The Omen X Laptop is HP’s first laptop with the high-end Omen X branding, and with the launch, HP is going after the enthusiast gaming market.
“The DNA of the Omen brand is to purpose build a device—and over-build and over-engineer —to deliver uncompromised gaming performance,” HP Vice President of Customer Experience and Portfolio Strategy Mike Nash said of the laptop, which can be configured with up to a quad-core Intel 7th Generation Core i7 7820HK processor with a 2.9GHz base speed that can go up to 3.9GHz on Turbo Boost. HP is also pairing the CPU with desktop-class Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics with 8GB GDDR5X video RAM.
“The real focus is on how we can take some of the performance and design characteristics that were previously thought to be only possible on a high-end [gaming] desktop and bring it into a more portable device in the case of the Omen X Laptop,” Nash enthusiastically explained behind the mobile gaming rig’s high-end specifications. The top-tier configuration also ships with 32GB DDR4 RAM, two 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 format SSD along with a 1TB HDD and a 4K resolution display that supports Nvidia G-Sync for stutter-free performance. This configuration costs $3,699, but the Omen X Laptop starts at $1,999.
“We keep learning more and more from our customers, from our partners, from the experiences of building new products,” said Nash in a conference call. “And the whole idea is to constantly push to make things even better.” For the performance gaming market, designated by Omen X versus the standard Omen label, that means giving users more performance, customizations and expandability. HP is incorporating feedback from performance gamers through its sponsorship of eSports and game tournaments, Nash explained. In fact, some of the ideas pioneered for gaming, like how HP took the idea behind the Omen X Compact Desktop, a wearable gaming PC designed for virtual reality experiences, are also showing up in enterprise.
“We pulled inspiration from across the entire gaming portfolio to create the most advanced gaming laptop we’ve ever offered,” Nash said, and the lessons that HP learned is that enthusiast gamers want overclocking functionality, advanced thermals to dissipate heat generated from powerful hardware, and customizations such as lighting effects.
With the Omen X, HP is continuing the shift to premium materials that it introduced on this year’s launch of the Omen laptop, including the use of aluminum on the keyboard deck and assembly.
The black aluminum-clad laptop comes with red chassis lighting. To match the red color scheme of the Omen brand, HP made the controversial decision to paint the tongues inside each of the standard USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports on the side of the laptop red instead of the blue that’s typically used across the industry. Nash explained that HP consciously chose to focus on decision aesthetics.
Additionally, a single-access panel on the bottom that’s secured by Phillips screws gives users access to storage and RAM for easy upgrades. CPU and GPU isn’t upgradeable, but since the Omen X Laptop supports Thunderbolt 3, Nash said you can buy HP’s Omen Accelerator, a GPU desktop dock, to connect a newer or more powerful graphics card in the future to the system.
For enthusiasts, performance is the top priority, and the Omen X comes with some of the fastest and latest components on the market today. HP also included some useful software to help you tune the hardware to your own liking, including changing the keyboard lighting color and overclocking.
All the powerful hardware is bound to generate a lot of heat, and to accommodate for high performance, Nash said the Omen X Laptop comes with a multi-fan, multi-heatpipe, multi-exhaust setup “to reduce the risk of the system throttling itself to ensure that you’ve got the maximum headroom for overclocking.” This allows the system to handle massive multiplayer games or serious multitasking, Nash said. There’s even factory overclocked GPUs with the GeForce 1070 and 1080, along with memory overclocking and support for Intel XMP.
Compared to the Omen Laptop, which only supported up to a GeForce 1070 GPU, the more advanced components on the Omen X Laptop required a brand new thermal system. To accomplish this, the Omen X Laptop did away with the optical drive to accommodate even larger fans, delivering up to 61.7 percent increase airflow than the Omen Laptop. Air is pulled in from vents on the underside of the laptop and there are vapor chambers and four 3.5mm heatpipes that aid in transferring heat to the four corner-mounted radiators, Nash said. Cool air is pulled in from the bottom and then passes over the radiator and out through the rear and sides, away from the gamer, allowing for the system to handle all the heat generated from all the overclocking options.
