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Lifewire / Jonno Hill
Very good price/performance
2080 Super delivers excellent performance
Suitable for editing and motion graphics
Unobtrusive OMEN software
The HP OMEN Obelisk is a powerhouse gaming PC in an attractive and compact form factor.
We purchased HP OMEN Obelisk so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The HP OMEN Obelisk is a powerful gaming desktop PC and a surprisingly decent value to those that lack the time or ability to build a gaming desktop from scratch. I say this, reluctantly, as someone who has spent his entire life building gaming desktops by hand, not to mention countless video editing workstations for coworkers at the various places I’ve been employed. All this to say that I’m an advocate for building your own PC, but I still believe the OMEN is a pretty good value for a lot of people.
As configured, our HP OMEN Obelisk came equipped with Intel's 9th gen i9-9900K and Nvidia’s GTX 2080 Super, a top-tier combination that makes light work of just about any game you might throw its way. All this comes at a cost for this tiny enclosure, however, and the components get very hot under load. The i9-9900k is an absolute furnace of a CPU to begin with, and the single 120mm AIO water cooler can only do so much.
How has HP reconciled all these things, and what does it mean for potential owners? Let’s take a look at the performance, build quality, and usability of this space-conscious gaming desktop.
The HP OMEN Obelisk looks good in pictures but starts to fall apart a little when examined up close. Overall, HP did a pretty decent job here, but there are plenty of areas for improvement.
The first area of concern is the chassis itself. The shell of the OMEN case is constructed mainly out of plastic, which I’m sure helping a lot to keep shipping costs down, but definitely keeps the desktop from feeling like a solid, premium piece of hardware. It also makes me concerned about how durable it will be over time. Most buyers looking to spend this much on a gaming PC want to get some good mileage out of it, so this is somewhat disconcerting.
The HP OMEN Obelisk looks good in pictures but starts to fall apart a little when examined up close.
The top/front of the case features 2x USB 3.1 ports, a microphone and headphone port, and a power button. The USB ports are slightly misaligned on the model that I received making it a bit of a chore to plug anything in. I would love to have a USB-C port in the front here since more and more peripherals are moving towards USB-C. An SD card reader would also have been nice for those out there that shoot video and photos, but I realize not everyone shares the same needs.
Upgraders and tinkerers will also find a mixed bag full of things to love and things to resent. The side of the case features a simple button release, so getting inside is extremely painless. If you are planning on adding more hard drives, HP has pre-wired two SATA cables and SATA power connectors for you, and a plastic tray is present in the two drive bays for easy mounting.
Upgraders and tinkerers will also find a mixed bag full of things to love and things to resent.
Beyond adding more RAM or storage, you’re going to hit a wall pretty quickly. There are no mounts for additional fans to be installed anywhere, and there isn’t room in the case for many other CPU cooling options, should you be unhappy with the thermals. The pre-installed 120mm AIO water cooler is no match for the i9-9900k, where temperatures regularly crested 90°C during heavy workloads.
The OMEN gets plenty of things right as well. The plastic design might not be my favorite, but I absolutely adore the compact form factor. To put it in perspective, my already somewhat modest mid-tower case, the NZXT H440, measures 8.6 x 20.2 x 18.9 inches (HWD). The Omen, on the other hand, measures just 6.5 x 14.06 x 17.05 inches. Side by side, it’s plainly visible how much smaller the OMEN is, and for those with limited desk space, this will make a noticeable difference.
The lighting system is also approachable and understated, giving a little bit of customizable flare without going too over the top. As you’ll see later in the software section, HP has made it very straightforward to tweak any of these settings to your satisfaction.
The HP OMEN Obelisk that I tested featured a 9th Gen Intel Core i9 9900K, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and the Nvidia GTX GeForce 2080 Super graphics card. This is a potent combination of components in a gaming PC, and I was appropriately impressed by the results.
The desktop scored an impressive 6,967 in the productivity-focused benchmarking application PCMark 10. On the gaming front, the Omen managed a score of 10,740 in 3DMark’s Time Spy. In real-world use, this means more than 60fps at 4K in many popular titles like GTA V, but less than 60fps in others like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. In other words, the Omen is mostly capable of 4K gameplay and is nearly always capable of 60+ fps in most common resolutions shy of 4K.
The Omen comes equipped with a 1TB NVMe SSD and 32GB of DDR4 2666 memory. This is definitely more RAM than games alone will call for, but it’s merely an adequate amount of RAM for some creative professionals working with more demanding software like Adobe After Effects. Keep in mind though, even those that don’t normally need a lot of RAM can still benefit from having more. Among other things, it gives you the luxury of keeping all of your browser tabs and background applications running without having to start juggling applications on and off, which can be helpful from a productivity standpoint.
Gaming performance is great on the HP OMEN Obelisk thanks to the Nvidia GTX GeForce 2080 Super and Intel i9-9900K combo. I tested a number of games on my 3440x1440 monitor to get a sense of performance. To put this in perspective, this resolution is roughly 60 percent of the pixels of a 4K monitor.
