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HP Omen 16 (2021) Review

Verdict

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The HP Omen 16 is a capable and affordable machine for mainstream gaming and work, thanks to its solid all-AMD internals and great screen. However, its GPU is outpaced by Nvidia’s offerings and other machines offer better build quality and ergonomics. As such, the Omen 16 is only worth considering if the high-resolution screen is a priority.

Pros

  • Great connectivity and features
  • Solid 1080p gaming performance
  • Excellent AMD processor
  • High-quality, high-resolution screen

Cons

  • AMD graphics can’t compete with Nvidia
  • Mediocre build quality
  • Keyboard and trackpad disappoint

Availability

  • UKRRP: £1299
  • USARRP: $1479
  • EuropeRRP: €1598

Key Features

  • An unusual all-AMD laptopGraphics power comes from the AMD Radeon RX 6600M, while the familiar AMD Ryzen 7 5800H provides the processing grunt – this is rare when so many laptops use Nvidia graphics
  • A large and high-quality screenThe IPS panel is 16.1in across, has a 2560 x 1440 resolution and a 165Hz refresh rate – along with great colours and contrast levels. Games look superb here
  • Good features and connectivityWith plenty of USB ports, HDMI 2.1, a webcam and a card reader, the HP is well-suited for games and creative workloads

Introduction

The HP Omen 16 is a rare and surprising laptop, because it relies on AMD for both its processor and graphics cards.

That’s unusual in a graphics market dominated by Nvidia, and HP has turned to one of AMD’s mid-range Radeon chips to build this machine. With a price of £1299 / $1479 / €1599, a good performance from the RX 6600M could supply serious competition to GeForce-powered portables.

The HP could impress by combining its low price with good graphics performance, but the mid-range gaming market has never been busier. HP’s own Victus 16 deploys an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 for £1199 /$1364 / €1625 without some of the Omen’s bells and whistles. The Dell G15 Ryzen Edition pairs the RTX 3060 with a 15.6in chassis for £1099 /$1399 / €1319, and the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro has a 16in display and RTX 3060 for £1149 / $1359 / €1899.

The Omen’s reliance on AMD graphics is a bold play, and it’s clear that this HP faces an upward battle against the incumbent graphics champion.

Design and Keyboard

  • Sleek design that’s slimmer and lighter than competitors
  • Plenty of ports and features – this laptop is versatile
  • The keyboard is soft and omits the numberpad, and the trackpad disappoints

HP’s Omen machine looks stylish. It’s made from matte-black aluminium and plastic, and the design is discreet. The lid has a small, iridescent logo, and the speakers have a subtle, geometric pattern – that’s it for extravagance. It’s just as slick and subtle as the Lenovo, and more mature than the bright Dell and the affordable Victus.

It comes with some decent practical features, too. The HP has three full-sized USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, and one of those charges devices when the laptop isn’t on. There’s a faster USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, a future-proofed HDMI 2.1 connection, a mini-DisplayPort connector, and an SD card reader. Impressively, most of those ports also stay out of the way of right-handed people using USB mice.

HP Omen 16 keyboard viewed from above

On the inside, connectivity comes from the usual Gigabit Ethernet and dual-band 802.11ax wireless. Above the display is a webcam, but it doesn’t support Windows Hello. The HP also misses out on Thunderbolt. And while its speakers are loud and clear enough to handle games, they’re a bit tinny, and more bass would be welcome.

The HP Omen 16 doesn’t tick every box, then, but it delivers a good slate of features. The series of ports here is faster and more versatile than that included with the HP Victus and Dell G15, and goes one further than the Lenovo by including that card reader. HP has done all this while sticking to decent dimensions, too: this machine’s 23mm-thick body and 2.28kg weight undercut every rival.

That’s a decent start, but the Omen doesn’t succeed in every department. The screen flexes and the underside is rattly – the Lenovo and Dell are more robust. I’d use a protective sleeve when taking the Omen on the road.

A look at the arrow keys

The keyboard is mediocre, too. The buttons are fast and comfortable, so they’re well-suited for typing and mainstream gameplay, but they’re soft compared to the best gaming devices. The Dell offers a more notably crisp experience. HP’s keyboard doesn’t have a numberpad, either, and the power button is – rather annoyingly – installed above the Backspace key. And while the keyboard does have four-zone RGB LED backlighting, the lights look a bit washed-out.

