The days of computers built by custom components from leading suppliers may end soon. The HP Omen Obelisk 2019 edition ($3,103.99 tested; $1,299.99 ) requires a simple starting point and an update: an OEM gaming desktop with all standardized parts, but now with top-notch chips, graphics, memory and water cooling. To test this, the test device comes with an Intel Core i9-9900K, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, 64 GB DDR4-2666RAM and 3 TB of HDD.
Upgrading the standard parts should be easy, but HP’s decision to put a screw inside the case to hold the right-side panel means that important updates may not be as easy as you might wish. Even so, its powerful performance and excellent appearance make this computer one of the best gaming PCs you can buy.
- Premium design
- Standard parts
- Top-end hardware options
- Needs better airflow.
- The right-side panel can be difficult to remove.
Intel Core i9-9900K
|Motherboard||HP 8509 “Shire” micro ATX Z390|
|Memory||32GB HyperX DDR4-2666MHz (4x 16GB)|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (11GB GDDR6)|
|Storage||2x 512 GB M.2 NVMe SSD in RAID0; 1 TB 3.5-inch 7,200-rpm SATA HDD|
|Networking||802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2; Ethernet|
|Ports||Front: 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A; Headphone/microphone combo; Back: USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A; USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C; 4x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A; S/PDIF; Ethernet, Audio in/out|
|Video Output||3x DisplayPort; HDMI; VirtualLink|
|Power Supply||HP 750W 80 Plus Bronze|
|Case||HP Omen Obelisk (Shadow Black)|
|Cooling||1x 120mm rear case fan, 120mm CPU Cooler (made by Cooler Master)|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Extras||HP Omen Command Center|
|Dimensions||17.1 x 14.1 x 6.5 inches (434.3 x 358.1 x 165.1 mm)|
|Price As Configured||$3,103.99|
HP’s design is really clear and I admire the compact platform. It hasn’t changed in terms of last year’s model, and I rather agree. It is a fairly compact case that adapts to the micro ATX motherboard and other standardized components.
The pattern is a black metal monolith that reaches the point in front of the HP Omen RGB logos. All sides and top openings have a bridged triangular pattern that looks elegant. Our unit has a glass sidewall, although the cheapest options have metal sidewalls. Above the glass, you can see a tray with customizable RGB lighting that is controlled by a secondary board. And the glass comes out from behind the desktop at the push of a button.
The Omen logo is printed in black on the glass, and I wish HP would have left the glass so it doesn’t affect the view of the components. (The logo is displayed for the third time on the second aluminum sidewall.)
But I’m concerned about the design of this wonderful thing: the airflow. The only real case fan is the 120mm fan behind the system. Most of the air flows through the bottom of the case, where HP has installed a removable dust filter. There is also a vent on the top (mainly blocked by a 120mm fan for the water cooler) and one on the front to allow air to flow into the attached cold hard drives.
There are less than five millimeters of space between the bottom of the case and the ventilation openings on the bottom, which does not offer much space for air access. Fortunately, HP tells me that it hopes to be able to change the obelisk cases in September so that they change to about 15 mm. However, if you buy this while writing, you’ll have as much space as I do.
The GPU has a fan cooler. This means that it doesn’t cool like other graphics cards. With a single 120mm fan, however, there is no residual heat in the case.
At 434.3 x 358.1 x 165.1 mm, the obelisk is so compact that it fits most desktops. It’s not as compact as the Corsair One i160 (7.9x7x15 inches) which is much less upgradeable. The MSI Trident X is similar in size (15.6 x 15.1 x 5.1 inches) and the Alienware Aurora R8 is thicker (18.6 x 14.2 x 8.4 inches).
PORTS AND UPGRADEABILITY
The headphone connector, microphone connector, and power switch are all located in a small area at the top. I think this is an easy way to prevent USB sticks from falling even though the notch is not large enough to hold the hard drive or larger peripherals. When empty, it helps to keep aesthetics clean.
The motherboard has an S/PDIF connector, USB 3.1 Gen 2 (Type-A and Type-C), four USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-A) connectors, an Ethernet connector, and audio in/out connectors. The GPU has HDMI and DisplayPort for video and VirtualLink for VR.
The Obelisk is listed on the HP Web site as “Stylish. Powerful. And easy to upgrade.” But the last of these three is not necessarily true.
In theory, updating the obelisk should be easy. It uses all standard parts from the motherboard to the CPU cooler and power supply. All desktops must be like this even big-brand vendors. So in theory, you can replace any part as if you were building one and using this case from scratch for years.
However, managing the cable during the upgrade can be a problem, especially when replacing parts. To remove the back of the case, remove the screw from the case that holds it in place. This screw disappears between the other zipper cables attached to the power supply, so you may need to remove it.
In this case, the screw on our test unit was tightened very tightly until it started to loosen as we tried to remove it. HP should seriously consider inserting screws on the back of the device (possibly even thumbscrews that can be opened without tools) for ease of use. At its best, when the screw comes out, it is still a pain.
This has not changed from last year’s model, and last year the screw went well. But this year it turned out to be malicious for a machine that I really couldn’t upgrade if I wanted to. If I had a smaller model I couldn’t get to the back of the system, I couldn’t make serious changes.
GAMING, GRAPHICS, AND VR
With the RTX 2080 Ti, our Obelisk test configuration can play almost any game in the highest configuration. I played Battlefield V in ultra configurations (including ultra-ray tracking) and the game produced between 42 and 54 frames per second.
