When it comes to actually playing games, the Omen X 2S is a powerful beast. Our review unit featured NVIDIA's RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU and Intel's six-core i7-9750H CPU, and not surprisingly, that hardware was more than enough to make perform well and look great on its 1080p 144Hz G-SYNC screen. In Overwatch, I saw between 90 and 110FPS with Epic settings, while the Hitman 2 benchmark reached 102 FPS with all of the graphics turned up. If you want a bit more speed at the expense of fan noise and extra heat, you can also flip on the "Performance Mode" in HP's software, which netted me 106 FPS in the Hitman 2 benchmark. And for the the smoothest gameplay experience possible, you can opt for a 240Hz 1080p screen for an additional $230, like we're seeing on other gaming laptops this year.
As you'd expect, all of that power generates plenty of heat. I typically saw CPU temperatures of 70 to 80 Celsius under load, but during some benchmarks, that skyrocketed to 92 Celsius. That's surprising, since HP used a liquid metal thermal compound on the CPU, which is supposed to help with offloading heat. The GPU, meanwhile, sat between 60 and 72 degrees as I was playing games.
Clearly, the Omen X2S is a solid performer, but it also proves HP is getting better at making attractive gaming laptops. It's only 20 millimeters thick and weighs 5.2 pounds. That's heavier than some of the competition, which are closer to 4.5 pounds, but it's still pretty portable. Its metal case is sleek, even though it's not as refined as something like the Razer Blade. You definitely won't mistake this for a typical PC, though. All of its LED lighting and sharp angles show that it's a gaming notebook through and through.
To fit in its secondary display, HP had to make a few compromises. The Omen X 2S's keyboard is way up front, along with a surprisingly short trackpad. The keyboard feels fantastic for both gaming and typing, but you'll definitely need the bundled wrist rest to avoid cramping your hands. And while the touchpad is smooth and accurate, I wish it was a bit taller for multi-touch gestures. It looks like it was cut short to make room for some extra keys to control the laptop's tiny display. That makes it less useful as a productivity device, but it probably won't matter much if you're always relying on a gaming mouse.
HP also included a wealth of ports, including three USB 3.0 Type A connections, a Thunderbolt USB-C port, Ethernet and a full-sized HDMI connections. As for future upgrades, you can get under the hood to easily replace its SSD and memory. The power adapter also seems thoughtfully designed, with rounded edges and a slim enclosure. You'll want to keep that handy, because the Omen X 2S won't last you very long on battery power. With the secondary display turned on, it only lasted two and a half hours during our test. And with that screen turned off, it got closer to three hours.
The Omen X2S starts at $1,800, but if you want something as fast as our review unit with the RTX 2080, you'll have to shell out $2,850. That's only $50 more than Razer Blade with similar hardware, but that machine is also far sleeker. I will say this, though, compared to some of the other gimmicky gaming laptops we've seen this year, this gimmick is actually kinda useful. Having a second screen is definitely better than the Triton 900's expensive swiveling display and it costs a lot less than the Alienware Area 51m, which offers desktop-like customizability. But that's really not saying much — unless you absolutely need another screen, you'd likely be better off with any other slim gaming notebook, which will get you better battery life and a lighter machine.
Based on the concepts we're seeing from ASUS and Intel, I'm convinced the future of laptops is dual-screened. We've finally reached the point where juggling multiple displays on your laptop could actually make you more productive. But as usual, it's not a good idea to jump into the first wave of any new technology. The Omen X 2S is an admirable effort from HP, but it feels like the company is still trying to get the hang of things. There's clearly room to fit in a larger and wider display -- maybe next year HP can actually figure out how to make that happen.