Review

HP OMEN Obelisk review: Core i9-9900K, RTX 2080 Ti, and 64GB RAM

Almost seven months ago, I reviewed HP's OMEN Obelisk, noting that Nvidia's GeForce RTX graphics are literally game-changing. That came with a Core i7-8700, an RTX 2080, and 32GB HyperX FURY DDR4-2666 memory.

But that's nothing, as I've learned over the last few weeks testing out the new OMEN Obelisk. The model that HP sent me once again has the top-end specs, this time with an Intel Core i9-9900K, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, and 64GB RAM. The thing is, with such´╗┐ great specs that there were in the last model, I couldn't imagine that the experience could really get much better. I was wrong.

HP also sent along a whole bunch of peripherals, allowing me to experience its entire gaming ecosystem. That includes the OMEN Mindframe Prime Headset, OMEN Photon Mouse, OMEN Outpost Mousepad, OMEN Sequencer Keyboard, and the 240Hz OMEN X 25 Gaming Display.

Specs

CPU 9th generation Intel Core i9-9900K Processor with liquid cooling
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080Ti (11 GB GDDR6 dedicated)
Memory HyperX 64GB (4x16GB) DDR4 2666 UDIMM
SSD 2x 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe in RAID 0
HDD 2TB 7200 rpm SATA
Body 6.5x14.06x17.05in, 22.05lb
Ports

Rear:
(4) USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
(1) USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A
(1) USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
(1) 3.5mm audio
GPU:
(3) DisplayPort 1.4
(1) HDMI 2.0b
(1) USB Type-C
Front:
(2) USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
(1) 3.5mm speaker
(1) 3.5mm microphone

Power supply 750 W Platinum efficiency power supply
Chassis Shadow black tower with tempered glass side panel
OS Windows 10 Home
Price $3,139


To be clear, this PC actually starts at $699, and that will get you a Core i5-8400, 8GB RAM, a 1TB SSD, and it doesn't have the glass side. For $2,008, you'll get a Core i7-9700K, a GeForce RTX 2080, 32GB RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 1TB HDD.

Performance

I'm starting off this review with performance, because let's face it. That's what matters the most on a PC like this. And I can just say, this thing delivers. I played games like Gears 5 and Metro Exodus and the games wouldn't even stutter. The only way I could get it to choke up is by rendering video in the background while playing a game.

Here's six hours of Gears 5 gameplay. Warning: pretty much all of the first two acts are in there, so there are plot spoilers. Also, before you criticize my ability to reload properly, keep in mind that the Game Bar overlay was on top of the progress meter.

Most of my Gears 5 gameplay was set to 1080p, with everything turned up as high as it goes. That's because HP also sent me the OMEN X 25 monitor, which is an FHD 240Hz screen. We'll get to that later.

Metro Exodus was another story. For that one, I played for a while on my regular 4K monitor, so the resolution was on 4K. The bottom line is that the OMEN Obelisk, at least in this configuration, performs. Whether you've got a 4K 60Hz monitor or a 1080p 240Hz monitor, it definitely gets the job done. Of course, ray tracing and DLSS are turned on.

I also used this PC for editing videos, including the ones above. I actually compiled the three of them twice, comparing Nvidia's Game Ready drivers with its Studio drivers, the latter of which are supposed to be more optimized for such tasks. Oddly enough, it took four hours and 46 minutes to render them using the Game Ready driver, and five hours and 15 minutes using the Studio driver.

But what you'll notice in the videos, most importantly, is that the games are smooth, really smooth. There aren't any stutters at all, something I've never seen before. It's really fantastic hardware for gaming.

This model includes an Intel Core i9-9900K and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, both of which are the best in their classes. The K-series is Intel's 95W desktop processor, unlocked for overclocking. You can also easily overclock the CPU from the OMEN Command Center app. And then there's the RTX 2080 Ti, which has 11GB GDDR6 memory, 4,352 Nvidia Cude cores, and more. It's a beast.

The OMEN Obelisk has venting on the top, bottom, rear, and sides of the PC, plus there's liquid cooling. That's some great thermals, but this thing does get hot. When I was rendering those videos, I left my office for about a half hour and came back to a room that was noticeably warmer than the rest of my apartment, even with the air conditioner on. And the fan on this PC is loud, really loud. That's what you get though; with so much power, you can expect some serious cooling.

For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8, PCMark 10, VRMark, and 3DMark.

PCMark 8: Home PCMark 8: Creative

PCMark 8: Work 3DMark: Time Spy

VRMark: Orange Room VRMark: Blue Room

VRMark: Blue Room PCMark 10


As you can see, the only VRMark test that didn't hit the target frame rate was the Blue Room test, and in all of the other tests, the OMEN Obelisk did fantastic.

