For a long time, boutique builders have been the only way to get a desktop PC that you could quickly service yourself. Over the last few years, HP’s Omen gaming brand has made considerable strides to incorporate easily upgradable and replaceable components and standardized parts into its line of gaming PCs. Admittedly, this approach inherently risks turning a computer into yet another beige box PC that look like every other desktop. For that reason, I was excited to hear that the upcoming Omen 45L would feature HP’s existing Omen design language, with a user-friendly, slightly custom design. On paper, the HP Omen 45L strikes a perfect balance between mainstream accessibility and unique compared to the rest of the field. HP sent me an Omen 45L for review, the first HP gaming desktop from a major OEM I’ve used in a very long time. Today I’ll share my main takeaways from my experience with the system.
As configured, my HP Omen 45L was spec’d to the gills with an Intel i9-12900K, 64GB of HyperX DDR4 RAM, 2TB WD Black NVMe SSD and an NVIDIA RTX 3090 GPU. Regardless of the configuration, it ships with an 800W 80 Plus Gold-rated PSU and a case with a Cryo Chamber—one of the main reasons why I was excited about the desktop. The Cryo Chamber isolates the 12900K and the rest of the system components, allowing them to cool separately from the radiator. This design also allows plenty of airflow around the GPU and RAM to ensure the components don’t affect the CPU’s cooling. Additionally, I can attest that the gap between the Cryo chamber and the main chamber of the case serves nicely as a handle, making it easier to carry. As configured, the system’s MSRP was $4,049.99, but it is currently on sale for $3,549.99 (as of July 15th, 2022). It was an interesting choice to see HP go with DDR4 on this system as the Intel 12th Gen processors and Z690 motherboards are also capable of DDR5. I believe that HP likely made this decision mostly due to cost.
In addition to the desktop, HP completed the Omen gaming experience by sending me the Omen 27c monitor and HyperX keyboard and mouse. As far as the Omen 27c monitor’s specs go, I think it’s a very nice monitor. However, I do think HP should offer a higher tier monitor beyond the 1440P curved and 4K 27” monitors it offers today. The 27c monitor fits in with the 25L, 30L and 40L Omen PCs. HP needs a bigger, higher quality gaming monitor, like the Omen X Emperium it developed three years ago as a part of NVIDIA’s line of BFGD TVs. While those BFGDs were admittedly a bit overpriced and underwhelming, there are just so many epic gaming monitors out there now. I’d love to see HP throw its hat into the ring with a halo monitor product.
The Design and Build Quality
The overall design and build quality of the Omen 45L was quite good for a major OEM, though the bar admittedly isn’t very high. The nice thing is that HP designed the case itself for the Omen, allowing it to really fit nicely into the overall Omen design language. The Omen 45L is elegant, but simple. The same could be said for the 27c monitor, which had lots of very square and angular aspects to it. I love the nod to the Omen brand in the RGB logo on the front along with the 3 RGB ring fans. It was an interesting choice for HP to not go RGB on the rear exhaust fan while the other fans and CPU block have RGB and I think for a small increased cost it would improve the complete system appearance. Overall, I think the design and integration of the Omen 27c monitor complements the desktop extremely well.
Featuring a blend of brushed metal with glass, the quality of the case itself felt extremely high. That said, I thought the power button was in an odd location and could have been larger and had a more tactile feel. I appreciated HP’s use of a GPU bracket to secure the GPU during shipping and to prevent sagging. However, I believe using the bracket to also route the power cables would have given the system a cleaner appearance. If not that, sleeved power cables would have been nice to improve the premium feel of the system. The previously mentioned RGB Omen-branded CPU cooler is a very nice touch and fits in very well with the overall design language. Still, if you can see it, you end up seeing a lot of the other power and fan cables that aren’t sleeved. It looks a bit like something someone would have built at home without much attention paid to the appearance of cables. This has generally been a problem with many PC OEMs of varying sizes, but boutiques tend to get this part right most of the time. I would welcome HP to look at what boutique builder Maingear has done with its Stealth technology in collaboration with Gigabyte. HP could help it grow as a standard, making cleaner desktops a more cost-effective and common thing.
