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Don‘t Buy an HP Omen 16 Until You Read This Comprehensive Review

The HP Omen 16 is one of the most anticipated gaming laptops of the year, packing powerful hardware and features into a sleek design. But with a starting price of over $1,300, it‘s a significant investment. Is it worth your hard-earned money or should you look at other options?

In this detailed review, we‘ll take a deep dive into everything the Omen 16 has to offer, from specs and performance to design and ergonomics. By the end, you‘ll have all the facts to decide if this portable gaming powerhouse deserves a spot on your desk. Let‘s jump in!

HP Omen 16 Overview: Specs Appeal

First, let‘s take a high-level look at what the HP Omen 16 brings to the table. It‘s available in multiple configurations with either Intel or AMD processors. The Intel models top out with a 14-core i9-13900HX CPU, while AMD variants peak with the 8-core Ryzen 9 7940HS.

For graphics, you can equip the Omen 16 with up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 with 8GB GDDR6 VRAM. Combined with up to 32GB DDR5 RAM and 2TB of SSD storage, this laptop is primed to crush the latest AAA games. Other notable features include:

  • 16.1-inch IPS display with up to QHD (2560×1440) resolution and 165Hz refresh rate
  • Full RGB backlit keyboard with anti-ghosting
  • Extensive selection of ports including Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, and mini DisplayPort
  • Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity
  • HP Omen Gaming Hub software for performance monitoring and tweaking

On paper, the HP Omen 16 looks like a very capable machine for hardcore gamers and content creators alike. But impressive specs don‘t always tell the full story. Let‘s examine some key aspects more closely.

Design & Build Quality

Gaming laptops have a reputation for garish aesthetics with aggressive angles and RGB overload. But the HP Omen 16 takes a more understated approach with its sleek, minimalist look. The black aluminum chassis has an elegant brushed finish that looks great without drawing too much attention.

Build quality feels solid and hefty at around 5.3 pounds. The hinge is sturdy with no screen wobble. My only nitpick is the all-plastic bottom panel, which flexes slightly under pressure. But overall, the Omen 16 oozes a premium vibe.

Port selection is excellent, with the majority located along the back edge for tidy cable management. You get a full-sized HDMI 2.1 port, mini DisplayPort, 3 USB-A ports, 2 USB-C (one with Thunderbolt 4), Ethernet, and a headphone jack. The only thing missing is an SD card slot.

Display Impresses Most of the Time

The 16.1-inch display is one of the highlights of the Omen 16. My test unit came with the QHD 165Hz IPS panel and it looks fantastic for gaming and content consumption. Colors are vibrant and accurate, covering 100% of the sRGB spectrum. Contrast is also impressive at 1250:1.

With a peak brightness of 320 nits, the screen is usable in most indoor situations, but visibility suffers in direct sunlight. The glossy coating also makes reflections an issue near windows. A matte finish would have been preferable.

While the image itself is excellent, I‘m disappointed HP stuck with a cramped 16:9 aspect ratio instead of moving to a taller 16:10 like many competitors have. The huge bottom bezel makes the omission even more glaring and limits screen real estate.

Keyboard is a highlight

The keyboard is another strong point of the Omen 16. The full-size layout ditches the numpad for a less cramped feel and has a satisfying clicky response. Key travel is a bit shallow, but the switches actuate decisively.

Per-key RGB backlighting is bright and highly customizable through the Omen Light Studio app. You can personalize each key or choose from multiple preset effects. The backlighting is even, with no noticeable hotspots.

Below the keyboard is a large glass trackpad with Microsoft Precision drivers. Tracking is smooth and multi-touch gestures work flawlessly. The click mechanism is average – not too stiff but a bit hollow sounding. I always prefer using a mouse for gaming anyway.

Audio leaves you wanting more

The dual speakers located on the bottom edge of the Omen 16 are underwhelming. While they get reasonably loud, bass response is lacking and highs sound tinny at max volume. Positional audio in games is imprecise. A decent gaming headset is a must-have here.

HP touts the speakers as tuned by Bang & Olufsen, but that feels more like marketing fluff than a meaningful certification of quality. The speakers are serviceable for casual use but fail to impress as much as the laptop‘s other attributes.

Middling webcam

The Omen 16 comes with a basic 720p webcam that‘s frankly not up to par for a premium laptop in 2023. Images look grainy, especially in low light, and dynamic range is poor. The lack of an IR sensor also means no facial recognition support for Windows Hello.

