HP Omen 45L Assessment: Gaming PC Designers, Take Notes

Review HP Omen 45L: A master class in prefabricated gaming PCs

RRP $ 2,300.00

"The HP Omen 45L is the result when a manufacturer keeps its promise."

benefits

  • Excellent CPU cooling solution

  • Toolless design

  • Can be upgraded with commercially available parts

  • Great gaming performance

  • Doesn't get too loud

  • Additional hard drive bays

disadvantage

  • Limited number of USB ports

  • No DDR5 option

  • Bloatware is a bit annoying

The HP Omen 30L tops our list of the best gaming desktops. It's not tied up or barely hangs in one place – it's the best option if you're looking for a pre-built gaming desktop. Announced at CES 2022, the Omen 45L aims to make the best even better. And it works across the board.

No gaming desktop is perfect, especially the pre-built ones, but the Omen 45L improves on its predecessor in almost every way. It has a unique cooling design that actually pays off in thermals; the tool-free case is even easier to enter; and performance, though occasionally limited by memory speed, is worthy of the hardware inside.

The HP Omen 30L is no longer the best gaming desktop out there. HP has outdone itself, and even considering the minor issues with the Omen 45L, it's the gaming PC you should buy if you don't want to, or more likely can, not build a gaming rig right now.

draft

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The HP Omen 45L doesn't look like a normal gaming PC. It's taller than a standard mid-tower thanks to the cryo-chamber on the top, but the PC doesn't feel much larger after setting it up. It's only 18 inches long and 21.75 inches high, which is just a few inches taller than a mid-tower PC case.

Compared to last year's Omen 30L, the cryochamber is the biggest change in the Omen 45L. It looks silly at first, but I've come to appreciate the small gap thanks to its thermal performance. The upper chamber contains the 240 mm all-in-one (AIO) liquid cooler, which is only connected to the main machine by a thin conduit through which the pipes run.

This fixes the biggest problem with the Omen 30L. It's an idea similar to the fanless, breathing PC we saw from DIY Perks earlier this year. Regardless of the orientation of the AIO, it always draws in cold air and releases hot air from the other components.

That made a huge difference in my tests. During a 30-minute AIDA64 stress test, the CPU immediately climbed to 89 degrees Celsius and the fans sped up to top speed. To my great surprise, the fans calmed down after about a minute and the CPU snuggled to a pleasant 65 degrees Celsius. In between there were no ramps up and down either – the Omen 45L withstood this temperature for the rest of the test without even a whisper of additional fan noise.

HP sells the Omen 45L case alone, and honestly, I could get one.

It's a massive improvement over the Omen 30L, where we've seen the Core i9-10900K hit temperatures close to 97 degrees Celsius and a fan noise that was "terrifyingly loud". The Omen 45L was almost silent when gaming, and when the fans were running they didn't get too distracting. HP actually sells the Omen 45L case on its own, and frankly, I could get one.

Aside from thermal and noise improvements, the Omen 45L retains the same design language as the Omen 30L. It's still a sleek black case with a bright omen diamond on top. The main difference is the inclusion of three 120mm ARGB fans that glow through the tinted tempered glass on the front.

The design is similar, but HP made a lot of changes to the case. The front inlets are now fully open to let in more air, and the dust filters (one in front and one under the power supply) are now removable. HP has also improved the tool-less entry, which I'll go into more in the next section.

This is the kind of iterative improvement I love to see. HP hasn't given up on what made the Omen 30L look great. Instead, the company built on that design by making smart warmth and quality of life changes that are paying off. We always hear about improved thermal designs on new gaming desktops. But HP actually kept that promise in a big way.

Specifications and internals

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Omen 45L comes with the best hardware you can buy anywhere. The heart of my test system was the Core i9-12900K paired with an RTX 3090 and 64 GB DDR4-3733 memory. HP doesn't offer this as a set configuration, although for around $ 5,000 you can make an exact match with HP's customization options.

HP also has much cheaper options. With a Ryzen 7 5800X, RTX 3070, and 16 GB of memory, you'll pay around $ 2,300. However, you have the freedom to build the PC you want. HP offers the Omen 45L either with an Intel or AMD chip or with an Nvidia or AMD graphics card. AMD cards are limited to the Radeon RX 6700 XT, otherwise HP has the latest flagship hardware on offer.

Central processor Intel Core i9-12900K
GPU Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090
Motherboard HP 8917 Micro-ATX Z690
case HP Omen 45L ATX case
reminder 64GB HyperX DDR4-3733
warehouse 2x 2TB WD_Black PCIe Gen4
Power supply Cooler Master 800W 80 Plus Gold
USB ports 4x USB 3.2, 4x USB 2.0, 2x USB-C
Networking 1x Gigabit Ethernet

As with the Omen 30L, there is nothing proprietary in the Omen 45L. The graphics card and motherboard are manufactured by HP, but you can always swap them out or move them to a different computer. That's a big plus over machines like the Alienware Aurora, which uses its own motherboard design.

