These are the best HP laptops for gaming this year

These are the best HP laptops for gaming this year

There seems to be an almost never-ending number of laptops on the market today, and it’s fair to say we’re usually spoiled for choice in most categories. As we approach the holiday season, we’ve rounded up many of the best laptops you can buy as a gift for yourself or a loved one. That includes specific categories like the best gaming laptops, and we even have a list of great budget gaming laptops if you don’t want to spend a lot. But we all have our affinities, and with HP laptops being some of the most popular in the world, it’s only natural you’d be looking for them. To help you out, we’ve gathered some of the best HP laptops for gaming, so you can get something that fits your needs.

HP has a couple of gaming-focused brands in its portfolio, the most notable of which is probably the OMEN family. However, there are other brands in the company’s lineup that you can use for gaming, including the recently-launched Victus series. We’ll highlight the best options across the company’s range, so there’s something for everyone. Let’s get started

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Best overall: OMEN 15z

HP OMEN 15z

There are a few factors that make a good gaming laptop, and the OMEN 15z checks the most boxes out of HP’s lineup. It’s powerful, sleek, and it has a high refresh rate display with fast response times.

Starting with performance, the OMEN 15z is powered by the latest processors in AMD’s lineup, up to a Ryzen 9 5900HX, a beastly CPU with 8 cores and 16 threads, which can boost up to 4.6GHz. This is one of the most powerful laptop CPUs available right now, and along with that, you also get up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPU. With that combination of specs, you can rest assured almost all your games will run at high settings and high frame rates. You can also configure it with up to 16GB of RAM, which isn’t an exceptional amount, but it should be enough to run just about any modern game, and you can always upgrade it yourself with the two SODIMM slots inside the laptop. For storage, you can get up to a 1TB SSD, which is also user-upgradeable.

Another factor that makes this potentially the best laptop for gaming is the display. It’s a 15.6-inch panel, and the base configuration has Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution and a 144HZ refresh rate, which is already a solid experience for gaming. But if you want an even better one, you can upgrade to the Quad HD (2560 x 1440) panel, which also slightly increases the refresh rate to 165Hz and gives you a 3ms response time. If you max out the CPU and GPU configurations, you’re probably going to want to make the most of it with the higher-quality display.

Above that screen, there’s a 720p webcam, which unfortunately doesn’t support Windows Hello. In fact, there’s no form of biometric authentication on this laptop, which is unfortunate. If you need to connect peripherals to your laptop, the OMEN 15z  also has plenty of ports. You get one USB Type-C port, three USB Type-A ports, mini DisplayPort, HDMI 2.1, Gigabit Ethernet, a headphone jack, an SD card reader, and a proprietary charging port. That’s plenty of connectivity for just about anything, though you don’t get Thunderbolt support since that’s Intel technology that’s not supported on AMD laptops.

The design itself is fairly modern for a gaming laptop, with mostly flat lines and not much in the way of extravagant design elements. The most noteworthy part of the exterior is the OMEN logo, which is a green and blue gradient, but otherwise, this laptop could be used just about anywhere. The inside of the laptop is a bit more flashy, though, with support for a white backlit keyboard or a 4-zone RGB backlit model.  Between all that power and the ports, the laptop is somewhat thick, at around 23.11mm, and it’s not exactly lightweight either, weighing around 5.43lbs. That’s fairly typical of gaming laptops, though, and the focus is on being powerful, which this definitely is. If you want an HP gaming laptop, this should be near the top of your considerations.

    OMEN 15z
    The OMEN 15z is a powerful gaming laptop with AMD Ryzen CPUs and NVIDIA RTX GPUs.

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Intel alternative: OMEN 15t

OMEN 15t

If you like everything about the OMEN 15z except the AMD processor, HP also sells a version of the laptops with an Intel processor, the OMEN 15t. These two laptops share the same overall design, but there are a few differences in the configurations available.

For starters, at the time of writing, the OMEN 15t is only available with an Intel Core i5-11400H, which is a 6-core, 12-thread CPU that can boost up to 4.5GHz. THat’s still a very powerful processor, but it doesn’t quite reach the same level as the top-tier AMD configuration above. Similarly, this model only comes with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, which is also not as powerful as the highest configuration available on the AMD model. On the flip side, you can get the Intel model with up to 32GB of RAM out of the box, as well as 1TB of storage.

