HP Omen 40L desktop review: missing what counts the most

The HP Omen 40L desktop sitting on a coffee table.

HP Omen 40L

MSRP $1,480.00

“Despite a beautiful case and solid pricing, the Omen 40L misses the performance boat.”

Pros

  • Fantastic case design
  • Relatively cool and quiet
  • Easily serviceable and upgradable
  • Affordably priced

Cons

  • Frustrating bloatware
  • Lacking performance
  • Not configured correctly out of the box

I’ve appreciated how HP has attempted to improve its Omen desktops over the past few years in hopes of earning a spot among the best gaming PCs. The Omen 40L is a midrange option, something you’d be able to find at your local Best Buy. Although it comes with the right price and specs, it doesn’t nail performance in the way it should.

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All of the trimmings are right — the case not only looks great, but it also makes it remarkably easy to service and upgrade the machine. And the petite cooling solution is surprisingly potent for the configuration I reviewed. Unfortunately, the Omen 40L drops the ball when it comes to the software configuration and performance, meaning you’ll often get less performance out of the parts inside than what they’re capable of.

Specs and pricing

The internals of the HP Omen 40L.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Typical for HP, you have a ton of customization options with the Omen 40L. At the low end, you can get an Intel Core i5-13400 and Nvidia RTX 4060 for $1,000, along with 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD. You can go much higher, however. You can scale up to a Core i9-14900K with an RTX 4080 Super, for example, and spend upwards of $3,700 depending on your storage configuration.

I looked at a modest configuration, something that feels like an ideal balance between value and performance for those looking to get their first gaming PC. You can see the specs for the review unit below, with the machine packing an AMD Ryzen 7 7700 and an RTX 4060 Ti graphics card.

CPU AMD Ryzen 7 7700
CPU Cooler Custom HP air cooler
Memory HyperX DDR5-5200 16GB (2x8GB)
GPU Nvidia RTX 4060 Ti
Motherboard Custom HP Omen mATX motherboard
Storage 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD
Power supply Cooler Master PSU
Case Custom Omen 40L case

At retailers like Best Buy, HP asks $1,480 for this configuration, but it often goes on sale. At the time of this writing, the configuration is available for $1,330, and I’ve seen it go under $1,100 before. Surprising as it sounds, HP is offering a lot of value here for that price.

Even choosing the cheapest components possible, which I’m sure HP has done here to a certain degree, you’d spend around $1,100 to build your own version of this PC. A few hundred dollars for warranty, support, and the build itself isn’t unreasonable. And if you can find a stellar sale on the Omen 40L, it’s a downright deal.

It’s a decent price compared to the competition, too. The Dell XPS Desktop with a similar configuration comes in at $1,450, for example. As is always the case, you’ll get better bang for your buck by building your own PC, but the Omen 40L is a compelling midrange option for PC gamers who don’t want to get their hands dirty.

Build quality and design

The HP Omen 40L with the front panel removed.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

HP knows how to design a gaming desktop. The Omen design we saw a few years back with the Omen 45L remains today in the form of a sleek black exterior, a tempered glass side panel and front, and RGB rings around the fans that wash the interior in white light by default. It’s a great balance of gaming flair and thoughtful execution. You’ll never mistake this for anything other than a gaming PC, but it’s also never shoving a rainbow down your throat.

It’s not just the exterior design, either. Going inside the Omen 40L, it feels like a custom-built PC, and sometimes even better. For starters, getting into the case is completely tool-less. Buttons on the top of the case pop off the side panels, and you can snap off the front and top panels with ease. HP includes markings  on the case itself, so you don’t have to fish out the manual to see how to remove the dust filter correctly.

Speaking of which, there’s a removable dust filter at the front of the case, which is key for keeping the internals clean. A second magnetic dust filter covers the power supply fan on the bottom of the case. There’s als room for additional fans. There’s a spare slot for a 120mm fan upfront, as well as two at the top of the case. Even better, the fan hub HP uses has spare connections available, so you can reasonably make these upgrades.

A fan controller at the back of the HP Omen 40L.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Around the back, you also have four slots for additional drives, and HP includes additional SATA power connectors if you want to expand your storage in the future. The power supply isn’t modular, but at least you can make some small upgrades like storage without reconfiguring the entire machine.

