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HP OMEN 45L Desktop review: It’s a beast of a rig

At CES, HP is announcing two all-new gaming desktops, the OMEN 40L and the OMEN 45L. That’s right, these things are big boys, and the company sent me the OMEN 45L Desktop for review, speccing it out along the way. Indeed, this thing is a beast.

But it’s not just powerful. HP said that it wanted to give the feel of a custom-built PC. That means that this thing is easy to take apart, upgrade, and so on. It’s also massive at 45L, but if you’re worried about that, the firm does offer options for its OMEN Desktop PCs that go down the line to 40L, 30L, and 25L. The OMEN 45L is actually brand-new for this generation, and the larger size not only means more for customization, but also for cooling.

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About this review: HP sent us the OMEN 45L for review ahead of CES. The company did not have any input on the content of this review.

CPUIntel Core i9-12900K
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090
Dimensions8.03 in (W) x 18.50 in (D) x 21.85 in (H)
Storage(2) 2TB NVMe M.2 SSD
RAM64GB HyperX 3733 DDR4
PortsHeadphone/Microphone Combo, Microphone JackFront I/O: 2 SuperSpeed USB Type-A 5Gbps signaling rate, 2 USB2.0 Type-ARear: 1 SuperSpeed USB Type-A 5Gbps signaling rate, 1 SuperSpeed USB Type-A 10Gbps signaling rate, 2 USB 2.0 Type-A, 1 SuperSpeed USB Type-C 5Gbps signaling rate,1 SuperSpeed USB Type-C 10Gbps signaling rateHDMI3 DisplayPort
Power Supply800 W 80 Plus Gold certified ATX power supply
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6 (2×2) and Bluetooth® Combo (Supporting Gigabit file transfer speeds, MU-MIMO supported10/100/1000 Base-T Network
Expansion1 PCI-E Gen 4 x16 (occupied)1 PCI-E Gen 3 x4 (available)3 M.2 (one available)
Memory slots4 DIMM (288-pin) (two available)
OSWindows 11 Pro

Design: Aesthetics and airflow

First of all, I want to talk about the overall look and feel of the HP OMEN 45L. After all, while function was in mind when designing this PC, it still absolutely matters if the thing is an eye sore when it’s sitting on or under your desk. It’s not that.

This PC is actually quite beautiful. It has a clean and sleek design, similar to what we saw with the previous HP OMEN 30L design, but bigger and more colorful. The fans in the front used to have white lighting, but they have RGB lighting now. Of course, you can set it to white if you want that more subtle look. There’s also a third fan now, which is exclusive to the 45L model. Smaller ones like the 40L have two, while the 30L models have one.

The side is a glass panel, so you can see all of the internals. Things like the DDR4 memory, CPU cooler, and the GeForce RTX logo are also lit up.

One thing I really appreciate is that there are four USB Type-A ports on the front, along with microphone and speaker jacks. What I don’t quite understand is why there’s so much USB 2.0. Two are USB 3.2 Gen 1, which is already a bit dated with USB 3.2 Gen 2 and even USB 4 out there now, but two are USB 2.0.

The same goes for the ports on the back. There are only four USB Type-A ports on the back, two of which are USB 2.0. To make things even more confusing, out of the other two, one is USB 3.2 Gen 1 and the other is USB 3.2 Gen 2. The same goes for the two USB Type-C ports.

Sure, USB 2.0 is fine for some scenarios. Plugging in a mouse and keyboard? No problem. Plugging in an external SSD to play back 4K video or connecting a 4K webcam? Don’t you dare.

HP OMEN 45L Desktop review: It’s a beast of a rig

The problem is that the end user has to know this. They have to know what the different USB logos mean (SS means SuperSpeed, so if there’s no SS, it’s USB 2.0), and they have to know what the capabilities of each port are. It’s not a fair expectation to place on a user.

There are also precious few ports on the rear of this PC to be handicapping half of the USB Type-A ports like that. Ideally, you use the front ports for things that get connected and disconnected frequently, and you use the rear ports for things connected all the time, like a keyboard, a mouse, a webcam, a headset, and a…never mind, we’re out of ports.

Design: The HP OMEN 45L Desktop is built for customization

Tool-less reparability is something that I’ve heard a lot about from HP over the years, but the OMEN 45L Desktop takes it to another level. The company said that this is meant to feel like a custom PC.

Either side panel can be removed by pressing a button at the top. In fact, all panels can be easily removed. You’ll notice that there’s a component at the top called the Cryo Chamber, and there’s also a gap between that and the top of the PC, so that can be used as a handle to pick it up. The Cryo Chamber is where the liquid cooler is pumping from. And as mentioned earlier, there are three fans in the front bringing air in, and that’s being pushed through the rear of the unit.

Removing the other panel gets you access to cable management, the back of the CPU mount, and so on.

The front panel can be removed too, along with the dust filter that goes over the three RGB fans. That makes it easy to clean. And again, there were no screws to remove to take any of these parts off. You can also remove the Cryo Chamber itself, the cover on top of it, and more.