The display is one area where the Intel model may have an advantage, however. You get the same two configurations as the AMD version – Full HD at 144Hz or Quad HD at 165Hz – but you also get a brand-new option that may be ideal for esports gamers: You can get a Full HD panel that runs at 300Hz. If you really care about the fastest reaction times in online games, that’s probably going to be your last option, and even if the hardware isn’t as powerful as the AMD model it should still be able to drive a Full HD display at very high frame rates in esports titles.

Design-wise, the two laptops are naturally very similar. That means you also don’t get Windows Hello support of any kind on this model, and the webcam is still 720p. One benefit you do get with the Intel model is the option for per-key backlighting on the keyboard, in addition to the two options available on the AMD variant.  The 15t is ever-so-slightly thinner and lighter, too, but the difference is so small it doesn’t really make a difference.

The port setup is also nearly identical with the same exact number of ports and the same physical connections. However, instead of regular USB Type-C, the Intel model actually supports Thunderbolt 4, which means you can plug in a Thunderbolt dock, monitor, or even an external GPU if you think you need a GPU upgrade down the line. Otherwise, with three USB Type-A ports, HDMI 2.1, mini DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethermet, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader, you can plug in plenty of peripherals without any docks or adapters.

While it’s not as powerful in some ways, the OMEN 15t is better in others compared to the AMD variant. Depending on your priorities, this might be a better option.

    OMEN 15t
    The OMEN 15t is an Intel-powered version of the OMEN 15z featuring Intel CPUs and a faster display.

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Best 16-inch gaming laptop: Victus 16t

HP Victus 16 on yellow background

If you want a slightly larger laptop that also has more of a unique look, HP’s brand-new Victus lineup may be for you. The Victus 16t is an Intel-powered laptop and it offers a great balance of power and style.

The Victus 16t is available in a range of configurations depending on how much power you need. You can get it with up to an Intel Core i7-11800H, which is an 8-core, 16-thread CPU that can boost as high as 4.6GHz. That’s a very powerful processor, and you can combine it with up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 GPU to get very good performance in just about any game you might want to play. Additionally, you can add up to 32GB of RAM – more than enough for gaming on a laptop – and 1TB of SSD storage accelerated by 32GB of Intel Optane memory. It’s a powerful combination all around, even if the GPU isn’t quite as powerful as what you can get with the OMEN 15z.

Moving on to the display, as the name suggests, this is a larger 16.1-inch panel, but it’s still Full HD (1920 x 1080) according to HP’s configuration page, and the base model seems to be at 60Hz, too. You can upgrade to a 144Hz panel if you want the faster refresh rate, though, which is going to be a big boon for games and general usage alike.

Design-wise, the Victus 16t looks even cleaner than the OMEN lineup. It’s mostly a flat color, with a reflective Victus logo on the lid, and the keyboard is backlit, but only in white. One advantage the Victus 16 packs compared to the OMEN 15 is that it includes a full number pad on the keyboard, which is rare to see on any laptop. While it packs some power, it still looks classy, and you can get it in either Mica Silver or Performance Blue colors depending on your taste. portability-wise, it’s incredibly close to the OMEN 15z, measuring 23.62mm in thickness and weigh 5.44lbs. That’s impressive considering you get a bigger screen.

However, just like the aforementioned laptops, there’s no Windows Hello support of any kind, and the webcam is still 720p, too. For connectivity, you get one USB Type-C port, three USB Type-A, HDMI 2.1, Gigabit Ethernet, a headphone jack, an SD card reader, and a proprietary charger connector. Oddly enough, even though it’s an Intel laptop, there’s no Thunderbolt support, so you’ll have to make do with standard USB Type-C.

The Victus 16t offers a solid gaming experience overall and it comes wrapped in a sleek design and a larger screen that gives you more real estate without compromising portability compared to a 15-inch laptop. It’s a solid gaming laptop by HP, but it can also be used in professional settings thanks to its more subtle design.

    Victus 16t
    The Victus 16t is a decently powerful Intel-based laptop with a sleek design that still looks professional.

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AMD version: Victus 16z

Victus 16z on purple background

If you like the overall design and specs of the Victus 16, but you’re more of an AMD fan than an Intel one, there’s also the Victus 16z. This is an AMD-powered version of the same laptop, and it’s almost identical in every other way.