Cable management inside the case isn’t the best. I don’t care much about how things look behind the motherboard tray, but the Omen 40L is a bit messy in the main chamber. Like a lot of prebuilt PCs, the Omen 40L doesn’t have great cable routing options, leaving dangling cables in the main chamber where you can see them. One particularly bad example is the exhaust fan, which has a cable stretched across the top of the motherboard.

A cable stretched across the top of the HP Omen 40L.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Upon unboxing the PC, you’ll find that HP doesn’t include a ton of protection. The foam is fine, but there’s nothing inside the case outside of a plastic GPU bracket to protect the components. My review sample arrived without issues, but make sure to give your PC a through physical inspection before powering it on to see if anything was damaged in transit.

Heating and cooling

As we saw with the Omen 30L a few years ago, HP has a better grip on cooling than other mainstream brands. Even with it’s unassuming air cooler, the Omen 40L is cool and mostly quiet under a full load.

Two 120mm intake fans at the front of the PC feed the CPU cooler, providing it fresh, cool air. Large intakes at the front provide clear airflow into the PC, and a removable dust filter keeps the inside of your PC clean. Everything flows out of a 120mm exhaust fan at the back, though there are additional fan mounts at the top of the case for optional liquid cooling.

The CPU cooler on the HP Omen 40L.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Temperatures were good in my testing. At idle, the Ryzen 7 7700 sat between 40 and 45 degrees Celsius, which is right where I’d expect a smaller air cooler to fall. Under a full Cinebench R24 load, the CPU peaked at 70 degrees Celsius, which leaves plenty of breathing room. The chip can operate up to 95 degrees before it starts throttling.

Noise is a different beast. For the most part, the Omen 40L is quiet — shockingly so, in fact. Then, suddenly, it isn’t. After the heat reaches a certain point, the fans ramp up to maximum speed and slowly drop back down as everything cools down.

HP has a very aggressive curve on the fans, so either you’ll hear the Omen 40L at full blast, or barely hear it at all. A more gradual curve would’ve been far better, and unfortunately, you can’t tweak the curve in the Omen Gaming Hub.

Bloatware and configuration

One of the downsides of going with a large PC brand like HP is bloatware, and the Omen 40L certainly isn’t above that problem. You get a slew of HP utilities — HP Smart, HP Support Assist, HP Hardware Diagnostics, ans on and on — along with the Omen Gaming Hub. You’ll probably never see the other HP utilities, as only the Omen Gaming Hub is pinned to the taskbar.

The Omen Gaming Hub isn’t great. It’s cluttered and stuffed with ads for other HP products and games. There are some configuration options, such as AMD’s Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO), but HP buries the options under many other irrelevant menus. I wouldn’t be surprised if you opened the Omen Gaming Hub once and cut it off before ever seeing the options available.

Some of those options are very relevant, too. Out of the box, HP doesn’t have the overclocking profile enabled on the memory, for example. You can turn this on in the Omen Gaming Hub, but it reallyshould be enabled out of the box when HP is advertising the overclocked speed on its product page.

The scourge of all prebuilts is antivirus software, and the Omen 40L is no different. It comes with McAfee preinstalled, and it was the first thing that popped up when I booted the PC. It’s even pinned to the taskbar, with constant annoyances to install McAfee’s browser extensions. This is typical of most mainstream gaming PCs, but it’s frustrating how in your face McAfee is while so many other critical tools are buried.

Out of the box, you’re not really set up to get critical updates like graphics drivers and access critical settings like your memory profile. None of this is hard to do if you’ve set up a PC before, but as the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. HP could do a lot more to help on that front.

This isn’t a problem exclusive to HP, in fairness. The Alienware Aurora R16 comes with its own suite of bloatware, and you’ll find similar software on Lenovo’s Tower series. Niche PC builders like Starforge Systems and Origin PC are better on the bloatware front, offering a relatively clean install of Windows out of the box.

Performance

With a Ryzen 7 7700 and an RTX 4060 Ti, this PC is mostly targeting high-end 1080p gaming, or 1440p gaming with a few compromises. The CPU is a bit more powerful than what you need for a pure gaming focus, but you’ll appreciate having access to eight cores if you want to go outside of games for other apps.

