It’s no secret that I’m a huge Apple fanatic
. I have plenty of old iBooks and PowerBooks in my vintage Apple collection.
Back in 2006, I purchased a MacBook Pro, but I ended up selling it 2 years later in order to raise the money for a new 2008 Mac Pro.
That was the last time I had a new laptop. All of the vintage laptops that I have now are so old they can barely get on the internet. There's no way I could use any of them for anything productive.
I've been wanting a new MacBook for a few years now, but they are just so damn expensive. Each time Apple releases a new MacBook, I swear I'm going to start saving my money for one. It just never happens. Last year I came close to biting the bullet on a 15" Retina MacBook Pro, but the timing demanded that I waited for a new model rather than plunk down $1500-2000 on a MacBook that would be obsolete a month after it was purchased. That was also around the same time that the Glowforge
laser cutter went on pre-order.
I'd much rather spend $2500 on a laser cutter than a laptop. I already have a killer Mac Pro, so having a MacBook Pro is just a luxury. I don't really need a laptop, I just want one. Who doesn't NEED a laser cutter?! Do you know what I could do with a laser cutter?
Needless to say, I never got my laptop last year. I preordered a Glowforge instead. It's been a year, and I'm still waiting for my Glowforge to ship... and I still don't have a laptop. There's been so many times over the past year that I've been in a situation where I think to myself, "Damn, I really could use a laptop right now!"
I need something that rivals my Mac Pro. Something that I can use to get my hobby stuff done. It needs to have an awesome graphics card for 3D modeling stuff, and be powerful enough to keep up with my workflow and multitask the likes of MatterControl, Eagle, Photoshop, SketchUp, etc. I can't use a laptop that grinds to a halt if you have two applications running.
Apple just recently released the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. It looks amazing, but it's just too expensive. I can't even get my head around spending $2400 on a laptop.
The reviews are also really mixed. People either love it, or they hate it. A lot of people are complaining about the USB-C only ports. I for one loved the idea of the MagSafe adapter and SD card slot. I can't believe they took them away. They were features I was looking forward to.
Although I've been wrestling with this "how do I justify the expensive" dilemma for some time, my twin sons asked for gaming laptops for their thirteenth birthday. Up until now they've been getting by with some entry-level eMachine Best Buy specials that we got on sale years ago. They're in Junior High now, so they really need better computers. They're also really into games. It's a waste of Birthday and Christmas money if you drop it on Steam games that your machine can't play.
I really wanted to get them something nice. Something that will (hopefully) last them through High School. They need machines that they can get a good 4 to 5 years out of.
I searched online for gaming laptops and found a few options. The one that stood out the most was the HP OMEN. It looks really cool, and the reviews were great. Close inspection revealed that the specs rivaled that of the $2400 15" MacBook Pro. The kicker is, the HP OMEN comes with a larger 17" display and is $1000 less!
Not only are these some kickass machines my kids will love, I just might go for one too!
Let me break it down...
||HP Omen Gaming Laptop
||17" display - bigger is better!
|2.6GHz Intel Core i7
||2.6GHz Intel Core i7
||12GB. Does another 4GB make a difference? Oh wait, I can buy RAM on Amazon for nothing and upgrade it myself! Can't do that with a MacBook!
||Has a 256GB SSD and a 1TB 5400 RPM drive
|Radeon Pro 450 with 2GB of RAM
||Nvidia 965 with 4GB of RAM - I've always liked Nvidia better.
|4 x USB-C ports
||USB 3, SD Card reader, HDMI, Ethernet. More ports is better. If you want a computer without ports, buy an iPad.
|Touch Bar and Touch ID
||Although those look like cool features, I bet the novelty wears off after a week.
|$2499 and never on sale
||$1199 on sale at Best Buy.
Looking at those spec, the choice seems obvious. It's a no brainer really. That's one kickass laptop for $1200 bucks. Even if it's running Windows. Don't get me wrong, Windows has come a long way since the Vista days. I use Windows 7 all day when I'm at work, but nothing compares to OS X. When it comes to a desktop Mac, I'm all in. When it comes to Apple laptops, I just can't get on board. I just can't justify the high cost for comparable, if not lesser hardware. Sure, MacBooks look absolutely gorgeous, but at the end of the day, is that aluminum unibody enclosure really worth a $1000?