According to HP, the Omen 45L should feel like a DIY PC, and it does.

More than the standardized components, I appreciate how HP used its branded suite to bring branded components into the Omen 45L. You get HyperX memory, not no-name modules that could have been obtained from anywhere, and you get a Cooler Master power supply and cooler, not components supplied by obscure companies that specifically deal with manufacturers. According to HP, the Omen 45L should feel like a DIY PC, and it does.

However, there are some problems. HP opted for a micro ATX motherboard instead of a full-size ATX motherboard. The case supports an ATX board, but you cannot buy one from HP. This is a machine that can come with the best hardware out there and it deserves a full ATX board like the Asus ROG GA35 does.

It also only comes with DDR4 memory. Even if you choose a 12th generation Alder Lake CPU, you can't add DDR5 unless you buy a separate motherboard and memory yourself. DDR5 is obscenely expensive right now, so I understand why HP chose to stick with DDR4. That does have an impact on performance, however, which I'll cover in my benchmarks below.

Expandability

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Like the Omen 30L, the Omen 45L has a tool-free design. Except for the screws for your motherboard and cooler, you don't need anything to get into the case and move parts. Under the cryochamber there are two buttons for the side walls and two buttons to the front to snap off the front panel.

Even without instruction, I was in the Omen 45L within seconds. The design is not only tool-free, but also intuitive. Thanks to the clear labeling, the question of which button to press never arises, and the tool-free mechanisms are of high enough quality that you don't feel as though you are breaking anything. Pre-built or not, this is how you should design a PC case.

HP cleaned up the cables above the Omen 30L. There's still a bit of a mess behind the back panel, but the cables are hidden and it's clear that some effort has been made to clean up the cable runs. HP even includes some additional SATA power and data cables that dangle at the bottom of the device if you want to use the two 3.5-inch and two 2.5-inch drive cages on the rear.

The Omen 45L is a treat. Not only does it allow upgrades unlike its Alienware counterparts, it invites them. I am into my Lian Li PC-011 Dynamic, but after using the Omen 45L, I am seriously considering getting the case alone. It is so good.

Connectivity

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The weakest aspect of the Omen 45L is connectivity. The Micro-ATX motherboard is limited to the same number of ports as the Omen 30L, which is even more noticeable with this larger design. You should still have plenty of ports for everything, but you'll need to break out a USB hub if you have a lot of dongles or USB accessories.

Above the Omen 30L, the new model adds two additional USB ports on the front. The problem is that the new ports are locked on USB 2.0. I'll never argue with more USB ports in front of a PC, but that doesn't feel like much. Where are the USB-C ports on the front? At least HP could have added two more USB 3.2 ports on the front.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The same goes for the back. Just like the Omen 30L, you have two USB 3.2 ports (5 Gbit / s and 10 Gbit / s), two USB 2.0 ports and two USB-C ports (5 Gbit / s and 10 Gbit / s). I like the inclusion of two USB-C ports, but I really wish one was on the front. The single upgrade in connectivity doesn't matter, and it feels like HP could have done a lot more here.

Gaming performance

The HP Omen 45L is a gaming monster, and luckily the unfortunate state of DDR5 doesn't have a massive impact on gaming performance. The model I tested was equipped with a Core i9-12900K, 64 GB DDR4-3733 memory and an RTX 3090. Although I ran benchmarks from 1080p to 4K, the following results apply to 4K at the highest graphics preset.

HP Omen 45L Origin Neuron (Ryzen 9 5950X, RTX 3080 Ti) Custom PC (Core i9-12900K, RTX 3090, DDR5)
Forza Horizon 4 159 fps 146 fps 160 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2 76 fps 72 fps 79 fps
Battlefield V 121 fps N / A N / A
3DMark time spy 18,523 17,937 19,511
Fourteen days 82 fps 89 fps N / A
Control without RT 59 fps 55 fps N / A
Control RT 37 fps 35 fps N / A
Civilization VI (shooting time in seconds, lower is better) 7.44 N / A 7.3

The RTX 3090 may be over the top for gaming, but it still tears games apart. Compared to the Origin Neuron with an RTX 3080 Ti, I've seen improvements in Forza Horizon 4, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Control. Fortnite was the only eccentric, with my results with the Omen 45L being about 8% lower than with the Origin Neuron.

Outside of the graphics card, the Core i9-12900K shows its power in the Omen 45L. My custom built PC has identical specifications. The only difference is that it uses DDR5 memory instead of DDR4. You can see this in 3DMark Time Spy, with the Omen 45L sitting about 5% lower than my custom rig.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The differences are otherwise minor. The few frames difference in Forza Horizon 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2 isn't big enough to matter. For gaming at least, the Omen 45L offers performance comparable to building the same PC yourself – and that's really what you'd expect from a pre-built gaming desktop.

