At Digit, over the years, I have seen, used and reviewed various laptops and PCs, but only rarely did I fell in love at first sight with a product. The list (there is always one) includes few Zero 1 Award winners, a couple of compact gaming PCs and now this. The new HP Omen X Compact figures itself as a true 2-in-1 PC, which can either be a desktop or a mobile VR backpack depending on your requirement. If you are not dazzled by the uniqueness of the possibility, then surely you might have found the looks of it quite intriguing. It is this mix and match of features this PC offers, that made me swoon over. Although, once that inner child settled down, I came face-to-face with a rather discouraging starting price of 2,94,998, but that seems to be the case these days with most high-end gaming hardware. Still, we had a go at this PC at launch and here are our initial thoughts.
Design: One of a kind
HP’s tagline “Keep Reinventing” may not fit each and every PC they make, but it definitely stands for the Omen X Compact desktop PC. The oblong octagon-like shape is quite unique and once seated on the desktop dock, the machine looks like an artifact from a game. The front fascia of the machine has an LED cluster, which is customizable via software. The plastic body of the machine looks and feels good to touch. There are plenty of ports all around and once you connect it to the dock itself, the number of ports increase.
You have grills on either side, which work as the breathing area for the PC, giving it an unrestricted air flow. The whole unit weighs about 2.4 kilograms, which is quite light for a gaming PC, and I should mention that the unit itself has a small battery pack. The main reason, it can be powered by a battery pack is because it is using a mobile hardware configuration. Essentially, it has the guts of a high-end gaming laptop, in a compact desktop form factor, which when hooked to the bundled backpack, can be used for VR purposes.
Usability: A true 2-in-1 solution
The VR backpack which comes with this machine is equally well designed and is lightweight. It has a raised carbon fiber backplate with grooves in which the Omen X compact slides into. The hot-swappable external battery pack is integrated within the backpack and hooks to the back of the PC. Being powered by batteries makes the Omen X Compact an untethered approach to VR gaming. Speaking of which, HP also announced its new Mixed Reality headset in India and pre-booking the Omen X Compact will get you one for free. This MR headset works like a charm with this machine. Although considering the hardware, it shouldn't have any issues with the HTC Vive either.
If we talk about the HP Windows MR headset, especially the experience and functionality, it is similar to what we have seen previously. It is based on the MR headset standard developed by Microsoft itself, hence the plug and play nature.
The good thing in all this is that the cabling between the headset and the PC remains small and hence the user can basically move around without being tethered to a power source. Now, this is not exactly a new approach as MSI’s VR One backpack does basically the same thing, but it is not as versatile as this.
Performance: Seems powerful
The HP Omen X Compact seems to have no competitor in India at the moment, especially with the hardware it features. The small PC is powered by an Intel Core i7-7820HK processor, which is overclockable and comes with a factory overclocked NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPU. This makes it one of the most powerful compact desktops around. HP hasn't compromised on storage here either, you are getting a 1TB Samsung manufactured NVMe SSD, which is super fast.
We played a couple of games, in the MR mode and as expected, there weren't any issues. However, with such an array of top-shelf hardware, it was somewhat expected. We will be testing the gaming performance at length, once we get the machine for review.
Practicality: Depends how deep your pocket is
All that said though, it is hard to justify the price to someone, who is looking at this just from a pure gaming/performance perspective. To me, it is like the HP Spectre, a capable machine in all ways possible, but the premium design and the bling value it commands is something you are paying more for. We will be reviewing the HP Omen X Compact soon and will let you know whether it lives up to the claims HP has to make. Regardless, if we just skip over the price, You and I both know in our hearts we want one.