  HP Omen 40L (Ryzen 7 7700) Starforge Navigator (Ryzen 5 7600X) Alienware Aurora R16 (Core i7-13700KF)
Cinebench R24 (single/multi) 112 / 1028 118 / 863 112 / 1070
Geekbench 6 (single/multi) 2776 / 12429 N/A 2671 / 15348
PCMark 10 8560 N/A N/A
PugetBench for Premiere Pro 5596 N/A N/A
PugetBench for Photoshop 7550 N/A N/A

You can see that in action in Cinebench R24. Single-core speeds are a bit below what we saw with the Starforge Navigator and its Ryzen 5 7600X — this is a non-X part, after all — but the multi-core score is far ahead. It’s roughly equivalent to what you find with the Core i7-13700F inside the Alienware Aurora R16, which is significantly more expensive.

Geekbench 6 shows a slightly different side of the story, with the Core i7-13700F coming out ahead with its array of efficient cores. The Omen 40L is ahead in single-core performance, however.

I’ve included results for Premiere Pro, Photoshop, and PCMark 10, all of which maintain public databases of results online. Unfortunately, I don’t have data for the other PCs here, but the Omen 40L is putting up decent results. It has enough grunt for productivity apps like Premiere Pro and Photoshop, but the real focus here is gaming.

  HP Omen 40L (RTX 4060 Ti) Custom RTX 4060 Ti PC
Cyberpunk 2077 Ultra 4K 21 fps 28 fps
Horizon Zero Dawn Ultimate 4K 56 fps 56 fps
Returnal Ultra 4K 38 fps 42 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2 Ultra 4K 45 fps 48 fps

Here, I’m comparing performance to what you’d get with an off-the-shelf RTX 4060 Ti, assuming you built your own PC. This isn’t a great GPU for 4K, and my results above show why. Without upscaling, you’re not going to hit 60 frames per second (fps) in most games. More importantly, the Omen 40L is behind a custom RTX 4060 Ti gaming PC, namely in Cyberpunk 2077. 

  HP Omen 40L (RTX 4060 Ti) Custom RTX 4060 Ti PC
Cyberpunk 2077 Ultra 4K 56 fps 63 fps
Horizon Zero Dawn Ultimate 4K 102 fps 106 fps
Returnal Ultra 4K 68 fps 73 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2 Ultra 4K 72 fps 76 fps

You can see how much performance opens up at 1440p, where you’re regularly hitting over 60 fps, and sometimes even going into the triple digits. Regardless, across titles, the Omen 40L is a few frames behind. This isn’t due to heat, but rather some combination of GPU clock speed and the memory running at its default spec out of the box.

  HP Omen 40L (RTX 4060 Ti) Custom RTX 4060 Ti PC
Cyberpunk 2077 Ultra 4K 92 fps 100 fps
Horizon Zero Dawn Ultimate 4K 131 fps 142 fps
Returnal Ultra 4K 91 fps 98 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2 Ultra 4K 94 fps 98 fps

Down at 1080p, the gaps remain, with some titles, such as Horizon Zero Dawn, showing a gap of 10 frames.

I ran these benchmarks with the default, out of the box configuration, as I suspect that’s how most users will use the Omen 40L. However, if you enable the correct RAM profile and overclock the CPU with PBO, you can close the gaps. The problem is that HP should have already done this. The Omen 40L feels like a custom PC, but it isn’t configured like one.

Part of that could have to do with the custom motherboard HP is using here, which is rather restrictive in its power management compared to off-the-shelf options. A true custom PC, like the Starforge Systems Horizon II, doesn’t have these restrictions on the motherboard, allowing the components to reach their full potential.

Should you buy the HP Omen 40L?

The HP Omen 40L sitting on a coffee table.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Omen 40L is significantly better than what you’ll find with a lot of mainstream options. The price is reasonable, and the case leaves plenty of room for upgrades. Performance takes a hit due to an improper configuration, and that’s what really stings the most.

You could improve things with a few tweaks, but that runs counter to buying a prebuilt gaming PC in the first place. HP could do a lot more to improve performance out of the box and point users toward useful utilities, rather than cramming in advertisements for McAfee and its other products. The Omen 40L has a lot of potential, but unfortunately, it doesn’t reach the heights it could.

It sits among some stiff competition as well. The aforementioned Starforge Horizon II Pro is available with an RTX 4060 Ti for a bit less than the Omen 40L. The is available for even less, and with more storage space.

HP nailed some aspects of the Omen 40L, but performance is where it falls behind. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty big deal and makes the Omen 40L harder to recommend than I wish it was.

Editors’ Recommendations