HP Omen 15 (2020) full review

The HP Omen 15 is the latest gaming laptop from the global tech giant, and this machine needs to impress – the gaming laptop market is busier than ever and some of HP’s previous systems haven’t exactly set the world on fire.

Luckily, the Omen 15 gets off to a good start – its UK and US prices of £1,099 and $1,249 are competitive, it’s got a current-gen Nvidia graphics core and it has a new AMD processor that bolsters its work credentials.

It's an excellent combination for performance, but the Omen has issues elsewhere that hold it back from being a knock-out, such as the display and battery life. Note that this it the newer 'en' model rather than 'dh' which is the older style with a different hinge.

Design & Build

The new HP Omen 15 introduces a refreshed design. It’s more mature than previous generations – older machines were dominated by vast single-hinged screens, bases covered with RGB LEDs and lids littered with angles.

This new model is different: the dark grey anodized aluminium used throughout is smart and smooth and the air vents are discreet. There’s still bold design here, but it works well: the broad speaker grill uses an attractive geometric pattern, and the new Omen logo on the lid is a glowing, iridescent diamond.

HP Omen 15 design

There are three USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and a 10GB/s Type-C connection that supports DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 and charging. There's also mini-DisplayPort and HDMI outputs, an SD card reader and a Gigabit Ethernet socket. It’s easy to get inside, and the memory slots and the SSD are accessible.

There’s a 720p webcam, but no Windows Hello support. The Omen 15 doesn’t have a fingerprint reader and there’s no support for USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 with its 20GB/s connections. These features aren’t important for gaming, but they could have an impact for work tasks if you want a dual-purpose machine.

Build quality is sadly not great: the material between the hinges is flexible, and the display’s corners feel weak. The base is better, but the areas to the sides of the trackpad are rattly. A protective sleeve wouldn’t be a bad idea. This laptop isn’t svelte, either – it weighs 2.45kg and is almost 30mm thick once its rubber feet are included so looks can be deceiving.

Rivals are better in some departments. The Dell G5 Gaming 5500 weighs 2.34kg and is 25mm thick, and the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 weighs just 1.6kg and has an 18mm body alongside impressive build quality.

Keyboard & Trackpad

The HP Omen 15’s keyboard doesn’t have a number pad, which is a little disappointing on a 15.6in laptop, and the power button is awkwardly placed between the F12 and Delete buttons.

There are no shortcuts to alter the RGB LEDs and the lighting is only divided into four zones and there are no animated effects. The keyboard does have the full gamut of media functionality, full-size cursor keys and a button to open HP’s Command Center app, though.

HP Omen 15 2020 keyboard

The keys have a moderate 1.5mm of travel. The buttons are consistent and fast, their base is sturdy and they’re reasonably quiet. For mainstream gaming and hours of typing, they’re fine.

They do feel light, though, and they don’t have the crispness you can find elsewhere. The trackpad is large and smooth, but its buttons are slightly soft. For casual gaming and slower titles, it’s acceptable, but a gaming mouse will naturally be better.

The Dell G5 Gaming suffers similarly with its keyboard, but the Asus ROG Zephyrus is better than both – it includes superior typing quality and extra buttons.

Screen & Speakers

The HP Omen 15’s Full HD IPS display has 144Hz Nvidia G-Sync, which is a good specification for a mid-range gaming machine – it’ll ensure silky-smooth motion in single-player titles and eSports games.

Quality levels are middling. The brightness of 333 nits is fine for indoor use and OK for outside, but the black level of 0.36 nits is high. That leaves darker areas lacking depth, and it delivers a contrast ratio of 925:1. That’s low, and it means colours miss some vibrancy and nuance when compared to other panels.

HP Omen 15 2020 screen

The Delta E of 2.16 is good, but the colour temperature of 7,098K is cool, and the HP only renders 87% of the sRGB gamut. The backlight strength veers by 17% in the bottom-left corner, which isn’t good either

None of those colour figures are particularly problematic, but they do leave the Omen’s panel looking washed-out and underwhelming compared to some rivals.

The speakers have good volume and crisp mid-range sounds, so they’re acceptable for gaming. They don’t have much bass, though, and their top-end is too tinny.

Specs & Performance

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Ti has 6GB of GDDR6 memory and it’s got base and boost clocks of 1,455MHz and 1,590MHz. Positively, this isn’t a cut down Max-Q version, but it doesn’t have Ray-Tracing.

It’s joined by an AMD Ryzen 7 4800H processor, which has eight multi-threaded cores, a 4.2GHz Turbo peak and the stunning Zen 2 architecture. The specification is completed by 16GB of dual-channel memory, a 1TB Samsung PM981 SSD and future-proofed WiFi 6.

Overall, it's a very nice selection for the price.

HP Omen 15 2020 specs

In Far Cry New Dawn’s Ultra test, the HP’s average of 68fps is solid and it zipped through Wolfenstein Youngblood at 120fps without Ray-Tracing. The Omen 15 could only manage 32fps with that setting activated.

If you’re happy to eschew Ray-Tracing, the Omen will play top single-player games consistently at 60fps or beyond and it’ll run eSports titles at the speeds needed by the 144Hz display.

The big issue comes from the RTX 2060. It’s usually included in pricier notebooks – but in the UK the Dell with that GPU costs £1,099 and Acer's Nitro 5 is only £999 if a chunky 17in laptop is suitable. Dell includes an Intel CPU, but it hit 98fps in Wolfenstein with Ray-Tracing and scores 36,071 in the 3D Mark Sky Diver, which is 5,000 points beyond the HP.

The RTX 2060 isn’t always so affordable. In the US, the same Dell G5 costs $1,399. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is sold with AMD CPUs, but its RTX 2060 models cost £1,499 and $1,499.

AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800H processor is fantastic, especially at this price. Its Geekbench 5 multi-core score of 7,151 is almost 1,000 points beyond the popular Intel Core i7-10750H, and its PC Mark 10 score of 5,471 is better.

AMD’s chip is almost always faster than Intel’s competitors, which means the Omen delivers responsive performance in day-to-day tasks alongside more ability to handle tougher workloads. The SSD is good, too – its read and write speeds of 3,551MB/s and 2,843MB/s keep the Omen responsive.

HP Omem 15 battery life

The HP Omen 15 is a mediocre thermal performer, though, despite not being overly thin. Its internal temperatures are fine and it’s not noisy when tackling work tasks, but it’s too loud during games – a headset will mask the output, but the HP is louder than rivals.

The speaker grille becomes too hot, and the underside is warm and potentially uncomfortable if the machine is on your lap.

The battery is middling, too. In the video playback benchmark (720p looped at 120 nits), it lasts for just over five hours and it ran for four hours when working. It handles just two hours of gaming.

That latter figure is marginally better than the Dell, but the G5 is better in all other situations and the Asus lasted for ten hours. The Omen 15 isn’t awful here, but it won’t handle a whole day without a charge.  

Find out how we test laptops.

Price & Availability

There are two HP Omen 15 models available in the UK. The £1,099 machine reviewed here (15-en0008na) is the cheapest, and the £1,199 laptop upgrades the GPU to the RTX 2060. You'll typically find the older 'dh' model at many retailers but Amazon and Currys PC World both have this news 'en' model.

In the US, the model I’ve reviewed costs $1,249, and buyers have more options – the entry-level $999 laptop pairs the better RTX 2060 GPU with a weaker Core i5 CPU, and there are also machines that include GTX 1650 Ti graphics and both Ryzen 5 and Core i7 processors.

The US range tops out at $1,349 with a machine that pairs the RTX 2060 with an i7-10750H. It depends what kind of combination and price point you're after as to which is best.

I’ve mentioned that the RTX 2060 can occasionally be found at a good price, but some rivals also offer up the GTX 1660 Ti at solid prices, too.

The Dell G5 costs £1,049 in the UK and $1,199 in the US with that GPU, admittedly with a weaker Core i7 processor.

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 costs £1,099 when packaged with the GTX 1660 Ti and an AMD CPU, but it’s not available in this configuration in the US.

Check out some more alternatives in our best gaming laptop chart.

HP Omen 15 laptop

Verdict

The HP Omen 15 has a decent price that undercuts most competitors and it has a fantastic CPU, solid graphics performance, improved looks and good connectivity. If you need a laptop for work and play, it’s impressive.

The lower price does mean compromise, though. The screen and battery life are middling, the body could be stronger and the keyboard could be crisper.

If you’re in the UK, in particular, laptops with better graphics cores aren’t much more expensive, and in the US and UK you can get slimmer, lighter and more refined machines for only a little more, albeit usually with slower CPUs.

The HP Omen 15 is a powerful and reasonably well-balanced machine for work and play. However, you could be better off elsewhere, especially if you need something that’s more portable or if you’re not fussed about CPU performance.

Specs

HP Omen 15 (2020): Specs

  • Processor: 2.9GHz AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB
  • Memory: 16GB 3,200MHz DDR4
  • Screen: 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 IPS 144Hz Nvidia G-Sync
  • Storage: 1TB Samsung PM981 NVMe SSD
  • Ports: 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C/Thunderbolt 3/DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x miniDisplayPort, 1 x audio
  • Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ax WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Dimensions: 358 x 240 x mm
  • Weight: 2.45kg
  • Warranty: 1yr RTB

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