If you’re shopping for a gaming laptop that has everything—excellent design, moderately useful second screen, and a blazing fast future-proof graphics card—then the HP Omen X 2S is definitely it. It’s not cheap, but it’s the best gaming laptop we’ve tested to date, with a design that will appeal to anyone that wants a laptop that will turn heads—whether you game or not.
The most eye-catching part of the Omen’s design is the second screen, which occupies a trackpad-sized space above the keyboard and below the screen. By default it gives you a quick readout of your system’s settings, but it can do so much more.
Beyond that, the HP Omen does what a high-end gaming laptop should do: it delivers desktop-class performance in recent games and can go toe-to-toe with most systems on the latest and greatest, thanks to the included Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU. Add it up and you have one of the most compelling gaming laptops of the year.
About the HP Omen X 2S
The HP Omen X 2S, as the “Omen” branding implies, is part of HP’s gaming laptop lineup. This particular model is effectively the current flagship, delivering best-in-class quality, a second screen feature that you will only find on a few other laptops, and top-tier design front and back.
Here are the full specs on the unit we reviewed:
- Processor: Intel Core i7 9750H (2.6GHz, 4.5GHz boost), up to 9th-gen i9 available
- Memory: 16GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM (2x8GB) up to 32GB available
- Storage: 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD (256GB to 2TB available)
- Display: 15.6-inch 1080p 144Hz anti-glare IPS backlit LCD
- Second Display: 6-inch 1080p touchscreen
- Ports: 3 USB 3.1 Type-A, HDMI 2.0, Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, headphone jack
- Touchpad: Precision Touchpad
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 (8GB DDR6), RTX 2070 also available
- Wireless: 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0
- Speakers: Bang & Olufsen, Dual Speakers, Omen Audio Control Support DTS:X Ultra
- Battery: 6-cell, 72WHr Lithium-polymer battery
- Charger: 230W Smart AC Power Adapter
- Weight: 5.24lbs
- Dimensions: 14.26 x 10.3 x 0.78 inches (W x H x D)
- Warranty: 1-year limited warranty, 90 days phone support
The Omen’s base price is actually well under $2,000, but that’s with the mid-range RTX 2070, which is a bit slower than our review unit’s 2080 or the new “Super” RTX GPUs that Nvidia released recently.
For anyone that loves the Omen’s design and second screen but doesn’t need top-notch graphics, then the base machine isn’t a bad choice. It ships with 16GB of RAM, which is good, but just a 256GB SSD, so you'll want to upgrade there. SSD prices are falling fast, so that could also be something you tackle later.
Speaking of which, you can kit out the Omen with a 2TB SSD, 32GB of RAM, a 240Hz display, and a 9th-gen i9 processor if you want to really push the limits. It'll cost you well over $3,000, but we don't recommend it. It's an awful lot to spend and this machine just isn't built to cool something like that.
This review unit, which hovers around $2,500 right now, is definitely the sweet spot.
What We Like
Superb gaming ability
Though there are a few faster laptop GPUs on the market now, there isn’t much that can outduel the Omen’s 2080 Max-Q right now. In our tests it was able to easily handle a wide variety of recent games on High or Ultra settings at 1080p, with framerates well above 60 frames per second.
In Destiny 2, for example, the Omen X 2S with its 2080 Max-Q never dipped below 90 frames per second, even in the chaotic social hub. During intense action the machine stayed locked pretty much constantly at 144 frames per second, even on the highest possible presets.
The story was similar on other games that we have tested for years, like Metro 2033 and Rise of the Tomb Raider, with the machine averaging well over 100 frames per second, usually locked right around 144 fps.
In our more formal Metro Exodus benchmark, which seriously stresses the GPU, the Omen X 2S still kept a respectable 25 frames per second average on the “Extreme” preset. That’s not going to compete with the latest desktop GPUs, but it's nearly playable, and you can easily boost the framerate by lowering it to High or Ultra settings.
Of course, any gaming laptop you buy is going to be outdated eventually. Nvidia has already released a line of "Super" 20-series cards, including the 2070 Super Max-Q which performs similarly to this 2080 Max-Q despite costing a bit less. We also expect Nvidia to drop newer 30-series GPUs sometime at the end of this year or beginning of next.
It’s a losing battle, especially because you can’t upgrade the internal GPU. But gaming laptops are at something of an inflection point at the moment, with ray tracing to become a common inclusion in just about every game going forward. The RTX 2080 puts you just on the right side of that point, providing the hardware acceleration necessary to handle these lighting effects in modern game engines, while maintaining a very high frame rate.
It’s something we consider absolutely essential if you’re going to buy into a high-end gaming machine—especially with both new consoles from Sony and Microsoft supporting the feature in hardware. Add it up and the Omen X 2S is positioned to be an effective gaming companion for years to come—especially if you don't mind gaming at 1080p.
Both displays do their job well
Though the main 1080p 144Hz display isn’t the flashiest thing we’ve ever seen, it’s pleasingly matte and offers a smooth refresh rate. I didn’t have any issues using it anywhere in my house, with the display just bright enough to be useful outdoors in the shade while also able to eliminate reflections in my living room despite some poorly-placed lamps.
The main display itself offers middling contrast, but what you’re paying for here is speed. In-game action looks crisp and accurate, especially in faster-paced shooters or older games where the framerate can really get pushed into the 100 frames-per-second range.
The second display is what sets the Omen X 2S apart from nearly every gaming laptop on the market. We’ve seen a few different laptops add these second screens this year, mostly creative workstations or as touchscreen replacements for the standard trackpad. The screen in this case is entirely separate, about the size of a trackpad, and offers a full 1080p resolution. It’s glossy, so you will see more reflections, but it works great as a secondary display.
