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With slick Omen PCs, HP makes a splash in high-end gaming

With slick Omen PCs, HP makes a splash in high-end gaming

HP's Omen X desktop is a liquid-cooled cube that sits upright with the help of two stands

HP said it would return to the high-end gaming PC market with a bang, and it sure has, with fully loaded Omen PCs.

The funky looking Omen X desktop and Omen 17 laptop are equipped with the latest CPUs and GPUs for the best gaming and virtual reality experiences. These are among HP's most expensive PCs outside of the professional Z workstations.

The Omen X is a cube, with two stands holding the chassis upright. The desktop combines air and liquid cooling to dissipate heat, and the unique chassis design provides a great ventilation system.

The desktop has the bells and whistles typically found in gaming rigs. It can be configured with Intel's latest Core i5 or i7-6700K CPU, and up to two Nvidia GTX 1080 or AMD Radeon R9 Fury X GPUs, which are among the fastest available. The PC can also be configured with AMD's latest Radeon RX 480 based on the Polaris architecture.

The Omen X also has multiple storage slots for hard drives and SSD storage. Other specifications include DDR4 memory, two USB type-C ports, eight USB 3.0 ports, a 3-in-1 media card reader, three DisplayPort ports, an HDMI slot, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a gigabit Ethernet slot.

The desktop will be available via HP's website on August 17 starting at US$1,799, and through U.S. retailers on October 16 starting at US$2,099. For enthusiasts who want to build their own rigs, the standalone Omen X chassis will be available starting at US$599. There's no word yet on international availability.

HP is also working with Maingear to allow for heavy customization of the Omen X PCs, from the case to the configuration. Those PCs will be available in 2017, and the price depends on the "customer's imagination and wallet," HP says.

The Omen 17 laptop has a 17.3-inch screen, and HP claims it offers 7.25 hours of run-time on a 95-watt polymer battery. It is 32.9 millimeters thick and weighs 3.17 kilograms. It can be configured with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 and 1070 GPUs, up to 4K screens, and Intel's latest CPUs. It's compatible with Nvidia's G-Sync technology, which helps draw up gaming images on screens faster. The laptop is VR ready, HP said. It has Bang & Olufsen speakers, which are being used in most new HP PCs.

The laptop will be available on HP's website starting at US$1,599.99, though a specific date wasn't provided.

HP also announced the Omen X Curved Display, which will support Nvidia's G-Sync. It will ship in 2017, though the specs and price weren't immediately available.

The new machines represent HP's return to enthusiast gaming PCs after an eight-year break, though HP has been offering Omen PCs for casual gamers. A decade ago HP bought VoodooPC for enthusiasts, but two years later folded the dedicated gaming unit into its consumer PC unit, and ultimately got rid of the brand.

HP announced its gaming strategy in May, highlighted by a sleek backpack gaming PC for VR on the move. The backpack PC was well received, but it isn't shipping yet.

Gaming PCs are attracting attention as users snap them up in an otherwise slumping PC market. But HP's gaming product line isn't yet as extensive as Dell's Alienware, Acer or niche boutiques like Falcon Northwest or OriginPC.

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