Hands-on with the new HP Omen gaming series
Gamers are typically more likely to spend money on new and more powerful hardware than the average consumer and have thus become a target demographic for major manufacturers. Companies like Acer, Lenovo, Dell, Asus, and MSI have entire lineups dedicated to gaming and now HP will be joining the fray by expanding upon its existing Omen series.
The new SKUs currently span two notebooks (15.6-inch and 17.3-inch sizes) and a desktop tower with added accessories for a launch in the next few weeks. The devices made an appearance at Computex in the 1200 to 1600 Euro price range. Both notebook sizes can be outfitted with matte FHD or 4K displays while the larger size gets optional Intel Real Sense 3D.
The design of the new Omen models is relatively light especially for a gaming series, but these particular units are targeting casual and mainstream gamers instead of hardcore users. The surfaces are a soft-touch finish with a carbon fiber-like look while the chassis is compact and slim with a solid impression.
The keyboard will use red backlighting, albeit only with just one level of brightness. The secondary Function keys for Volume Up/Down, Mute, and others have priority over F1 to F12. The small Arrow keys, however, may irk some users and there are no programmable Macro keys to speak of.
The integrated Bang and Olufsen speakers provide decent sound quality, but even HP admits that most gamers resort to headsets no matter how good the built-in solution may be. Connectivity features include HDMI 2.0 for 4K output and users can equip up to a GTX 965M with 4 GB GDDR5 VRAM. Two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, and an Ethernet port round up the list of features. A single combo 3.5 mm audio jack is provided instead of separate jacks for higher quality headphones and microphones.
As for serviceability, it will be possible to remove the bottom panel. Unfortunately, HP says this will be difficult as access to internal components was not made to be easy on both sizes.
Meanwhile, the "Phoenix" desktop will offer up to a GTX 1080 GPU and an optional liquid cooling solution despite the relatively small chassis. The front LED lighting can be customized by the user as well to respond to system vitals.
HP has hinted at more Omen models to come this August with possible showcases at GamesCom. Review models are expected to come in a few weeks time, so stay tuned for our full take of the 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch Omen models.
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