Hands-On with the HP Omen X: A Beast Made for VR, But Not for Portability

HP has made one of the world’s most impressive VR Ready laptops, but power comes at a cost.

While the virtual reality (VR) community eagerly awaits the inevitable tether-free future, the demand for high-end PC hardware to power the current generation of head-mounted displays (HMDs) has never been higher. The launches of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive early last year put some demand on the wallets of early adopters, but 16 months is a long time in the technology industry, and the demands of consumer-grade VR are no longer demanding the top tier of PC hardware.

HTC ViveWhere once there was only $1,200+ (USD) PCs capable of reaching the minimum specification required for the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, now there’s a variety of laptops also purporting to be ‘VR Ready’. MSi was quick to get out of the gate and has established a strong reputation for portability and reliability in the industry, however there’s still often a question of performance over many of their devices. HP, then, can be seen to have gone in entirely the opposite direction.

Expanding the HP Omen range of laptops (of which the higher end devices were already capable of running a VR HMD adequately), the HP Omen X is a performance beast. An Intel Core i7-7820HK processor, 32GB DDR4 RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 as standard (an upgrade to an NVIDIA GeForce 1080 is optional), all the basic elements are there to run near-any VR application exactly as the developers intended.

Of course, the HP Omen X laptop offers 3x USB 3.0 ports as well as both HDMI and Display Port Mini connections, coupled with the above hardware for compatibility across the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and even HTC Vive Pro HMDs. However, having such a comprehensively capable machine does of course come at a cost elsewhere.

HP Omen XWeighing in at 4.35 kg, the HP Omen X is nearly twice that of MSi’s 7RF Apache Pro (2.4 kg), which for the typical VR adopter is a comparable device in all but the consideration of a lower tier graphics card: an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060. This may not seem much of an issue for some, but for developers looking to showcase their wares at trade events or meetups, or enthusiasts intending to use their new laptop to debut the joys of VR to newcomers, the HP Omen X suffers significantly in the area in which laptops are supposed to excel: portability.

The HP Omen X is designed to be the high-end laptop: the only laptop you’ll need for the next five-or-more years. If that’s what you’re in the market for there are few better options in the field. However, if you’re looking for a more flexible option there are laptops at lower price points that are able to deliver similar performance without the intense back strain.

 

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