HP Victus 16 review: Budget gaming prowess with a lack of personality
The Victus by HP laptop, if you ask me, breathes a new life into HP’s lineup of gaming laptops. Sure the Omen series of gaming notebooks are still widely available with the latest hardware, but they’ve been all over the place lately. The Victus series now sits below the Omen notebooks in the HP hierarchy, carrying some budget-friendly gaming laptops. The Omen series, on the other hand, is home to all the premium gaming products including notebooks. It all makes perfect sense now but just how good are these new Victus gaming laptops?
Does it have all the important attributes of a gaming laptop or is it just a frippery serving of leftovers from the main lineup? Well, I’ve been using a Victus 16 laptop as my daily driver for the better part of almost two weeks now. I’ve spent enough time with the machine playing games, consuming media, and simply using it as my main laptop for work, so I am going to give you my verdict on the Victus 16 gaming laptop in this review.
Navigate this review:
- Design: Not dressed like a gamer!
- Display: Leaves me wanting more
- Keyboard and touchpad: The Omen DNA
- Performance: Budget gaming prowess
- Battery Life: Mediocre
- Final Thoughts
The Victus 16 gaming laptop is available in a bunch of different configurations carrying both Intel and AMD mobile chips. GPU options include Nvidia’s RTX 3050Ti and RTX 3060 cards as well as AMD’s Radeon 5500M. You’ll also find a bunch of display options for these notebooks ranging from a 1080p 60Hz to a 1440p 165Hz panel. My review machine is the Ryzen 5 5600H model with a Radeon 5500M GPU. Priced at ₹63,000 in India (~$850), this one’s got a 1080p 60Hz panel and I think it packs a decent amount of gaming punch for the price. Here’s a quick look at the detailed specs sheet of the laptop I tested for this review:
|Specification||HP Victus 16 16-e0162AX|
|Battery & Charging||
With that out of the way, let’s see how all the specs work together and take a look at the look of experience you can expect from this laptop.
Design: Not dressed like a gamer!
The Victus 16 gaming laptop is available in three finishes — Ceramic White, Performance Blue, or Mica Silver. My review unit, as you can see, was the latter. This particular finish makes it look very generic, and I think both white and blue variants are more fun coolers, especially for a modern laptop. The white variant, in particular, looks very elegant, at least in photos and renders. It reminds me of the ASUS TUF Dash F15 gaming laptop, that we reviewed earlier this year. The Mica Silver variant is pretty neat, though. It’s what I think is the “safe” color variant that most people will end up picking up. It’s also the variant that’s widely available, so there’s that too.
The Victus 16 gaming laptop, to me personally, feels like a barebones version of a premium Omen laptop.
The Victus 16 gaming laptop is made out of plastic, but the chassis still feels very solid. Up close, it’s got a sturdy and premium vibe to it, once again reminding you that it’s got the HP Omen DNA in it. HP says it’s using recycled, ocean-bound plastic for this enclosure and the overall chassis is rock solid. There’s very little in the name of flex on this chassis when you forcibly press down — both on the keyboard deck and the lid — which is very promising. I am not a huge fan of the hinge, though. It’s definitely one of those things that could’ve been better. It makes the lid very flimsy and the entire thing starts to wobble with a little force.
This laptop has a decent port selection which I am really happy about. For starters, you get a Gigabit Ethernet port and an HDMI 2.1 which is good for gaming on an external high-refresh-rate monitor. Additionally, there’s also a USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 and USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port on the left-hand side along with a 3.5mm audio jack and an SD card slot. You get two more USB-A ports on the right. There’s definitely more room for improvement with the ports selection, but this isn’t necessarily a poor selection.
Notably, the HP Victus 16 gaming laptop also comes with Bang & Olufsen-tuned audio system. While the dual speakers lacked the same amount of pounding bass as the speakers in a lot of other laptops we’ve tested so far, it gets really loud and sounds composed even at the max volume. Gaming is, of course, still best experienced with a pair of headphones, but it’s not bad for a casual gaming session when you want to unwind after a long day of work.
Overall, I think the Victus by HP gaming laptop looks pretty good. The chassis looks modern with conventionally sharp and squared-off edges. I also like how it’s devoid of any colored accents or flashy RGB lights, with just a reflective Victus logo on the lid. That being said, there’s something not too original about it. There’s a distinct lack of personality to it and, to me personally, it feels like a barebones version of a premium Omen laptop. Yes, that’s what it really is at the surface, but I think HP could’ve put in a little more effort to make it not feel like just an affordable Omen laptop, you know?
Display: Leaves me wanting more
Unlike the design and build quality of this machine, the display is less impressive. Let’s get the display specifics out of the way before I talk about my experience. My review unit came fitted with a 16.1-inch 1080p 60Hz panel with a 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s an IPS panel with an anti-glare coating to make it easier to consume content outdoors or under direct light. That’s good because this particular panel only has a max brightness of 250 nits, which is quite disappointing. You’ll need all the anti-glare coating because it looks very dull even indoors under normal lighting conditions. HP says the Victus gaming laptop display has a 3ms response time and covers 100% of the sRGB color space, but I’d assume it’s for the top-of-the-line variant with a QHD 165Hz panel.
