HP’s Omen 25L and 30L desktop lineup got a design refresh, along with some improved cooling back in May. Thanks, likely, in large part to a combination of COVID-related delays and recent Nvidia GPU launches, we’re just now getting to take a close look at the larger of the two, the HP Omen 30L, to see if it's one of the best gaming PCs.
Aside from new chassis designs, HP is also focusing on using familiar name-brand parts this time around, which helps the big-box brand deliver a configurable system that’s more like what you’d get from smaller companies like iBuypower or Maingear. That’s a smart move on HP’s part as far as we’re concerned, because it also means pretty much everything is standard and user-upgradable. But the system HP shipped us with a Core i9-10900K and an RTX 3080, while certainly powerful, could improve performance with better CPU cooling. There’s also quite a bit of pre-installed software here, though HP does a mostly good job of keeping it hidden.
But despite being a much larger company than much of its competition in the custom gaming desktop realm, HP's biggest problem here -- at least currently at the end of 2020 -- seems to be stock issues. There were lots of configuration options similar to our test system available from HP.com, Amazon, Best Buy and elsewhere leading up to the holiday season. But after Cyber Monday and for at least a couple weeks afterward, almost all configurations with current-gen RTX 3080 or RTX 3090 graphics cards were sold out. As we wrote this intro, a similar configuration with a slightly lower-end CPU, half the SSD storage and the same RTX 3080 as in our review unit was available on Amazon for a reasonable price of about $2,900. But when we reloaded the page minutes later, it was also sold out, save for from a third-party seller charging a much-inflated $4,179.
HP Omen 30L Specs
|Processor||Intel Core i9-10900K|
|Motherboard||Custom HP Z490 (8703), Micro-ATX|
|Memory||32GB HyperX DDR4-3200|
|Graphics||Custom HP RTX 3080 (10GB GDDR6X)|
|Storage||2TB WD Black by Omen NVMe SSD|
|2TB Seagate HDD|
|Networking||Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201|
|Front Ports||2x USB 3.0 Type A|
|Rear Ports (Motherboard)||2x USB 2.0 Type-A|
|2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A|
|1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C|
|2x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A|
|3x Audio jacks|
|Video Output (GPU)||3x DisplayPort 1.4a|
|2x HDMI 2.1|
|PSU||Cooler Master 750W|
|Case||HP Omen 30L|
|Cooling||120 mm AIO (w/ fan)|
|1x 120 mm Cooler Master intake|
|1x 80mm exhaust|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Dimensions||17.7 x 16.8 x 6.6 inches / 450 x 427 x 168 mm|
|Price As Configured||~$3,109.00|
Design of the the HP Omen 30L
There’s nothing that veers dramatically from the gaming desktop norm with HP’s Omen 30L, but that’s perfectly fine. Rather than something like a big cube, the Omen 30L is a classic mid-tower, standing 17.7 inches tall, 16.8 inches deep and 6.6 inches wide. It comes in basic black, with glass front and left side panels.
Despite the solid-glass front, airflow shouldn’t be a major issue because the front of the case has metal mesh sides that are over 2 inches wide and run from top to bottom. That said, the Omen could still do with better cooling, as you get just the one front intake fan, a smaller 80mm exhaust at the back and another 120mm fan on the small AIO radiator mounted to the PC case’s top. While lesser CPUs should be fine with the 120 mm AIO included here, HP sent the Omen with a Core i9-10900K, which would be better served by a bigger radiator. More on that later.
The front gets a distinctive, look thanks to a large diamond-shaped RGB light above the Omen branding, which harkens back to the Omen brand’s VodooPC roots, but in a minimalist fashion. Below the diamond and the branding is a 120mm Cooler Master fan with an RGB ring behind a tinted sheet of glass, giving the case a monolith-like look with RGB accents.
Components and Upgradeability for the HP Omen 30L
The fan looks good and never got noticeably loud during our testing. But, oddly, the lighting of the front fan doesn’t sync with the rest of the system -- or at least it didn’t with the included HP Omen Gaming Hub software. But after a few uses, the software prompted me to download a beta version of Omen Light Studio, which then flawlessly coordinated the RGB between the diamond-shaped Omen light on the front, the fan at the bottom, the RAM and an RGB light strip tucked up in the top. I’d argue that Corsair does RGB better with its Vengeance i7200, but the light show here isn’t bad after you install a bit of extra software.
As with most high-end desktops we’ve looked at in recent months, HP pairs a current high-end mainstream Intel CPU (the Core i9-10900K in this case) with our current best graphics card pick, the Nvidia RTX 3080. This time around the company is playing up its use of familiar brands in its other components too.