The biggest differences are in the CPU itself, where instead of up to an Intel Core i7-11800H, you can get up to an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H. This is also an 8-core, 16-thread CPU, and it can boost up to 4.4GHz. Performance should be very close to the Intel model, and it may do better in some games and worse in others. The GPU options are the same – up to a GeForce RTX 3060 – and the RAM also goes up to 32GB, but in this case, it’s actually faster, running at 3200MHz (versus the 2933MHz of the Intel model). You can also get up to 1TB of SSD storage, but you don’t get the option to accelerate the storage with Intel Optane memory.

The display options on the AMD version of the Victus also seem to be slightly different, as there’s no mention of a high refresh rate on any of them. You can get the base Full HD model at 250 nits of brightness – the same configuration as the base Intel model –  or upgrade to a brighter 300-nit panel. This may just be a configuration restriction at the time of writing, as other parts of HP’s website mention the laptops should both come with up to a Quad HD panel at 165Hz.

Aside from that, the two versions of the Victus are exactly the same. The design and ports are completely identical – even Thunderbolt support is the same since the Intel model skips out on it. If you can find the model with a higher refresh rate or if you don’t need it, this is pretty much the same laptop, just powered by AMD CPUs. It’s still a solid gaming laptop all around, and the AMD processor may even perform better in some circumstances.

    Victus 16z
    The Victus 16z is an AMD-based version of the Victus 16 that is virtually identical aside from the CPU.

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Best 17-inch gaming laptop: OMEN 17t

OMEN 17 on a light green background

We’re increasing the size once again for gamers that love having as big of a screen as possible. The OMEN 17t is one of HP’s most powerful gaming laptops, and that large screen will give a more immersive experience, too.

Let’s start by looking at the internals, which include an Intel Core i7-11800H CPU with 8 cores and 16 threads. This processor can boost up to 4.6GHz, and it should perform like a champ in both gaming and day-to-day use. You also get an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPU with 8GB of memory, so you’re going to be running just about any modern gaming without much of a problem. At the time of writing, you can’t change the CPU or GPU, but you shouldn’t really need to since this is already a very powerful machine. You can also choose between 16GB or 32GB of RAM, either of which should serve you fairly well, and up to 1TB of SSD storage.

The display is, of course, a 17.3-inch panel, which automatically gives it the potential to be more immersive. It’s a Full HD (1920 x 1080) screen, which may not be incredibly sharp at this size, but during gameplay, it’s still going to look good. You also get a 144Hz refresh rate along with a 7ms response time – not the fastest out there, but it should be good enough for any modern single-player game. Again, there are no configuration options available, and it’s unclear if this is a temporary restriction at the time of writing – you may be able to find some upgrade paths, and HP does say you should be able to get a Quad HD panel with a 165Hz refresh rate.

Design-wise, the OMEN 17 is essentially an oversized OMEN 15, and that’s both good and bad. Just like its smaller sibling, it has a 720p webcam and no form of Windows Hello support be it with facial recognition or a fingerprint sensor. It features the same design language that’s generally very clean, with the OMEN logo on the lid and an RGB backlit keyboard. You can choose between 4-zone lighting or per-key lighting depending on your preference, too, though there’s no option for plain white lighting. Of course, the OMEN 17 is even bigger and heavier. It weighs 6.1lbs, so its portability is questionable and at 26.92mm of thickness, it’s a little chunky. Of course, you’re not buying a 17-inch gaming laptop to be extremely portable, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

As for ports, it’s once again very similar to the smaller OMEN 15. There’s one Thunderbolt 4/USB Type-C port, three USB Type-A ports, HDMI 2.1, mini DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, a headphone jack, a microSD card reader, and a proprietary charging connector. As usual, there’s plenty of variety here, and the inclusion of Thunderbolt support means you can expand even further if you need to.

If you enjoy gaming on as large of a screen as possible, the OMEN 17t is your best (and only) option among HP’s lineup.

Best budget Intel gaming laptop: HP Pavilion Gaming 15t

Pavilion Gaming 15t on yellow background

If you’re looking to get some gaming done on the cheap, HP’s Pavilion Gaming lineup offers a solid combination of specs at a very reasonable price. Like other laptops on this list, it comes in both Intel and AMD variants, and we chose Intel as the best option mostly because you can get a better GPU with it. However, the AMD version has its own advantages and it’s also listed below.