The HP Victus 16’s display is quite underwhelming.
My experience with the display was quite underwhelming, to say the least. I didn’t have any glaring issues with the overall panel quality w.r.t colors. But having used a lot of high-quality panels, I could clearly tell the base variant of the laptop isn’t the best. It’s definitely made to reflect the lower price tag of the unit. Another thing that I don’t particularly like is the limited refresh rate. 60Hz is good enough for, say, an entry-level or a mainstream laptop, but I strongly believe 144Hz should be the bare minimum when it comes to gaming laptops.
Yes, this laptop isn’t powerful enough to push all modern AAA titles at high frame rates (more on this later in the performance section), but there are games that can comfortably run at frames higher than 60. Competitive shooters like CS:GO or Valorant can take advantage of higher refresh rates, and so can other games like Apex Legends. I personally know a lot of people looking to buy a budget gaming laptop with a high refresh rate panel specifically for not-so-demanding games like these, and the Victus 16 gaming laptop is automatically off my recommendation list.
It’s about time manufacturers standardize high refresh rates panels on gaming laptops. I know it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but I don’t like how the display on my phone has higher refresh rate than a laptop I am about to buy, that too for “gaming”. It’s a bit more palatable in case of high resolutions displays, but this is a 1080p panel I am talking about. It’s not atypical of budget notebooks to have sub-par displays, but we need more effort being put into this space. For what it’s worth, the bezels around the display are slim and it even leaves enough room for HP to add a 720p HD webcam.
Keyboard and touchpad: The Omen DNA
The keyboard deck, as I pointed out earlier, is rock solid and shows no signs of flexing. The keyboard itself is well laid-out, too, with a full numeric pad. There’s enough space between each key and the keys themselves have enough travel for a satisfying typing experience. I also like how all the keys are exactly where they’re supposed to be, with no unwanted key clutter as we’ve seen in many decks. The only bespoke key is the one that takes you to the Omen control panel, which I don’t mind, honestly. It takes me to my games library and also allows me to change the performance mode of the laptop among many other things.
The keyboard deck is rock solid and shows no signs of flexing.
I’d like to point out that this is a backlit keyboard with a single-stage white backlight. No RGB options here as they’re reserved for more premium Omen notebooks. The laptop has a decent-sized touchpad that supports Windows Precision drivers. It’s bigger than the one on the Lenovo Legion 7 gaming laptop but at least this one’s bigger in size. Overall, you’d feel at home if you’re coming from an older HP Omen laptop or if you’ve used one previously. The only thing it lacks is the RGB lighting, but I know a lot of you would appreciate that.
Performance: Budget gaming prowess
The Cezanne-based Ryzen 5 5600H is at the heart of the Victus 16 unit I reviewed. It’s a Hexa-core processor with 12 threads based on AMD’s Zen 3 microarchitecture. We’re looking at a base clock of 3.3GHz and a turbo boost frequency of up to 4.2 GHz. The Ryzen 5 5600H is based on a 7nm process and, of course, it supports Simultaneous Multi-threading (SMT) for a total of 12 threads. The Ryzen 7 5800H is bound to be better, but the Ryzen 5 5600H is no slouch either.
Our Cinebench R23 loop shows that this 45W TDP chip is quite performant and is often trading blows with relatively more powerful Intel chips in this category. The processor automatically boosts to turbo frequency under load and delivers stable performance over sustained tasks. Understandably, it fell short in the PCMark 10 test when compared with ASUS TUF Dash F15 and ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4, but not by a huge margin. In fact, the Ryzen 5 5600H-powered Victus 16 gaming managed to keep up very well against competing notebooks when it comes to CPU-centric tasks. It managed to score better than the quad-core Core i7-11370H-powered Surface Laptop Studio, just to give you an understanding of the chip’s potential.
|Benchmark||HP Victus 16 16-e0162AX||ASUS TUF Dash F15||Surface Laptop Studio||ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4|
The graphics are powered by AMD Radeon RX 5500M for the Victus 16 gaming. This is a mid-range GPU based on the Navi 14 and it features 1,408 stream process cores clocked at a 1,645 MHz at peak. Although the chip is specified with a TDP of 85W, it can comfortably sit around 100W under load. I noticed that behaviour while running the suite of the 3DMark GPU test. The RX 5500M-powered HP Victus 16 managed to score 4,273 in the regular Time Spy test. This is higher than what GTX 1650 Max-Q powered ASUS ROG Flow x13 had managed to score when it ran the same test without its external GPU accessory during our tests earlier this year. Here’s a quick look at the 3DMark test results I managed to get on the HP Victus 16 gaming laptop.
|3DMark Test||HP Victus 16 16-e0162AX|
|Time Spy Extreme||2,133|
|Fire Strike Extreme||5,558|
|Fire Strike Ultra||3,026|
The RX 5500M was running surprisingly well inside this chassis when the laptop was set to ‘Performance’ mode during the tests. A lot of modern titles did struggle to hit playable frame rates, but there are some surprising numbers in the benchmark table below. The numbers below were recorded while playing the said titles at ‘High’ graphics settings. You’re bound to get better frame rates by tweaking a setting or two.
