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HP debuts gaming PCs, hopes to turn fortunes around

HP has big plans to turn around its flagging PC sales by focusing on a group of consumers who upgrade their computers frequently and spend more money on them: gamers.

On Thursday, HP launched its new gamer-centric Omen brand of laptops and desktops — the first wave of which is designed for mid-range consumers; a high-performance Omen X line will debut later this year.

The Omen laptops will be available in 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch versions and feature full-HD or 4K displays. The base 15.6-inch model, dubbed the HP Omen Notebook 15, gets 1080p display, a powerful Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive paired with a 128GB solid-state drive.

Most importantly, the Notebook 15 gets a beefy Nvidia GTX960M graphics chip with 4GB of dedicated video memory. That’s more than enough firepower to play even today’s most demanding games.

The backlit keyboard on the HP Omen laptop.

The backlit keyboard on the HP Omen laptop.

If that’s not enough, you can upgrade the Notebook 15 to a 4K resolution display, 16GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive paired to a 128GB SSD, and a Nvidia GTX965M graphics chip with 4GB of video memory.

The 17.3-inch HP Omen Notebook 17, meanwhile, gets a 1080p display, Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, a 1TB drive, and Nvidia GTX956M graphics chip.

Since these are gaming notebooks, their backlit keyboards glow bright red and come with numeric keypads. That’s an important addition for gamers who prefer using keypads to the standard number keys along the top of the keyboard.

The HP Omen desktop is actually a rebranded version of HP’s Envy Phoenix tower. Inside, the machine rocks an Intel Core i7 processor, a ridiculous 32GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive and up to a 3TB hard drive. But the coup de grace is the tower’s Nvidia GTX1080 graphics card. The most powerful graphics chip Nvidia sells, the GTX1080 will obliterate every game you throw at it.

HP's Omen laptops offer power and style.

HP’s Omen laptops offer power and style.

Because the Omen Desktop is so powerful, it can also run VR systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive with ease. Unfortunately, the Notebook 15 and Notebook 17 aren’t quite up to snuff for VR gaming.

The base Omen Notebook 15 starts at $900 and goes on sale July 10 at Best Buy and HP.com. The Notebook 17 also goes on sale on July 10 on HP.com with a starting price of $1,030 and Best Buy for $980. HP hasn’t listed a price for the Omen Desktop, but the company says it will go on sale in August.

Will it be worth spending $1,000 on one of these gaming machines? You’ll have to wait for my full review to find out.

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Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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