DUAL-screen setups have been around for quite a while on gaming PCs now and are a feature of many a serious gamer’s setup.
Adding a second monitor to a PC is pretty straightforward – you just need a power plug outlet, an HDMI cable and somewhere on your desk to put the additional screen.
Adding a second screen to a laptop is a bit more challenging, on account of their design, but it is possible and we’re now starting to see laptops taking advantage of this coming onto the market.
HP have recently released their first dual-screen gaming laptop, the Omen X2S 15, which they are billing as the company’s first dual-screen gaming laptop (given there are other dual-screen laptops on the market from other manufacturers, including the Asus Zenbook Duo).
Featuring a 15” 144hz 1080p primary screen and a 6” 1080p secondary touchscreen, the X2S has a Gen 9 Intel i7-9750H processor with 16GB of RAM and an 8GB Nvidia RTX 2070 graphics card under the bonnet.
Storage is provided by a 512GB SSD, and there are also three USB 3 ports and an HDMI port for connectivity, along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
So what does the secondary screen do? It’s basically designed to run either the Omen monitoring software (which includes processor and GPU loads and temperatures, connection speeds and the like) or apps like Twitter, Discord, and Spotify. It’s a touchscreen too, and Windows treats it like a second monitor so you can also do things like put in-game minimaps or stats windows there too, or run YouTube videos.
The screen works and does exactly what it’s supposed to, but I’m not sure how practical it’s going to be for the average gamer – although I did find having Spotify there was great for when I was working, allowing me to easily pick and choose my music without having to Alt+Tab through different windows to get there.
Otherwise though, it’s not really a game-changing addition to the laptop, sadly.
The Omen monitoring software is also useful for keeping an eye on what’s happening under the bonnet with your system, telling you the CPU and GPU loads and temperatures, as well as the internet upload/downloads and speeds. Again, it’s not vital stuff, but useful to have available and can be quite helpful depending on how you’re using your system.
The Omen X2S’s main screen, however, is good – very clear and sharp, with a high refresh. I didn’t have any glare issues, even when using the unit outside, and both screens were visible under different lighting conditions.
The unit has a distinct visual appeal too – it’s clearly a gaming laptop, with the glowing logo on the lid a nice touch that adds to the aesthetic.
Indeed, from a gaming laptop perspective, the overall package is very good, though. It’s lightweight, attractively designed, and fairly compact. From a handling point of view it was much like standard laptop rather than a heavy gaming laptop, which I liked, since gaming laptops can get pretty weighty.
Even though the secondary screen forces the touchpad to the bottom right of the keyboard area, I didn’t have any issues with this – and usually use a wireless mouse with my laptops anyway. The keypad (with obligatory RGB lighting) was responsive too, and I didn’t find it awkward to use.
The performance in-game was good too, easily comparable to my desktop rig. It quite happily ran Control, The Outer Worlds and Metro Exodus with the graphics settings cranked up.
The battery life isn’t anything special – about two and a half hours or so, less if you’re actually gaming – which was a bit disappointing, but hopefully if you’re planning an extended gaming or work session you’ll be near a power plug.
Of course, all this comes at a price- at time of writing it’s available for around $3,400 – but of all the gaming laptops I’ve reviewed, this is among the most practical, in that it actually felt light enough to carry around and wasn’t overly bulky – the X2S chassis is 20mm thick and the unit weighs 2.35kg.
While it’s not the most powerful gaming laptop on the market, it does have a lot under the bonnet and can play most of the games you’re going to be interested in as well as do actual work if you need to, allowing you to switch between finishing a report and letting off steam in a multiplayer death match.
Whether the second screen is a novelty or a valued feature will depend on what you’re planning on doing with the laptop, but from a gaming perspective the Omen X2S ticked a lot of boxes and has more than enough grunt to run the latest games with the quality you’d expect from a higher-end rig.