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HP Omen 17 (2020) review

A portable powerhouse that's incredibly competent

HP Omen 17
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Providing more than enough power to provide a great gaming experience, the HP Omen 17 excels at being a do-it-all home and play machine.

For

  • Wonderful performance and good companion software
  • Great quality, plus-sized screen
  • Robust build and sleek design

Against

  • 30-series laptops are on the horizon
  • A bit bulky
  • A little expensive

Two-minute review

The HP Omen 17 (2020) is a high-end gaming laptop that offers a quality, reliable and punchy way in to top levels of gaming within a portable machine. The big screen helps to set it apart from some of the competition, and HP offers a range of configurations that means the new Omen 17 could be an appealing choice for a variety of people.

It's a really good looking laptop too, which manages to strike both subtle and restrained notes, while still offering some more flashy design elements that we expect to see in gaming machine (we're talking RGB lighting and angular shapes), along with a stylish brushed metal chassis.

Unsurprisingly, the HP Omen 17 (2020) produces a really sound, smooth, and fun gaming experience. We've got to the stage that we know what to expect of a laptop toting a new Intel processor, and a 20-series Nvidia graphics card; we just know they'll crunch through games and play them all at pretty high levels of fidelity and smoothness. 

HP Omen 17

(Image credit: Future)

The HP Omen 17 is no exception to that, and the build we were sent epitomises the solid performance in games that we'd expect from a gaming laptop of 2020, not to mention a gaming laptop from HP's Omen range. No complaints and very enjoyable. 

It's also a very competent computer, generally: easy to type and use the touchpad, a big, clear, and roomy screen for work or productivity tasks, a screen that's clear and rich, and even the appearance of Bang & Olufsen speakers means it punches above its weight for built-in audio. 

The compromises are quite rare; it's a big and heavy machine, and also the battery life is, well, the battery life of a gaming laptop; i.e. not brilliant. It'll see you through a movie or a meeting or two running unplugged, but you'll soon have to treat this like a desktop and have it plugged in - though this is a 'desktop' PC that you can take with you.

The incoming Nvidia 30-series graphics cards aside for a moment, something like this RTX 2070-powered machine is probably just about the sweet spot for value for money, considering the actual price tag, and the experience you get. So, if you're looking for a quality gaming 17-inch laptop right now, then the HP Omen 17 is a fine choice and will serve you well for a fairly long while.

Spec Sheet

Here is the HP Omen 17 (2020) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-10750 (six-core, 5GHz boost)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070
RAM: 16GB RAM
Screen: 17.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) 144 Hz IPS anti-glare WLED-backlit
Storage: 512GB SSD & 1TB HDD
Optical drive: No
Ports: 1 x Thunderbolt USB-C (DisplayPort™ 1.4, HP Sleep and Charge); 3 x USB-A Type-A; 1 x HDMI 2.0a; 1 x headphone/microphone combo; 1 x SDcard reader; 1 x Ethernet
Camera: HP Wide Vision HD Camera with integrated dual array digital microphone
Weight: from 7.12lbs (3.23 kg)
Size: 15.94 x 11.22 x 1.18 inches (40.4 x 28.5 x 3 cm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

HP start selling the Omen 17 laptops from $1,100 list price in the US (with a 1660Ti graphics card), from £1,400 in the UK (with an RTX 2060 graphics card), and from $2,700 in Australia (with an RTX 2060 card). They are readily available in at least a couple of different configurations depending on where you are, too. Though if you're looking at a 17-inch gaming laptop in the year 2020, you'll probably want to aim for a ray-tracing capable machine. 

You might well also find that the 20-series Super cards are more prevalent in the Omen 17 machines now available at the tail-end 2020. This is no bad thing, as the extra performance is well worth the small price increase from the one we were sent to test.

It's worth saying that what's potentially exciting on the price front of laptops featuring the 20-series graphics cards, is that we might see a downward trend in their prices due to the incoming 30-series mobile graphics cards that will power the next generation of laptops. That means quality laptops like this should become more affordable soon which is a delectable proposition. For now, however, the price is decent for what you get.