|Game||HP Victus 16 16-e0162AX – FHD High Settings|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider||58|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||39|
|Grand Theft Auto 5||53|
|Far Cry New Dawn||52|
I really wish the laptop had a higher refresh rate panel to take advantage of every little performance it had to offer. There were times when games were able to push more frames but I had to cap the frames at 60, because, well, you waste all the frames you can’t really experience, and there’s no point pushing the GPU to its limits. In the case of games like Apex Legends and Valorant, for instance, I was easily able to get more 100FPS by tweaking the graphics settings, but the display isn’t good enough for that. You’ll either to connect to an external monitor or cap the frames at 60 to avoid screen tearing.
The base variant of the laptop also comes with 8GB of DDR4-3200 memory module and a 512GB Samsung-manufactured M.2 NVMe SSD module. You can either add more memory and storage manually after the fact or buy a variant that comes with more of each out of the box. Either way, it’s going to cost you more money, so be wary of that. Here’s a quick look at how the SSD managed to perform in the CryalDiskMark test:
The Victus 16 gaming laptop has a decent amount of vents to push hot air out of the system. The fans also get really loud when they’re spinning at max RPM under load. I suggest you leave the fan speed at ‘Auto’ since they do a pretty good of kicking in when you run any kind of resource-intensive application. Gaming, for instance, will almost immediately force the fans to spin at max RPM. These aren’t the loudest fan I’ve come across while gaming, but it’s still best to use a pair of headphones while gaming to avoid any distractions.
The laptop managed to handle the thermals surprisingly well. The CPU core temperatures were well under the acceptable limits even under heavy load. The temperatures did hit the 90°C mark and went beyond that, but it managed to stay under the TJMax limits of the CPU i.e. 105°C.
The Radeon RX 5500M also managed to stay under 80°C for the most part. It managed to stay under the limits when while playing games or running 3DMark tests. The temperatures tend to shoot in short bursts during instances, but the overall performance of the laptop wasn’t throttled at any point.
Overall, I’d say the Victus 16 gaming laptop offers a level of performance that’d you expect from a budget gaming laptop with an RX 5500M. This is an entry-level mobile GPU, that’s not meant to push extreme frame rates while gaming, so it’s best to keep your expectations in check. That being said, you should ideally have no issues playing even some of the more modern titles in 2021. 4GB of VRAM is a bit of a handicap and it’ll force you to play games with less graphical fidelity, so I’d recommend buying a variant with something that’s a bit more powerful than RX 5500M if you’re serious about gaming.
Battery Life: Mediocre
If there’s one thing that the Victus 16 gaming laptop couldn’t borrow from its Omen siblings is battery life. Most of the HP Omen laptops, at least the one I’ve personally used, had pretty good battery life. That’s something I can’t say for the Victus 16 gaming laptop because I had a middling experience with it. The 70Whr battery inside this machine couldn’t really keep up with my day-to-day workloads. I was only able to get around 5 hours of usage on a single charge, with the display set to about 75% brightness. Setting the laptop mode in favor of battery life did help a little, but it’s still nothing exceptional. You’ll often find yourself reaching out for the 150W AC charger.
HP Victus 16 Review: Final Thoughts
Look, the HP Victus 16 is a decent gaming laptop. There’s a lot to like about this particular machine but nothing stands out, really. That’s not necessarily a bad thing considering the Victus 16 isn’t the torch-bearer for HP. It’s merely a budget notebook trying to keep up with the competing laptops in its category. For ₹63,000, the Victus 16 is a well-built laptop with a great keyboard and an above-average sound system. The AMD CPU-GPU combo also makes it easy to recommend for entry-level gaming. It’s a shame the base variant of this laptop only comes with a 60Hz panel, though. Most people will also appreciate the fact that it looks more professional and less “gamery” but there’s a distinct lack of personality in this laptop. It looks like one of the existing Omen laptops and performs like any other budget gaming notebook in this space.
I’d also love to see more stamina from the battery but your mileage may vary. Overall, the Victus 16 is a pretty good machine if you’re looking for an entry-level notebook for casual gaming. You might want to step up to a higher-end variant for a high-refresh panel and even more VRAM for the GPU as 4GB is somewhat crippling. Looking at the competition, the Acer Nitro 5 is a solid gaming laptop alternative that comes with a 144Hz panel as standard across all variants. Picking the right Nitro 5 variant might be a little complicated due to the sheer number of its variants, but you’re bound to find something in this price range.
The HP Victus 16 is a capable Radeon-equipped gaming laptop that’ll get the job done. Just keep your expectations in check with the base variant of this laptop, especially if you have an ache to play some of the latest AAA titles. You can check the purchase link below to find the best price online for the HP Victus 16 laptop right now. Alternatively, you can also check out our collection of the best HP laptops if you’re not particularly interested in buying a gaming notebook,