Design

On the outside, the HP OMEN Obelisk looks exactly like it did last year, with its tempered glass panel on the side. On a side note, if you opt for the base model, you'll just get an aluminum panel on that side. Through the glass, you can see the internals such as the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti with its lit up 'GeForce RTX' text, the HyperX memory, and the liquid cooling.

All of that is lit up with RGB lighting, of course, and you can set it for any custom variant of colors. There are also preset lighting cycles that you can use. All of these are customizable in the OMEN Command Center app, and the same goes for the RGB lighting on the front of the machine.

That's the OMEN logo that's on the front, and you can easily set it so it shows the same color and cycles at the same pace as the internal RGB lighting. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for accessories, one of my complaints from last year that hasn't been addressed. HP makes a whole ecosystem of gaming accessories with RGB lighting, but they can't sync with one another.

Update: You can actually sync the lighting between the Photon Mouse and Outpost Mousepad, but that's it. That still can't be synced with the internal lighting in the PC.

On top in the front, there are two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, along with two 3.5mm audio jacks, one for input and one for output. On the right of that panel, there's a power button. Those front ports are great for plugging in peripherals on the fly. For example, I use them to plug in a gaming controller when I'm playing, since the controller isn't plugged in most of the time. The rest of the top is a grille for ventilation.

For peripherals that are plugged in all the time, you'll use the ports on the rear for that. Back there, you'll find four more USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A port, and a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port. It's worth noting that USB 3.1 Gen 1 is 5Gbps while USB 3.1 Gen 2 offers 10Gbps data transfer speeds, so you'll want to be aware of that. You only get one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A port, so use it wisely.

And then, there are the additional ports that come with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. That includes three DisplayPort 1.4 ports, one HDMI 2.0b port, and a USB Type-C port. Any one of those can power a 4K monitor. And of course, the power behind the RTX 2080 Ti is plenty to use all of those ports. If you've got a 5K monitor or a 4K monitor with a 120Hz refresh rate, you'll need to go the DisplayPort route.

You also might want to upgrade the internals over time, and HP makes it easy to do just that. There's a button on the back that you can press to pop off the glass panel, and you can also easily replace the SSD and RAM without any tools. It has two 3.5-inch bays, along with three m.2 slots. If you've got the specced out model like I do, two of those m.2 slots are used for SSDs.

OMEN X 25 monitor

As I mentioned, HP didn't just send me the OMEN Obelisk. Just like last year, it sent me the whole gaming ecosystem. That includes the OMEN X 25 monitor. First of all, a bit on branding. HP has three gaming brands: Pavilion Gaming, OMEN, and OMEN X, and those are casual, performance, and enthusiast, respectively. I just wanted to point that out because the PC itself falls into one category while the monitor falls into another, although they're both pretty awesome.

I've never used a 240Hz (this one is 24.5 inches, 1080p) monitor before, and I have to say that I think it might be overkill. But this is gaming we're talking about here, where a split second can make a difference. A higher refresh rate means it's not only smoother, but it's quicker.

And that's the thing about this screen. It's quick, and it's responsive. It's great for competitive gameplay. But it's not great just as a regular monitor. It doesn't have great contrast, and it's not something that I'd use if I wasn't playing games. I actually found it nice for a dual-monitor configuration, where I'd use my regular monitor for work, and then also have this connected for gaming.

Don't get me wrong. It looks great. If you play games, it's a great option even if you're not playing all the time. But if you don't play games, there are better alternatives.

Configuring the monitor is actually a breeze, for the most part. There's a toggle on the back, on the bottom-right. Pressing it brings up the monitor menu, where you can switch it up, down, left, and right to navigate it. You can choose monitor modes like gaming, movie, vivid, warm, cool, and low blue light. You can also do the other things you should be able to do, like switch between input ports, adjust brightness, and more. It's so easy to do that I'd switch between gaming settings for playing games and vivid for the rest of the time.

One thing that you can't configure in the display menu is the refresh rate. For that, you'll need to use the Nvidia Control Panel application.

Another thing about the OMEN X 25 is that it has narrow bezels on three sides, creating a pretty immersive experience. And aside from those three bezels, it's just a clean design. It also has a stand on the back for hanging your headset. Of course, the monitor also supports different angles. You can tilt it, and you can raise it higher or lower.

Accessories

And of course, there are the accessories. Here's what HP sent me:

OMEN Outpost Mousepad

Oddly enough, this is my favorite of the pack. I'd use this in a heartbeat with any machine, let alone a gaming rig. It's a large mousepad with RGB lighting around the sides, and at the top, there's a Qi wireless charging pad. That way, I can easily charge my phone throughout the day.

It also has a USB Type-A port on the back of it, and this is key if you're using a wireless mouse that has a dongle. If you've ever used a wireless mouse with a tower PC that's under your desk, you've probably experienced some connectivity issues, which is something that just can't happen while playing a game. Putting that dongle in a port on the mousepad solves the problem, and the mousepad connects to the PC via USB.