Needless to say, when that tax rebate came in, my wife and I picked up two new 17" HP OMEN gaming laptops.
My twins were over the moon.
It was my job to get them all set up, install Steam, and download the games and the apps that they use. I have to tell you, just after spending a few hours on them I have to say that I am impressed. These machines are smoking fast! They boot to a desktop in like ten seconds. All the apps are super snappy and Windows is really responsive. This is actually the first time that I have ever seen what Windows 10 looks like. I've never used Windows 8, nor do I know anyone who has. So after seeing Windows 10 for the first time, I have to say that it's night and day compared to Windows 7.
Needles to day, the kids are having a blast. There’s been some serious Minecrafting going on. (Oh, and it’s been great for homework too.)
I just had to have one. I jumped back online and ordered one for myself. I was so excited, I even paid an extra $20 to have it shipped overnight. Hey, when you're paying $1200 for something, what's an extra $20 bucks, right? Actually, I redeemed a $35 Best Buy reward that I had, so the shipping working out to basically be free.
The next day, I had a brand-spanking new 17" high performance laptop.
And now for the obligatory unboxing…
There's no manual or recovery media of any kind. There's just a quick start poster inside. I miss the days when computers came with a manual and the software. Since optical drives went away, you'd think they'd spring the $5 bucks for a USB stick, right? How else do you reinstall Windows? Recovery partitions are OK for bricked installs, but what do you do when your hard drive dies?
And there it is. You'll have to trust me that it looks so much better in person. These pictures look horrible with the crappy living room lighting. The laptop really is pretty nice looking. It's no MacBook Pro, but it's a lot nicer looking than the average Dell or Lonovo. Man, do those guys make some ugly looking computers.
Here’s something you don’t see on MacBooks. It’ll be a cold day in hell the day Apple puts stickers on a MacBook. Would you put a bumper sticker on a Rolls-Royce? First order of business is peeling these ugly things off.
Oooh, look at all the ports. What's a computer without ports?
SD card slot, USB3, HDMI, Ethernet, oh my!
You probably can't get a good sense of scale from these images, but that's one big laptop! Nothing beats a 17" display on a laptop designed to be a desktop replacement.
I hope you can tell that the keyboard illuminates in red. However, it would have been nice if they were RGB LEDs and that you could configure somehow. Unfortunately, that’s a feature that HP took away with this model. You could tweak the colors on the older versions.
First boot! I was pretty surprised to see that there was a rather nice looking boot screen and not the usual PC BIOS garbage that I'm used to seeing. This sort of boots up like a MacBook.
I just had to first walk through a simple set up guide and it then jumped to the desktop.
Nice to see a desktop not loaded with bloatware, although I’m sure it’s hiding on here somewhere.
OK, let’s run some benchmarks!
I installed Geekbench 4 to run the tests. It shows the OMEN to have a 2.59GHz Core i7. Strangely enough, that’s the first I’m seeing of the CPU speed. HP isn’t exact forthcoming with the speed. The site only specifies that it’s a Core i7. There’s no mention of the speed. It was the same on the spec page over at Best Buy.
I'm pitting this laptop against my $3000 2013 Mac Pro
It scored 3372 on single-core and 10134 on multi-core. Very respectable
By comparison, my Mac Pro scored 3723 and 12556, respectively.
The OMEN is about 10 and 20% less than the Mac Pro. That’s pretty damn close. I wouldn't exactly say that the Mac Pro smokes this laptop. If we were talking CPU scores in the 7000-8000 range, then yes, I’d say the Mac Pro smokes this laptop, but that's not the case. It looks like the OMEN can hold its own against Apple’s beast-of-a-desktop.
How about graphics? After all, this is supposed to be a gaming laptop.
The Mac Pro has dual AMD FirePro 300 graphics cards and it scored 70922. That’s only a 10% performances increase. So again, it looks like the OMEN can hold its own against the Mac Pro.
The OMEN really is looking like a fantastic desktop replacement. It’s exactly what I was looking for in a laptop. I’m used to the speed and the power of my Mac Pro. To hop on an underpowered laptop and try and perform the same tasks and use the same apps as my Mac Pro just isn't going to work for me if it’s not the same experience. I'm glad I picked one up, and I’m thrilled that I saved over a $1000 by not buying the new MacBook Pro.