You won’t be impressed by the design or the dim display, but the HP Victus 16 (2023) gives you great gaming performance for the money.
- Strong 1080p gaming capabilities
- Great everyday performance
- Solid value for money
- Underwhelming screen
- Average audio
- Bland design
- Budget gaming graphicsThe RTX 4050 is the new go-to budget laptop offering 1080p performance plus a DLSS 3 frame rate boost.
- Powerful processorAMD’s mid-range mobile CPU has multi-threaded power for gaming, creative apps and more.
- Gaming-focused display16.1-inch 144Hz 1080p display offers balanced spec with a higher refresh rate for competitive gaming.
The new Victus 16 is HP’s latest budget gaming laptop, ready to go toe-to-toe with the more affordable options in Acer’s Nitro and Asus’s TUF entry-level lines. So far, the Victus range hasn’t been quite as successful as those models, failing to the essentials you need for a great gaming experience at an affordable price point.
However, there’s an opportunity for the new model to turn that around, thanks to AMD’s Ryzen 5 7640HS CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics processor. The latter struggles on high-resolution displays but can work perfectly for 1080p gaming, with enough grunt to run modern titles at medium to high detail settings, and DLSS 3 support for when you need a little extra help.
That said, this is an increasingly competitive market, and the HP Victus 16 isn’t the only gaming laptop with this kind of spec, with new models from Acer, Asus and Lenovo combining the RTX 4050 with beefy AMD or Intel CPUs. When you’re up against the likes of the recent Acer Nitro 5 and Nitro 16, you need something extra to stand out.
Design and Keyboard
- Business-like, plastic-heavy styling
- Adequate connectivity
- Average keyboard with limited RGB lighting options
The new HP Victus 16 doesn’t help itself on this count with its workmanlike design, which looks a little more budget business laptop than a hardcore gaming powerhouse. It’s heavy on grey plastics, with a rather plain though RGB-backlit keyboard, and only the vents on the left-hand-side, rear and bottom hint at the laptop’s gaming focus, along with the shiny V logo on the lid. With a 36.9 x 25.9cm desktop footprint and a 2.3kg weight, it’s neither particularly chunky nor surprisingly svelte. It’s exactly what you expect from a basic gaming laptop.
The build quality is decent for the most part. The base feels solid and the keyboard deck holds firm, with thick rubberized bars on the bottom of the unit to keep the vents free and stop any slippage while it’s sitting on your lap or desk. That said, there’s quite a lot of flex in the lid if you apply pressure on the corners, which was something we complained about when we reviewed the 2021 version of the HP Victus 16.
The connectivity is adequate but basic. You get three USB-A 3.2 ports and an HDMI 2.1 output, along with a Gigabit Ethernet port. However, the single USB Type-C is stuck at 5Gbps USB-C 3.2 rather than the 10Gbps USB-C 3.2 Gen 2. It’s a shame if you want to add an external SSD to host your growing games library. We’re also talking Wi-Fi 6 rather than the more new-fangled Wi-Fi 6E, though that’s not such a bother unless you’ve invested in a 6E router.
As for the keyboard, it’s okay but nothing more. The square, flat-topped keys still have a little of the budget business laptop feel, and the backlighting only allows for one colour or pulse pattern across the whole keyboard, rather than the per-key effects you’ll find elsewhere. The layout is fine with the exception of the titchy Ctrl, Alt and FN keys, but there’s a little horizontal wobble in the action which spoils the crisp response. On the plus side, the touchpad is big at 13 x 8cm, and while it’s clearly plastic rather than glass, it’s smooth and accurate in use. You won’t want to bother with it while you’re gaming, but it’s fine for navigating Windows or browsing the Web.
Display and Sound
- 1080p resolution suits the entry-level spec
- Disappointing brightness levels and colour reproduction
- Audio hampered by lightweight tone and boxy sound stage
The screen was the weakest link on the 2021 Victus 16, with lower-than-average brightness levels and poor colour performance. The display on the 2023 model is an improvement, but still far from ideal. We measured the maximum brightness level at an underwhelming 250.8nits, which is going to be workable indoors or at night when you’re gaming, but hard to see near a bright window or outdoors. It can still only display 64% of the colours in the sRGB colour gamut – and under 56% of the more challenging DCI-P3, and colour accuracy is only just on the right side of acceptable.
This isn’t as bad as it sounds if you’re watching streaming video or playing games after dark in subdued lighting, and we had similar complaints about the screen on Acer’s recent Nitro 5. However, it’s definitely not what you might call punchy. This is a shame, as while the full HD resolution can look a little grainy on a 16.1-inch display, it still makes sense on a budget gaming laptop where there’s not enough 3D horsepower for QHD gaming. What’s more, the 144Hz refresh rate is a plus for less demanding games and eSports titles.