First up was GTA V, which I tested with everything except for MSA (anti-aliasing) and the settings in the advanced tab turned up to Very High, the maximum setting. I recorded an average of 120.6fps across the 5 passes that the benchmark runs.
Emboldened by these results, I went back and turned every last thing up to its maximum setting, including everything in the advanced tab and 8x MSA. I was quickly brought back down to earth, with an average result of 46.6fps. For one last pass, I nudged the MSA down to 4x, and came up with a healthy average of 66.8fps. Maybe dreams can come true after all.
Next, I wanted to try something fairly CPU intensive, so I ran the in-game benchmark for Civilization VI. I used the default settings for the Ultra preset, which netted me an average of 145.5fps. This was certainly an easy win for the OMEN Obelisk.
Lastly, I ran the notoriously resource-heavy Deus Ex: Mankind Divided using a few different profiles. On Ultra settings, the OMEN Obelisk saw just 55.7fps on average, with a minimum of 44.6fps and a maximum of 61.6fps. Dialing things down one level to Very High, things looked only slightly rosier: 58.1fps average, 49.5fps minimum, 62.2fps maximum. Finally, turning it down one more level to High found a sweet spot: 75.8fps average, 62.8fps minimum, 96.6 FPS maximum.
The HP Omen Obelisk has gigabit LAN and a Wi-Fi 5 (2x2) networking, the latter supporting a maximum speed of 866 Mbps. Everything functioned smoothly from a networking standpoint during my tests.
I made a point to try out the Network Booster software found in the OMEN Command Center and didn’t see anything tremendously useful, unfortunately. I tried setting the priority of Steam to “Low” and downloading a game, but the game still downloaded at my maximum internet speed. I took it one step further and toggled the “Block” option for Steam, and tried to resume the download, but Steam kept on downloading at the maximum speed. The software was successful in blocking Chrome when that option was switched on, however.
The HP OMEN Obelisk comes with the OMEN Command Center, which is used to manage your desktop as well as any other OMEN products such as headsets, keyboards, and mice. From here, you have the option to click on your desktop and start managing your PC or choose from one of the various other options such as rewards, coaching, remote play, and My Games (a game launcher).
Select OMEN DESKTOP and you can access system vitals like GPU utilization, CPU utilization, memory utilization, and CPU/GPU temperatures. This is also where you can access the lighting profiles, overclocking options, and a “network booster” that lets you prioritize application bandwidth usage.
The lighting is executed fairly well on the HP OMEN Obelisk. There are only two lighting zones: one for the interior of the case, and one for the logo on the front exterior. Through the OMEN Command Center, you can set and customize lighting profiles for each zone. You can choose a static color, but also may choose from animation profiles that cycle between preset or user-defined colors. Luckily you can also choose the brightness, if you want to tone down the lighting a bit, and choose a separate profile for when the desktop is asleep.
The option to overclock your system has you first run a nondescript benchmark, which produces a score with no reference point (to establish a baseline). While it’s nice to have the option, this really, sincerely isn’t a system you want to be overclocking. The i9-9900K CPU already runs alarmingly hot, even with its pre-installed water cooling solution. There also isn’t enough room for anything beyond a 120mm AIO watercooler, and not nearly enough clearance for a popular air heatsink like the Noctua NH-D15.
The HP OMEN Obelisk with the same specs as this one can be found for around $2,000, at least when it’s in stock. Despite a lot of flaws that I can point to a nit-pick about, the price is one of the main reasons I still consider the OMEN to be a solid deal. I went through the trouble of parting out a similar build on PCPartPicker, going as far as to cut corners where I usually wouldn’t, and still arrived at just under $1800 before tax.
As far as I’m concerned, $200 is a perfectly reasonable premium to pay for a system that is already assembled and shipped to your door.
If you want something even smaller, and even more monolithic, the Corsair One Pro (see on Corsair) manages to pack a high-end gaming rig in a minuscule 12-liter case, making even the HP OMEN seem large by comparison. It has a very solid construction and manages to fit water cooling for both the CPU and GPU inside its small frame.
The Corsair One will of course be less customizable and harder to work in, and caps out at 32GB of RAM as opposed to the OMEN’s 64GB. The main differentiation however is the price—the Corsair One in a similar configuration to the OMEN will cost at least $900 more. Nonetheless, for those that really don’t plan to do any tweaking whatsoever, that value space above all else, might still consider the Corsair One.
High performance and fantastic value, but upsetting thermals.
The HP OMEN Obelisk delivers fantastic value for gamers shopping for a high-performance, pre-built PC. HP has come a long way, and now offers a much more compelling solution that will appeal to a much broader set of buyers. That said, there is work to be done still, as the case suffers from poor airflow, poor thermals, and not a lot of meaningful ways to improve them.
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