HP Omen 15 Review | IGN

You don’t have to spend several grand on a gaming laptop to get an enjoyable gaming experience. Need proof? The HP Omen laptop I’ve been testing for the last few weeks should suffice. There’s nothing extra special or fancy about the look of the Omen, but for a $1,250 laptop, there doesn’t need to be. 

Instead, you’re getting a respectable – and portable – gaming rig for just a little more than a MacBook Air. Heck, it even has an RTX 3060 GPU to keep up with your gaming needs. 

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I always try to enter testing a new laptop without any bias based on specs or price, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I expected mediocre performance from the Omen. That is until I started using it. 

Specs

Here are the specifications of the HP Omen I’ve been testing: 

  • Model: HP Omen (15t-ek100)
  • Display: 15.6-inch FHD 144Hz (1920 x 1080)
  • Processor: 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10300H 2.5GHz (8M cache, 4.5GHz Max Turbo)
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB GDDR6 memory
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4 2933MHz
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Webcam: 720p
  • Ports: 1 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, 1 x miniDisplayPort 1.4, 3 x USB SuperSpeed Type-A ports, 1 x HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack, 1 x SD Card Reader, 1 x Ethernet
  • Connectivity: WiFi 6 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5
  • Dimensions: 14.09 x 9.44 x 0.9-inches (WxDxH)
  • Weight: 5.4-pounds
  • Price: $1,249.99

There are a couple of build options you can customize, if, for example, an Intel Core i5 isn’t exactly screaming your name. For another $330 you can bump up the CPU to an Intel Core i7-10870H and the GPU up to an RTX 3070, putting you just over the $1,500 mark all-in. Of course, you can add more to the build by doubling the memory, upgrading to Windows 10 Pro, upgrading to a QHD display or adding more storage. 

Instead of sending me a high-end review sample with all of the bells and whistles, HP did something I respect: Send me the entry-level build, save for 16GB of memory over the base 8GB. It’s a $50 upgrade, taking the build from $1,199 to $1,249 and something I’d imagine most are willing to invest in. 

HP Omen 15 – Design

As I said at the start, there’s nothing noteworthy about the overall look of the Omen. It’s a black laptop with a shiny Omen logo on the lid. The only other splash of color, beyond the Intel and Nvidia stickers, is the red ink used on the keyboard’s keys. Actually, the entire keyboard lights up red thanks to the single-zone backlight. 

The 15.6-inch display is surrounded by slim bezels on both sides, with a slightly thicker trim on the top to make room for the 720p camera. As is the case with most laptop webcams, the Omen’s camera is good enough to get the job done. In other words, you’re not going to get compliments on the quality of your video calls. 

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There are plenty of ports that line either side of the laptop’s deck. On the right side is a Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port, a miniDisplayPort 1.4, and two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports. On the opposite side is where a full-size SD card reader is found, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack, an HDMI port, another USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, and, finally, a gigabit Ethernet port. 

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The full-size keyboard doesn’t span the entire width of the housing. Instead, there’s a small space to the right of the keyboard where you’ll find dedicated arrow keys, along with a 9-key cluster, including common keys like Page Up/Down but also adding a shortcut key to the calculator app. 

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I enjoyed typing on the Omen’s keyboard. There’s very little movement in the keys, and they aren’t overly loud, so it’s unlikely you’ll annoy your roommates or partner while they’re working (or trying to sleep) in the room around the corner. 

I do want to call out one aspect of the keyboard that I feel reflects the thought that HP put into the Omen as a gaming laptop. I can’t recall if I’ve ever noticed it before, but not only did HP put small bumps on the F and J keys to help your fingers find your place, but they also added a small bump to the W key. I’ve found gaming on chiclet-style keyboards often leads to misplacing my fingers at times, but with the W key practically calling out to my middle finger, that never occurred during my testing. 

