Review: HP Omen Desktop PC and 27″ monitor, a killer gaming combination

HP are in the process of filling out their gaming lineup. Their OMEN brand will soon offer everything from a gaming laptop, compact desktop, full desktop and that crazy...

HP are in the process of filling out their gaming lineup. Their OMEN brand will soon offer everything from a gaming laptop, compact desktop, full desktop and that crazy Omen X cube that sits at 90 degrees. The Omen range also includes G-sync enabled displays as well as keyboards, mice and they’re even adding an external GPU to the list of accessories.

Available now is the HP Omen Desktop which is designed and built for serious gamers. The full sized case features a range of great external features, but its what’s on the inside that will scratch your performance itch. Armed with an AMD Ryzen 7 1800X processor, 16GB DDR4 RAM and an Nvidia GTX 1080, HP have prepared this computer to address your needs today, while providing expandability into the future.

Hardware

If you’re buying a gaming PC, or just a performance PC in 2017, you definitely should ensure that it can drive great VR experiences. Even if a Rift or Vive aren’t in your immediate future, your investment in a high-end machine is likely going to serve you for a few years, so its smart to get hardware now that will at least give you that option, should you decide to go VR in the future.

Thankfully the performance of the Omen Desktop is easily capable of driving the most intense VR experiences today. It has all the necessary ports, so feel free to tick that box on your must have list.

Storage
The Omen Desktop comes in a variety of configurations, the review unit was the 880-062a which is the 2nd of 4 editions. This model features 2 hard drives, one 256GB Samsung SSD boot drive, and the other a 7200RPM 2TB Segate HDD.

This combination is now a fairly comfortable and common one, with a fast, solid state boot drive and a second larger storage drive. I love this combination, but as a heavy user, I am finding 256GB to be light on as I want all my applications and games to load and run as fast as possible.

After loading Office 2016, 3D Studio Max, Unity, Visual Studio, Adobe Creative Suite and 5 games from Steam the drive had just 20GB free. With OneDrive set to sync files to D:\ and the secondary drive also used for game captures, there was still 1.48TB free there, but again, that’s the slow (or slower) storage.

At the top-front of the case, HP have included 2 drive bays that are ready for super simple storage upgrades. Internally, there’s may be room for 4 x 3.5″ drives, but having the ability to switch drives in an out without having to option the case is really great functionality. As someone with plenty of data sitting on hard drives in the cupboard, getting that data off is super simple.

The one gotcha is that you’ll need to bolt your drive into the included drive housings before sliding them into place to meet the power and sata connectors. Because of the efficient use of space, you’ll need to use exactly the right sized screws to secure the drive or it won’t fit. Thankfully HP provide some, just don’t loose them.

Graphics
In terms of GPU, you can start with the AMD Radeon RX 580, and go right up to the GTX 1080 Ti in the 3rd and 4th models, this review unit included the GTX1080. Despite being over a year old, this card is still very much at the top of the performance charts and will help you to justify a large part of the purchase price of this machine.

What you want as a gamer is the ability to connect your computer to a 4K display and set everything on max to experience the game as the developers intended. I tested the Omen Desktop with a number of games including Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Dirt Rally, F1 2017, Forza Horizon 3, Assetto Corsa and Project CARS 2.

These games performed exceptionally well on this hardware, as you’d expect for the relatively steep sticker price. Even on ultra settings, the card constantly delivered great frame rates running on a 4K display. Fortunately the review timeline of the Asus 34″ 21:9 gaming monitor overlapped, which meant I had the opportunity to also test on an UWQHD resolution, even pushing 5 million pixels, the games ran smoothly and looked amazing, this really is a great place to be if you’re a gamer.

It is important to understand that not all GTX1080’s are made equal. This HP version of the GTX1080 has the fairly standard 1 HDMI connector and 3x Display ports. When connected to a fast display (refresh rate), you’ll always want to use a display port. When you’re not gaming, this PC also makes a great tool for productivity. With a spare Dell 27″ monitor, I decided I’d push the pixel count by adding another 1920×1200 to the mix. This meant the single GTX1080 was pushing the 2560×1440 (3,686,400 pixels), and 1920×1200 (2,304,000 pixels) for a total of 5,990,400 pixels, which we’ll call 6 million pixels.

Performance

Intel fans look away, as HP have put their money behind AMD with their Ryzen 7 1800X (3.6 GHz base frequency, up to 4 GHz burst frequency, 16 MB cache, 8 cores) living inside this box. Liquid cooled, the hoses of which are highlighted thanks a couple of arrays of red LEDs inside the case.

The processor is backed up with 16 GB DDR4-2400 SDRAM, made up of 2 x 8 GB modules, leaving room for 2 more if you feel like expanding later.

