HP Omen 15 review: A nicely built, stylish and speedy gaming laptop

The Hewlett Packard corporation’s reach encompasses business laptops and budget consumer fare. But HP has long sought customers at the style level with first its Envy and now Omen ranges. Also see: Best laptops 2015/2016.

The HP Omen is a 15in gaming portable among company like Alienware, a lifestyle games machine with performance to match. It includes an Nvidia GTX 860 with 4 GB memory – not cutting-edge but plenty fast for recent games. Its processor is the heavy-hitting 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ, while storage is solid-state and PCIe-attached just like the best.

What really sets the HP Omen 15 apart is its unique shape. It continues the angular theme set by others, only builds the main chassis as an inverted and truncated pyramid; sides are bevelled at a sharp rake, right up to and into the lid frame. Viewed on the desk, it appears to be levitating. Also see: Best PC games of 2015 so far.

Some other idiosyncratic touches: red lights pulsating through perforated patches left and right on the deck. And a screen hinge that resembles a nickel-plated gun barrel, complete with steel temper colours decorating each end, as if the HP Omen 15 had 300 ºC experience.

That incendiary theme continues in the coal-red glow from rear exhaust grilles, safely lit by cool red LEDs. Like other circa-20 mm gaming laptops, the HP Omen 15 does run a little warmer and noisier than regular machines, but not unduly so.

Angled sides pushes all I/O ports to the back – handy for a cleaner desk but tedious for plugging routines. Choose from four USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort and HDMI, plus headset jack. Missing in action is ethernet; and of course the HP Omen 15 has no optical drive. Also see: Best gaming laptops 2015/2016.

At 104 mm the trackpad is the widest yet. The backlit keyboard is remarkable too - keys are low set with reduced travel but what took time to acquaint was dead-central chassis placement. Most 15in Windows laptops add a numberpad to fill the wider deck, awkwardly offsetting keyboard far too left.

Here HP has added a row of macro buttons, P1-6, down the left, pushing keyboard unusually rightwards. Our fingers frequently misaligned by one key.

Storage is a 256 GB M.2 SSD, four-lane PCIe but v2.0 so just behind the curve. Wi-Fi is throttled to pre-2007 standards by single-band 11n. See all laptop reviews.

HP Omen 15 review

HP Omen 15 review: Performance

Fast quad-core and PCIe SSD make the HP Omen 15 a quick laptop, scoring 3096 points in PCMark 8 Home, rising to 3494 points with GPGPU assistance. Geekbench scored it 3446 points, or 12,936 all cores.

The IPS display has potential, but is marred by an untreated mirror finish and gimmicky touch control, particularly redundant on a gaming laptop. The HP Omen 15 almost covered full sRGB gamut (97 percent), and had 580:1 contrast ratio. Colour accuracy was so-so, averaged at 4.0 Delta E. But the backlight is cheap PWM, meaning flicker. Like most touchy laptops, the panel wobbles disconcertingly whenever tapped. Also see: Laptop Advisor.

Gaming is the key metric here, and as portended the Omen 15 coped well, averaging 53 fps even in Metro: Last Light (full-HD, High). Extreme detail in Batman: Arkham City at native res allowed 59 fps; Ultimate settings in Tomb Raider gave a more controvertible 32 fps.

Battery life from the sealed 58 Wh battery was just 3 hr 58 min.

Read next: 26 most anticpated games of 2015/2016.

HP Omen 15-5001na: Specs

  • 15.6-inch (1920 x 1080) 141 ppi gloss IPS touchscreen
  • Windows 8.1
  • 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7-4710MQ (3.5 GHz Turbo) 4C, 8T
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 860 with 4 GB GDR5 RAM + Intel HD Graphics 4600
  • 8 GB 1600 MHz DR3 RAM
  • 256 GB M.2 PCIe 2.0 x4 SSD (Samsung XP941)
  • USB ethernet adaptor
  • 802.11n single-band 2x2 MIMO (Intel Wireless-N 7260)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 4x USB 3.0
  • Mini DisplayPort, HDMI
  • SDXC card slot
  • stereo speakers
  • 2.1 Mp webcam, dual array mics
  • 3.5 mm headset jack
  • UK tiled keyboard with adjustable colour backlight
  • buttonless trackpad 140 x 65 mm
  • 58 Wh lithium-ion battery, non-removable
  • 120 W mains charger with IEC C6 inlet
  • 382 x 249 x 20.8 mm
  • 2150 g
  • 15.6-inch (1920 x 1080) 141 ppi gloss IPS touchscreen
  • Windows 8.1
  • 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7-4710MQ (3.5 GHz Turbo) 4C, 8T
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 860 with 4 GB GDR5 RAM + Intel HD Graphics 4600
  • 8 GB 1600 MHz DR3 RAM
  • 256 GB M.2 PCIe 2.0 x4 SSD (Samsung XP941)
  • USB ethernet adaptor
  • 802.11n single-band 2x2 MIMO (Intel Wireless-N 7260)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 4x USB 3.0
  • Mini DisplayPort, HDMI
  • SDXC card slot
  • stereo speakers
  • 2.1 Mp webcam, dual array mics
  • 3.5 mm headset jack
  • UK tiled keyboard with adjustable colour backlight
  • buttonless trackpad 140 x 65 mm
  • 58 Wh lithium-ion battery, non-removable
  • 120 W mains charger with IEC C6 inlet
  • 382 x 249 x 20.8 mm
  • 2150 g

OUR VERDICT

The shiny touchscreen is a pointless ostentation raising price and weight besides sapping power, and network connectivity is limited. Otherwise the HP Omen 15 is a nicely built, stylish and speedy gaming laptop.

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