In the roughly $3,109 configuration that HP sent us for testing, you also get 32GB of HyperX memory clocked at 3,200 MHz, along with ample storage. The boot drive here is a 2TB “WD Black by Omen” SSD, (which appears to be a custom drive, rather than an off-the shelf WD Black SSD), along with a 2TB, 7,200 RPM Seagate hard drive. The power supply is a 750W Cooler Master model, the same company that makes the RGB front intake fan.
Around back are seven more USB ports that, while labeled with tiny numbers to designate their speed, are all black. That will likely lead to some confusion when trying to plug in an external device that needs the fastest speed. You get two USB 2.0, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 and two USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports, all of the Type-A variety, as well as a single USB-C port that’s also USB 3.2 Gen 2. Also here is a Gigabit Ethernet jack and three analog audio jacks.
Continuing the external tour to the ports, you get a pair of USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) in a recessed angled panel up top, alongside separate headphone and mic jacks and a slim power button that, while it’s easy enough to press, looks like it would be more at home on a laptop than a desktop.
There’s a whole lot of unused black space on the motherboard’s I/O plate, but at least HP covers the basics here and provides three speedy ports. Below these ports you’ll find the video connections on the graphics card: three DisplayPorts 1.4a and a single HDMI 2.1.
As for internal expansion options, there isn’t a whole lot. The Micro-ATX board doesn’t have any spare PCIe slots -- not that you’d be able to use them behind the large RTX 3080 anyway. There’s a second 3.5-inch drive bay, which HP has helpfully pre-routed SATA data and power cables to, and an empty M.2 slot behind a metal cooler, just above the power supply and below the graphics card.
It’s also worth noting that HP includes a very solid plastic anchor for the end of the graphics card, which mounts to the front drive cage. GPU sag shouldn’t be a problem here, and this system should also travel better than most systems with large GPUs.
Gaming & Graphics Performance on the HP Omen 30L
Thanks to a pairing in our review configuration of Intel’s top-end consumer-oriented Core i9-10900K and our current best graphics cards pick, Nvidia’s stellar (though tough to find) RTX 3080, HP’s latest Omen is a gaming powerhouse in our review config. But it doesn’t always win against similarly configured systems we’ve tested recently, like the Corsair Vengeance i7200 ($4,499 as configured with a similar Core i9-10850K and a slightly higher-end RTX 3090) or the Alienware R11 ($4,283 as tested, with a 10900K and RTX 3090). The Omen faces its most direct challenge in our desktop battle with the iBuypower RDY IWBG207, which pairs the Core i9-10900KF (effectively the same CPU as in the Omen, but without integrated graphics) and an RTX 3080 for $2,199 as tested. Note that the iBuypower system has less RAM (16GB) and storage capacity (1TB) as our Omen. But in most cases, that shouldn’t hinder it in our benchmarks below.
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider (highest settings), the top-end CPU and cutting-edge graphics card delivered good performance, but only enough pixel-pushing ability to land it just behind the similarly configured iBuypower system. The Corsair and Alienware machines with higher-end RTX 3090s did markedly better.
On the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (very high settings), the trend flipped again, seeing the Omen and the iBuypower tie at 4K, but the Omen fall back a bit at 4K.
And in Red Dead Redemption 2 (medium settings), the Omen again tied the iBuypower system at 4K, but fell a few frames per second (fps) behind at 1080p.
Given the Omen’s somewhat lower-than-the-pack performance, particularly at 1080p, as well as what we know about the high thermals of the 10900K CPU, we suspected 120 mm AIO wasn’t keeping the Omen’s CPU as cool as the competition. So we also subjected the HP system to our Metro Exodus gauntlet, in which we run the benchmark at the RTX preset 15 times to simulate roughly half an hour of gaming. The HP system ran the game at an average of 117.6 fps, with little variation. The system started out the test at 118.8 fps on the first run, dipped to 117.1 fps on the fourth run and then stuck close to 117.5 fps for every subsequent run.
During the Metro Exodus runs, the CPU ran at an average clock speed of 4.9 GHz and an average temperature of 72.7 degrees Celsius (162.9 degrees Fahrenheit). The GPU’s average clock speed was 1.81 GHz, with an average temperature of 73.8 degrees Celsius (164.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
Well, there you go. Compared to the iBuypower RDY system, which had a much larger 360mm AIO CPU cooler and seven fans (compared to a 120mm AIO and three fans in the Omen), the Omen’s CPU and GPU ran about 10 degrees Celsius hotter during our stress test. For the record, the iBuypower’s CPU ran at an average temperature of 62.9 degrees Celsius, while its GPU ran at 64 degrees Celsius.
None of these temperatures are unsafe for your components, but they will lead to less-than-peak performance. HP should either offer more robust cooling for the Omen or stop selling it with the 10900K in favor of the 10850K, which performs basically just as well and doesn't run nearly as hot. The 10900K also adds $100 to the Omen's price.