HP really should have equipped this laptop with a higher resolution 1080p sensor and IR functionality. The webcam is likely an afterthought since it‘s a gaming-focused machine, but with the rise of remote work and digital communication, a better camera would have boosted this laptop‘s versatility.

Real-world gaming performance

Of course, raw gaming performance is the main reason to consider the HP Omen 16. My review unit came with an Intel Core i7-12700H processor, Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti graphics (150W), 16GB DDR5 RAM, and a 1TB SSD. This is one of the higher-end configurations just shy of the flagship Core i9/RTX 3080 specs.

Unsurprisingly, the Omen 16 chewed through every game I threw at it on the QHD display, including Cyberpunk 2077, Elden Ring, and Forza Horizon 5. With graphics settings maxed out, frame rates hovered between 60-70 fps, only occasionally dipping into the high 50s during intense scenes. Esports titles like CS:GO and Overwatch easily surpassed 200 fps.

The 165Hz screen kept motion looking buttery smooth with no perceptible ghosting. G-Sync support also eliminated any screen tearing. The only caveat is that fan noise becomes quite loud under full load – up to 54 decibels according to my measurement. You‘ll definitely want to use headphones while gaming.

Thermal performance is a highlight, with the redesigned cooling system keeping temps under control. The CPU peaked at 86°C and GPU at 78°C after 30 minutes of gaming, which is impressive considering the slim chassis. The surface above the keyboard gets toasty but never uncomfortably so.

When not gaming, the Omen 16 easily handled my typical workload of web browsing with dozens of tabs open, light photo editing, and 4K video playback. This laptop has the chops to double as a productivity machine when you‘re not fragging foes.

Battery life

Gaming laptops are notorious for short battery life and the HP Omen 16 is no exception. With a sizeable 83 watt-hour battery, I averaged just under 5 hours of mixed use at 60% brightness with RGB lighting off. That‘s below average for a modern ultraportable.

Dropping the refresh rate from 165Hz to 60Hz added about 45 minutes of stamina. Battery saver mode eeked out another 20 minutes on top of that. But as soon as you start gaming unplugged, expect the battery to drain in well under 2 hours. The power-hungry hardware simply demands too much juice.

Like most gaming laptops, the Omen 16 is meant to be used while plugged in the majority of the time. It‘s portable enough for the occasional coffee shop trip but not an all-day mobile warrior. Keep your expectations in check.

Is the HP Omen 16 Worth Buying?

The HP Omen 16 is an excellent choice for gamers who want a stylish, powerful laptop that doesn‘t skimp on performance or build quality. The sleek design, vibrant high refresh rate display, and extensive port selection are standout features. Gaming frame rates are also stellar thanks to the cutting-edge CPU and GPU options.

However, the Omen 16 falls short in a few areas. Lackluster speakers, a mediocre webcam, and unimpressive battery life are disappointing for the price. The 16:9 display aspect ratio also feels dated compared to the taller panels competitors offer.

If those shortcomings are not dealbreakers for your needs, the HP Omen 16 is absolutely worth considering. It delivers top-notch gaming performance and a premium design that turns heads without being obnoxious. The plentiful configuration options also let you tailor specs to your budget.

But if you frequently game on the go or need a laptop for heavy webcam use, there may be better alternatives to the Omen 16. The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro and Asus ROG Strix G15 offer comparable performance with 16:10 displays. And the Razer Blade 17 has vastly superior speakers and webcam quality, albeit at a significantly higher price.

Ultimately, the HP Omen 16 earns a solid recommendation for its intended use case of high-performance gaming in a well-built, attractive chassis. Just be aware of its limitations in other areas. Carefully evaluate your priorities and choose the configuration that best aligns with your needs and budget.

The HP Omen 16 is a great choice for gamers who prioritize:

  • Sleek, minimalist design
  • Powerful Intel/AMD CPUs and Nvidia RTX graphics
  • High-quality QHD 165Hz display
  • Extensive port selection including Thunderbolt 4
  • Full RGB keyboard and large trackpad
  • Solid thermal performance

Consider other options if you need:

  • Extra-long battery life
  • Exceptional speakers or webcam
  • Tall 16:10 display aspect ratio
  • The lightest possible form factor

With the right expectations in mind, the HP Omen 16 makes a stylish, powerful, and feature-rich gaming laptop that‘s easy to recommend. Just be mindful of its few weak points and choose your configuration carefully for the best value.