HP have significantly expanded their Omen gaming lineup to include everything from high-end desktops to gaming laptops, monitors and even peripherals. The Omen X is one of the more striking pre-built systems on the market with its cube design and red highlights, though naturally this desktop is mostly intended for high-end buyers that demand powerful graphics, plenty of expansion opportunities and a beefy liquid cooling system.
HP’s more modest gaming desktop is the simply named Omen Desktop, which is now available with AMD Ryzen processors inside. It’s a more traditional tower-style chassis that’s highly configurable, with prices ranging from just under $1,000 to over $3,200. The idea here is that HP can provide gamers of many budgets with a pre-built system that will satisfy your needs.
Here’s a quick look at what HP provides in the Omen Desktop at both the entry level and high end price points, as well as the system I was provided to review.
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 5 1600||AMD Ryzen 7 1800X||Intel Core i7-7700K|
|Storage||1TB HDD||256GB SSD + 2TB HDD||512GB SSD + 2TB HDD|
|Heatsink||Air Cooling||Liquid Cooling||Liquid Cooling|
|Graphics Card||AMD Radeon RX 580 4GB||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 SLI|
|Power Supply||500W 80Plus Bronze||500W 80Plus Bronze||750W 80Plus Titanium|
|Optical Drive||None||DVD Writer||DVD Writer|
As you can see, our review unit slots right in the middle of the available options, with a powerful AMD Ryzen 7 1800X octa-core and GeForce GTX 1080 graphics. The amount of configuration options is huge, with HP offering GPUs from the RX 580 up through the GTX 1080 Ti to various dual-GPU setups. A decent selection of processors from both AMD and Intel are available as well.
The tower chassis used by HP for their Omen Desktop is nothing particularly crazy, instead conforming with most traditional PC design trends. Obviously this system is not small form factor, though it’s not particularly large as far as PC cases go, falling around the typical size for most desktops. In fact there’s several “32L” logos around the case, indicating the volume here might be 32 litres.
Build wise the materials used are fairly average, which isn’t unusual for a pre-built desktop. Most of the interior and the side panels are metal, however the top and front are almost entirely black plastic of different textures and finishes. Those hoping for tempered glass will be disappointed, as the window on the left panel is just standard plastic, and even then it’s an optional feature for some models.
Rather than opting for a boring rectangular chassis, the front section of the Omen Desktop is angular and reasonably interesting. Most of the front panel’s plastic is textured with a carbon-fibre pattern that looks pretty good, even if it’s not real carbon fibre. There’s a large illuminated Omen logo in the center, along with some red lighting that emanates from the large intake vents below. Like most of HP’s Omen line, there’s no RGB to be seen here; the entire design is black with red highlights instead. You’ll even see some subtle red lighting through the case window, which is darkly tinted to give an ominous look.
As far as pre-built chassis go, I like this one from a visual standpoint, even though it uses a fair bit of ‘gamer style’. If the case was on the market for me to purchase for a self-built system, it’s probably not something I’d go for, but I’ve seen far more ugly desktop cases out there. If you buy the Omen Desktop, people will know you have a gaming desktop from looks alone, however it doesn’t go overboard in any aspect.
For cooling, there are plenty of vents around the place, though most are hidden to a degree such that there are no large vent areas like some cases you can buy. There’s a single 120mm fan on the front for intake, which draws air through the v-shaped illuminated vent on the front, as well as a strip of vents along each edge. There are no vents along the top, a small vent on the bottom for the power supply, another small vent on the left side, and a large exhaust vent on the rear. This case has clearly been designed for just two 120mm fans, and that’s what you get pre-installed.
The Omen Desktop has a decent array of front I/O: two USB-A 3.0 ports, two USB-C 3.0 ports, two 3.5mm audio jacks and an SD card reader. The positioning of these ports is a little strange, as they sit on an angled panel that points towards the right. This means that for the ports to be accessible, the system has to sit on your left, but positioning it in this way stops you from being able to look into the Desktop’s window. A small oversight but something I noticed during testing.
On the rear we’re looking at a fairly basic collection of I/O for a gaming desktop. Out of the motherboard we get four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, three 3.5mm audio jacks, optical audio, Ethernet and some blocked display outputs. On the graphics card there’s three DisplayPorts, a HDMI port and a DVI port. It perhaps wouldn’t have hurt to have a few more audio jacks and USB ports, though this collection should be fine for most users.
The Omen Desktop embraces expansion through toolless design, which is fantastic to see. Along the top front edge are two flaps which can be opened to reveal two 3.5-inch hard drive bays, complete with cool locking mechanisms. All configurations of the Desktop have at least one hard drive installed in the two additional internal bays, which keeps these two bays free for user expansion. Adding more storage space is something many users will want to do, so these highly accessible bays are a neat addition. Oh, and there’s also a slimline optical drive on the front of the desktop, again hidden behind a flap.
