In the gaming world, prebuilt computers have long been considered second rate. However, one of the latest offerings from HP has many questioning the longstanding belief that custom builds are always better than factory builds. For the first time, serious gamers are wondering if a prebuilt gaming computer can give them more bang for their buck than they could get out of a custom built.
With its compact, and sleek design, ray tracing-ready VR capability, plentiful ports, upgradeability, and competitive pricing, the HP Omen Obelisk is breaking down barriers. This gaming machine is specifically designed for semi-serious gamers with its AMD Ryzen processors, Intel’s Core i7, HyperX RAM, Nvidia’s latest GeForce RTX 2080 graphics and optional Intel Optane memory.
Even more surprising than all of that is the fact that HP has left plenty of room for additional upgrades inside, and they’ve made it clear that this machine is meant to be upgraded by incorporating an easy push-button opening panel that grants the user access to its inner workings. The Obelisk rings in at an affordable starting price of just $900. Compatible upgrades and available options can bring it in around the $2,000 mark. But it’s still a more than viable gaming machine right off the shelf.
Despite its characteristic polygonal dimensions, the Obelisk lacks some of the flash that many dedicated gamers go for. Still, its full black metal construction, subtle LED lighting, and the slick looking tempered glass side panel window make it a handsome and low-profile addition to an office or family room. As the external design suggests, it could be an excellent pick for the busy executive who wouldn’t mind doing some gaming in their free time.
With the exception of the LED lit diamond at the top center of the tower, the Obelisk might pass for an everyday office machine. That said, HP isn’t making any efforts to conceal the Obelisk’s gaming chops. The tower itself is not the menacing monolith that its name suggests. At just 17 inches in height, it would not dwarf your monitor as many popular gaming machines do. And at just 6.5 inches in width and 14.1 inches in depth, it’s considerably smaller than comparable gaming computers.
Despite the conspicuous glass panel, there really isn’t much to see on the inside. The suggestion seems to be that the owner will be modifying their Obelisk and spend wistful moments admiring the innards of their custom creation. For the upgraded model, unveiled at CES 2019, the glass panel became less of a signifier of upgrade-fancy, and more a portal on naked power. It includes more muscular RTX 2080 Ti graphics, and the newer Intel Core i9 processor.
Some of the additional highlights on the CES revelation model are the conspicuous pipes and radiator of the cooling system, which go a long way to enhance the techno-chic appeal of the interior.
For gamers who like to pack in some extra power without being bothered by dozens of screws and clips, HP has made the Obelisk’s inside extremely easy to gain access to. There’s no burdensome disassembly, no worrying about losing little bits, and no fussing over whether or not you’ve got the right screwdriver, and wondering if you’re going to break it if you force something open. The Obelisk opens up like the hood of a car, ready to be serviced and modified at your leisure. The inviting glass panel has an EMI coating. HP says this coating helps deflect radiological and magnetic interference.
Once inside, you find dual RAM slots, a pair of M.2 sockets, a fan, hard drive, a full-height graphics card, and the 500-watt power unit. While this power rating might seem low, user reviews have reported no issues, even despite the power-hungry RTX graphics card in models that have them.
The basic build offers little in the way of active cooling, but with its modest power supply, it really doesn’t seem to need it. Although aggressive upgraders will want to keep potential cooling issues in mind. The architecture of the tower and the fact that the PSU is mounted on the bottom helps to dissipate heat, and the twin unlit fans do a good job of circulating the air. The tower is also equipped with a dust filter which helps the visible interior stay nice and tidy.