HP Omen 15 review: Is it worthy of the average gamer’s attention? We find out...
A gaming laptop for work? Or a business laptop for gaming? Whichever way you look at it, there’s a market for laptops that offer the right look for a professional setting while still packing enough gaming chops to hold their own against traditional gaming laptops, them with their outlandish RGB lighting and in-your-face-gamer design. The HP Omen 15 ticks off the boxes for this exact category – a gaming laptop that doesn’t look like one – but is it worthy of the average gamer’s attention?
Straight off the bat, the Omen 15 looks nothing like the Omens of before, with a sleek and minimalist, almost functional design that, save for a shiny diamond logo on the lid, doesn’t allude to its gaming aspirations. This is a laptop that won’t raise an eyebrow even in the most serious of board meetings. Heck, even the RGB lighting is limited to a four-zone lighting system on the keyboard and you can alter the color of each zone within the control software, with no special lighting effects beyond that. The metal finish around the keyboard and chassis gives the Omen 15 a sturdy feel, but it’s let down by the flimsy lid that has far too much flex for something that is priced this much. The flip side, quite literally, is that the hinge allows the lid to lay back flat, but I’d rather have had a sturdier hinge and lid instead. It’s got a small footprint for a laptop with a 15-inch display, courtesy the thin bezels on three sides of the display, but the 2.36kg weight is something you feel each day you lug it around!
Starting it up, you see the full HD IPS LCD display with a gamer-friendly refresh rate of 144Hz, 300-nits of brightness and 90% SRGB color gamut coverage, which essentially means it isn’t the brightest or most vibrant panel around, especially if used anywhere outdoors. The matte finish on the display helps rein in excessive reflections, which is good for a laptop in a work environment. It’s a responsive display to play games, watch movies on and the like, but don’t rely too much on the accompanying speakers. The Bang and Olufsen-tuned speakers can tend to be drowned out fairly easily, more so when the fans are spinning while gaming.
Ports are a plenty, with three regular USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI, Mini DisplayPort and a Type C port with support for the Thunderbolt 3 standard, plus an SD card reader that would endear this laptop to creative types. The old-school barrel charging pin feels a tad dated, though.
Truth be told, the keyboard threw me off initially. I mean, the keys are well spaced out and the key travel is decent, but the slight off-center position, the size of the keys and the layout had me tripping all over the keyboard…a lot! Of course, your mileage may vary, but I’m fairly comfortable switching between different laptops and it took me a fair bit longer to be typing at my regular speed on this one. On the point of comfort, the sharp edge of palm rest would dig into my wrists ever so often so that’s something you should check in person if you can. The trackpad is decent sized, but I suspect the gamers who might consider this laptop already have a favorite mouse lying around.
Despite its understated and toned-down gaming looks, a laptop in the Omen gaming series will live and die by its performance. The unit I had for review (Rs. 1,20,999) had a 10th generation Intel Core i7-10750H chop with 16GB of DDR4 memory and a 1TB NVMe M.2 Samsung SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650Ti graphics card with 4GB of video memory. That said, you can bump this configuration up to an RTX 2070 graphics chip (approximately Rs. 1.7 lakh).
With top-shelf internals such as these, the Omen 15 crunched through everyday work tasks and browsing without breaking a sweat. Running Forza Horizon 4, GTA V and Doom Eternal on the Omen 15 using default settings under the Command Center benefited with the high refresh rate panel, with the games regularly pushing 85-90fps even on high settings. If you’re really looking to play the latest titles, you’re going to want to spring for the RTX 2070 model, but the GTX 1650Ti handles most games well as long as you remember this is an entry-level graphics chip. Light to moderately heavy gaming is its sweet spot, and it can go into work and edit a 4K video comfortably as well. The most interesting thing to note is that while pushing the system with games and video rendering, the Omen 15 managed its thermals really well, and never once did I feel that the laptop was too hot to use. The fans spin up and cool the unit and the large vents all over exhaust the hot air out, so this is still strictly desktop-material, not lap-friendly. Battery life is middling, about 3.5 to 4 hours of use for everyday work and less than half of that while gaming.
So where does this leave the Omen 15? It walks the fine line between a laptop you can carry to work and then play a few titles (either at work, or at home, we’re not judging!). The Intel configurations are pricey, though, and the 1650Ti graphics is a bit too basic at the price. HP offers options with AMD Ryzen chips as well, which you could consider if you like what you see here.
Higlights: HP Omen 15
Pros: Performs well for medium to moderately heavy gaming and creaitive needs, good display, excellent heat management
Cons: Lid build quality, entry-level graphics at this price.
Price: Rs. 1,22,900 (as reviewed)
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar