HP Omen X: An affordable gaming-caliber laptop almost worth buying – Ars Technica

For over a decade, I have split my computer use into two discrete categories: highly mobile and highly powered. It’s traditionally been a two-device equation, at least with budgetary considerations in mind.

That use case hasn’t really changed, but my path to it has. Case in point: I can write and edit articles on my telephone now. That development alone required a marriage of power (CPU, RAM), efficiency (a lovely keyboard app), and stability (an in-browser editor that doesn’t crash, even when switching apps and tabs). That’s just the tip of the mobile productivity iceberg, in terms of keyboard-attached tablets, functional laptops, and so on.

I imagine I’m not the only person in that kind of professional boat, with productivity boosted by an office-minded app here, a convenient telnet app there, and so on. As you ponder your next major computer purchase, you may look at those facts—and at the size- and heat-reduction happening with major computer components—and feel a little freer about what you might buy next. Maybe, for example, you don’t want or need a super-slim profile on your computing device, but you still want something to lug around on occasion, as opposed to being trapped in an office.

That’s starting to become truly possible this year, especially in terms of the kind of raw 3D performance that separates the PC grown-ups from the console kiddies. Nvidia’s leading the way with notebook variants for its 1060, 1070, and 1080 graphics cards. These cards don’t have the letter “M” slapped on them, because while their performance is degraded from the desktop versions, the reduction is a lot less than it used to be. Short version: Notebook versions of these cards have the same (or possibly more) CUDA cores and only slightly reduced clock speeds.

HP wants in on this growing fray of unlocked, uncompromised gaming performance in the laptop space, and it’s trying to muscle in with a 1070-powered refresh of its Omen X laptop line. HP’s sales proposition is one of spending your money where it counts—performance and a brilliant 4K screen—and letting most other factors suffer in their wake. Initial-blush impressions were surprisingly good, but ongoing testing over the past few weeks have ultimately revealed a laptop that should send HP back to the engineering cave for another refresh.

While I don’t recommend this laptop, I wanted to offer impressions, because I’m hungry for a good gaming laptop—and I’m coming around to the compromises it may require. Just not, you know, these compromises.

You might need a new backpack

For starters, this is the largest laptop I’ve tested in some time.

Its 1.3″ depth extends almost entirely around its 16.4″ by 11″ base, with only slight tapering in the front, and HP hasn’t made room for an optical drive in that giant laptop body. The left and right sides offer three USB 3.0 ports in all, along with an Ethernet port, a full-sized SD card reader, and ports for both HDMI and Mini DisplayPort. Also, individual microphone and headphone jacks. The machine weighs in at about 7.2 lbs.

Oh, sorry, that’s not counting the massive 230W power supply, which measures 8″x4″0.85″ and weighs 1.65 lbs.

I was able to throw the laptop into a backpack in a pinch, but this hardware clearly isn’t gunning for any portability awards—and that’s not helped by the Omen X’s excesses in the length and width categories. The 17.1″ IPS screen is offset by giant bezels—specifically, 0.625″ on each side, 1.1″ on the top, and 1.4″ on the bottom.

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