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The trackpad is below the keyboard, but it’s not quite centered with either the keyboard or with the Omen’s housing. It’s lined up slightly to the right of the spacebar, which makes it look somewhat centered but also reminds me of those pictures that show a beautiful tile pattern broken up by one tile that’s out of place. 

As for the overall size and weight, the Omen is deceivingly not light. Until I looked at the specifications, I had no clue it weighed over 5 pounds. To be exact, it weighs 5.4-pounds and measures 14.09 x 9.44 x 0.9-inches (WxDxH). It’s not overly heavy, by any means, I just didn’t expect it to weigh that much. 

HP Omen 15 – Performance and gaming

Powering the Omen I tested is an Intel Core i5-10300H, a Nvidia RTX 3060 Laptop GPU, 16GB of 2933Mhz memory, and 512GB of SSD storage. The 144Hz screen looks clear, and colors aren’t overly saturated. Instead, they’re more life-like, and one could even argue, muted. 

As I’ve already hinted at a few times, performance on the Omen is surprisingly good. Benchmarks don’t tell the full story, but they are part of the story, so here’s a quick look at how the Omen compares to the Acer Predator Triton 300 SE and the Asus TUF Dash F15

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As you can see in the chart, the Omen stayed in lockstep with both comparisons. Keep in mind, they both had an Intel Core i7 processor, while the Omen I tested is using an i5. 

As for actually spending some time behind the screen and keyboard gaming, the Omen kept up with Battlefield V at Max Fidelity settings, averaging 105 fps. I’ve become slightly obsessed with Knockout City (thanks Xbox Game Pass), and maxed out the display’s refresh rate with an average of 144 fps while playing. 

Finally, when cruising the streets in Need for Speed, the Omen averaged 101 fps. All three of those scores are impressive, and while Knockout City isn’t the most resource-intensive game, the other two are – and the Omen handled both of them just fine. You could easily get to the display’s 144Hz refresh rate if you spend some time adjusting the graphics settings for each game. I’d rather max out the graphics and play at a slightly lower refresh rate, but you do you. 

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It makes sense to double the memory to 16GB, as HP did with the unit it sent me, and it also makes sense to double the amount of storage. The base 512GB of storage is enough for a game or two, but if you’re using this for everyday tasks, video or photo editing, and gaming, you’ll find that the SSD fills up pretty fast. 

HP Omen 15 – Battery life

If there’s one negative about the HP Omen, it would be battery life. Using PCMark 10’s battery life benchmark, the Omen lasted 2 hours and 17 minutes before powering down. That’s enough to watch a movie on a flight, but don’t expect to get through a workday on a single charge. 

For reference, the Acer Predator Triton 300 SE and Asus TUF Dash F15 powered through 6:30 and 9:10, respectively. 

One feature the Omen has that I grew to appreciate during my time testing is fast charging. Using the included power adapter you can charge the battery from zero to 50% in 30 minutes, but with the catch that the laptop has to be powered down. Even with that requirement, the battery does top-off at a steady pace when it’s powered on. 

HP Omen 15 – Software

The Omen comes with Windows 10 Home, or you can customize the build and get Windows 10 Pro. Outside of the default extras that Microsoft installs, there’s not a terrible amount of added software. You will have to deal with McAfee’s LiveSafe software, which is annoying and constantly reminds you that you need to pay for a subscription. It’s easily uninstalled, however, and frankly, at $1,200 I’m willing to give the Omen a small pass on installing bloatware like McAfee. 

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As for gaming-specific software, HP’s Omen Gaming Hub comes preinstalled. It’s the app you’ll use to do things like view device stats, underplot the CPU to decrease power use without impacting performance, or force the Omen to use only the RTX 3060 GPU instead of letting Windows automatically switch between Intel’s UHD graphics and the RTX 3060. 

Outside of a few helpful areas in the app, it feels much more like HP’s own App Store, or, well, actually a coupon store that’s constantly marketing some sort of game or program. I haven’t experienced any push alerts from the app, so it has that going for it.

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