Productivity Performance on the HP Omen 30L
With its pairing of a high-end CPU and GPU, along with 32GB of RAM and an NVMe SSD, the Omen 30L excels at productivity as well.
On Geekbench 5.2, we saw similar trends as in gaming. All the systems were close, and the single-core results saw the Omen beat the Corsair and Alienware systems slightly. But on the multi-core test, HP’s machine landed last, though not by a lot.
The Omen 30L looked good in our Handbrake test, where it tied everything else here, save for the iBuypower, which was oddly 16 seconds behind.
Lastly, the iBuypower system again lagged behind in our 25GB file transfer test. The Omen 30L and its “WD Black by Omen” drive did significantly better than the iBuypower’s 632 MBps, delivering 978 MBps. But both the Corsair and Alienware systems were significantly speedier on the storage front.
Software and Warranty on the HP Omen 30L
The Omen ships with quite a bit of extra software, but the company at least does a good job of making sure it doesn’t get in the way -- well, mostly. McAfee LiveSafe and Personal Security come pre-installed, but I didn’t see any pop-ups for them. There’s also HP’s Gaming Hub software, which organizes your games from different stores in one place, lets you take screenshots, control the RGB and more. There is also a suite of HP apps (Support Assistant, Smart App, PC Hardware Diagnostics, etc.) that mostly stayed out of the way. And, of course, there’s a healthy dose of Windows 10’s own cruft, like shortcuts to Netflix, Hulu, plus trials of Microsoft Office and ExpressVPN.
Despite all this, I was blissfully unaware of much of this gunk when using the system, as it mostly stayed out of sight and out of mind. But then, literally as I was checking the installed programs in writing the above paragraph, I got a notification that one of HP’s apps had updated, and a window popped up talking up Bing’s “Intelligent Search,” pre-selecting two boxes asking to change default search and the browser’s homage to Bing. Bad Omen! Bad! Bing is not your friend!
HP sells the Omen with a 1-year standard warranty.
HP Omen 30L Configurations
HP sent us a bit of an odd configuration of the Omen 30L, and it’s an even stranger time to actually buy one of these systems as we write this. From one of the base configurations that HP says starts at $2,759, it’s a $100 upgrade to the 10900K, and a $250 upgrade to the RTX 3080 in our rig, which gets us to $3,109.
But HP also points out that there’s a similar Amazon GT13-0093 configuration that’s supposed to sell on Amazon for $2,229. It steps the CPU down slightly to a 10850K, (which is a better fit for the Omen’s 120mm AIO cooler), and halves the SSD to 1TB, while leaving other components the same. But, in the wake of Black Friday/Cyber Monday and the midst of ongoing GPU shortages, the abovementioned Amazon configuration was out of stock when we wrote this, save for one third-party seller charging a ridiculous $4,179.
And likewise, most of the options on HP.com were also sold out, save for a few with previous-generation Nvidia 20-series cards and lower-end models with modest AMD RX 5500 graphics.
Once stock returns to some semblance of normal, HP says it will offer all the current-gen Nvidia cards. And at some point the company will offer AMD’s Ryzen 5000 CPUs and Radeon RX 6000 graphics as well. But the company didn’t have specifics on when the latest AMD silicon would be an option in the Omen 30L.
Price and Bottom Line for the HP Omen 30L
HP seems to be making a concerted effort for its Omen desktops to become more configurable than ever, with more familiar name-brand components, like Cooler Master, WD and HyperX. That makes the 30L feel more like a boutique PC, but from a big-box brand. The bad news is that stock issues and high holiday demand at the moment makes it next to impossible to tell exactly what all those options will be and what exact pricing will be like when stock is available. Much as we’ve seen with smaller boutique companies, like iBuypower, HP seems to have problems keeping recent components in stock.
That aside though, as we saw in testing, the Omen 30L needs better cooling if it wants users to get the best possible performance from the 10900K in the system it sent us for testing. But given its similar performance and lesser thermal demands, most would be better off spending $100 or so less for the 10850K anyway.
The other ding to the Omen’s otherwise sleek hardware and software package is an abundance of bloatware. To be fair, we didn’t see a whole lot in the way of nagging popups for its excess of pre-installed software. But the one time we did, it was one of HP’s own apps sneakily pressuring us to switch our browser homepage and search engine to Bing. Given the high price of the Omen as configured, as well as the fact that most boutique PCs ship without bloatware at similar prices, HP could still learn a thing or two from its boutique competition.
That said, the Omen’s hardware, combined with the HP Omen Gaming Hub/Light Studio software, make for a package that’s at least competitive with the best that the likes of Corsair and Alienware have to offer. If you skip the unnecessary upcharge for the questionably cooled Core i9-10900K for the 10850K, (which will perform about the same, save you $100, and be easier to keep cool), the HP Omen 30L is a good option for your next high-end gaming PC -- provided you can find it in stock at a reasonable price.