DDR4 makes a difference, but in many games it doesn't matter. I tested an identical custom PC with DDR4 in 3DMark Time Spy and came out with a very similar score to the Omen 45L, which shows that this benchmark values ​​memory speed. Many games don't, as Forza Horizon 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2 have demonstrated.

Storage speed makes a much bigger difference in productivity apps where the Omen 45L falls behind.

Productivity performance

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Omen 45L is hampered by DDR4. It has the fastest processor and graphics card on the market, and the results should reflect that. But they don't. The slower memory keeps the Omen 45L from reaching its full potential, putting it on par with hardware that on paper should be less powerful.

HP Omen 45L Origin Neuron (Ryzen 9 5950X, RTX 3080 Ti) Custom PC (Core i9-12900K, RTX 3090, DDR5)
Cinebench R23 multicore 23,068 25.166 27,344
Cinebench R23 single core 1,893 1,587 1,989
Geekbench 5 multicore 15,685 15,872 18,282
Geekbench 5 single core 1.910 1,682 1,962
PugetBench for Premiere Pro 1,025 1,088 1,283
Mixer (average in seconds, lower is better) 51 53 N / A
Handbrake (seconds, lower is better) 51 50 47
PCMark 10 9,034 N / A 9.092

Cinebench shows the clearest difference. Although the Omen 45L still lets the single-core performance of the Core i9-12900K shine through, the multi-core performance is around 16% behind what is possible with DDR5. The same goes for PugetBench for Premiere Pro, where the Omen 45L lagged my custom PC by about 20%.

The Origin Neuron further illustrates this point. In Geekbench 5, for example, the Omen 45L caught up with the Origin Neuron in the multi-core test, but should do about 15% better. The single-core performance is still evident, but DDR4 is clearly a bottleneck for the Omen 45L.

However, it is not a bottleneck for applications. My results in Handbrake, Blender and PCMark 10 show only minor differences between the three devices. DDR5 makes a big difference with Alder Lake, but that difference is not the same for all apps.

HP doesn't offer the Omen 45L with DDR5, but there is a good reason for that. DDR5 is expensive and in high demand, which would either delay the Omen 45L or drive up the price.

It makes sense, but HP's logistical machinations don't matter with $ 5,000 at stake. Machines like the Origin Neuron are available with DDR5, even if it's a premium version. This is HP's top performing desktop, and a few hundred dollars for DDR5 is insignificant given the price that HP sets.

software

The Omen 45L comes with the HP Omen Gaming Hub, which is much more rugged than I expected. As with other HP devices, however, annoying bloatware was preinstalled, which interrupted my benchmarking with ads several times during the test.

It comes pre-installed with ExpressVPN, Dropbox, and McAfee. I've only seen ads for ExpressVPN and Dropbox once, but McAfee came up too many times to count. These are apps you might want to use, but I still don't appreciate a $ 5,000 gaming PC that comes preloaded with ads.

The Omen Gaming Hub takes care of that. Starting with the basics, the app lets you monitor your PC's usage, active processes, temperatures, and basically every other important element of your PC. It also includes integration with Intel XTU for overclocking as well as lighting control and a network monitor.

I appreciate having so many features in one place with Gaming Hub.

Aside from the basics, the Gaming Hub doubles as a hub for your games. You can view and launch your installed titles, track game time, save screenshots, and even earn rewards for playing selected titles (including free games). If you're in the mood for MOBAs, Mobalytics also lets you view stats about your gameplay.

The Omen Gaming Hub isn't strictly necessary and in some places it's a bit rough around the edges. But I still appreciate having so much functionality in one place. These types of apps are usually nothing more than ad-strewn support hubs. The Omen Gaming Hub is still a support hub and still has ads, but that's easy to miss with what else it offers.

Our opinion

The Omen 45L takes an already great design and improves on it. This could just have been a bigger Omen desktop with room for more fans, but it isn't. HP brought noticeable improvements in thermal and cable management and built on the fantastic tool-free design of the Omen 30L.

There are some issues – I would have liked more connectivity, and DDR4 can cripple the CPU in some applications. Still, at these points it's hard to pinpoint just how much else the Omen 45L has to offer. It's a great performer overall, and the tool-free design makes upgrades easy across the board.

Are there alternatives?

Yes. The Origin Neuron and Asus GA35 are the most direct competitors, but both don't have the unique cooling design that HP offers. At least the case is unique to HP.

How long it will take?

According to HP, the Omen 45L should feel like a DIY PC. The PC uses standard parts so you can upgrade it for as long as you want. HP even sells the case on its own, so you have unlimited uses as long as you upgrade the parts inside.

As configured, you can assume that the device will last around five years in demanding games and productivity apps. However, if you do a CPU or GPU swap, you can increase this lifespan exponentially.

Should you buy it?

Yes. In the crowded gaming desktop market, the HP Omen 45L stands out as one of the best desktops with its tool-free design, great cooling solution, and commitment to upgradeability. Aside from DDR4 and a slight lack of ports, it's the perfect gaming desktop.

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