The fun of PC gaming is serious business. The gaming ecosystem is wider than ever, and continues to grow. Even more so, with the slow but steady progress that Android apps continue to make on Windows OCs, with Google Play games now reaching the beta stage, in some countries. The future is bright. Good omens. Which neatly leads us to HP’s latest Omen 16 gaming laptop.
There are two distinct types of gaming laptops. The super-premium ones, where price no bar and specs no bar, which should tick off the longevity in terms of performance. Then there are more affordable ones (now some are even well under the ₹1,00,000 figure). The HP Omen 16 range, which is quite extensive to say the least, has a foot in both price bands. The variant we are talking about here, the HP Omen 16-B1361TX now has a price tag of around ₹1,45,999 which pegs it close to the midpoint in this range.
Gamers worry about three things largely, before considering the other aspects – the processor, graphics, and display. On all three fronts, this almost seems to have things under control. There’s the Intel Core i7-12700H processor with 16GB RAM as the default spec, the quite powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX3060 graphics (not to be confused with the lesser spec GTX series) and a 16.1-inch IPS (that’s in-plane switching, a good display type to have) with up to 144Hz refresh rate.
Besides, all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a gaming laptop, including the extremely bright keyboard lighting (can be toned down, if that’s what you desire), a fast 1TB solid state drive and a gamut of ports as well as connectivity options.
Unlike Dell’s absurdly flamboyant Alienware laptops, HP’s more restrained design language for this generation of the Omen 16 is more than appreciated. In fact, it is largely a carry-forward from last year’s efforts, and at first glance, it’s not immediately clear if this is a gaming laptop (particularly if you have the keyboard toned down). That should widen acceptability in office, for example.
It is built well. The metallic finish at places adds that dash of premium look, which is more than necessary considering the price tag it sports. The chassis isn’t metal though for the most part, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Mind you, fully make up your mind about splurging on a gaming laptop because this weighs about 2.32 kg (and there’s the power brick to lug around as well) – will you be okay carrying this around?
The display experience can be neatly divided in two parts – the excellent and the perplexing. The former will be all about the quality of the IPS display, the deep black colours which do their bit to make other colours step forward accurately and the 144Hz refresh rate which does make frames smoother as you game (particularly useful in quick action games).
It is perplexing that HP has kept this at the full HD resolution, that’s 1920 x 1080 pixels. Admittedly, we are of the opinion that more pixels in a laptop display don’t serve much purpose, except worsen battery life. But in a premium gaming laptop, you’ll want that longevity ticking off 4K gaming as well. That said, the decision is also understandable, because the graphics when packed in the tight confines of a laptop chassis, heat up faster and may find it difficult to keep up with Ultra HD gaming.
Perhaps, a 2560 x 1440 resolution or whereabouts screen would have made more sense.
This is one of those few gaming laptops that are able to hold the performance better, irrespective of the inevitable heating up, no matter how much you may try to keep the innards ventilated and cool. Even a couple of hours of persistence with racing games didn’t slow this machine down, although the fans do become quite audible at some point.
Part of the credit goes to the generational improvements with the 12th generation Intel Core processors, but equally, with HP’s own Tempest Cooling system that includes dual intake fans, multiple outlet vents and the software that keeps an eye on the metrics.
With Nvidia’s RTX3060 graphics, you’re definitely getting a step-up in terms of performance, over the GTX series that many lower priced gaming laptops bring to the table. A big step forward from the likes of the GTX 1060 and in fact, even the RTX 2060. There is a definite high-performance ceiling that you’ll enjoy here. Ray Tracing, the artificially intelligent Tensor cores, and Reflex for lower latency, are worth their presence.
Gaming laptops and battery life don’t always go hand in hand (to be fair, they never do), and the HP Omen 16 is no different. As a work machine (no gaming, mind you), this lasted us about 6 hours on a single charge – when we were careful with display brightness and what apps were left running in parallel. Game on it, and it’ll hold up for just under 2 hours. The power adapter is a crucial piece of the gaming laptop experience.
HP has made just the right number of tweaks to the Omen gaming laptop experience. Historically, they’ve never been found wanting for performance, which makes generational improvements simpler. A newer generation processor was a must-have, but alongside, a powerful graphics chip and continuing with a mix of the spec sheet and underlying software utilities takes things a step or two forward. This isn’t a generational revolution. It is an evolution, and to be fair, all that was needed.