Performance, Overclocking and Thermals

I'm not going to spend a ton of time discussing the performance of the HP Omen Desktop for a couple of reasons. The primary one is that there are so many configurations of the Omen available, it's unlikely that my experiences with one particular configuration will match the experiences of buyers. Unless you happen to purchase the exact model I reviewed, of course.

The second reason is that on TechSpot we've spent a lot of time covering the major processor and graphics card launches over the past few years. Most of the CPU and GPU configurations available for the Omen Desktop we've checked out in the past with in-depth benchmarks and performance analysis, so rather than rehashing stuff we've already covered, I'll just point you towards our review section so you can find the reviews relevant to the Omen Desktop configuration you're interested in.

The most important reviews to check out are those for the Intel Core i7-7700K, the Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5 lineups, depending on whether you opt for an Intel or AMD model. It's also worth looking at our GPU reviews for the RX 580, GTX 1060, GTX 1070, GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti, as well as other coverage of specific games released in recent years.

I was sent an Omen Desktop with an AMD Ryzen 7 1800X processor, 16GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, along with a 256GB SSD and 2TB hard drive. The cost of this system is about $1,900, or $900 above the base model.

It's important to note here that the Ryzen 7 1800X isn't as powerful for gaming as the Intel Core i7-7700K, however it is significantly better at productivity workloads thanks to its eight-core design. If you are planning to use the Desktop for gaming as well as something like video editing, I think it's a great choice, even if you won't hit the same performance in games.

My experience with the Ryzen 7 1800X paired with a GTX 1080 was exactly as I expected in games. This system is well suited to both 1080p and 1440p, though I mostly tested at 1080p with a high-refresh monitor. Depending on the game, I was typically achieving at least 60 FPS on maximum quality settings, though often around the 100 FPS mark. Watch Dogs 2 was the most punishing game I tested, and it ran around 60 FPS on its Ultra preset, while something like Hitman, Prey or Rise of the Tomb Raider sat comfortably above 100 FPS.

These sorts of rough figures match what we've previously seen from Ryzen and the GTX 1080, which isn't a surprise as typically there is very little difference (if any) between a pre-built system and our test rigs with the same hardware.

For those wondering about storage, the 256GB SSD in my review unit was a Samsung PM961, so it achieved read/write speeds well above 1 GB/s sequentially. The 2TB hard drive was a Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM unit, so nothing out of the ordinary. Both are easily replaceable.

If you're looking at overclocking the Omen Desktop, HP does provide a software utility called the Omen Command Center that can do some basic CPU overclocking out of the box. I don't particularly like this utility, as it seems designed for Intel systems with little thought for AMD. For example, the default multiplier is 148x which corresponds to an actual multiplier of 37x. In any case, it does work even if it doesn't provide much information.

The Ryzen 7 1800X typically tops out at around 4.0 to 4.1 GHz overclocked, and I was able to achieve 3.90 GHz here through the Command Center. The utility did allow me to go as high as 3.98 GHz but this wasn't stable.

Nothing surprised me when it came to GPU overclocking either. I was able to comfortably apply a +220 MHz core clock boost and a +180 MHz memory clock boost, which sent the GTX 1080's core up to 2075 MHz during Watch Dogs 2. An extra 12 percent performance is nothing to sneeze at, and it's well within typical figures for the GTX 1080.

Temperatures were fairly reasonable across the board, keeping in mind that my review unit used the closed-loop liquid cooler for the CPU. During an AIDA64 CPU stress test the CPU hit 63°C on-die, which is higher than I'd like for a liquid cooler, although this cooler is only a single 120mm solution. This test was when the system was at its loudest, hitting 46 dBA at 50cm (noise floor of 30 dBA), which is audible though not outrageous.

During gaming, temperatures and noise levels were much more reasonable. In Watch Dogs 2, the CPU hit around 56°C from 70-80% utilization, while the GPU hovered around 75°C. Noise levels were very good: 41 dBA with the system on a desk (40cm away from meter) and 38 dBA on the floor (1m away). While not silent, the system was quiet and easy to drown out with moderate in-game audio.

Surprisingly, overclocking didn't have a huge impact on temperatures. The GPU increased by 2-3°C and a similar figure for the CPU, with only a small increase in noise. The cooling solution used here is certainly very capable for gaming. The only time I was a bit disappointed was in stress tests, where the system did hit about 50 dBA at times, though this is far from a 'normal' workload.