23 December 2016

REVIEW: HP Omen 4K Gaming Laptop

Good Omens.

PC gamers these days don't know they're born. Back in our day, gaming on a PC required a wardrobe sized computer and several thousand fans cooling it all down. Today, gamers are enjoying group play and tournaments in Starbucks as their laptops are just as capable... quite like the one we were sent from HP. We review the Omen 4K Gaming Laptop.

First, the aesthetics: this is a damn fine looking laptop, wrapped in matt black with deep red accents. Black and red seem to be the colours of choice with HP's Omen range, which also includes desktop computers and gaming accessories such as mice. On that note; there are actually several versions of the Omen laptop, all of which feature either 15 or 17 inch screens. We were sent model number 15-ax011na which, as far as we can tell, is possibly the best of the bunch.

Here are the most attention-grabbing stats: as the name suggests, the screen is indeed 4K, boasting a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. Good God, it's crisp. This is the first laptop we've ever seen with a 4K screen, and the benefits are instantly noticeable – not just for gaming, but for something as simple as web browsing. It's nice and bright, too, and the pre-installed Windows 10 looks great. Ours came with a special 'Omen' background image as well, which married together the whole package nicely.

On the inside (of the 15-ax011na) you get an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor, helped along by a very welcome 16GB of RAM. And, for the gamers, there is a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M, to make even the heaviest battle situations run smoothly. So, as you might have guessed, using this day in day out for simply word processing and streaming Netflix would be a massive waste. Mind you, Netflix looked bloody good!

Storage wise, you get a boost there, too. Built in to our model (other versions slightly differ) was a 1TB SATA hard drive, and also a 256GB solid state drive. That's basically like having a dedicated drive just for gaming info; one that can be read from and written to far quicker than a traditional drive. Again, this is all geared toward gaming. Oh, as are the Bang & Olufsen crafted speakers, which do indeed reproduce a decent sound quality (although which might be wasted, as gamers tend to don headphones, right?).

But this won't just be used for gaming. The HP Omen 4K Gaming Laptop is still an excellent everyday computer, with ours weighing in at a mere 2.2kg. Obviously one of the 15 inch models will be easier to lug around than the 17 inchers, but the Omen range seems to weigh no more than ordinary, less-powerful, laptops. We've been using ours for gaming sessions at night, but also just for work stuff and YouTube during the day. The processor, RAM, and glorious screen work together to make all tasks a real pleasure.

And the keys are backlit red. That was actually the thing that impressed us the most about the HP Omen 4K Gaming Laptop – that was before we downloaded some games. Sitting in a coffee shop and typing on this, with those fiery keys glowing beneath your fingertips, is pretty awesome. It was nice to know that our laptop could beat up all the other laptops in the place.

Here's the catch: all that power and all those aggressive looks come at a price. The HP Omen 4K Gaming Laptop 15-ax011na costs £1199, so twice as much as the average workhorse computer. Is it worth it? Well, if you genuinely are looking for a gaming laptop that doesn't require you to build it yourself first, yes it most definitely is. You'll enjoy the performance and relish in that 4K screen – something that, outside of a laptop – could cost you nearly a grand anyway.

If you're just shopping for a new laptop, maybe not – unless you can fork out that much. You really are getting what you pay for here, and if you need a machine that does everything you could possibly imagine beyond gaming, like music and video editing, then it will definitely be a good purchase. If you're only writing in coffee shops and streaming a bit of Amazon Video, save that cash, bud. Just be aware that there will be laptops out there that could beat up yours. Jus' sayin'.


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