Performance: The HP OMEN 45L Desktop has top-end specs, but DDR4 memory

For this review, HP sent me the whole kit. The OMEN 45L Desktop that it sent for review is totally specced out with an Intel Core i9-12900K, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090, two 2TB NVMe M.2 SSDs, and 64GB RAM. It also sent a 27-inch curved OMEN monitor with QHD resolution and 240Hz refresh rate, and a suite of HyperX accessories like the Pro Gaming Mousepad, Cloud Alpha headset, Pulsefire FPS Pro mouse, and Origins Core keyboard.

I don’t expect that everyone who buys this PC will spec it out like this unit is, or that everyone will get the whole suite of accessories. It’s pretty clear though, that this thing is a beast. If you’re playing a game, there’s no way that it’s designed for anything with higher specs than this PC, because there are no higher specs. Well, mostly.

It does use DDR4 memory instead of the newer DDR5 that’s supported by Intel’s 12th-gen CPUs. HP said that this is due to component shortages. The prices for DDR5 are still too high, and they’re not going to come down as soon as anyone hoped. You’ll notice this a lot in products coming out of CES. There are still many that use DDR4. The only problem is, you now have to ask yourself if you’re willing to shell out $5,000 for a specced out gaming PC that uses DDR4.

I ran AIDA64 and MaxxMem2 to test out the memory. I also ran it on the PC I used to review Intel’s 12th-gen processors. It’s a custom build that includes a Core i9-12900K, 64GB DDR5 (two 32GB sticks), an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, and a 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD.

HP OMEN 45L DesktopDDR5 desktop PC
AIDA64 Memory Read46,576MB/s62,368MB/s
AIDA64 Memory Write48,252MB/s60,954MB/s
AIDA64 Memory Copy45,880MB/s63,187MB/s
AIDA64 Memory Latency76.3ns95.8ns
MaxxMem2 Read37,813MB/s39,284MB/s
MaxxMem2 Write41,851MB/s45,117MB/s
MaxxMem2 Copy32,440MB/s38,737MB/s
MaxxMem2 Latency81.7ns97.1ns

It’s not the end of the world to use DDR4. It’s not even a major improvement given the longer latency. And in fact, if you’re not shelling out for this $5,000 SKU, you probably don’t even care.

Let’s move onto some performance benchmarks. Obviously, the HP OMEN 45L Desktop is going to absolutely crush it here. Note that I haven’t always run the same benchmarks over the years, so some scores will be incomplete. Three of the four PCs used are the most recent generations of this product, but the list was actually made by sorting my all-time benchmarks list by PCMark 10 scores.

HP OMEN 45L DesktopCore i9-12900K, RTX 3090CLX RaCore i9-11900K, RTX 3090HP OMEN 30L DesktopCore i9-10900K, RTX 3080HP OMEN ObeliskCore i9-9900K, RTX 2080 Ti
PCMark 109,0127,8227,4637,137
3DMark: Time Spy18,73417,45616,55311,811
3DMark: Time Spy Extreme9,594
Geekbench1,921 / 15,7231,803 / 9,8871,365 / 10,933
Cinebench1,894 / 23,6591,675 / 15,0981,312 / 15,266
VRMark: Orange Room16,61614,55514,72311,116
VRMark: Cyan Room16,8872,75215,14612,474
VRMark: Blue Room6,1746,2255,2234,311

3DMark also estimates game performance when it runs its tests. Here’s what it came up with:

GameResolutionFrame rate
Battlefield V1440p Ultra185+
1080p Ultra200+
Apex Legends1440p Ultra140+
1080p Ultra140+
GTA V1440p Ultra110+
1080p Ultra165+
Fortnite1440p Ultra190+
1080p Ultra265+
RDR21440p Ultra80+
1080p Ultra95+

For more details about these test, such as thermals in the PCMark 10 test, a breakdown of CPU and GPU scores in 3DMark, and CrystalDiskMark scores, see the images below.

Conclusion: Should you buy the HP OMEN 45L Desktop?

HP’s new OMEN 45L Desktop is an excellent gaming PC, and as always, the company did a great job considering things like customization and cooling. It’s also got top-end performance with Intel’s 12th-gen processors and RTX 30 series graphics. You can even get it with AMD’s Zen 3 processors if that’s more your style.

It does have its flaws, which I’ve pointed out in my review. To me, the biggest is that it comes with DDR4 memory, since that’s not something you can upgrade later on. You can add memory if you buy the PC with less, but you can’t swap it out for DDR5 modules, even though the CPU and the chipset support it. They just won’t fit in the board. Again, for most users, it shouldn’t be a big deal. I’d just say that for the ones that buy the specced out model like the one HP sent me, I’d want to get DDR5 when I’m spending $5,000 for the best of the best.

The other is the confusing array of USB ports. Half of the eight USB Type-A ports are USB 2.0, which is a real pain point in itself, let alone the fact that you’re asking users to know which ports are which, and what that means.

But once you get past that, this is an amazing machine. It’s stylish, it’s quiet, it’s upgradeable, and the performance is fantastic. With a separate Cryo Chamber, it’s using outside air to cool the CPU, rather than the warmer air that’s inside. And with the latest-gen parts from Intel, there are separate cores for different tasks, using Intel Thread Director. If you want a great gaming PC, this is the way to go.

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