ45) and an FHD webcam that can handle 30 fps recording. There’s also an SD card slot.
As is evident from the specs, the only real downside here is the CPU. It’s a powerful chip, but with 8th gen Core i7 and Core i9 chips already out and offering more cores at much higher clock speeds. They're just... better.
Losing out on 8th gen CPUs also means that you lose out on H.265 optimisations (helpful when editing video).
The 17-inch FHD 144 Hz G-Sync display is simply a pleasure to game on. At the distance at which you’d game on this laptop, that vast expanse of real estate simply fills your visual field. The high refresh rate paired with the powerful GTX 1080 and G-Sync means that gaming is buttery smooth. There’s no unnecessary motion blur and there’s no visual tearing. As a gamer, the only issue with the display I have is that it doesn't get too bright. This is borne out by our tests, which point to a maximum brightness of just 247 nits. An average laptop is expected to hit at least 300 nits, and good ones easily hit 400.
The relatively low brightness could be a by-product of the high refresh-rate display, and since I don't expect to be lugging this machine about too much, I don't think it's the brightness is much of an issue.
Video editors and other professionals, be warned, this isn’t the most colour-accurate of displays (85 percent sRGB). It’s only accurate enough for gamers and with this machine, that’s all that should matter.
Performance on this machine was… interesting. For the most part, the laptop did amazingly well, as it should. The Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU is no joke and despite being old, that 7820HK CPU is still quite something.
I had no issues running every game I could think of at maximum settings on that display. As far as I can tell, not one game fell below the magical 60 fps mark. On the gaming front, you’re sorted. It must be noted that in Rise of the Tomb Raider, for some reason, performance was well below expectations and the device was outperformed by laptops that should have been considerably less powerful.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the CPU’s limitations start popping up in any benchmark involving intense workloads. The Cinebench R15 score was very low (753 on the Omen vs 1100 on the GS65)) and the video conversion time was the highest we’ve yet seen, both of which are indicative of relatively poor CPU performance. For a machine this expensive, this is unacceptable. The Ultrabook-esque GS65 converted our test video in 37 minutes. The Omen X did it in 50.
The problem, as mentioned earlier, is that laptops weighing and costing a fraction of the Omen X’s weight and price are almost matching the Omen X in terms of performance. Take the MSI GS65 Stealth vs the Omen X. Far Cry 5: 78 fps vs 95 fps, Tomb Raider: 78 fps vs 89 fps, Doom: 150 fps vs 201 fps, Blender: 197 seconds vs 185 seconds (lower is better), and so on. There is a difference, but I don't think the difference justifies the price or weight penalty.
The following graph highlights the performance difference relative to the Omen X.
Thermal throttling wasn’t really a problem. The laptop could maintain over 3 GHz on the CPU under full load and surprisingly, the fans never got too loud. Even more surprisingly, the CPU still managed to run very hot, hitting 91 degrees Celsius under load. I think I would have been happier with a slightly louder fan and slightly cooler CPU.
Overclocking the CPU was quite easy with the included Omen software. All the tools are at your disposal within Windows itself and you won’t need to reboot to test and apply changes.
Audio quality was decent enough, but given the size of the machine, I was expecting a whole lot more than what I heard. The addition of a woofer or two, or just louder speakers, would have made a world of a difference. The speakers are loud, just not wholesome enough, the 13-inch MacBook Pro sounds better.
Battery Life: 4/10
Battery life has never been great in gaming laptops, but the sheer bulk of the Omen X had me expecting miracles. I didn’t get a miracle, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the device lasting between 3-4 hours in general use and a little less than 3 hours in our PCMark 8 battery life test. For a gaming laptop, this is very good.
While gaming on battery and with Nvidia Battery Boost enabled, I managed about 50 minutes in Doom. This is slightly higher than the 40-minute average we expect from a gaming laptop.
Again, I’d like to point out that the MSI GS65 aced both these tests, offering nearly 4 hrs of battery life in our PCMark 8 test and about 90 minutes of continuous gaming while on battery.
Verdict and price in India
Why do you want this beast? If you have an answer to that question, you have more than enough reason to pick it up. If not, don’t bother.
It’s a great laptop, but it’s large, heavy and unwieldy. Its performance is great, but you can get similar performance at 70 percent of the price.
It looks great and it has a great display, but it’s neither the best-looking laptop nor does it have the best display we’ve seen on a gaming laptop.
I do think that it’s a beast of a machine, but unlike the Hummer, I don't think it's ridiculous enough to be spectacular.