HP Omen Obelisk Evaluation | Don’t Underestimate This Desktop’s Understated Seems

"The HP Omen Obelisk offers the performance that serious gamers need at a surprisingly affordable price."

  • Slim, compact design

  • Ray tracing and VR capable

  • Developed for upgradeability

  • Accessible ports

  • Competitive price

  • Delivered with an older CPU and slower memory

  • Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti (not yet) an option

  • Stained glass windows don't help with boring internal designs

Prefabricated PCs were once ridiculed by enthusiastic gamers. HP hopes to use its latest omen obelisk to change public opinion and conversation among gaming circles.

This gaming PC is aimed at more serious gamers with features like Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen processors, fast HyperX RAM, optional Intel Optane memory and the latest GeForce RTX 2080 graphics from Nvidia. Best of all, this compact gaming desktop tower still has enough internal storage to support future upgrades.

The Omen obelisk has a modest starting price of under $ 900, but you won't be impressed by these specs. Our upgraded $ 1,999 test device is exactly what you want with its slim body, large tempered glass window, and quality components. You will be surprised at how much gaming quality HP has packed into this package.

Understated appeal

While it is unlikely to appeal to gamers looking for a more eye-catching system, the Obelisk's easier-to-hold aesthetic makes it easier to fit into a home office setup. With its all-black metal construction, slim side window made of tempered glass and subtle LED lighting, HP is clearly aimed at home users who may need this desktop for two purposes to work and play.

HP Omen ObeliskChuong Nguyen / Digital Trends

If you don't see the glowing Omen logo with LED lighting on top of the pyramid-shaped obelisk on the front or notice the glowing backlighting through the glass, the Omen obelisk can easily be used as a standard consumer desktop. However, HP does not downplay the omen heritage of the obelisk. It's just a stylish tower that does without the garish flourishes traditionally associated with gaming PCs.

With a name like Obelisk, you expect the HP desktop to appear on your desk. Fortunately, this isn't because the Omen obelisk is a compact desktop, despite having a known tower shape factor. Our test device supports a microATX Edoras motherboard and a full-size graphics card to keep the space on your desk as small as possible. You still have access to a number of ports and plenty of space in the case for future upgrades.

Despite an eye-catching, non-tinted tempered glass window, there isn't much visual interest inside.

The dimensions of the obelisk of 6.5 x 14.1 x 17 inches (width x length x height) are comparable in size to those of the Asus ROG Strix GL12CX gaming desktop, so that both towers are right for the RTX graphics performance they contain are compact. However, the ROG benefits from a larger ATX motherboard and a newer processor, but comes with a much more expensive price of $ 3,200.

However, when it comes to size, the recently updated, bespoke Neuron by boutique gaming company Origin PC comes with a microATX motherboard with a 9th generation Intel Core i9 and a more powerful RTX 2080 Ti graphics. The Lenovo Legion C730 is even smaller, but this cooler-inspired PC doesn't have the latest generation of GTX graphics.

Under the mirror

Despite the non-tinted clear tempered glass side window, there isn't much visual interest inside. As with competing game systems, there is configurable RGB lighting, and the practical cable management system ensures order and order. However, you will not find any fancy RTX graphics cards with a glowing logo or a fancy radiator.

HP Omen Obelisk

HP Omen Obelisk

Where the glass panel design really comes into play is the updated Omen Obelisk configuration, which was announced at CES 2019. This newer model is equipped with a newer Intel Core i9 processor and more powerful RTX 2080 Ti graphics. The conspicuous elements of this model include the cooler and the pipes of the liquid cooling system, which are intended to provide more visual interest when looking through the glass.

HP is clearly aimed at people who may need this desktop for two purposes to work and play.

For DIY enthusiasts who want more control over their desktops, the EMI-coated glass panel can be accessed without tools. HP claims that the clear EMI coating helps prevent radio or magnetic interference. By pulling a latch on the back of the tower, the side wall can be quickly removed so that all internal components are accessible. Inside you will find access to two RAM sockets, two M.2 sockets, a full-height graphics card, a fan, a hard disk and a 500-watt power supply. Although the power supply's low wattage may not be particularly impressive given the RTX graphics card, there have been no issues with this configuration.

