Gamers have many reasons why they steer clear of desktops from big-name brands, but one of the biggest is the poor expansion. You may have fewer upgrade slots (if any) versus a white label or home-built rig, and you’ll frequently have to contend with non-standard parts. HP thinks it can make you reconsider, however. It’s refreshing its Omen gaming PCs once again, and the highlight is a completely new Omen X Desktop that promises both the perks of a major company’s industrial design with the expansion that you crave. That cube-on-its-side design is not only relatively unique in a sea of generic towers, but genuinely functional. Its three-chamber design separates hot components while giving you room for expansion that includes dual graphics cards, four tool-free hard drive bays and an M.2 SSD. Also, this is an industry-standard chassis — HP will sell you the barebones case if you prefer to supply your own internals, and Maingear will even build its own beastly gaming PC around the box in early 2017.
There’s one thing you won’t escape from major brand gaming PCs, though: the price. The Omen X Desktop will be available at HP’s website on August 17th for a starting price of $1,799, and that will get you an overclockable 4GHz Core i7, 8GB of RAM, Radeon RX 480 graphics, a 256GB SSD, a 2TB hard drive and a monstrous 1,300W power supply. That’s definitely not the most powerful system you could get for the money, and it’s going to get pricier if you want perks like a GeForce GTX 1080 or 16GB of RAM (the retail config due October 16th starts at $2,100). What you’re really paying for is that exotic shell. By itself, the case costs $600 — potentially worth it if you want the easy-access drives or a conversation piece, but overkill for most anyone else.
And don’t worry if you weren’t in the market for an over-the-top desk machine, as there’s more Omen hardware in the pipeline. An updated Omen 17 laptop now packs NVIDIA’s portable version of the GTX 1060 or GTX 1070 as well as a mini DisplayPort jack, making it friendly to both VR and dual external screens. It starts at $1,600. There’s also an Omen X Curved Display with support for NVIDIA’s extra-smooth G-Sync tech (due in early 2017 for an unknown price) and a range of SteelSeries accessories that include a customizable mouse ($60), a light-up keyboard ($100) and a headset ($80). All of the SteelSeries extras should arrive in mid-September.
Cherlynn Low contributed to this report.