Don’t get too excited by the Bang & Olufsen branding on the chassis. The internal speakers go reasonably loud, but the output doesn’t quite have the low-end strength or high-end clarity you really want from a gaming laptop, and the stereo soundstage is boxy rather than wide open. The audio is good enough for casual gaming and streaming, but not particularly immersive.
- Excellent performance in office and creative apps
- Good frame rates in games at 1080p
- DLSS 3 gives you more scope for ray-tracing or higher detail settings
Luckily, the outlook gets brighter when it comes to performance. With six cores pushing twelve threads at speeds of up to 5GHz, the Ryzen 5 7640HS seems to be a very capable mid-range CPU, particularly when paired with 16GB of DDR5 RAM. The HP Victus 16 is significantly faster than the Nitro 5 in both Geekbench 6 and PCMark 10, and even delivered credible results in the Cinebench R23 benchmark. Higher-end laptops with Intel’s 13th gen Core i7 and i9 processors or AMD’s Ryzen 7 CPUs will give you even better scores, but the Victus could definitely handle creative applications as well as gaming if you needed a machine that could do both.
However, it’s the gaming performance that really matters, and here the Victus 16 comes out slightly in front of the Nitro 5. It pulls ahead in our Returnal benchmark, delivering average frame rates of 77 fps at the native screen resolution at the Epic preset with ray tracing turned off, but there are only a few frames per second in it in Cyberpunk 2077, also with ray tracing disabled. RT Ultra settings are still too much of a push for the RTX 4050, though DLSS 3 frame generation can still help you get in reach of 60fps. You still need to drop the RT settings down to hit a steady frame rate without any glitches or momentary breaks.
At this price point, that shouldn’t be a problem. Even with NVIDIA’s DLSS magic, you can no longer expect to run the latest games at 60fps with everything maxed out, and new titles like Starfield and Immortals of Aveum are only making that more obvious. What you can expect is a great experience at 1080p and medium to high settings, with moderate RTX effects. Believe me: that still looks plenty good enough on a 16-inch, 1080p display.
- With roughly four hours of battery life in everyday apps, you need to keep the charger handy
- Expect around five hours of streaming
Gaming laptops aren’t known for their epic battery life, and the more affordable they are, the worse it seems to get. As a result, it’s hard to be too disappointed by the Victus’s miserable four hours and four minutes running PCMark 10’s Modern Office benchmark, but if you’re looking for a laptop you can also use for office work unplugged, you might want to look elsewhere. The news is a little better for streaming video, where I saw the charge level drop by 19% over an hour of watching Netflix. You should get through four to five hours if you’re pushing through a series while you’re on the sofa.
Should you buy it?
You want maximum gaming performance on a budget, and you can survive without a
The Victus 16 doesn’t have the brightest screen, the best sound or the most elegant design, but it’s got what it takes when it comes to 1080p gaming performance. It’s a little ahead of other RTX 4050 laptops when it comes to benchmarks, and will happily run most games at medium to high detail settings, especially with the aid of DLSS 3.
Style and screen quality matter as much or more than gaming frame rates
Even if you can live with the Victus 16’s boring looks and mediocre keyboard, you might find the dull display and poor colour depth a dealbreaker. Sadly, that’s a common issue with more affordable gaming laptops, and you’ll either need to pay more or compromise elsewhere.
It’s a shame to see that HP hasn’t addressed the failings of previous Victus models. The screen is big and the resolution is not a problem, but low brightness levels and poor colour reproduction shouldn’t be an issue on a gaming laptop costing more than £1,000.
The keyboard doesn’t have the quality or RGB skills of the keyboards on Acer’s latest Nitro laptops, and the design, connectivity and build quality aren’t quite where they need to be. At around the same price point, the Nitro 5 is a stronger all-rounder, while Gigabyte’s G5 gives you similar performance for under £1,000. The Asus TUF Gaming A15 (2023) is another strong contender, with a Ryzen 7 CPU and an RTX 4060 GPU for only £30 to £50 more.
The Victus 16 makes up for these shortcomings by giving you great performance for the money, both in office and creative applications and in the latest games. It even keeps up with the Asus in some tests, despite having a less capable GPU. You still need to be realistic about settings and ray-tracking, but you’ve got enough power to make the latest blockbuster games look great at 1080p, plus DLSS 3.0 for added tweaking and future-proofing. If you can live with the display’s disappointments, the bang for your buck might still be enough to swing things the HP Victus 16’s way.
How we test
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 popular apps.
We use review machines as our main laptop for at least a week.
We test the performance via both benchmark tests and real-world use.
We test the screen with a colorimeter and real-world use.
We test the battery with a benchmark test and real-world use.
You might like…
At 2.3 kilograms, the Victus 16 is far from an ultra-portable. But, it isn’t so big that it’s a desktop replacement either. It’ll depend on the individual but it is possible to lug this around, but it may be a struggle for some.
We haven’t tested every model of both of these series of devices but, in our experiences with the HP Victus 16 and Asus TUF Gaming A15, we have found the latter to succeed in more areas.