Design

HP Omen 17

(Image credit: Future)

Straight out of the box, the first thing that you'll notice is the size of the laptop. By this point, of course, you'll hopefully know that you've bought a 17-inch laptop, but it is only when it is in your hands that the true size and weight of it become clear. 

Draped over the large chassis is an angular design that is cool and relatively understated. It doesn't look too 'gamer-y' on the whole, but does shout a little louder when you open it. The middle hinges holding the screen create triangular voids which frame a bit more of an 'aggressive overall' look that we quite like, but might not be to everyone's taste.

HP Omen 17

(Image credit: Future)

Painted over that build is a really slick brushed metal effect. We'd definitely class this as stylish, and certainly more interesting than plain metal finishing. Mirroring the Omen's diamond symbol, the 'front' of the laptop's chassis (back of the screen) has the brushed metal effect split into four quadrants with the direction of the brushes going in contrasting directions, which is a nice and simple, but still effective, design touch.

Being a big 17-incher, it does weigh a fair bit and takes up a fair whack of desk space. Starting at a weight of 7.12lbs (3.23 kg), it's not tremendously heavy, but combined with its size it is a little unwieldy and awkward, to say the least. This very much accentuates its position as a gaming laptop that's largely going to be treated as a desktop. 

HP Omen 17

(Image credit: Future)

It's still a laptop, so you'll want some degree of portability - and that can be fine line to tread when also making a powerful gaming laptop.

However, because of the large size, there are notable positives to this too: there's a full numpad, six programmable macro keys to the left-hand side and the keyboard is spacious and very comfortable to use - there'll be no smashing of the wrong buttons here. 

Our only small gripe with the design is that while the hinges are generally solid, there is, perhaps by the design of having them both centrally, some screen wobble which can be off-putting while using it for gaming or work. We don't necessarily expect stiff hinges that are hard to move, but the less screen wobble the better.

HP Omen 17

(Image credit: Future)

Meanwhile, the port situation is largely as expected with plenty of options for external displays, drives, and peripherals. The large design also ensures there is space for an Ethernet port, which is still a must-have option for gaming in our opinion. 

The HP Omen 17 (2020) also continues the trend of ditching the dedicated DisplayPort (usually a 'mini' variant) for a multi-functional USB-C, which we think is a decent trade-off.

In terms of RGB, the HP Omen 17 again takes a subtle approach as there is only under-key RGB lighting. In a marketplace flooded with RGB-enabled laptops, this could be seen as quite refreshing. Or, it could be seen as not quite up to snuff. It'll come down to preference, as some users will be using this with a great gaming laptop, keyboard, headset, and more, so might want the opportunity to incorporate their machine into their setups through lighting, while others will not be fussed. 

Overall, it complements the cool aesthetic and design of the machine though, and it all combines to create a winning look in our view.

HP Omen 17

(Image credit: Future)

Performance

Benchmarks

Here's how the HP Omen 17 (2020) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
3D Mark: Firestrike: 17,338; Timespy: 7,673; Port Royal: 4,628
Cinebench: 2,820
Geekbench 5: 1,251 (single-core); 6,385 (multi-core)
PC Mark 10 Home: 6558
PC Mark battery life: 1hrs 40mins
Metro Exodus (all at 1080p): RTX: 58fps; Ultra: 57pts; High: 74fps; Normal: 96fps; Low: 163fps  
Total War: Three Kingdoms (all at 1080p): Ultra: 65fps; High: 92fps; Medium: 138fps; Low: 216fps
Crystal Disk Mark: SSD: 3058 mb/s read, 2903 mb/s write: HDD: 163mb/s read, 156 mb/s write
Battery Life 1080p (TechRadar HD movie test): 2 hours 45 minutes

In simple terms, the HP Omen 17 is a very capable laptop. Its configuration means it is easily able to crunch through any tasks thrown at it, and it can handle the day's most demanding games to very high levels. 

There's no denying the capability of an RTX 2070 graphics card and the level of enjoyment it can, and does, provide. Thus, somewhat unsurprisingly, we can confirm that the experience of gaming on the Omen 17 is a very pleasant one, as it reliably and consistently handles any games thrown at it. 

