Fast gaming performance. 4K display good for media viewing. Plenty of ports.
Expensive for components and build. GTX 1070 isn't powerful enough for gaming on the 4K screen.
- Bottom Line
The new HP Omen 17 is still good for gaming, but the high price tag and minimal improvements over its predecessor make it a questionable buy.
HP launched its Omen gaming line last year, and our favorite of the bunch was the 17-inch Omen laptop. It's held the top spot as our midrange Editors' Choice since then, and this year received a redesign. The HP Omen 17 (2017) (starts at $1,099.99; $2,339.99 as tested) is largely the same laptop in a new chassis, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 and a (newer-generation) Core i7 processor inside. There's more RAM in this model, but with the same 4K display and storage capacity, it's very similar to the last version, and the higher price doesn't represent as good of a deal. This iteration doesn't earn an Editors' Choice, but is still a fast gaming laptop with a nice port selection, and you can configure it at a lower cost if you like the chassis but are questioning the price.
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While this is a new iteration of an existing line, the Omen 17 bucks the usual laptop trend of keeping last year's look. The exterior is wholly redesigned, ditching the bluish brushed plastic for a mostly black multi-texture design. The lid has a lot going on, with two different textures—a faux carbon fiber design and a brushed portion, both plastic made to look like other materials—arranged in an asymmetrical diamond pattern. In the middle is a segmented metallic red X, and above that is a shiny Omen logo. Some may like the look, but it's all a bit too busy for my taste and I prefer the simpler design of the 2016 model. The plastic casing feels fine quality wise, but I don't love the feel at this price point.
Weight-wise it's not too bad for a 17-inch laptop, coming in at 8.23 pounds. It measures 1.3 by 16.65 by 11.97 inches (HWD), so you will need some desk space for it, but it's not the heaviest or thickest option around. Some premium machines really bring the heft, like the 12-pound Origin EON 17-SLX and the 9.77-pound Alienware 17 R4. The only laptop that makes the Omen look on the hefty side is the Razer Blade Pro, which measures just 0.88 by 16.7 by 11 inches and weighs 7.72 pounds.
Our model is equipped with a 4K display, which is an optional inclusion for the 17-inch Omen, the other choice being more standard full HD. The screen is sharp and its colors seem especially vibrant, plus has some noticeably deep blacks. The 4K resolution is a potential point of debate: It's a great option to have for 4K media playback and some less-demanding games, but the laptop's included Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card isn't particularly suited to play newer games smoothly at full settings in 4K. You can always dial down the resolution in those circumstances, but it can be seen as wasteful since you're still paying more for the screen.
The rest of the laptop's build isn't particularly remarkable, positively or negatively. The keyboard quality is adequate overall: There's nice key travel and backlighting, but I don't especially like the red key edging or accented WASD keys and the layout feels a little cramped. There is a number pad, though, as well as a macro key column on the left side, so there are some extras contributing to the smaller feel. The touchpad functions smoothly, and has responsive left and right click buttons just beneath it.
There's a wide array of ports on this laptop, most of which are located along the left flank. There, you will find a USB 3.0 port, a USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 connection, an HDMI port, a mini DisplayPort connection, an Ethernet jack, an SD card slot, and audio and mic lines. The right side has just two ports, both USB 3.0. The speakers, made by Bang & Olufsen, are good quality. It's not amazingly crisp audio, but the sound is a bit richer than average and can get quite loud without distorting.
Inside this unit are a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD, leaving you with plenty of storage for games and media. The speedy SSD is set as the boot drive for faster startup, and you can use the rest of the space for a select handful of games that will particularly benefit from the quicker load times. The same storage configuration was used in last year's model, and matches other similar laptops like the Acer Predator 17 (G9-973-78CM). The Omen 17 also comes with dual-band 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth, and a one-year warranty.
As you'd hope for the price, the new Omen 17 is outfitted with some pretty high-end parts. This unit includes a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ and 32GB of memory, in addition to the GTX 1070. The 2016 model also had a 1070 and a Core i7 processor, but the latter was from the previous Skylake generation rather than this year's Kaby Lake model. As a result, the benchmark scores were strong in every area, though direct comparisons to last year's Omen 17 show minor improvements. Its PCMark 8 score, which measures general productivity, sets it in line with other laptops in its class. Given that they're gaming systems, general multitasking is no issue since they're much quicker than the average laptop, especially at this price. The Omen 17 is also well-suited for completing media projects like video or photo editing, design, or animation work. Its Handbrake and Photoshop scores, while not the fastest, are still quick enough that you won't feel hamstrung by your hardware while working.
3D performance is the bread and better for this category, and the Omen 17 excels at HD resolution. On the Heaven and Valley gaming tests, it averaged 90 frames per second (fps) and 83fps at 1080p and maximum settings. That's well above the target 60fps, and gives headroom for the more demanding modern titles and future releases that will stress your hardware. As mentioned earlier, the 1070 can't handle 4K resolution too well with the same settings, however. Using all Ultra-quality options, the Omen averaged 26fps on Heaven and 30fps on Valley at 4K, which doesn't inspire confidence for consistently smooth 30fps gameplay. An average of 30fps includes some peaks and dips, and newer titles are going to see more of the dips than peaks. That said, a resolution between HD and 4K will do you well in most situations if 4K proves too much, and this is still an above-average gaming laptop in terms of power. It compares so-so to the competition; it's in the same ballpark, but doesn't lead in any area and sits on the lower end of the score range. Even though the Alienware 17 R4 is the more similar in size to the Omen 17, it's the Alienware 15 R3 that's a better point of comparison given the price and components.
Battery life wasn't exactly a strong suit, lasting 3 hours and 2 minutes on our rundown test. That's not out of the ordinary for the category, and indeed better than some other 17-inch laptops, but it's far from all-day battery life and will last a relatively short time away from the charger.
The 2017 HP Omen 17 isn't an essential upgrade for owners of another Pascal graphics system, but it's a fast laptop with a high spec ceiling if you have the budget. It's expensive as configured here, though that gets you a boatload of RAM and a 4K screen, and its gaming performance will prove sufficient for several years. That said, the previous Omen 17 earned an Editors' Choice as a great value for the money with similar components, and this model loses that with the $540 price increase for just processor and design refreshes. It's still an OK option, and you can configure it for less money, but it's no longer the top deal it was. If you aren't convinced or don't like the build, but want to stick with a 17-inch laptop, you may prefer the (pricey as tested, but configurable) Alienware 17 R4.
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Matthew Buzzi is a junior analyst on the Hardware team at PCMag. Matthew graduated from Iona College with a degree in Mass Communications/Journalism. He interned for a college semester at Kotaku, writing about gaming. He has written about technology and video game news, as well as hardware and gaming reviews. In his free time, he likes to go out with friends, watch and discuss sports, play video games, read too much Twitter, and obsessively manage any fantasy sports leagues he's involved in. More »
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