Unlike those other devices, this is designed from the jump to be something you'll use while gaming. HP has designed its "Command Center" app to live here by default, letting you keep tabs on another app while gaming. There are lots of potential uses here, from keeping tabs on a Twitch stream to just watching some Netflix while you're waiting for a level to load.
In my testing I found it most useful as a way to access other apps I was already using (like Spotify, Discord, or my web browser) without having to leave the game I was playing on the main screen. It can also be used to monitor system settings, though the Omen’s fans do a good enough job of telling you when the system is overly taxed as it is.
The main drawback to the display is the Command Center software is a bit buggy. The touchscreen controls don't work while playing a game in full screen, and if the app crashes getting it back in its place usually required a full restart. Most of the time, though? It works great.
The look and feel is premium all the way
When you’re paying more than $2,000 for a laptop, you expect it to feel nice. The HP Omen didn’t exceed my expectations, but it certainly met them. The keyboard is easy to type on, offers all the chromatic customization you want in a laptop, and the touchpad being off to the side wasn’t nearly as much of a hassle as I thought it would be.
The outer design of the Omen doesn’t hide the fact that it’s a gaming laptop, but it artfully balances the need to appeal to hardcore gamers with the reality that some people don’t want a laptop that looks like something out of Close Encounters. The gamer aesthetic isn’t all bad—I love that the color of the logo on the outer shell can be customized—but a little bit goes a long way.
What We Don’t Like
There are more powerful machines to be had
The biggest problem with committing to a high-end gaming laptop is that something better around the corner. In the case of the HP Omen X 2S, that’s already happened with Nvidia’s new line of “Super” 2080 GPUs.
Pushed just a bit faster than the original RTX lines, these “Super” variants offer more speed and performance at a small premium. That’s pushed this laptop’s price down to the $2500 range, but that’s still a lot to pay for a laptop that isn’t best-in-class anymore, and there are 2070 Super laptops that can nearly match it as well.
It’s a tricky conundrum, especially since you can’t swap out the GPU like you can on a desktop PC. You’re in this for the long haul. The RTX 2080 at least offers hardware-accelerated ray tracing, a beefy 9th-gen i7 processor, and the ability to stay cool under pressure. It should be able to keep up with most new releases just fine, especially with development of many console titles focusing on a common denominator that isn’t far off from what this laptop can already do.
This is one big laptop with poor battery life
File this one under “obvious” but this isn’t a lightweight laptop. It weighs 5.25 pounds, it has fans that sound like they could propel it across water, and the screen is large and ungainly. This is a laptop that you move once or twice a day, at most.
Battery life is a very minor concern with most gaming laptops, since they’re just not meant to be moved around away from outlets that often. On average we see the best gaming laptops get about 2-3 hours in our rundown test, which scrolls through a list of 40 popular websites.
We ran this through the rundown test a few different times. Two times it lasted about two hours before giving up. The third? A putrid 40 minutes, as it seemed like something engaged the GPU during the test.
The fans are extremely loud
Again, this isn’t uncommon for a gaming laptop, but the Omen gets hot and its fans run loud. It’s not as bad if you’re in an open space or have the laptop propped up somewhere, but my desk is built into the wall and I had to use headphones just to hear what was going on without blasting the laptop’s speakers.
The keyboard/trackpad layout isn’t for everyone
This is something I actually like, but I’m leaving it here in case it’s just not your cup of tea. The Omen’s second screen lives above the keyboard, necessitating that the entire keyboard be slid down to the bottom of the machine, and the trackpad slid over to the right side.
It’s an odd layout, but it works for gaming. I actually could use the trackpad for gaming and still easily access the WASD keys—which are how most games are mapped by default (since they assume you’re using a mouse). On a regular laptop with a centered trackpad my hands would be too close together, so it’s a benefit in that way.
The downside here is there’s nowhere to rest your wrists; the keyboard comes within a quarter inch of the bottom of the deck. The laptop includes a separate rubberized wrist wrest to solve for this, but it's another big solid object you’ll need to lug around with you if you plan to game on the go.
Should You Buy It?
Absolutely—it’s one of the best gaming laptops we’ve tested this year
Gaming laptops are always something of a moving target. Manufacturers rush out multiple designs a year and update them as new GPUs come out. Gamers need the latest GPUs to be able to handle more intense games, but it does leave buyers with a conundrum: when is the best time to invest?
The Omen X 2S started shipping in the second half of last year, but the Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU has held up surprisingly well, and the prices have started to come down. Though there are faster “Super” versions of these GPUs out now, those are most appealing if you were already looking to stretch what Nvidia’s lower-end 2060 or 2070 GPUs could do. We’ll confirm with our own testing soon, but the “Super” versions of the RTX 2080 don’t seem to justify the near-$3,000 price tags right now unless you absolutely must have the best of the best.
In our tests, the 2080 easily tore through benchmarks for older games like Destiny 2, Fortnite, and Rise of the Tomb Raider. In most cases it could push the 1080p 144Hz display to the limit, and you can always hook up a 4K monitor if you want a sharper, more colorful picture and don’t mind a dip in frame rate.
Otherwise, the Omen X 2S is an awesome companion for anyone that wants high-speed gaming in a machine that looks great, feels great, and has enough power to stand up to AAA games for years to come. It’s pricey at $2,500—and with gaming laptops you’re stuck with this GPU until you buy a whole other machine—but this shouldn’t be a laptop you’re itching to replace in a year or two.
Gaming laptops aren’t necessarily for everyone, but if you need this kind of power and don’t mind the weight, design, and lack of portability, the Omen X 2S is one of the best gaming laptops money can buy.