At rAge 2017, HP set up an amazing stand for their Omen gaming laptops, decked out in black with glowing red accents, just like the laptops they sell to the public. I had a look around the stand and had some hands-on time with their notebooks, and here are my first reactions.

Gaming laptops all tend to look and feel very similar to each other after a while, but the Omen lineup is different enough that it stands out. On show were the Omen design from 2015/2016, as well as the new Omen designs for 2017, which I detailed in this article here. HP has gone to lengths to make it look and feel different. The laptops have a brushed finish on the palmrest that looks and feels good, and the click action from the trackpad buttons is satisfying. The trackpad itself may have some latent issues that a full review would get into, but for this hands-on, just know that the trackpad has a plastic surface and runs Synaptics drivers. It’s not bad, but it’s not ideal given that including a Windows Precision driver wouldn’t have been much of a stretch for the Omen engineering team, given how much effort they’ve put into everything else.

The laptops have a sturdy design and aren’t flimsy in the slightest, although screen flex is noticeable when you move the display with one hand at the corners. The hinges are nicely designed, and are centred to make room for the exhaust vents on the back. The keyboard feels good, although the spacing is a little off on the 17-inch Omen notebook compared to the 15-inch version. Typing is easier to get into with the smaller model.

I wasn’t able to test out games on the display notebooks, but HP is running an Overwatch tournament at the stand, and performance is well over 100fps on the 15-inch model, even though it sports a GeForce GTX 1060 with Max-Q frequencies. The 17-inch model includes a GeForce GTX 1070, and both notebooks include G-Sync displays, so battery life isn’t going to be great. That said, the trade-offs one makes for G-Sync on a notebook are worth it.

If you’re at rAge Expo this weekend, be sure to stop by the Omen stand and check out their stuff. Free swag is handed out occasionally!

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