For a very long time, I viewed gaming laptops as non-traditional laptops aimed at a niche user group. But during Covid-19, the gaming laptop market has become an up-and-coming category with many brands releasing gaming laptops at various price points in order to appeal to a wider user base. HP’s latest Omen 16 falls in the same bracket and comes with a Ryzen 7 5800H processor, Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti graphics chip, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage priced at Rs 109,999. But the AMD version of does the Omen 16 impress with a set of specs under the hood? Here is my opinion on the HP Omen 16.
HP Omen 16 review: Design
Gaming laptops have a certain aesthetic, but that seems to be slowly fading away. I see more and more gaming laptops getting a clean look and the Omen 16 shows the industry is heading in that direction. Its all-grey chassis reminded me of a business laptop, while the sturdy aluminum keyboard, square edges, and small reflective square on the lid only added to that feel. Although the rest of the laptop is plastic, the Omen 16 is well-designed and feels remarkably solid. At 2.32kg, the Omen 16 won’t break any records for the thinnest gaming laptop on the market, but it’s a lightweight laptop considering the power of the device. I wouldn’t mind taking this laptop to a cafe or on a short trip to Almora. In fact, it fits comfortably in my old Samsonite backpack that I’ve been using for a few years now.
Port selection is also generous. You get three USB-A 3.0 ports, one USB-C, an Ethernet connector, DisplayPort, an SD slot, and an HDMI 2.1 port for up to 4K 120Hz output on supported displays. However, the USB-C port does not support Thunderbolt. After all, it’s an AMD-powered laptop. The laptop also comes with a headphone jack, Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6.
HP Omen 16 review: Display and audio
The screen is amazing and can be used both indoors and outdoors. It’s a 16.1-inch 1080p IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate. On paper, HP rates the screen’s peak brightness at 300 nits, which is just average for a laptop. In my day-to-day use, however, movies and TV shows looked realistic and text was crisp. A larger screen would have allowed for a smaller bottom bezel and additional screen real estate. For now, HP is sticking to a 16:9 aspect ratio on this laptop. The screen does not support frame rate smoothing technologies such as G-Sync or FreeSync, but these are mostly found on high-end gaming laptops.
That brings us to this machine’s webcam. Front cameras on smartphones and tablets have been far superior for quite some time now. By this comparison, the 720p webcam just doesn’t measure up. It’s a decent (rather) camera that does the job. The Bang & Olufsen speakers are powerful enough for YouTube videos or for listening to music or taking calls, but they don’t provide enough depth or bass.
HP Omen 16 review: Keyboard and touchpad
The chiclet keyboard with membrane keys is top notch. You will get an RGB keyboard, but the per-key backlight cannot be customized. Instead, you get four areas that can be customized independently. No matter how you look at it, it’s a good keyboard. But I didn’t like the touchpad. Yes, the size is generous for a gaming laptop, but the touchpad just doesn’t fit me. And that bothered me a lot when testing the laptop.
HP Omen 16 review: Performance and battery
At the heart of the Omen 16 is an eight-core, 16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor. My review unit features 16GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory, a 512GB NVMe M.2 SSD, and an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti graphics chip with Windows 11 pre-installed. Although the SSD doesn’t run PCIe 4.0, it should still be fast for most people.
Anyway, the Ryzen 7 5800H is a fast processor but not the fastest. Whatever you want to do, whether it’s editing video, writing a feature film using Google Docs, or editing images, the Omen 16 will handle it without a drop in performance when it’s on battery. Like I said, it’s a fast laptop but not as fast for video creators and editors who want to run projects. For this, Intel laptops are always the solution. In terms of gameplay, Rise of Tomb Raider displays an average of 30 frames when playing the game with its medium preset. Play it at a high resolution of 1080p, you’ll get around 19fps. Don’t expect demanding games to hit 60fps on this machine, but older games should be able to display at a very high frame rate.
To be clear, all the tests I’ve done use the base model. Obviously, this model will not perform at the same level as the one with the Ryzen 9-5900H – this model costs Rs 144,999.
The laptop runs silent most of the time. It wasn’t until I was playing games at max graphics settings that I heard the roar of the fans.
Despite being an AMD-powered machine, battery life was mixed, lasting less than four hours with light work consisting of emails, browsing, writing and photo editing. Push the machine very hard while playing games or performing extensive tasks, the battery life decreases further.
HP Omen 16 review: should you buy it?
The performance of the HP Omen 16 is in line with the price. I see the Omen 16 as a good all-around computer that also happens to be a gaming machine. Yes, it won’t blow you away when it comes to gaming performance, but it’s a fast and quiet laptop. The fact that it’s a legit gaming laptop that you can zip up and put in your backpack is appealing to many casual users. It’s not cheap, but it’s okay. Gaming laptops cost a bit more – and don’t start comparing it to the MacBook Air M1. For the pro-gaming crowd, look elsewhere. There are better options available in the market.