Once upon a time, a tiny company called VoodooPC built some of the most incredible gaming computers around. Now, its owner HP is paying homage with the Omen — the first serious gaming laptop the company has ever made.
No, the Voodoo brand is not coming back, and the Omen doesn't officially have "VoodooDNA", despite the throwback logo prominently displayed on its screen. Available later today starting at £1,299, the HP Omen is simply a potent gaming laptop gunning straight for the Razer Blade. In other words, it's not a giant brick: like its Razer rival, the Omen is a sleek, matte black anodised-aluminium machine, just 19.9mm thick, with a unibody chassis milled from a single block of metal.
Inside, you'll similarly find a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of memory, and mid-range Nvidia Maxell graphics on tap. While it's only GTX 860M graphics in the Omen instead of the GTX 870M in the Blade, HP claims the Omen's cooling solution makes a difference; it not only keeps the laptop's surfaces cooler but gives the graphics chip a little more headroom. In order to get the airflow just right, HP says it had to raise the laptop's chromed hinge quite a bit, which also made room in back for its four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI socket, Mini DisplayPort, and headset jack.
HP's USB to Ethernet adapter comes bundled with the system.
The Omen is a bit of heavy beast at 2.1 kilos, but that makes sense knowing it has a large 15.6-inch touchscreen, HP's extra-wide Control Zone touchpad, speakers with Beats Audio, and a specially tuned keyboard with six programmable keys and programmable RGB backlighting. What you won't find is a crazy high-res 3200 x 1800 display. Instead, HP goes with a more framerate-friendly 1080p panel with 70 per cent colour gamut and wide viewing angles.
While you can't upgrade most components, HP will offer configs with 4 GB of video memory, 16 GB of RAM, as well as faster, higher-capacity PCI-Express solid state drives that allow the machine to boot in five seconds flat.
Clearly, we'll need to get our hands on the HP Omen to see how potent the laptop might be, but one important customer is already impressed. Rahul Sood, the outspoken founder of VoodooPC, told me he couldn't find anything he didn't like about the new laptop. "To be honest, when they brought it to me, I was looking to be disappointed, but I'm not. It's quite good," he said.
That's pretty high praise coming from the guy who saw the brand he built wither and die at HP, and who serves on the advisory board of Razer, which just so happens to build this laptop's prime competitor. Incidentally, Sood recently left his latest job at Microsoft Ventures to create a new game-centric startup. We're eager to hear if his new company, Unikrn, will build some killer gaming hardware of its own.