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HP Omen Review: Voodoo DNA brings grace and style to gaming laptops

Gordon Mah Ung | Dec. 11, 2014
This fast, stylish laptop carries Voodoo's legacy into a new generation of gaming laptops, HP's first since it dissolved the boutique builder several years ago.

Pure luxury
Some of the choices HP made are simply luxury, though. Gamers don't need touchscreens, but the Omen has a ten-point touch digitizer over its display. The 15.6-inch panel itself is an IPS screen that HP rates at a 72-percent color gamut. I found no glaring weaknesses in color banding nor other issues after running it through a few test patterns. Light leakage was also fairly well contained.

The 1920x1080 resolution may seem low in the age of 4K laptops, but HP says it kept the resolution at a pedestrian one to reduce power consumption. Also, HP said, most gamers don't play above 1920x1080 resolution even if the monitor supports it.

Also in the luxury pile is the 16GB of DDR3/1600 and the 512GB M.2 SSD. We're not complaining about either in the unit, but it does push up the price. The M.2 is a welcome change, as the newer storage interface finally breaks the mSATA limit on laptops that we've lived with for the last few years. The Samsung M.2 unit, for example, in the Omen gave me read and write speeds of 746MB/s and 671MB/s compared to the 496MB/s reads and 254MB/s writes of the mSATA drive in the Razer Blade Pro.

As reviewed, the unit PC World received cost $2,100. HP actually has nine different builds--I'll get into discussing which one is right to buy later. Right now the more important features of any gaming notebook are the bread and butter parts: The CPU and GPU that HP uses across the models.

Bread and butter
For compute grunt HP picks a quad-core Intel Core i7 4710HQ part using Intel's Haswell micro-architecture. More importantly for a gaming notebook are the graphics, which are handled by a GeForce GTX 860M. To keep us confused, Nvidia actually makes two different versions of the 860M. One uses the older Kepler architecture, while the one in the HP features the more power-friendly and faster Maxwell architecture. HP also makes the Omen available with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM for the GPU.

To see what the Omen was made of, I compared it to the 2014 model of the Razer Blade Pro. Spec for spec, the two gaming laptops are very close, with the 17-inch Razer Blade Pro featuring one step down CPU and the same Maxwell-based GeForce GTX 860M, albeit with 2GB of RAM onboard.

I ran both through 3DMark, Tomb Raider and BioShock: Infinite. Though the Omen was slightly faster, I'd say it's a wash, with both near-even.

I could run another few benchmark graphs, but since both laptops are nearly identical in specs, it's not going to change much. But if you want another chart as proof, here it is. 


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