Although our build doesn't offer much active cooling, the obelisk has managed to keep temperatures in check by strategically placed vents at the back, sides and top. The bottom-mounted power supply also helps with heat dissipation, and two non-LED-lit fans help with air circulation. In use, the fans sounded a bit louder than some competing premium gaming PCs that we have tested in the past. There is also a dust filter that comes in handy to keep things looking clean if you have a large clear glass pane.

The tower offers plenty of room for expansion in case you need to replace a more powerful power supply or upgrade to a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti card in the future. RAM and memory are quick upgrades. The Omen Obelisk also comes with HP's USB keyboard and mouse, but serious gamers will either bring their own peripherals or upgrade the standard accessories.

Accessible ports

The Omen Obelisk contains two sets of connectors that you can use to connect your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals. Main supports such as the power cable, the display output and the loudspeaker connection can be connected at the rear. Five USB 3.1 ports, a single USB-C port, HDMI and three DisplayPort ports, an Ethernet jack and audio ports are on the back of the device.

HP Omen ObeliskChuong Nguyen / Digital Trends

For this generation of the Omen obelisk, HP has redesigned the top ports with a forward-facing design for easier access. In the previous generation, the obelisk was designed with rear-facing connections, which at the expense of accessibility ensures a leaner and cleaner design. At the top you will find two USB 3.1 ports, a headphone jack, a microphone jack and the power switch.

Priced to perform

To keep costs down and likely release the Obelisk to gamers faster, HP decided not to wait for the newer 9th generation processors from Intel. As a result, the Omen Obelisk devices shipped with 8th generation Intel processors shipped in late 2018. Our verification system was configured with an Intel Coffee Lake Core i7-8700 CPU with six cores and 12 threads.

However, the slower performance of the previous generation Intel processor is evident when running processor benchmarks. The Omen Obelisk achieved lower single and multi-core values ​​than competing systems using 9th generation Intel Core i9-9900K processors such as Origin Chronos, Digital Storm Aventum X and Asus ROG Strix GL12CX. Compared to the Intel Core i9-7980XE processor of the Alienware Area-51 R5, the Obelisk achieved mixed results and scored 700 points more in the single-core test and more than 3,000 points in the multi-core test. When we encoded a 4K sample film with Handbrake, the test with the ROG was 38 percent faster than with the Omen obelisk.

And although our device is equipped with a 512 GB solid-state drive in M.2 format from SK Hynix, the drive was somewhat slower with 664 Mbit / s read and 448 Mbit / s write speed. These speeds are slower than Samsung, Toshiba, and Western Digital drives on other devices we've tested, such as Aventum X, Microsoft Surface Studio 2, and Huawei MateBook 13. They're even slower than the Lenovo Legion C730, which comes with a smaller one 256 GB SK Hynix SSD.

There is also a 1TB hard drive on this system, and users who need more storage capacity can add a third hard drive. Both hard drives are easily accessible in the hard drive bays, and replacing the M.2 SSD is an easy task that only requires a single Phillips screw to be loosened.

Ray tracing ready to play

Fortunately, thanks to its Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics, the obelisk remains competitive in the graphics department despite slightly slower processing speeds compared to modern competitors. Despite using a graphics card similar to the Asus ROG Strix GL12CX, the Omen Obelisk performed slightly worse in 3DMark Time Spy, Sky Diver and Fire Strike tests. The scores of both units were similarly lower than the Origin Chronos, which can be expected since the Chronos comes with an RTX 2080 Ti card. With 3DMark's new Port Royale benchmark, which measures beam tracking, the Obelisk scored 5,598 points with an average of 25.92 FPS (frames per second).

In our gaming tests, the Omen Obelisk again delivered performance levels similar to other systems with RTX 2080 graphics from Nvidia. In general, scores in titles like Civilization VI, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Battlefield I and Rocket League were slightly lower on the obelisk than on the Origin Chronos.

In Battlefield I, Civilization VI and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the obelisk delivered well over 60 FPS in all game settings, even in 4K resolution. There was a noticeable drop in performance in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at 4K in Ultra mode, but the obelisk did 10 FPS better than the 39 FPS mark of the Asus ROG Strix GL12CX, although both systems use similar graphics cards. This shows that even with an aging 8th generation Intel processor, the obelisk could keep up with competitors with newer 9th generation silicon.