Getting to the inside of the Desktop is easy as well thanks to a toolless mechanism that keeps the side panel attached. Press a single button at the top rear of the chassis and the panel comes off, revealing the hardware inside. As I mentioned earlier, configurations can vary significantly between Desktops, however most mid- and upper-tier models come with a closed-loop liquid cooler for the CPU with a 120mm radiator attached to the rear exhaust vent. The GPU, in my case a GTX 1080, is air cooled with a basic dual-fan dual-slot solution. The red highlights to the cooler, GPU shroud and motherboard look pretty neat here.
Expandability is reasonable for an OEM system, though clearly not as good as a custom-built rig. Most of the system’s limitations come from the OEM motherboard, which only has a single PCIe x16 slot, an unused PCIe x4 slot, and four SATA ports which are all occupied: one for the internal HDD, one for the DVD writer, and two for the externally accessible drive bays. There is a free internal 3.5-inch drive bay, but to use it, you’ll have to unplug the optical drive, which is disappointing.
On the other hand there are four DIMM slots, two of which were occupied for my review unit’s 16GB configuration. The SSD is an M.2 PCIe NVMe unit, the motherboard appears to be standard micro-ATX and the power supply seems standard as well. This means basically every component should be user upgradeable in the future, especially the graphics card, storage and RAM, which are all extremely accessible.
However it should be noted that my system was just one of many options available. Those who purchase an Omen Desktop with an Intel CPU will receive an entirely different motherboard, as will those that opt for a dual-GPU setup. My review unit doesn’t have a second PCIe x16 slot for a second graphics card, though HP offers dual-GPU configurations, so it seems several different motherboards are used. Hopefully some of these come with a few more SATA ports.
It's also worth pointing out that cable management wasn’t particularly neat. While the general area around the graphics card and CPU is neat, and the liquid cooling tubes are clearly designed for this specific setup, there are a lot of other cables running around the motherboard and all over the place. For those that like excellent internal aesthetics, things like the multi-colored 24-pin power cables and many loose-hanging cables will disappoint. I suspect most users buying a pre-built desktop won’t care though.
Performance, Overclocking and Thermals
I’m not going to spend a ton of time discussing the performance of the HP Omen Desktop for a couple of reasons. The primary one is that there are so many configurations of the Omen available, it’s unlikely that my experiences with one particular configuration will match the experiences of buyers. Unless you happen to purchase the exact model I reviewed, of course.
The second reason is that on TechSpot we’ve spent a lot of time covering the major processor and graphics card launches over the past few years. Most of the CPU and GPU configurations available for the Omen Desktop we’ve checked out in the past with in-depth benchmarks and performance analysis, so rather than rehashing stuff we’ve already covered, I’ll just point you towards our review section so you can find the reviews relevant to the Omen Desktop configuration you’re interested in.
The most important reviews to check out are those for the Intel Core i7-7700K, the Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 lineups, depending on whether you opt for an Intel or AMD model. It’s also worth looking at our GPU reviews for the RX 580, GTX 1060, GTX 1070, GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti, as well as other coverage of specific games released in recent years.
I was sent an Omen Desktop with an AMD Ryzen 7 1800X processor, 16GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, along with a 256GB SSD and 2TB hard drive. The cost of this system is about $1,900, or $900 above the base model.
It’s important to note here that the Ryzen 7 1800X isn’t as powerful for gaming as the Intel Core i7-7700K, however it is significantly better at productivity workloads thanks to its eight-core design. If you are planning to use the Desktop for gaming as well as something like video editing, I think it’s a great choice, even if you won’t hit the same performance in games.
My experience with the Ryzen 7 1800X paired with a GTX 1080 was exactly as I expected in games. This system is well suited to both 1080p and 1440p, though I mostly tested at 1080p with a high-refresh monitor. Depending on the game, I was typically achieving at least 60 FPS on maximum quality settings, though often around the 100 FPS mark. Watch Dogs 2 was the most punishing game I tested, and it ran around 60 FPS on its Ultra preset, while something like Hitman, Prey or Rise of the Tomb Raider sat comfortably above 100 FPS.
These sorts of rough figures match what we’ve previously seen from Ryzen and the GTX 1080, which isn’t a surprise as typically there is very little difference (if any) between a pre-built system and our test rigs with the same hardware.
For those wondering about storage, the 256GB SSD in my review unit was a Samsung PM961, so it achieved read/write speeds well above 1 GB/s sequentially. The 2TB hard drive was a Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM unit, so nothing out of the ordinary. Both are easily replaceable.
If you’re looking at overclocking the Omen Desktop, HP does provide a software utility called the Omen Command Center that can do some basic CPU overclocking out of the box. I don’t particularly like this utility, as it seems designed for Intel systems with little thought for AMD. For example, the default multiplier is 148x which corresponds to an actual multiplier of 37x. In any case, it does work even if it doesn’t provide much information.
The Ryzen 7 1800X typically tops out at around 4.0 to 4.1 GHz overclocked, and I was able to achieve 3.90 GHz here through the Command Center. The utility did allow me to go as high as 3.98 GHz but this wasn’t stable.
Nothing surprised me when it came to GPU overclocking either. I was able to comfortably apply a +220 MHz core clock boost and a +180 MHz memory clock boost, which sent the GTX 1080’s core up to 2075 MHz during Watch Dogs 2. An extra 12 percent performance is nothing to sneeze at, and it’s well within typical figures for the GTX 1080.