The plastic trackpad is rougher than the glass you’ll see on most other laptops, and its clicking motion is unsatisfying – it’s too resistant at the top of the pad and mushy at the bottom. As ever, I’d recommend that gamers connect a USB mouse instead.

Screen

  • The large diagonal and high resolution make for immersive, sharp gaming
  • Quality is consistently high, with great colours and contrast throughout
  • A 165Hz refresh rate means gameplay is smooth in most situations

The HP’s 16.1in diagonal and 2560 x 1440 resolution means games are crisp and more immersive than on a conventional 15.6in panels with 1080p resolutions – the Omen comfortably exceeds the Dell and Victus notebooks here. The Omen’s 165Hz refresh rate keeps motion smooth, too.

The Delta E of 1.36 and colour temperature of 6368K are fantastic, with the screen covering 94.6% of the sRGB gamut. As such, this panel will comfortably and accurately display virtually every shade required by games.

The HP Omen 16 sitting on a desk

The peak brightness of 345 nits is high enough for indoor and outdoor use, and the contrast ratio of 1277:1 is superb, helping this panel to deliver well-balanced, vibrant colours and decent depth in darker areas.

The Omen 16’s screen suffers no big weaknesses. It’s faster, crisper, and more accurate than the Dell and Victus displays, and it’s excellent for games.

The Lenovo goes one better, though: its 16:10 aspect ratio and 2560 x 1600 resolution mean you get more vertical space, and it’s brighter with slightly better colour performance. And, if you’re a high-end eSports player, you’ll probably want to look for a 240Hz or 360Hz screen instead.

Performance

  • The AMD Radeon RX 6600M is decent, but Nvidia’s GPUs are faster
  • The Ryzen 7 5800H is fantastic for multi-tasking and content creation
  • HP’s machine keeps the temperature and noise levels down

The AMD Radeon RX 6600M graphics core uses the same RDNA 2 architecture as AMD’s mid-range desktop cards, delivering a solid performance at the laptop’s 2560 x 1440 resolution.

I ran Horizon: Zero Dawn at its Ultimate settings and the HP delivered a smooth average of 55fps; it ran Borderlands 3 at 48fps. In addition, the laptop achieved speeds beyond 60fps when I dropped the resolution to 1080p. We wouldn’t be concerned about eSports titles, either: the HP played Rainbow Six Siege at 197fps at 1440p, so you’ll easily be able to run games at the speeds required by the 165Hz panel on this laptop.

A view of the laptop's ports

In isolation, there’s easily enough speed here to play any mainstream game at the screen’s native resolution. But when compared to Nvidia’s RTX 3060, the AMD GPU underwhelms. HP’s own Victus used a low-end RTX 3060 and delivered 1080p frame rates of 78fps in Horizon and 62fps in Borderlands – the former result beats the Omen, while the latter falls behind. The Victus was far faster in Rainbow Six Siege.

The difference was starker when compared with the Dell, which ran the RTX 3060 at a higher power level – it remained faster in Horizon and Rainbow Six Siege, and closed the gap in Borderlands. The Omen scored 8196 in the 3DMark Time Spy test, while the Dell peaked at 8306. And, remember: Nvidia’s GPUs have DLSS support, which helps to boost the frame rate even further for supported games.

All of this doesn’t amount to a terrible bill of health for the Radeon core, but you’ll undoubtedly get faster performance and a greater number of features from the RTX 3060.

HP Omen 16 (2021)HP Victus 16 (2021)Dell G15 Ryzen Edition (2021)
GPURadeon RX 6600MNvidia RTX 3060Nvidia RTX 3060
3DMark Time Spy819674258306

The eight-core Ryzen 7 5800H has its usual, impressive base and boost speeds of 3.2GHz and 4.4GHz. The 16GB of dual-channel memory runs at 3,200MHz, and the SSD delivered read and write speeds of 2859MB/s and 2686MB/s. These are solid speeds, but the drive’s 512GB capacity feels tight if you want to download a sizeable games library.