Given the Obelisk's consistently strong performance, gamers may not notice a large performance gap even with an older processor. In general, we found that the RTX series graphics at 1080, 1440p, and 4K resolutions gave more consistent results than the older GTX series, which showed a frame rate slowdown at higher resolutions.

With the real-time ray tracing feature enabled in Battlefield V, we found the game to look more realistic and we appreciated the extra level of detail. However, the function loads the system at higher resolutions and a noticeable drop in performance occurs when the ray tracing is set to "Ultra" in the 4K resolution. With ray tracing turned off and HDR activated, the game was played on average between 56 and 59 FPS in 1080p, 1440p and 4K resolutions at approx. 60 Hz. With ray tracing enabled, frame rates remained constant at lower resolutions of 1080p and 2K, but at 4K, the performance in the "Nordlys" mission dropped to just 32 FPS.


HP offers a standard one-year off-site warranty that covers parts, labor, and shipping costs to send the device to a repair center. Players who want to stay calm for longer can choose an improved two-year warranty for $ 239 or a two-year plan with accidental damage protection for $ 279. The latter covers unexpected events, such as Spilled water or even drops, which can be useful if you often find that you use the Obelisk a lot for LAN parties.

HP's one-year basic warranty corresponds to popular brands such as Alienware from Dell and Legion from Lenovo. However, these competitors offer longer premium packages that can extend the protection of your system by up to five years. A three-year basic warranty applies to more expensive custom-made systems from boutique brands such as Origin PC and Digital Storm.

Our opinion

HP has made several sacrifices to release the Omen Obelisk in late 2018. This means that the device is not equipped with the best CPU or GPU with the best configuration. At a price below $ 2,000, the 8th generation Intel Obelisk processor instead of the newer 9th generation silicon processor and RTX 2080 graphics make a commendable contribution to dealing with in-game frame rates.

In our benchmarks, we found that HP's decision to use the latest-generation Intel processor had little impact on gaming performance. And if you don't push the sleeve with ray tracing titles at the highest game settings at 4K resolutions, the RTX 2080 graphics of the obelisk instead of the flagship RTX 2080 Ti will likely save you a bit of money because you work with performance, which enables ray tracing was generally deleted only at resolutions greater than 1440p.

Is there a better alternative?

If you agree with the latest generation processors from Intel, the Omen Obelisk from HP is very reasonably priced for its specifications. For example, Asus' competing ROG Strix costs around $ 1,200 more than the $ 3,299 obelisk. At this price, you get a newer 9th generation Intel Core i7-9700 processor. Dell's Alienware Area-51 desktop costs the same price as the ROG Strix, but you get an eight-core Intel Core i7-7820X processor, 16 GB RAM, and 128 GB M.2 solid-state drive, plus one 1 TB hard drive.

The Chronos desktop from the boutique PC manufacturer Origin PC is also supplied in a similarly compact package. When configured with an Intel Core i7-9700K processor and an RTX 2080 graphics card, the Origin starts at $ 2,432, which is a $ 400 premium over the obelisk. Origin offers a lot more customization options if you want to outsmart your rig, but the Chronos doesn't come with the HP window window.

If you're a more serious player, you should wait for the 2019 version of the Omen Obelisk that HP announced at CES. The Obelisk 2019 retains the same aesthetics and design as our review sample, but the improved configuration is optimal with a newer Intel Core i9 processor, better RTX 2080 Ti graphics, and a cooler for liquid cooling. This updated model is expected to offer more computing power and improved gaming performance. The arrival is planned for March from $ 2,249, so prices for the 8th generation Intel configuration could drop at this point.

How long it will take?

Regardless of which configuration you choose, the HP Omen Obelisk will meet your gaming needs for years to come. All internal components can be updated. If you choose an RTX series graphics card, you are buying a future-proof PC. The challenge for most gamers who buy this and another RTX-equipped system is that developers add ray tracing support to their titles. This may take a while.

Should you buy it

Yes. If you don't have the patience to get your own parts to build your own PC, the HP Omen Obelisk is a great pre-built alternative that is available at competitive prices and well-equipped to deliver the performance most players need . Although it's a gaming tower aimed at mainstream gamers, it has enough features – easy update, RTX performance, and a modern design – that make this desktop appealing to enthusiasts.

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