HP’s system design has four USB ports on the front with only two 5 Gbps ports and six USB ports on the back with two USB 2.0 Type-A ports, one 5 Gbps and one 10 Gbps Type-A ports and the same speed Type-C ports. I think that in this regard HP is just hitting the bare minimum of what’s necessary and should try to do better with that. Sure, I have seen many other major OEMs do the same thing on the rear I/O ports, but ultimately HP Omen should be different. As a gamer myself, I can never have enough USB ports on the back of my machine. Having just built my own Z690 system, the ASUS ROG board had considerably more and faster USB ports. I think a lot of users will be pretty disappointed once they find out how much slower their PC is compared to boutique and custom PCs and how many less ports they have in comparison.
Hands on Experience
The setup was extremely easy and simple, and I really liked that the system was up-to-date when it arrived. I also appreciated that it didn’t feel necessary to set up an account with the Omen Gaming Hub. Speaking of the Omen Gaming Hub, it was nice to have the ability to manage both the desktop and monitor from a single place. That includes the light controls, though I think they could be a little more user friendly and granular. As far as the Omen Light Studio specifically goes, I think it would be nice to have HyperX software built-in so that people who buy HyperX accessories for their HP Omen PC don’t need to load any additional software.
A system with these specs isn’t going to have any trouble playing the latest games, especially since it was attached to a 1440P 27” monitor. Honestly, the 3090 was almost overkill for every game at that resolution; I had no issues running all my games, including Battlefield 2042, at max settings without a single glitch. I would probably recommend the 4K Omen 27 monitor or a Samsung Odyssey G9 if you really want to push the NVIDIA RTX 3090 to its limits. The Omen 27c monitor that HP shipped to me with the system was a nice gaming display, but I was quite surprised by the amount of edge backlight bleed. I would have expected more from a high-end monitor.
The HP Omen overclocking utility uses Intel XTU to benchmark and set performance, with a single-click ‘Turbo Mode’ that allowed me to increase the RAM performance from 3200 MT/s to 3733 MT/s. This delivered a negligible performance increase compared to overclocking the CPU, which requires more granular and painstaking increases of the CPU clock speed. I don’t recommend overclocking a system you want to last you a long time; usually, the risk outweighs the benefits. That said, the Omen 45L has enough cooling for users to push the clock speed a little more; I’d like to see HP offer more automatic overclocking like we see from some of the motherboard vendors.
Regarding actual gaming performance, I played Battlefield 2042 online in a 64-person server at ultra settings. I got an average of 105 fps, so I probably occasionally hit the limit of this monitor in less graphically intensive scenes. Overall, if you plan to max your games out at max settings, the 1440P monitor may be a great fit if you have a powerful GPU inside like an RTX 3080 or 3090 (HP Does not offer AMD GPUs on this system). Regarding temps during heavy gaming sessions, the GPU peaked at 73C and the CPU around 68C, which makes sense when you consider the sheer size of the radiator in the Omen 45L’s ‘Cryo Chamber.’ The design of the 45L enables the GPU to get ample fresh air without interfering with the CPU’s fresh air, enabling both to run cool and quiet during gaming sessions. I did not get to evaluate HP’s support as I did not encounter any issues, but I consider that to be a good thing for this review.
HP’s Omen 45L impressed me on paper when it was first announced, and it’s quite clear that it is even more impressive in real life. While the Omen 45L is quite large, that is also what enables it to be such a powerful, cool and quiet gaming powerhouse. With a top-spec machine utilizing the latest and greatest chips from Intel and NVIDIA, it is a competent gaming machine that looks great and is reasonably priced for a major OEM. That said, I think that gamers will balk at the lack of I/O on the back of the machine, which is inferior to a boutique or custom-built machine. Even compared to Dell’s Alienware Aurora R13 and R14, it has considerably fewer and slower ports on the front and back. I would also like to see HP integrate HyperX more into the brand and user experience, so it is easier for users to manage all their hardware in one place. I’m genuinely excited about what HP has done with the Omen 45L, and it is among the top of my recommendations for a major OEM system but as always, there is still room for improvement.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.