The Omen’s AMD processor delivered Geekbench scores of 1351 and 7568, which are among the best results I’ve seen from any laptop with this CPU – and its PCMark 10 score of 7215 is excellent, too. As ever, the Ryzen processor is a top choice for content creation, including photo and video editing, and it won’t struggle with multi-tasking or dozens or browser tabs open at once.

HP Omen 16 (2021)HP Victus 16 (2021)Dell G15 Ryzen Edition (2021)
CPURyzen 7 5800HRyzen 7 5800HRyzen 7 5800H
PCMark 10721566396278
Geekbench 5 Single Core135113311301
Geekbench 5 Multi Core756880396733

You’ll only need more power if you want to tackle truly high-end tasks, and you’ll only get it by spending more – or waiting for Intel’s newer chips to arrive later in the year.

The HP Omen 16 laptop is a reasonable thermal performer. Its noise levels are never proved loud or aggressive during gameplay with the laptop running in its standard mode. It was a little quieter during multi-threaded work apps, and virtually silent when tasked with single-threaded applications. There are no throttling issues, and the Omen always proved quieter than the Lenovo and Victus notebooks.

The Omen only made an irritating amount of noise when I ran gaming tests with its Performance mode enabled. And given that it only adds a frame or two to games results, it isn’t worth using.

Battery

  • As usual, this gaming laptop will only play top titles for around 90 minutes
  • It’s far more impressive elsewhere, with enough juice to see you through the day

Like most gaming laptops, the HP doesn’t last very long for gaming – it ran out of juice after 94 minutes in my tests. That’s on a par with rivals, and you should keep the machine plugged in if you want a good gaming experience.

The rear of the HP Omen 16

In a work test, though, the HP was more impressive. It lasted for 6hrs 44mins, which is twice as long as the Lenovo, level with the HP Victus, and a couple of hours behind the Dell. Watching video, the Omen lasted for 9hrs 27mins of playback.

The Omen’s power pack doesn’t break from tradition when gaming, but you’ll happily get through most of a workday with this machine.

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Should you buy it?

You prize screen quality and lightweight design:
The HP has a brilliant screen in a slim, light chassis, and it’s decent in other departments, too – even if it’s never the market leader.

You want ultimate gaming power, or robust design:
Nvidia’s graphics cores are faster than this laptop’s AMD chip, and other laptops offer better build quality and snappier keyboards.

Final Thoughts

The HP’s high-resolution screen delivers fantastic quality, and elsewhere this machine has a brilliant processor, a solid graphics core, plenty of connectivity and a slim design. If those are priorities, consider this portable. But if you want more gaming power, Nvidia’s chips are quicker, and other laptops deliver better build quality and ergonomics.

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Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life.

These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real-world checks, such as how well it runs the most frequently used apps.

We also make sure to use every laptop we review as our primary device to ensure our review is as accurate as possible.

Used the laptop for a week

Used Geekbench 5, PCMark 10 and 3Dmark to test performance

Used a colorimeter to test the display

Used PCMark 10 to test the battery life

FAQs

What warranty is included with this machine?

The HP Omen 16 has a one-year warranty, and three-year upgrade packages are available online.

Trusted Reviews test data

PCMark 10
Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
3DMark Time Spy
CrystalDiskMark Read speed
CrystalMarkDisk Write Speed
Brightness
Black level
Contrast
White Visual Colour Temperature
sRGB
PCMark Battery (office)
PCMark Battery (gaming)
Battery Life
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Quad HD)
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Full HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Quad HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Full HD)
Dirt Rally (Quad HD)
Dirt Rally (Full HD)

Full specs

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CPU
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Front Camera
Battery
Battery Hours
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Resolution
Refresh Rate
Ports
Audio (Power output)
GPU
RAM
Connectivity
Colours
Display Technology
Screen Technology
Touch Screen
Convertible?

Jargon buster

FPS

‘Framerate per second’ indicates how many images are shown within one second. The higher this figure, the smoother in-game motion will appear. Powerful discrete GPUs are far more likely to offer higher framerates compared to integrated graphics housed inside processors.

Nits

The brightness level of a display. 300 nits is regarded as the minimum target for high-end screens.

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