Plus, while HP’s Command Center software (which is also used to control the laptop’s lighting and any compatible connected peripherals) is well laid-out, and the main menus work pretty well via the touch interface, the software itself was often quite sluggish. I found myself frequently waiting several seconds for it to load, either on the primary screen. And when trying to close it on the primary display, I often had to click the X in the upper-right corner more than twice before it would actually close. That last bit is exacerbated by the fact that the physical mouse buttons are, again, confusingly close to the arrow keys of the keyboard. I was often uncertain whether I had actually clicked, or just mashed the right arrow key.

It’s also worth pointing out that HP’s Command Center software lets you switch between three performance modes: Comfort, Default, and Performance. The former is designed to keep temperatures cool while sacrificing some performance. The latter is the all-out high-performance setting designed to deliver the best possible frame rates and CPU speeds the laptop is capable of. We did all our benchmarking on the Performance setting. And while we wouldn’t say the laptop was always quiet, even at this top-end settings, the fans never got as noisy as what we’ve heard from some competing high-end gaming portables.

It’s also worth pointing out that HP’s Command Center software lets you switch between three performance modes: Comfort, Default, and Performance, not unlike most gaming laptops. The former is designed to keep temperatures cool while sacrificing some performance. The latter is the all-out high-performance setting designed to deliver the best possible frame rates and CPU speeds the laptop is capable of. We did all our benchmarking on the Performance setting. And while we wouldn’t say the Omen X 2S was always quiet, even at this top-end setting, the fans never got as noisy as what we’ve heard from some competing high-end gaming portables over the years.

When those come out, use a plastic spudger to separate the base, starting from the hinges and working your way down to the bottom. It was tight on ours, but eventually came off clean. Once that was settled, the SSD and RAM were immediately and easily accessible. One of the two SODIMM slots is covered by a protective piece of paper. As for the SSDs, our configuration had an extra bay, so it’s really easy to slot in an additional drive.

Battery Life
Gaming laptops seldom impress in unplugged run time -- especially when Nvidia’s G-Sync is in play, forcing the laptop to lean on its dedicated graphics, rather than the more-efficient integrated graphics silicon. But even with its second screen switched off, the Omen lasted just under two-and-a-half hours on our battery test, which constantly browses the web, streams video and runs OpenGL benchmarks at 150 nits of brightness. That’s well behind the competition, and below the 3:16 category average.

To see how hot the Omen can get, we measured the heat while running the Metro Exodus stress test.The keyboard reached 30.4 degrees Celsius (86.7 degrees Fahrenheit) between the G and H keys, and the touchpad hit 30.3 degrees Celsius (86.5 degrees Fahrenheit). These numbers are quite cool for gaming, likely a byproduct of HP moving the keyboard to the very edge of the chassis and putting the cooling solution under the second screen.

The bottom of the laptop got as hot as a toasty 55.5 degrees Celsius (131.2 degrees Fahrenheit) in our testing, which is more in line with most gaming machines.
HP bills the webcam on the Omen X 2S as Wide Vision FHD, with dual-array mics. The camera does have a wider field of view than most, but images during video chats weren’t as crisp as I’d expect given the resolution, with the edges of my shoulders looking jagged. In short, the camera is fine for basic communication in games or the conference room. But if you’re a serious streamer, you’d definitely going to want a dedicated camera.

Configurations
HP sent out the middle of three US configurations of the Omen X 2S. For $2,849.99, you get a six-core Intel Core i7-9750H processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a roomy 1TB of NVMe storage. That configuration also includes the 144Hz 1080p main display.

The maxed-out option with an eight-core Core i9-9880H CPU, the same 2080 Max-Q graphics, 32GB of RAM, 2TB of storage and an even faster 240Hz screen will set you back $4,299.99. And an “entry-level” option with RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics and just 256GB of NVMe storage--all other components being the same as our review unit--sells for $1,799.99. The middle option that HP sent us is the best for gamers, as you won’t see major FPS benefits for the higher-end CPU and 32GB of RAM, and the 256GB of storage on the entry model isn’t roomy enough to store more than a few modern AAA titles plus the OS and other files.

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