HP OMEN Obelisk Review: Powerful, Easily Upgradeable Gaming PC

HP OMEN Obelisk Review: Software & Optional Gaming Peripherals

HP installs a minimal amount of bloatware on the Obelisk. There’s the usual HP utilities, McAfee Anti-Virus, and a couple pay-to-play games, like Candy Crush, Royal Revolt 2: Tower Defense and the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, but they’re Windows universal apps that are part of the Windows 10 install, take up minimal amounts of space, and are quick to remove and easy to ignore. None of the pre-installed applications were annoying or intrusive during our testing. 

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The OMEN Command Center provides basic system vital information, including temperatures, CPU, GPU, RAM and network utilization. RGB lighting controls are in the OMEN Command Center, too. There’s a network booster feature that lets you adjust your network usage priorities (QoS) while a feature called "Dual Force" enables simultaneous Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity to split traffic across both networks. Once enabled, Dual Force lets you configure which type of traffic is sent via Ethernet or wireless depending on your Network Booster traffic priority configuration.

OMEN Gaming Peripherals

It seems that everyone is releasing gaming peripherals as of late, and HP is no different. The company sent over a complete set of OMEN gaming peripherals, including the Sequencer keyboard, Reactor mouse and Mindframe headset to test with the Obelisk desktop. The keyboard and headset are priced at $149.99 while the mouse is $69.99. All three come complete with RGB lighting and are configurable via the OMEN Command Center.

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The Sequencer keyboard is hefty, weighing in at 1.83 lbs. Its built using a combination of a plastic base and brushed aluminum top surface. There are five programmable macro keys, a mute button, and large aluminum volume control dial. HP employs optical-mechanical Blue switches that promise 0.2ms response times. HP claims the optical keys are 10 times faster than plain mechanical switches. We haven't done any formal testing to prove out that claim, but the Sequencer responds quickly to our keypresses and generates satisfying loud clicks.

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The noise produced by the keyboard is quite noticeable on conference calls, so we suggest muting your mic before you begin rapidly typing. We wish HP worked a detachable palm rest into the design, but we fixed that minor annoyance by using a giant mouse pad. The keyboard features a beefy, braided cable and takes up two USB ports, too. However, it doesn’t have a pass-through USB port, so you’ll have to plug your wired mouse directly into the PC. 

Optical-mechanical switches are in the HP Reactor mouse as well, with the same 0.2ms click response time as the Sequencer keyboard. HP claims the optical-mechanical switches are three times faster than traditional mouse switches, which typically have response times under 1.1ms. A 16,000 DPI optical sensor ensures precision with a dedicated DPI adjustment button. The button cycles through 12 different DPI settings from 400 to 16,000 – you can employ the RGB lighting to indicate the DPI as you cycle through settings as well.

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The Reactor’s funky looking spring-loaded palm rest is functional and enables height adjustments. Simply pull back on the switch situated on the right side and adjust the height to your liking. We found the middle height of the palm rest the most comfortable as it contoured to our hands best. Despite the high DPI sensor and optical-mechanical switches, the mouse didn’t make us better gamers. It is a comfortable mouse that tracks well, however.

HP differentiates its Mindframe USB headset by adding FrostCap technology, which uses thermoelectric cooling to actively cool the ear cups for comfier marathon gaming sessions. We found the Peltier cooling effective; it kept our ears cool and the driver grille cold to touch, but the exterior of the headset gets warm as a result.

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The ear cups consist of fabric, which HP claims improves breathability. We found the fabric ear cups comfortable when pressed against our heads but found the band to be too stiff for larger heads. Sound isolation is good and requires removing the headset to converse with others. The boom microphone is permanently attached and automatically mutes in the up position. There is an annoying “boop-boop” sound when you mute or un-mute the microphone, which you cannot turn off in the OMEN Command Center.

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Virtual surround is provided by Windows Sonic, which you can simply turn off in the Windows sound settings as desired. Audio quality is quite neutral and the Mindframe doesn’t shine in any particular area. Without tweaking, the default settings offer dull highs, over emphasized mids and moderate bass when it comes to music playback. The virtual surround effects, however, provide excellent positioning with Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos – dialogue sounds like its coming from a center channel and directional effects are easily distinguishable.

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Overall, we liked the HP Sequencer keyboard the best. The prominent clicking of the keys is very satisfying to hear and it’s a joy to type on. I was unable to go back to using my Logitech G910 after using the Sequencer for a few days. The Mindframe USB headset kept our ears cool during marathon gaming sessions, which was pretty awesome, but unfortunately left us wanting for better audio quality.

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