Temperatures were fairly reasonable across the board, keeping in mind that my review unit used the closed-loop liquid cooler for the CPU. During an AIDA64 CPU stress test the CPU hit 63°C on-die, which is higher than I’d like for a liquid cooler, although this cooler is only a single 120mm solution. This test was when the system was at its loudest, hitting 46 dBA at 50cm (noise floor of 30 dBA), which is audible though not outrageous.
During gaming, temperatures and noise levels were much more reasonable. In Watch Dogs 2, the CPU hit around 56°C from 70-80% utilization, while the GPU hovered around 75°C. Noise levels were very good: 41 dBA with the system on a desk (40cm away from meter) and 38 dBA on the floor (1m away). While not silent, the system was quiet and easy to drown out with moderate in-game audio.
Surprisingly, overclocking didn’t have a huge impact on temperatures. The GPU increased by 2-3°C and a similar figure for the CPU, with only a small increase in noise. The cooling solution used here is certainly very capable for gaming. The only time I was a bit disappointed was in stress tests, where the system did hit about 50 dBA at times, though this is far from a ‘normal’ workload.
Wrap Up: Highly Configurable and Good Value
If you’re looking to purchase a pre-built gaming desktop that prioritizes performance over ridiculous designs and over-the-top liquid cooling, the HP Omen Desktop is a great choice. It’s not ludicrously expensive, yet it provides solid hardware, decent thermals, and loads of configuration options to suit a wide range of budgets.
The Omen Desktop case looks quite decent. HP has managed to achieve a lot with a mostly plastic exterior, a few red LEDs and some interesting flaps. The carbon fiber pattern looks neat, the angles are aggressive but surprisingly pleasing, and I love features like the easy-access hard drive bays and the toolless side panel.
People will know this is a gaming desktop without HP resorting to “look at me” design features like non-standard shapes and RGB lighting.
There’s such a wide range of hardware choices it’s hard to say how this system will perform in general. My test system – a Ryzen 7 1800X and GeForce GTX 1080 – was just as fast as we’ve seen from this hardware in custom-built rigs; in other words it was great for 1440p gaming or 1080p high-refresh. Considering base models start with a Ryzen 5 1600 and a Radeon RX 580, I think any option here will deliver a decent experience, though you can push this all the way up to GTX 1080 Tis and dual GTX 1080s if you have the cash.
I was pleased with the cooling solution used here. The system runs quiet while in games, and temperatures on both the CPU and GPU are respectable. The closed-loop liquid cooler on the CPU isn’t the most insane setup, though it can handle a decent overclock nonetheless: the Ryzen 7 1800X in my unit comfortably hit 3.9 GHz without a massive toll on temperatures or noise levels. It was a similar story with the GPU: plenty of overclocking headroom.
Standard parts are used across the board, so it should be very straightforward to add more storage, swap out the graphics card, change CPUs and even do an entire platform upgrade down the track. My review unit came with 16 GB of RAM and two free DIMM slots, plus several spare 3.5-inch drive bays and an M.2 SSD. There are only four SATA ports and a single PCIe x16 slot, which is the most limiting aspect of the system’s upgradeability, though otherwise I was impressed.
Before concluding this review with a discussion on pricing, I will make some recommendations on configurations. The base model comes with just a hard drive installed, so I would immediately suggest upgrading to something with an SSD. The 256GB SSD option costs an additional $215, which is a little steep, though the Samsung PM961 is a great drive. Otherwise you could install your own M.2 SSD for $120 or more.
I’d also steer clear of the Ryzen 7 1800X model, even though I was sent it to review. The Ryzen 7 1700 is available for $140 less, and overclocks to the same level of performance as the 1800X without any issue. I’d also tend to avoid the non-K Intel CPU options; it may cost $50-60 more for an unlocked CPU, but the gains you can get from overclocking are definitely worth it. As for the GPU, get whatever is the most powerful within your budget, though I’d avoid SLI or CrossFire setups.
Those looking for a budget system, I’d recommend the Ryzen 5 1600, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD with 2TB HDD, and an RX 580 4GB for $1254.99. Whipping up this sort of system yourself would cost around $1,200 for parts equivalent to the Omen Desktop (including a Windows 10 license), so this is outstanding value for a pre-built system.
With a bit of budget hunting you could get everything for a bit cheaper than this, but in any case, there’s nothing outrageous about the Omen’s price.
For something higher-end, I’d look at the Intel Core i7-7700K, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD and 2 TB hard drive, along with the GeForce GTX 1080. This sort of configuration would set you back just over $2,000. Here the price premium for the Omen Desktop relative to a self-built system is around $250.
All things considered, it’s pretty easy to recommend the HP Omen Desktop for someone after a pre-built gaming desktop. It succeeds strongly in most key areas, particularly when it comes to value at the low end, and that’s what I love to see from desktops like this.
Pros: Loads of configuration options, and entry-level models are great value. Respectable design with decent cooling, easy upgradeability and a fair bit of overclocking headroom.
Cons: OEM motherboard with limited SATA and PCIe ports. Value isn’t as strong with upper-tier configurations.