1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type C) with Thunderbolt, 3 x USB3.1 Gen1 1x HDMI, 1 x RJ-45 jack, 1 x mini-DisplayPort, 1 x SD card reader, 1 x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack
I still get a kick every time I pull out my gaming notebook to play some games between meetings or while I’m travelling. It’s certainly one of the upsides of lugging around a hefty gaming notebook. Fortunately, anyone wanting to buy a new gaming notebook today has plenty of option to suit almost every budget (and backpack size), and as a long-time fan and user of a 17-inch gaming notebook, this 15-inch notebook showed off a far more portable side to notebook gaming than what I’ve become used to.
The latest range of Omen gaming notebooks has kept the brand’s design heritage with the very familiar centre-hinge screen design, but updated it with a much slicker look and feel. The all-black exterior and small but aggressive air vents make the Omen 15 look discreet but very futuristic.
Opening the lid, you’re greeted with an RGB-backlit keyboard and a 15-inch screen that feels a little larger than what it actually is, largely thanks to the brightness of the screen and its 144Hz refresh rate. The screen resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels and more than adequate, powered by an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with Max-Q design and 8GB of dedicated GDDR6 memory. Considering this notebook measures just over 2cm in thickness, this is a pretty impressive setup.
If this is your first introduction to Max-Q design, here’s what you need to know. Max-Q design on NVIDIA’s graphic’s architecture is essentially a specific cooling design that works in conjunction with a slightly slower running graphics chip as compared to its desktop counterpart. This is to allow these chipsets to run comparably in terms of performance, while ensuring that the tight enclosure of the notebook does not cause thermal issues.
For storage and RAM, the Omen 15 features the usual array of two drives, including one 256GB NVME M.2 drive and one 1TB 7200rpm SATA drive. For applications and games, the 16GB of DDR4 RAM is great but anyone wanting to use this notebook for graphics or video will certainly want to bump that up to 32GB. Should you wish to upgrade your storage or RAM, you can easily do so by removing the back panel. Each of the upgradeable items was designed in such a way that they can easily be swapped out.
Right out of the box, though, this machine is a powerhouse. The Intel Core i7- i7 9750H processor, running at 2.6GHz, has plenty of power to handle your software requirements and during my testing period, I ran my usual fare of day-to-day work apps which include the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. Most notably, when using processor-intensive apps like Premier Pro and After Effects together, the Omen 15 did not let me down with so much as a stutter.
Considering the specifications, I didn’t expect anything less, and considering its performance in work duties, I knew that it wouldn’t let me down during game time. I fired up my usual staple which includes Battlefield V, PUBG, and some Boet Fighter for good measure, and they all performed incredibly well. The high-refresh-rate is always a welcome addition on a notebook and it makes a huge difference when gaming – especially on a 15-inch screen. The combination of these makes this small screen gaming notebook an enjoyable experience, and of course, you can also connect a larger secondary monitor too.
The keyboard feels comfortable for typing and gaming, and features 1.5mm of travel while the four-zone RGB layout lets you customise the light display if that’s your thing. I love that HP still includes an SD card reader for gaming (or editing) on the go, and the Bang & Olufsen speakers will get the job done. HP even gave some consideration to game streamers who want a decent built-in webcam. While not as good as an external camera, I found HP’s built-in offering more than adequate – provided you have good lighting, that is.
The battery life on this machine is what you’d expect from a gaming notebook of this calibre, and there’s enough battery power for work tasks but this machine is not going to give you much game-time on battery power. On average, I got around three and a half hours of work done on battery power which isn’t bad at all. Switching over to gaming, however, I got just over an hour and twenty minutes on battery. Of course, user experience may vary based on applications you run.
[The Omen 15 gaming notebook’s price will range depending on configuration and starts from R25,999. There’s also a 17-inch version of this gaming notebook available.]