At the very beginning of the summer, HP announced the redesign of its very recent Omen range, populated with gaming PCs. Among the new features was the brand new Omen 15 laptop, with its brand new case, an updated configuration and the promise of being compatible with Nvidia’s Max-Q standard. Usually, this type of machine is rather positioned on the very high end, but HP announces that this 15.6 inch is available from 1100 euros! The version we had in review displays 1800 euros on the label … and is currently on sale at 1470 euros on the HP site (and on Amazon for example). Could the American manufacturer have made an affordable Max-Q laptop PC? Let’s see!
Reworked lines, more aggressive design, a few metallic touches and (fake) carbon fibers, the new generation of HP Omen 15 contrasts radically with the older generation, very wise and sober. However, the red and black colors remain, as does the logo in the shape of a Maori mask, adorning the back of the screen.
Screen deployed, the black and bright red keyboard is revealed. And as soon as you turn on the machine, it blazes! All the keys are backlit with red except for Z, Q, S, D which stand out with their full red dress, illuminated in white.
Overall, the touch is good and the reactivity is pleasant. The large “Space” key is also welcome (often used for jumping in games), it falls well under the thumb. The only downside is that the size of the “Enter” key is not impressive enough for our taste. We often hit the top key (the *) in the first hours of play.
The present touchpad offers a small sliding surface, and two buttons separate from it. However, it is not intended to serve much. Indeed, connected to one of the machine’s three USB 3.0 sockets, a mouse for an external player will quickly become the preferred pointing tool on the Omen 15.
The rest of the connection consists of two video outputs (HDMI, mini DisplayPort), a network socket (the Wi-Fi module is also there), a USB Type-C port (not Thunderbolt 3 compatible), two jack sockets (microphone input and stereo output) and an SD card reader.
HP Omen 15: it has “Max-Q” only its GeForce
At the Omen event, HP claimed that the Omen 15 was a Max-Q Design laptop. But, let’s be clear, this device does not meet the specifications established by Nvidia. Its body looks nothing like that of Asus Zephyrus and other Acer Triton 700s. It is neither very thin nor super light!
You just have to pass it on the scale and the height rod to have the proof: the Omen 15 has a nice thickness of 2.8 cm and a weight – almost reasonable for a gamer – of 2.6 kilos. The same cannot be said of the diet which alone weighs almost 880 grams!
With such measurements, impossible to fight with equal arms against the 2 cm / 2.2 kilos of the Zephyrus and the 2.4 cm / 2.3 kilos of the Triton 700, the “real” Max-Q laptops. In fact, this machine has “Max-Q” only its Nvidia graphics chip, a GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q! A GeForce which, let us remember, operates at a lower operating frequency than that of the “classic” GTX 1060. It consumes and heats less, which allows it to slip into ultra-thin gaming laptops.
Thus, manufacturers seem to (well) have all the latitude to place these graphics chips at the frequencies revised downwards in their machines. Worse, HP does not show it on the technical sheets! Inattentive gamers can therefore be easily misled.
HP Omen 15: well, does it play anyway or not?
Far be it from us to demonize this GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q from Nvidia. In fact, it is quite capable of comfortably running games, in Full HD, on the 15.6-inch screen of the Omen. And as it is supported by an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor and 8 GB of DDR4 memory, the graphics chip is not lacking in terms of calculation and data to be processed.
According to our reviews and by comparing the average scores observed on other machines recently passed through our hands, the GTX 1060 Max-Q shows a performance loss of around 8 to 15% (on average) in games compared to its classic counterpart, with an equivalent amount of GDDR5 memory (6 GB here).
For example, in The Division in “High” mode slightly modified by us, the card manages to display 57.6 images per second (ips) on average (compared to almost 63.6 on the Aaby 15 of Gigabyte). In Rise of the Tomb Raider, all options fully configured, you get 63 fps in DX11 and 60.3 ips in DX12 (against 68 and 65.3 still on the Aero).
In the old titles, the Max-Q does as well as the “classic”, since we manage to obtain values varying between 172 and 245 fps depending on the complexity of the engines and the effects to be displayed.
In analytical review software, much more dependent on the rest of the hardware configuration, the Omen 15 manages to stand up to configurations with a classic GTX 1060. Even outperforms them at times.
A word on the on-board storage which consists of a 256 GB SSD (M.2 PCIe) and a 1 TB hard drive. The first is of very good quality and offers read and write speeds pretty mind-blowing. The second, meanwhile, is in the high middle of traditional hard disk drives.
Let’s finish with a word about the endurance of the machine. While this is not the first criteria that we scrutinize on a gaming laptop, we assess it here, as on all other nomadic machines. Well, we took it because the results are quite correct for a gaming machine.
In continuous video playback, maximum screen, Wi-Fi activated and connected, the Omen 15 (15-ce099nf) takes 2.5 hours. As part of a more versatile use (Internet surfing, image, video, processing text) with the screen set to a median brightness, the machine will last 3 hours 15 minutes and all without the presence of Optimus technology. Indeed, it can not be activated when the other flagship technology of Nvidia and specific to screens, the G-Sync, is present.
A correct and compatible G-Sync screen
The 15.6-inch mat screen runs on IPS panel, with a refresh rate of 120 Hz. of the screen according to the number of images per second generated by the card (120 Hz therefore 120 fps max.). This has two beneficial effects. The first is to limit the effects of tearing (image tearing) and, the second, absorb any sudden loss of images per second in games, without causing excessive visual disturbance.
On the technical level, the panel displays a barely satisfactory brightness of 312 cd / m2 on average, without too great a disparity between the upper, middle and lower zones. Quite rare on IPS, the contrast ratio, it bursts the ceiling since evaluated at 1219: 1.
On the colorimetric side, everything is pretty much right since we have not noticed any particular color dominant in our videos, photos and game sequences. Review, a mention “Pretty good” for the 15.6 inch screen of the HP Omen 15.
The undersides of the Omen
However, after observing various readings made during games or intense loading phases, we did not detect any phenomenon of throttling. Proof that the 42.6 dB caused by the fans is an evil (almost) necessary to play for hours… the wearing of headphones is highly recommended for delicate eardrums.
In temperature felt on the case, we measured a maximum of 31.9 ° C on the hotreview point of the palm rests and almost 48 ° C below the device. So limit the phases of play with the machine on your knees … unless you need to warm up.
Opening the machine also allowed us to note that, as announced by HP, it is possible to expand the RAM since a DDR4 slot remains empty. Also accessible, the machine’s SSD and hard drive for possible changes.