The GPU is an Nvidia GTX1080 and has some serious metal supports to hold it in place. Being a large case, it is possible to house larger cards like the GTX1080Ti from Asus which requires 2.5x slots. The higher end models come with a motherboard that can support 2x GPUs, while the review model just has a single slot. If you have ambitions of running SLI in the future, you should take this into consideration.

To stay cool, the case features edge vents around the entire edge helping to keep the air flowing through to 2x 120mm fans. This helps the internals stay well within the recommended range, however the noise was slightly higher than expected, likely due to those vents also allowing a few db to be emitted. If you’re wearing headphones or listening to music, you won’t hear it, but if you’re working your way through a steam checkout without noise, you’ll definitely hear it.

Design

Like all good gaming PC cases, there’s large clear panel in the side of the case to let the LED lighting shine through and to put a smile on your face every time you glance to your right and see the hardware that’s driving your entertainment and professional experiences. There’s some other nice touches like an integrated carrying handle should you need to move your gaming rig, its perfectly weighted to make moving easy. The case is pretty heavy at 17.6kg, but for a full tower that’s packed with this much performance, its acceptable. This is the kind of rig you move every now and then, not every weekend to your local LAN party.

If you need to upgrade your internals, you can do this easily with simple thumb screws. Avoiding the need to go find a screw driver is very much appreciated. While the back of the tower is packed with connection options, its convenient to have 2x USB 3.0 Type C ports, 2x USB 3.0 Type A ports, a headphone and microphone jack, and a 3-in-1 media card reader. As someone who still uses a Canon DSLR form time to time, this was the first computer in a while that made it easy to transfer photos, thanks to the full-sized SD-card slot.

The case itself features plenty of angles and a nice carbon-textured finish to the black exterior. This is broken up with a glowing OMEN logo on the front and an illuminated V section, which actually provides more air intakes to keep things cool.

Optical Drive
A hidden DVD writer lies behind a plat in the front of the case. Just press in and the drive pops out, ready to accept any media you have. It is a shame this isn’t a blu-ray drive given the price tag of the device.

Monitor

The OMEN by HP 27 Display is a QHD (or 2560×1440 res) with a 1ms response time and they promote a very healthy 165Hz refresh rate. Regardless of what I tried, the most I was able to unlock was still a very respectable 144Hz. Gaming on this monitor was fast, smooth and gorgeous, the only downside is that it isn’t 4K and when there’s actually 4K monitors for less money, it does make you wonder how much you’re prepared to pay as a premium, or sacrifice, just to have matching PC and monitor.

Overall the G-Sync enabled monitor is bloody nice and after living with an old 27″ Dell for a years, it makes me hate it. If you’re like me and haven’t upgraded your monitor for the last few PCs, its most definitely time, although this monitor may not represent the best value for money available.

One nice feature that is so rarely considered is the convenient headphone port in the right side of the monitor. As someone with a stand and sit desk, my headphones really appreciate not being yanked out of the PC as the desk raises up. There’s also Ambient lighting that’s emitted from the bottom of the display. You can choose between Task Light (white), Screen Glow (tries to bounce off the RGB values on-screen), Static colour (take your pick), Random colour (choose from 10s to 30m switching). This adds a nice touch of user customisation, but doesn’t have a way to match in with custom LEDs in other hardware.

Software

Price and Availability

The 4 Omen Desktop configurations range from A$2,499.00 right up to a massive A$5,699.00 That’s a lot of money for a PC in anyone’s books. Our review unit, the 880-062a was the 2nd most expensive at A$3,999.00.

You can compare models at HP’s Australian store, If you go with a retailer, you’ll likely find a more restricted set of models, but there are discounts to be had. JB Hi-Fi for example offers 2 varieties, the starting price of a much more affordable A$1,613.30. Office Works has just the entry level model for A$1,888.00.

The OMEN 27″ QHD Monitor costs A$1,399.00 which again is fairly steep, but the design and detailing is nice.

Overall

What HP have put together here is a serious gaming rig that comes in enough varieties to suit almost any gamer. The performance is solid, but that’s what you’d expect with a top-end processor and a top-end GPU like the GTX1080. The design of the case would be at home in any LAN, its solid, really high build quality and has expand-ability for days.

The monitor is a really solid compliment to the OMEN Desktop, however its 144Hz and G-sync isn’t enough to recommend as there’s great, fast 4K displays or even 21:9 displays that I’d pick first. It performs well, looks great, but I think is overpriced.

At the heart of it, I wish the PC and monitor were both more affordable, so more people could access this level of performance. If you’re on a budget, you can absolutely build comparable parts cheaper, but you won’t get the same high-level of engineering and design that’s available here.

HP may not be a brand that’s front of mind when you think about gaming, it should be. What HP are doing with the OMEN lineup is impressive and a serious entrant in the gaming market. I’m particularly keen to see what they do with their external GPU in the coming months.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.