This affordable HP Omen machine is a rare beast – a laptop that relies on AMD for its processor and graphics. The Radeon RX 6600M laptop GPU boasts the same RDNA 2 architecture used in AMD’s mid-range desktop cards. The 6600M deploys 1,792 stream processors alongside a 2416MHz boost clock, and it has 8GB of memory. Meanwhile, AMD’s now familiar Ryzen 7 5800H processor has eight SMT enabled Zen 3 cores (16 threads), alongside base and boost speeds of 3.2GHz and 4.4GHz.
HP OMEN 16 Review
The rest of the machine’s specification is respectable for the money too, comprising 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory, and a 512GB WD SN730 NVMe SSD, along with support for dual-band Wi-Fi 6, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 5.2. On the outside, there’s one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port and three slower, full- sized USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports. The Omen also has a future-proof HDMI 2.1 output and micro SD card slot, but no Thunderbolt, and its 720p webcam doesn’t support Windows Hello.
The display is also surprisingly good for this price. It’s a 16.1 in IPS panel with a 165Hz refresh rate, and its 2,560 x 1,440 resolution goes further than the 1080p screens used in most rivals.
HP has packed this hardware into a discreet, good-looking case, which is made from a mix of aluminium and plastic, and its dimensions impress – the Omen weighs 2.28kg and measures just 23mm thick.
The Gaming Mood
Build quality is middling, though, and be aware that the underside rattles and the screen flexes too much. It’s not a disaster, but a protective sleeve would be prudent. The Omen also falters in the ergonomic department. Despite the HP’s width, the keyboard doesn’t have a number-pad, and the power button is annoyingly installed above the Backspace key, where it’s all too easy to tap accidentally. The keys themselves are fast and comfortable to use, but they’re soft and lack travel compared with the Mechanical keyboards on pricier gaming laptops.
For casual gaming, the gaming keyboard is fine, but no better. The trackpad’s plastic surface is rougher than the glass you’ll often find elsewhere as well, and its clicking motion never satisfies – it’s too stiff and shallow in the top half of the pad and too deep at the bottom. Use a office mouse instead.
HP’s biggest competition comes from the 15.6in Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, which is our favourite budget laptop. It’s thicker and heavier than the HP, with similar build quality. It has better USB connection options, but no SD card slot and a 1080p display. If you want the Lenovo with the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H and 16GB of memory, it will cost under $1500 and you can pick between the Radeon RX 6600M and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060.
If you want the HP Omen with the RTX 3060 then you’ll have to pay $1500 for the 15.6in version – it’s currently unavailable in its 16.1in guise.
AMD’s graphics core delivers solid 1080p rasterization performance. In Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, its 99th percentile of 45fps with a 62fps average is easily playable, and it wasn’t far behind in Cyberpunk 2077. Its Doom Eternal average of 173fps is good, showing that undemanding games will be able to run at high frame rates.
The AMD GPU struggled with our test games at the screen’s 2,560 x 1,440 native resolution, however, and couldn’t achieve smoothly playable frame rates in any of them except Doom Eternal. It will still be able to handle undemanding esports titles at this resolution, but you’ll want to run trickier titles at 1,920 x 1,080.
While the Radeon RX 6600M does the job, though, Nvidia’s RTX 3060 is better. In the Lenovo, this Nvidia GPU ran at 125 W, and it was consistently quicker – with 7fps and 9fps leads in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Cyberpunk 2077. The Radeon also struggles with ray tracing, with the 99th percentile dropping down to 28fps in Metro Exodus with High ray tracing at 1080p.
It’s a shame because games look superb on the Omen’s panel. The size and resolution make games immersive, and the 165Hz refresh rate keeps motion smooth. The delta E of 1.36 and color temperature of 6,368K are both excellent. Combine that with the panel’s 94.6 per cent sRGB coverage level and you have a screen that accurately produces virtually every shade required by games. The contrast level of 1,277:1 is strong, and means this display offers ample punch and depth in all situations, while the brightness level of 345cd/m2 is high enough for indoor and outdoor use.
The Ryzen processor is great too. Its Handbrake score of 592,468 is superb, even for this chip, and the HP’s overall result of 226,984 is better than any results we’ve seen from Intel’s current mobile gaming CPUs. Meanwhile, the SSD’s read and write speeds of 2866MB/sec and 2695MB/sec are fine, if unspectacular – the storage speed won’t slow down the machine in everyday use, although you’ll fill that 512GB of space quickly with game installs.
The Omen is never a poor thermal performer either. Its noise levels are moderate and modulated during gameplay, and the output is more consistent during multi-threaded work tasks, and virtually silent in standard Windows use. Warm air is pumped from the rear, and the external panels never became hot or uncomfortable to touch.
The Omen’s battery life isn’t surprising. It lasted for four hours when working and 90 minutes during gaming, with the former a bit worse than the Lenovo and the latter slightly better. Finally, the speakers are loud and clear, so they’re usable for gaming, but they lack bass and they also sound a bit tinny.
The HP Omen 16 combines solid thermal performance with a high-quality display, first-rate processor and attractive design. However, it does also have some shortcomings. The keyboard and trackpad are mediocre, and the AMD GPU can’t compete with the equivalent Nvidia hardware, and it can’t handle games at the machine’s native resolution either. If screen quality is your top priority, this is a great buy for the money. For most gamers, though, the Lenovo Legion 5 remains the better budget choice.
The processor and screen excel, but HP’s affordable machine is hindered by its GPU and a few other shortcomings.