HP Omen 17.3-inch gaming laptop review

Unboxing and First Impressions

When I cracked the box for the 17.3-inch HP Omen laptop, my first reaction was a bit of awe at how big this thing is. I’m used to gaming laptops being over-sized, but when you move into a 17-inch version, you are truly pushing the definition of portability. This one is 42 cm wide, and weighs 3.37 kg (over 8 pounds). And that’s without the power adapter that dwarfs the one for my laptop by about a 4-to-1 ratio. However, HP did a nice job of sculpting the case with sharp angles, varied textures and metallic red accents that combine to somehow make it look almost sleek.

HP Omen 17.3-inch gaming laptop reviewOnce opened up and powered on, the intimidating aspects of the laptop’s size were soon forgotten and replaced with an appreciation of what that extra mass gets you. There’s a full-sized keyboard that’s optimized for gaming for one thing. But the key advantage is a 17.3-inch Full HD display that’s big enough for PC gaming without compromise.

The review unit sent by HP had seen a fair bit of use, including booth duty (judging by the velcro on the bottom). So there wasn’t much to do in the way of setup besides getting it connected to my Wi-Fi network and running updates. I needed the Windows 10 Fall Creators to run Windows Mixed Reality, so that was three to four hours.


HP Omen 17.3-inch Gaming Laptop Specs (as Tested)

  • 17.3-inch IPS backlit WLED display at Full HD (1920 x 1080) with 120Hz refresh rate and anti-glare
  • Quad-core, 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ @ 2.8GHz (TurboBoost up to 3.8GHz)
  • 12 GB DDR4 SDRAM (max 32GB)
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 video card with 6GB dedicated GDDR5 RAM
  • 128GB PCIe SSD
  • 1TB, 7200rpm hard disk
  • Full-sized keyboard with Dragon red backlighting, highlighted WASD keys, macro support and 26-key rollover
  • Dual speakers with Bang & Olufsen-tuned audio
  • HP Wide Vision FHD IR Camera with integrated dual array digital microphone
  • Dual fan cooling with four pipes
  • 3 x full-sized USB 3.1, 1 x USB-C (with Thunderbolt 3), MiniDisplay Port, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, audio jack, SD card reader
  • 802.11 ac (2×2) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • 8-Cell, 86 Wh Li-ion battery
  • Windows 10 Home
  • 42.3 x 30.4 x 3.3 cm, weighs 3.73 kg

Detailed specifications are available on the laptop’s product page.


Hands-On

The HP Omen 17.3-inch laptop is laser focused on gaming. The keyboard is responsive and backlit with HP’s “Dragon red” colour scheme. The WASD keys get extra highlighting and the keyboard has 26-key rollover and macro support.

HP Omen 17.3-inch gaming laptop review

The display is a beauty. It’s not as bright as some, but the anti-glare treatment works quite well, it has an extremely wide colour range and a fast 120Hz refresh rate.

I didn’t get into PC gaming much with this unit—at least not traditional gaming, as I was focused on VR gaming with it—but expect it to shine. The CPU is about as beefy as they get in a laptop, the system screams thanks to PCIe SSD storage and then there’s the Nvidia GTX 1060 video card. Nvidia says it can run Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds with settings at High, in 1080p at up to 70 fps.

Powerful Enough for VR

One of the key features of the HP Omen 17.3-inch review unit I sent was its support for virtual reality. It not only has the Nvidia GTX 1060 video card that’s recommended for Oculus or Vive VR, it has 6GB of video RAM instead of the 4GB configuration that’s more common. I actually spent most of my time with the laptop running WMR (Windows Mixed Reality) applications, which it was more than capable of handling with high, smooth frame rates. This laptop is a great choice if you want to experience virtual reality, but don’t want a desktop PC.

Connectivity

One of the advantages of a gaming laptop is a bounty of ports and connectivity options. The HP Omen offers ultra-fast 802.11ac (2×2) Wi-Fi for online gaming, or Gigabit Ethernet if you opt for a hard-wired connection. You can connect any peripheral or accessory you can imagine, with plenty of USB 3.1 ports, USB-C, and multiple video output options.

HP Omen 17.3-inch gaming laptop review

Expandability

Rather than a small door for access to upgradeable components, the HP Omen has a removable bottom panel held in place by Phillips screws. It’s unlikely you’d need to upgrade the storage—although you can. The 1TB hard drive is a fast 7200rpm model, and the 128GB PCIe SSD has enough space for the operating system and a favourite game for ultra-fast operation and minimal load times. However, the 12GB of RAM isn’t as generous as some gaming laptops. It’s in an 8GB/4GB configuration, with a maximum of 32GB, so any upgrade will mean pulling one of the existing DIMMs.

Battery Life

This is a high powered gaming laptop, and one with a huge display. There is a battery, but gaming without access to a power outlet is not going to be an all-day affair. Three hours is more like it. When streaming HD video (battery mode at 75% weighted toward performance and brightness at 100%) there was 60% battery charge remaining after two hours.

HP Omen 17.3-inch gaming laptop reviewWho Should Consider the HP Omen 17.3-inch Gaming Laptop?

PC gaming in a laptop form factor means compromises compared to a desktop system, but this massive gaming laptop has the size and power to minimize most of those. There’s no squinting with the 17.3-inch display, the 2.8GHz Core i7 CPU provides plenty of muscle and there’s tons of storage—both ultra-fast SSD and fast 7200rpm hard disk. And with not only an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card, but 6GB of fast video RAM at its disposal, this HP Omen gaming laptop is well-equipped for AAA titles, and more than ready to take on the demands of virtual reality.

Best Buy customers rated its smaller sibling one of the five best gaming laptops of 2017, and with the 17-inch version, you get more of everything.

Not sure if HP’s Omen 17.3-inch is for you? Don’t worry, Best Buy has you covered with the most powerful gaming laptops from all the best-known manufacturers. If you’re on the fence about laptop or desktop (this post from Gadjo Sevilla may be able to help you out there), you’ll also find a huge selection of high performance gaming PCs.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.