Let’s talk about performance first. The HP Pavilion Gaming 15t is powered by Intel’s H35-series CPUs, which are a new addition to the company’s lineup this year. These CPUs aren’t quite as fast as the 45W processors you’d find on many gaming laptops, but they’re still pretty good. You can get up to an Intel Core i7-11370H, which is a 4-core, 8-thread CPU that can boost up to 4.8GHz. That’s pretty fast already, and for the GPU, you can get up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050. To do that, you’ll need to get the slower Intel Corei5-11300H processor, but the increase in GPU power may be worth it if you’re only interested in gaming. Otherwise, it comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650. You can also get up to 16GB of RAM and up to a 512GB SSD, with the option to also add a 1TB HDD if you want extra storage.

The display comes in a single configuration, and it’s a 15.6-inch panel with Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, and it has a refresh rate of 144Hz. That’s a solid entry-level offering, and for someone on a tight budget, it’s still going to give you a great gaming experience. You do get some large bezels on the top and bottom, though, and despite all that space, the webcam is still 720p without facial recognition. In fact, there’s no Windows Hello support, but considering more expensive laptops on this list don’t have it, that’s not too surprising.

In terms of design, the HP Pavilion Gaming 15t is closest to what you might think of as the typical gamer aesthetic. The corners of the display panel rise above the base when the laptop is open, and you see some accents on the lid and near the exhaust fans on the back. Plus, the HP logo is in green, as is the keyboard’s backlight (an option for white should be available, but not listed at this time). Perhaps surprisingly, this model isn’t quite as heavy as the others on this list, but that’s mainly due to the chassis being made from plastic rather than metal. The Pavilion Gaming 15t weighs in at 4.92lbs, and it measures 23.37mm in thickness, so it’s one of the more portable laptops on this list. It’s still chunky, though, to be clear.

As for ports, like most gaming laptops, you have a healthy supply here. You get one USB Type-C port without Thunderbolt, three USB Type-A ports, HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, a headphone jack, an SD card reader, and a proprietary charging connector. Even as we go lower in price, there are still plenty of ports on these laptops, which is good to see. However, the lack of Thunderbolt in an Intel-powered model is a bit of a bummer, as you could have potentially used it to connect a more powerful GPU down the line.

Regardless, if you’re looking for an affordable gaming laptop, the HP Pavilion Gaming can give you a solid experience overall without breaking the bank.

    HP Pavilion Gaming 15t
    The HP Pavilion Gaming 15t is an affordable Intel-powered gaming laptop with NVIDIA RTX graphics.

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Best budget AMD gaming laptop: HP Pavilion Gaming 15z

HP Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop

If you prefer the AMD alternative, HP has you covered, and it’s actually even cheaper than the Intel version. In some ways, the AMD-powered model of the HP Pavilion Gaming 15t is actually better than the Intel one, but it’s also a matter of what you need most in a laptop.

Performance-wise, the AMD model has potentially better CPUs, giving you the choice of an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H or a Ryzen 7 5800H. That second model is an 8-core, 16-thread CPU that can boost up to 4.4GHz, so you’re getting a ton of CPU performance here. It’s potentially not as important as the GPU is for gaming, but if you also want to do things like video editing, this is a better choice. You only get one choice for the GPU here, and it’s the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650. This is still a decent graphics card, but you won’t be able to enjoy raytracing. Still, you’ll get solid performance out of it.

Just like the Intel model, you can get up to 16GB of RAM, but the storage is slightly different, with up to a 1TB SSD being available. That gives you more fast storage than the Intel variant, but less total storage overall.

For the display, it’s similarly a 15.6-inch Full HD panel, but you have a few options here. You can stick with a 60Hz panel if you want, or upgrade to one with a 144Hz refresh rate. The base models also only have 250 nits of brightness, but you can get upgrade to the brighter 300-nit panel if you want better visibility in well-lit environments. What isn’t very different are the bezels, which are still fairly big, and the webcam is also still 720p without any form of Windows Hello support available.

The design is actually a bit more modern on this AMD model. The bottom corners of the screen are still indented and float above the keyboard deck, but it’s much more subtle now. Many of the accents on the lid and around the air exhaust vents were also toned down, so the laptop looks much cleaner overall. And, in this case, you can get either the green or white accented model, so if you don’t want to stick out too much in public, you have that option. It’s still a thick laptop, at 23.62mm, but it’s significantly lighter than its Intel counterpart, too, with a starting weight of 4.37lbs.

