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HP Omen 15 (2017) review: A good laptop that made some bad decisions

I’m torn over the HP Omen 15.

Like the larger HP Omen 17 we reviewed (and heartily recommended) in late 2017, the Omen 15 isn’t the flashiest notebook around, nor the fastest. It doesn’t stand out from the wider crowd of gaming laptops with spectacular features. But nevertheless, it’s a solid, attractive all-around gaming notebook that’s light enough to actually carry with you. That’s a rare combination in gaming notebook

Yet a few puzzling design decisions in the specific configuration we’re reviewing tarnish its luster somewhat. One aspect might be a complete show-stopper depending on how you use your gaming laptop. The HP Omen 15 serves as a strong reminder that yes, the configuration you choose when buying a PC can matter deeply.

Let’s dig in!

HP Omen 15 specs, features, and price

The Omen 15t gaming UHD (as this specific variant is formally known) is available with several customization options on HP’s website. The base configuration includes an Intel Core i7-7700HQ, a GeForce GTX 1050, 16GB of RAM, a 120Hz 1080p IPS display, and a 1TB hard drive paired with a 128GB NVMe drive for $1,100. That’s a very solid offering for the price! But if you need something more, every aspect of the machine can be changed except for the processor and memory. That includes details like the operating system and networking hardware.

hp omen 15 4 Brad Chacos/IDG

The HP Omen 15 we’re reviewing represents one of the higher-end configurations available.

  • CPU: Core i7-7700HQ
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4/2400
  • Storage: 2TB Seagate 5400rpm hard drive, 256GB Toshiba NVMe M.2 SSD
  • Wireless: Intel dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Display: 15.6-inch 3840×2160 (4K) IPS with G-Sync
  • Ports: 3x USB 3, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, SD card reader, ethernet, microphone jack, headphone jack, lock slot
  • Weight: 5.76 pounds, or 7.74 pounds with power brick
  • Dimensions: 15.3 x 10.85 x 0.98 inches
  • Webcam: 1080p IR webcam with dual-array digital microphone (supports Windows Hello biometric authentication)
  • Price: $1,100 baseline, $1,740 as configured

The specs largely align with what you’ll find in many gaming notebooks, delivering plenty of prowess in gaming and productivity alike. The upgraded webcam includes an infrared sensor to support Windows Hello biometric authentication. Like I said: It’s a smart, solid all-around gaming laptop. A few puzzling hardware choices in this model leap out, however—like the decision to include a pokey 5,400rpm hard drive alongside a speedy, yet small 256GB NVMe boot drive. Talk about a night-and-day performance difference!

Another puzzler: HP’s configuration page lists the graphics card as a “6GB GeForce GTX 1060,” leading you to believe it’s the full-fat mobile GPU. But a quick dive into the Windows device manager shows the hardware is a GTX 1060 Max-Q part, instead. Nvidia’s Max-Q tech tunes hardware and software to create more energy-efficient versions of their namesake GPUs, albeit with some loss in performance. Happily, as we’ve discovered in the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (and will see later in this review), the Max-Q version of the GTX 1060 trails its beefier cousin by only a few frames and stands as a damned fine 1080p gaming option. Still, this potential confusion is worth pointing out. We asked HP for clarification, but the company was unable to provide any. 

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