Along with dual storage, the Omen X Laptop’s storage supports RAID0 configurations for fast performance and loading.
The preloaded Omen Command Center software will help you setup overclocking and monitor performance, prioritize gaming traffic with a network booster option and control keyboard and chassis lighting configurations. The keyboard supports eight customizable lighting zones.
Through the Omen Command Center, you can overclock the CPU in real-time rather than having to do this at the BIOS level. With network traffic control, you can place your game traffic over a more reliable hardwired Ethernet connection and choose to route traffic for non-critical applications over Wi-Fi instead.
For game play, the mechanical keyboard offers deep 2.5mm key travel — the ideal key travel on Ultrabooks is around 1.2 to 1.3mm — and a standard keyboard layout, so you don’t need to adjust your finger memory to adapt to the Omen X Laptop. Nash said that the keyboard is very clicky, similar to blue switches. Every key’s backlight can be changed individually as well, and end key rollover helps prevent ghosting. Additionally, the space bar key is oversized on this laptop to accommodate gamers. Macros can be configured with the programmable column of keys to the left of the keyboard. The Omen Command Center can be pulled up either via its dedicated keyboard key or through software.
To get gamers more immersed into the game, the Omen X Laptop comes with dual headphone jacks with built-in discrete amplifiers as well as a top-firing speaker bar that comes with dual speakers tuned by Bang & Olufsen for loud, robust sounds. With DTS-X technology, the Omen X can simulate surround sound through any headset you plug in. Users can configure the system with either a 1080p FHD screen with fast refresh rates or a high resolution 4K panel. Both options come with support for Nvidia’s G-Sync technology for stutter-free gameplay.
And although the Omen X Laptop’s panel doesn’t natively support HDR output, there is HDR support for compatible external monitors through the built-in HDMI port. The system can handle up to three displays—two external monitors alongside the panel on the laptop.
All configurations of the Omen X come VR-ready with Intel’s quad-core 7th Generation Kaby Lake processor and Nvidia’s GeForce 1070 on the standard configuration.
The base model comes with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor along with a GeForce 1070 GPU, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 1080p panel, 256 GB SSD and 1TB HDD for $1,999. The top configuration goes up to $3,699 with a 4K G-Sync panel with support for 95 percent of the sGRB color gamut. The FHD panel supports 72 percent of the color gamut, which Nash said is ideal for showing true whites on the screen. There is also a middle configuration at $2,349 that comes with an i7-770HQ processor, 32GB DDR4 RAM, 4K screen, 256GB SSD and 2TB HDD.
All configurations come with three USB Type-A ports, two Thunderbolt 3 over USB 3.1 Type-C ports, an HDMI 2.0a port with HDR support, Mini DisplayPort, RJ45 port, multi-format media card reader and dual audio jacks. There is also a power jack that accommodates a barrel charging plug. Windows Hello isn’t supported on this generation.
Ahead of the conference call with Mike Nash, I had a chance to preview the Omen X Laptop at HP’s Palo Alto, CA headquarters. There, HP VP of Design Stacy Wolff showed off the screen of the Omen X, highlighting its unique cabinet-style hinge that was borrowed from the Spectre 13 Laptop. Although the hinge on the Omen X Laptop is similar, it uses a different technology inside and no longer requires piston. Going with this hinge design, Wolff informed me, allowed HP to support ports and maximize the internal space for powerful components while keeping the overall volume of the notebook as compact as possible.
Given the desktop performance that’s packed into the Omen X Laptop, this system clocks in at 10.69 pounds. The system measure 1.43 × 16.73 × 12.88 inches. Because this notebook focuses on maximum performance, Nash said it isn’t based off of Nvidia’s Max-Q reference design.