Where the HP Pavilion Gaming 15z makes some sacrifices is the port selection. You get one USB Type-C ports, two USB Type-A ports, one HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, an SD card reader, a headphone jack, and a proprietary charger port. At first glance, you’re only sacrificing one USB Type-A port, but the problem is all the USB ports (except for one) on this model are also slower than the Intel variant. If you’re using them for peripherals like mice and keyboards, that won’t matter, but you might notice it if you’re transferring data to a flash drive, for example.

The AMD model of the HP Pavilion Gaming definitely has strengths, but it also has some weaknesses compared to the Intel version. Considering it’s significantly cheaper, however, there are still very valid reasons to prefer this one.

    HP Pavilion Gaming 15z
    The HP Pavilion Gaming 15z is even more affordable than its Intel sibling and it has a more modern design.

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Best do-it-all laptop: HP Envy 15

HP Envy 15t on green background

We’ve looked at a lot of dedicated gaming laptop, but what if you’re not just a gamer? What if you want something that looks professional but can also handle some gaming on the side? Well, meet the HP Envy 15t.

Specs-wise, the HP Envy 15 can compete with some of the best laptops on this list. It has the latest 11th-generation Intel Core processors, and it’s actually the only laptop on this list to give you the option for an Intel Core i9-11900H processor. This is a very powerful CPU with 8 cores and 16 threads, capable of boosting up to 4.9GHz. Not only that, but you can also get it with up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, which many of the gaming laptops on this list can’t say. You’re getting plenty of power here despite the unassuming look. For RAM, you can get up to 32GB and storage is available in up to a 2TB SSD. In some ways, the HP Envy 15 has many other laptops on this list beat, and that’s definitely impressive.

However, this isn’t a gaming laptop, so the display isn’t meant for that, and it’s a 60Hz panel across the board. What it is meant for, though, is a great viewing experience. The base model is a Full HD (1920 x 1080) panel with 300 nits of brightness, but you can upgrade to a 400-nit panel and add touch support, too. But the real kicker is the top-tier upgrade option – you can get the Envy 15 with a 4K (3840 x 2160) AMOLED display with touch support. If you want a fantastic viewing experience, be it for games, movies, or anything else, the Envy 15t can deliver exactly that, and it’s fantastic. You don’t get a high refresh rate, but this is a fantastic panel in every other way.

Because this is more of a professional laptop, there are some more good news, too. While the webcam is still 720p and it still doesn’t have Windows Hello, it does have a shutter if you want to cover the camera when you’re not using. Perhaps most importantly, though, you get a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello on this one, so you can unlock the PC much more conveniently than with a PIN or password.

Of course, the design is also radically different from anything else on this list. The HP Envy is a classic silver laptop made out of aluminum, and it looks professional and clean all around. There are no special accents or RGB lights on this one, so it can truly be used anywhere. It’s much thinner than other laptops on this list, too, measuring just 18.54mm, though it’s still somewhat heavy at 4.84lbs. That’s to be expected with these powerful specs and an aluminum chassis, however.

Oddly enough, despite being something of a premium laptop, the HP Envy 15t still doesn’t support Thunderbolt. It has two USB Type-C ports, two USB Type-A ports, HDMI 2.1, a microSD card reader, a headphone jack, and the proprietary charging port.  All the USB ports are USB 3.2 Gen 1, too, so they’re not exceptionally fast, either. Still, it’s a solid mix of ports, and if you just want to connect an external display and some gaming peripherals, you have everything you need here.

If you want a powerful laptop you can use for both work and gaming, the HP Envy 15t is a solid choice.

    HP Envy 15t
    The HP Envy 15 is a powerful premium laptop that can handle gaming just fine.

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And those are what we’d consider the best HP laptops you can use for gaming today. We gave the best overall pick to the OMEN 15z because it gives you the most powerful CPU and GPU configurations combined with a high refresh rate display, but you also get customization options if you want to spend a little less. The OMEN 17t is in the same ballpark in terms of power, but the configuration options are fewer. Regardless, all of these laptops have advantages and disadvantages to them that may make them a better choice for you. Personally speaking, dedicated gaming PCs, especially with the “typical gamer” aesthetic, aren’t my favorite, so my choice from this list would be the HP Envy 15t. But any of the other models may be a better fit for you.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Writer at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.