Any machine that can provide a near-60 frames per second experience in Metro Exodus on the 'RTX' level of settings, for example, is doing pretty well in our books. It also makes easy work of current online FPS games like Apex Legends, as well as exquisite cinematic games like Control, both of which were smooth and enjoyable to play, with the vibrant screen doing a brilliant job of displaying the games' world, characters, action, and detail. 

There might have to be some slight graphics settings tinkering on really demanding games elsewhere in your library - we're looking at you Red Dead Redemption - but the combination of the 16GB of RAM, 10th-generation Intel processor, the SSD, and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card means you are very well set. 

The SSD is also large enough to hold a couple of games for swifter loading times, with the 1TB hard drive as a solid backup. 

For gaming performance, you have a bit of license and opportunity to customise the Omen 17's output, too. Using the preinstalled Omen Command Center software, you can choose which modes you want to run the laptop in, the speed of the fans, map out the macro keys, and even configure the network bandwidth some of your apps and programs will use. Of course, you can also change the RGB keyboard lighting effects as well.

HP Omen 17

(Image credit: Future)

The IPS screen does a fantastic job, and sports a 144Hz refresh rate which is ideal for fast-paced games like Apex Legends, as there's no stuttering or tearing when traversing the landscape speedily, or reacting fast to encounters with enemies.

HP Omen 17

(Image credit: Future)

Complementing the visuals, the speakers from Bang & Olufsen sound better than most laptop speakers, but they still cannot compete with a top gaming headset or set of speakers.

Due to the big size of the Omen 17, using it as a day to day laptop is very pleasant. The larger screen means this is a laptop with a roomier desktop and workspace, the touchpad is very solid - there's no give or bounce like in other gaming laptops which is nice, and the built-in keyboard is very satisfying to use. And there's no doubt that the larger design also means that there's more room for features that enhance the performance of the laptop. For example, while the macro keys are clearly aimed at gaming use, programming them for shortcuts for work or home use is exceptionally handy too.

The Omen 17 is one of those machines which we knew would perform well as a gaming laptop, and as a work device, even before we took it out of the box. 

The components are all of a high grade and combine to make swift work of any task or game, and the screen is large and vibrant. This is a fine gaming laptop, and very worthy of consideration. Given the range of builds available it should be included in the deliberation of anyone looking for a 17.3-inch portable gaming powerhouse.

Battery life

Put simply, this is a gaming laptop, and battery life is not a strong point of portable gaming machines. As you can see from our testing, the HP Omen 17 won't last that long without a power supply. 

From the results of our testing, it does hang on long enough to give you enough life for a movie or nearly a mornings' worth of work if you're ever in a pinch, but you'll always be wanting to keep that power supply within reach. 

Therefore, the portable power of the Omen 17 (2020) comes in the ability to pick it up and transport very easily; not to use it while transporting it.

HP Omen 17

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if…

You're after a high-performing, big-screen gaming laptop
At its core, the HP Omen 17 (2020) is a really fine laptop. It powers through games with ease and provides a really enjoyable experience through its large, quality IPS screen.

You want a portable gaming machine
If the 30-series mobile graphics cards were not on the horizon (see below) we'd have no trouble recommending this to anyone who wants a quality machine.

You want an unfussy powerhouse from a reliable and established brand
The HP Omen 17 goes about its business efficiently and without much fuss. It's solidly built with a stylish, if sometimes unexciting, design.

Don't buy it if…

You want the very latest in gaming tech
It won't be long until there are gaming laptops powered by the new 30-series Nvidia graphics cards, so if you really want your tech to be reflective of the current trends and specs, then you're better off waiting.

If you're after a thin and light gaming laptop
The Omen 17 is a chonk, and if you want the lightest and thinnest laptops going, you're better off sticking to something like the Razer Blade lineup.

If you're looking for a home/office laptop that can also do gaming as a bonus
Make no bones about it, the Omen 17 is a gaming machine first and everything else comes second. This will make for a great home or work machine too (if treated much like a desktop) but only after you've paid for its gaming prowess and components.