The lineage of HP's latest mobile workstation goes back to one of the company's odder acquisitions. Several years ago, the computing giant purchased VoodooPC, a boutique builder of stylish gaming PCs, to inject some flash into its computer lineup. The result of the purchase was the innovative Blackbird 02 desktop and Envy laptop -- and little else for a number of years.
Then late last year HP rolled out the Omen gaming notebook, which hearkened back to some of the design touches of vintage VoodooPC systems. Now in another odd turn, Hewlett-Packard has transformed the gaming portable into a professional laptop.
The Omen Pro keeps the basic aesthetic of its fun-seeking sibling and bumps up the specs for digital content creators to get things done. It's a mere 0.78 inches thick (the HP ZBook 15 G2 is 1.18 inches thick in comparison) , which makes it the thinnest mobile workstation with a quad-core processor, according to HP (albeit about a pound heavier than the HP ZBook 14). That processor is Intel's i7-4720HQ, a tick above the consumer Omen's i7-4710HQ. (Though a product datasheet also mentions the Core i7-4870HQ, neither configuration available for pre-order offers it.)
Like the original Omen, the Omen Pro offers a 1,920x,1080 15.6-inch display and either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, depending on the configuration. While the gaming version has a SATA-based 128GB SSD in its base model, the Omen Pro sticks with the 256GB or 512GB PCI Express version.
Given its workstation classification, it should come as no surprise that the Omen Pro swaps out the consumer-based Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics for a Quadro K1100M card that can better handle media-creation applications. It also eschews Windows 8 for the more business-tested Windows 7 Pro, and ships with HP Performance Advisor software that optimizes workstation performance.
The Omen Pro is available to pre-order from HP's website in two configurations: the $2,199 L9H59UT with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD and the $2,599 L9H60UT with double the RAM and solid-state storage. The new workstations are estimated to start shipping on May 3.