reader comments 18
HP is stepping up its Omen gaming line ahead of E3 next week with a slew of updates and additions. The company left no stone unturned this year, updating its 15- and 17-inch Omen laptops, introducing a new Omen desktop and updated peripherals, and debuting a new GPU accelerator and a ready-to-go model of its prototype VR backpack PC. All the new devices have a consistent aesthetic that isn’t just eye-catching, but also practical for gamers, and the devices that are upgrades have tried to fix the pain-points of previous models.
Updating Omen for 2017
HP’s first 15-inch Omen laptop debuted in 2014, and over time customers have told the company what they want. For this particular upgrade, HP users told the company they wanted more ports, expansion options, and VR capabilities. The new 15-inch and 17-inch Omen laptops do what they can to address these issues. Both of them have been slightly redesigned with an edgier look and an expanded keyboard to include full-sized arrow keys, and both have a single-access bottom panel that lifts off the underside of the chassis. This gives users access to the HDD, SSD, and RAM so they can expand and upgrade as they please; the 17-inch has an optical drive option as well. The new laptops have a number of storage options from the start, including PCIe SSD, HDD plus SSD, and HDD, and the 15-inch model supports up to 16GB of RAM, while the 17-inch model supports up to 32GB of RAM.
Both models also have larger fans inside, allowing for better airflow throughout the chassis so the device can perform more efficiently. The laptops are also getting a GPU bump, with the 15-inch model supporting up to an Nvidia GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX550, and the 17-inch model supporting up to an Nvidia GTX 1070 or an AMD RX580 GPU. They’ll both have the latest Intel processors, but there are no Ryzen CPUs included in the model options. HP didn’t rule out the inclusion of Ryzen CPUs in the future, but if you want one immediately, you won’t find it in the Omen notebooks.
Each new Omen laptop will have three USB Type-A ports, one USB Type-C port with optional Thunderbolt, an SD Card reader, an HDMI port, mini Display port, an Ethernet port, and an audio combo jack. The USB Type-C and mini Display port are new to the Omen laptops, and we’re happy to see their inclusion but would have liked the USB Type-C port to be Thunderbolt as standard.
The new Omen desktop looks quite different from its predecessor, now with a design that’s more in line with gaming devices rather than regular tower PCs. The Omen logo brands the front of the tower and glows red, as do sharply cut angles beneath it. The entire desktop has more angles and slices on it, as if it had been carved from the rectangular shape of the previous Omen PC. Aside from giving the PC a more “hardcore” look, the design is more functional, too: edge vents have been added for better heat distribution, along with the option for liquid cooling, and users can access the PC’s internals without extra tools. Angled, swappable hard drive bays are at the top of the case, and cables are hidden nicely for a clean look. In total, there are 10 USB ports on the Omen desktop split between the top and bottom of the tower, including two USB Type-C ports.
As with most gaming desktops, you can build this Omen to be as powerful as you want right out of the box. It’ll support Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, as well as AMD Ryzen CPUs for those who want the latest from AMD. Graphics options include up to dual Nvidia GTX 1080Ti or AMD RX580, and some configurations will be VR-ready. You can have up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and a number of storage options include PCIe, HDD, and SSD.
The Omen notebooks and the Omen desktops all have the Omen Command Center software that HP designed to be a device-performance monitor for gamers. One of the more useful things you can do through the Command Center is prioritize gaming over other tasks to reduce latency. The Command Center basically tells the device to place your gaming traffic first in the line of tasks the PC has to complete, so the experience isn’t bogged down by the many background tasks and updates the PC makes while you’re gaming.
To accompany the newly updated Omen machines, HP revealed updated peripherals as well, including a mouse, keyboard, and a pair of monitors. The improved gaming mouse has adjustable weights, a 12,000 DPI optical sensor, mechanical buttons, and an on-the-fly setting. The new mechanical keyboard has anti-ghost technology, N-key rollover, individually backlit keys, and adjustable legs. The 25-inch and 27-inch monitors differ not only in size but in quality. The 25-inch gaming monitor has a TN FHD panel with AMD’s FreeSync, a 1ms response time, and 144Hz refresh rate. The 27-inch monitor has a TN QHD panel with Nvidia GSync, a 1ms response time, and a 165Hz refresh rate. The addition of gaming monitors and updates to existing peripherals show that HP is trying hard to expand the Omen family with accessories that aren’t just afterthoughts, but rather viable options for hardcore gamers.
Immersive new products
In addition to traditional gaming hardware, HP announced two alternative gaming devices: the Omen GPU accelerator and the Omen Compact Desktop. The GPU accelerator is designed for customers who dabble in gaming but don’t work a gaming device with the proper graphics power to run all the games they’d want to play.
showed off VR machines you could wear on your person, freeing you (kind of) from the stationary, cord-filled mess of typical VR systems. According to HP, users who tried its VR backpack dev kit complained that there wasn’t enough heat distribution, the device was too loud, and it needed more ports. They also wanted it to fulfill a purpose that was more versatile than just a portable VR machine.
So now the company is calling the device a compact desktop, primarily because you don’t have to use it only while strapped into a VR experience. The Omen Compact Desktop can be used both for VR gaming and regular computing thanks to its docking station, which is a simple little stand upon which you place the brick when it’s not on your back. The dock also holds some ports: five USB Type-A ports, one USB Type-C port, an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, and a Display port. The Compact Desktop has a few more, including four USB Type-A ports, one Thunderbolt port, one HDMI port, one mini Display port, an audio combo jack, and one 12V Vive power-out port.
The Compact Desktop looks similar to the dev kit prototype we saw last year, but it follows the same new Omen aesthetic with sliced edges, strategically placed vents, and a glowing red Omen logo near its middle. HP says the device and its backpack accessory together weigh just 10 pounds, and the backpack has two pairs of 73Whr batteries as well. The desktop has its own battery, but the backpack’s pairs plus the machine’s internal battery all work together when you’re in the middle of a VR game. HP estimates one hour of life per pair, so the backpack accessory alone should give you two hours of gaming. The backpack has padded adjustable straps, an angled base positioned to move the heat from the machine away from your body, and a lower support structure to distribute weight more evenly.
HP hasn’t released how much the Compact Desktop and backpack package will cost, but we do know the desktop—with an Intel Core i7 processor, an 8GB GTX 1080 GPU, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB PCIe SSD, and the included dock—is $2,499. The backpack accessory alone is $599. The Omen GPU accelerator starts at $299 with no additional GPUs or storage, and HP hasn’t released pricing for more powerful configurations yet. The new Omen Desktop starts at $899, while the Omen 15 notebook starts at $999 and the Omen 17 notebook starts at $1,099.