There's also an OMEN logo in the middle of the top with RGB lighting, and there's an LED light below it that indicates wireless charging. It's yellow while charging, white when the device is full, and flashing yellow when there's a charging error.

You can also pull off the mousepad itself and flip it over, giving you a smooth surface. HP says that you can do that over and over and it won't fray. But you have your choice, between fabric and smooth.

OMEN Mindframe Prime Headset

Last year, I reviewed HP's OMEN Mindframe headset, which is aimed at keeping your ears cool while you're using it. It solves a big pain point when it comes to using headsets for hours on end. I thought it was a great product, but now the Mindframe Prime is here, adding active cooling and noise cancelation.

It also has larger earpads, which make it even more comfortable. While the Prime is the better model, either variant of the OMEN Mindframe will do you well. Like all of the products here, it also has RGB lighting on the sides.

OMEN Photon Mouse

The Photon Mouse is a wireless mouse with a dongle, so you can see the use case that I outlined above with the Outpost Mousepad. Both the trackwheel and the OMEN logo have RGB lighting, but what's really interesting is that HP says it has the same latency as a wired mouse.

It also has 11 programmable buttons, and you can charge it via Qi wireless charging or the micro-USB port on the front. Again, this is where the Outpost Mousepad, which has a wireless charging pad, comes in handy. Also, if you just hate the wireless connectivity, you can use a wired connection.

OMEN Sequencer Keyboard

Finally, we have the Sequencer Keyboard, a mechanical keyboard with RGB lighting that can be controlled in user-customized zones. It also has a wheel at the top-right for adjusting the volume, and there are five customizable macro keys.

OMEN Command Center

OMEN Command Center is the app that controls the lighting on the OMEN Obelisk and its peripherals, among many other things. Actually, you don't even need an HP OMEN PC to use it. If you buy an HP peripheral and use it with another PC, you'll still want this app. You also might want it for any of the many other features it offers.

Upon launching it, you'll see System Vitals, providing temperatures for your CPU and GPU, along with memory utilization, download speed, and upload speed. It's a nice dashboard for seeing which system resources are being used. Also under the OMEN DESKTOP section, you'll find a spot for Overclocking, one for Lighting, and one for Network Booster.

To overclock the CPU, you need to first run a benchmark through the OMEN Command Center app, which just takes a couple of minutes. There's an 'Intelligent' setting, which takes about 40 minutes to turn on.

You'll also automatically see your HP OMEN peripherals on there. For the OMEN Mindframe Prime, you'll see OMEN Audio Lab for adjusting the audio (you can now turn off the 7.1 Surround Sound if you want), along with lighting, cooling settings, and more. The OMEN Photon Mouse tab lets you control your lighting and macros, while also seeing how much power is left in the mouse. More simple accessories, like the Outpost Mousepad, just have lighting options.

But that's not all. HP recently announced a revamp with a bunch of new features. There's now a Rewards section, which lets you complete challenges for free stuff. For example, right now you can play Assassins Creed Odyssey for 30 minutes to get a $5 ThinkGeek gift card, or you can play CS:GO for 30 minutes to get a $5 Burger King gift card.

There's a new Coaching tab that gives you a gamer performance index, although that only supports League of Legends at this time. There's also a My Games tab, a launcher for all of your games, which it lets you pin your favorites. Finally, there's a Game Stream tab that lets you stream your game to anywhere in your home.

Conclusion

The HP OMEN Obelisk is a real beast of a PC, packing a 95W Intel Core i9-9900K and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. I appreciate how this year's model isn't a simple spec upgrade, going from eighth- to ninth-gen CPUs; instead, HP is offering 95W K-series chips instead of regular desktop 65W chips.

With last year's OMEN Obelisk, I had two main complaints. One was that the RGB lighting on the peripherals won't sync with each other, and the other was that I didn't like the keyboard and mouse that come in the box. That latter problem was solved, as HP just didn't include a keyboard and mouse with the PC, and I'm fine with that. For the former, that hasn't changed, as mentioned above.

Update: As noted in the update above, it's possible to sync lighting between the mouse and the mousepad. It's still not possible to sync the lighting on any other accessories.

I had a great time with this whole ecosystem though. The power behind the internals goes great with the 240Hz display, and the OMEN Mindframe headset keeps my ears cool while gaming for long periods of time. The wireless charging pad on the Outpost Mousepad lets me charge my phone while I'm working during the day, although it stays within arm's reach. And I love the stand on the back on the OMEN X 25 monitor for storing a headset. The whole thing is a great package.

And the PC itself is just lovely. It's fast and powerful in the ways that you want it to be, whether you're playing games, editing video, or anything else. There's really no compromise here.

Here are some links if you want to buy this stuff:

 

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