The gaming-oriented design continues with six programmable buttons running down the left side of the keyboard. The full, island-style keyboard itself has the usual colored backlighting, but more importantly, it has a 1.5mm travel that should give gamers the responsiveness and feedback they crave. A wide touchpad sits in front of the keyboard.
Gamers can tweak the computer's gaming settings and analyze performance through the Omen Central Ops collection of utilities. You can use HP Omen Control to customize key assignments, as well as the lighting for the keyboard and the Beats Audio speakers that run up and down the full depth of either side of the keyboard panel. There's even a utility to program the optional Omen Gaming Mouse x9000 ($60), which is expected to be available in November.
Another thoughtful note: The ports run along the back of the unit to minimize clutter. They include AC, four SuperSpeed USB 3.0, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, and an audio jack. An HP USB Ethernet adapter is bundled with the Omen, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are optional.
I couldn't run full benchmarks during our briefing, but I did get to play Borderlands, a fast-paced game. As I ran, reloaded, and fired, I saw no lag or jitter. If anything, I was the lag--I died quickly.
The Omen will be available for preorder starting Tuesday, with units expected to ship in a few weeks, according to HP. The entry-level system will cost $1500 for the Intel core i7 CPU with 8GB of DDR3 RAM, the Nvidia GTX 860M GPU with 2GB of DDR5 RAM, and a 128GB mSATA SSD. A $1600 model will get a 256GB SSD with PCIe, and a $1700 model will have 4GB of DDR5 memory for the GPU. A top-of-the-line model, whose price wasn't quite set, will rock 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and 4GB of DDR5 RAM for the Nvidia GPU.
HP lost precious street cred when it laid Voodoo to rest. Does the Omen sound good to you--good enough to buy? Let us know in the comments.
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