In the Shadow of The Tomb Raider benchmark (higher configuration), the obelisk ran the game at 100 fps at 1080p, above the game’s desktop average (99 fps), as did the MSI Trident X and Alienware Aurora R8, but the Corsair One was faster (159 fps). At 4K, the obelisk played at 33 fps behind the Corsair One which ran at 45 fps.
Obelisk ran the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (very high, 1080p) at 125 fps, which is faster than the average 111 fps, but again behind the Corsair One (140 fps). At 4K, it dropped to 41 fps, still above the 38 fps average.
In Hitman, the obelisk ran the benchmark (highest setting, 1920 x 1080) at 155 fps, above the average (127 fps) and both Trident and Aurora (143 fps each), which were behind the Corsair One. At 4K, it had 92 fps, which is still ahead of the average of 84 fps but behind the Corsair One (159 fps).
Obelisk passed the stress test quickly, where we performed Metro Exodus benchmark 15 times in the RTX configuration to simulate about half an hour of playtime. Obelisk ran the game at an average frame rate of 70.6 frames per second. It was over 77 fps at first speed but dropped quickly to 72 before rising to 69 fps.
The CPU had an average clock speed of 4.4 GHz and an average temperature of 62.7 degrees Celsius. The GPU operated at an average of 69.6 degrees Celsius.
Our HP Omen Obelisk Tester had an Intel Core i9-9900K, 64GB DDR4-2666 RAM, a couple of 512GB NVMe SSDs with RAID0, and a 1TB hard drive at 7200rpm. This provides enough power to copy a video editing workstation.
In Geeketch 4.3, Omen Obelisk achieved 34,167 points ahead of the average premium gaming desktop (33,408) and the Alienware Aurora R8 (Core i7-9700K, 28,995).
Obelisk took only 3 seconds to transfer 4.97 GB files. It has an amazing speed of 1696.4 Mbps and much faster than the average of 588.5 Mbps or any competitor.
In our Handbrake video-editing experiment, Obelisk had a 4K video encoded at 1080p. The HP desktop completed the task at 5 minutes and 31 seconds, ahead of the average 6:20, Aurora, Trident and Corsair One.
Depending on where you buy the Omen obelisk, you may have a very simple keyboard and mouse. However, we did not have a mouse or keyboard. If it is a package that arrived last year, you may want to update it to another. HP also sells accessories from the Omen brand, such as the Photon mouse and the Sequencer keyboard, but this carries additional costs.
SOFTWARE AND WARRANTY
The most important software that HP provides to Omen Obelisk is the Omen Command Center, all-in-one software for checking temperatures and system usage, comparing and overclocking the CPU, and controlling RGB lighting on the case and Omen logo and GPU, brand peripherals.
HP also provides JumpStarts software to view your serial number and product key. Otherwise, only a few basic tips will be displayed. The bloat is limited to Netflix and a free trial version of McAfee Personal Security.
Of course, there is Windows 10 application bloat like Candy Crush Friends Saga, Hulu, Hotspot Shield Free VPN, and Bubble Witch 3 Saga.
HP sells Omen Obelisk with a year warranty.
Our test device is a high-end model of the HP Omen obelisk. You get an Intel Core i9-9900K, 64 GB of HyperX Fury RAM at 2,666 MHz, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (11 GB DR6), 750 W 80 Plus Platinum power supply, two 512 GB PCI-E NVMe SSDs with RAID0 storage and 2 TB, 7200 rpm hard drive.
The new model released this year costs $1,299.99 with Intel Core i7-9700K, 8 GB HyperX Fury-RAM, 1 TB hard drive with 7200 rpm and Nvidia GeForce RSX 2060 GPU (6 GB GDDR6).
If you want to a cheaper one, last year’s models are still available and the older configurations start at $799.99. The most economical Intel model for the price comes with the 8th generation of Core i5-8400, 8 GB HyperX memory (1×8 GB), 1 TB hard drive with 7200 rpm and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (3 GB GDDR5 ). This SKU has a micro ATX motherboard with only two RAM slots, so there is less space available for updates. It also has a smaller 500W bronze power supply and a metal side cover, without glass cover.
On the AMD side, the cheapest option is $899.99 for the Ryzen 5 2500X and it meets the Intel model specifications. There is no AMD model with water cooling or 3000 series processors. The price starts at £899.00 in the UK.
The HP Omen Obelisk is a stylish gaming desktop. And with a high-end Z390 motherboard and water-cooled configurations, it can be a real achievement that will last for years.
HP describes the desktop as an upgradeable machine and should only be thanked for using standardized components. And while the glass window is removed with the touch of a button, the right panel is difficult to replace because HP attaches great importance to optical functionality. If you can’t remove this screw, you won’t be able to make some important changes and keep the case for years. If you do not perform an upgrade that requires cable routing, simple RAM and memory upgrades can take time.
It’s small, but if you’re looking for something a little smaller, the Corsair One i160 has a big impact in a much smaller space, but it’s much more difficult to upgrade, starting at $2,700. Alienware Aurora is more expensive, so it’s not that good. The MSI Trident X, even when still available, is also compact and fully upgradeable, although its dual-chamber design can make it difficult for beginners to disassemble and restore. So if you buy a desktop computer for gaming, the HP Obel Obelisk is good value for money and great in performance. Well, if only HP added a few more fans.