Tech giant HP has announced a major update to the Omen line of VR (virtual reality) and gaming devices with the launch of the Omen X Desktop and Omen X Compact Desktop. The new devices are updates to the Omen X VR Pack the company launched last year as a wearable machine that could provide fully rendered 3D virtual environments while letting the user walk around untethered from a desktop.

While last year’s wearable model was designed for VR developers who wanted to use the hardware to test their designs, the new versions are aimed squarely at consumers. The entry-level Omen X Desktop starts at $1,569.99, and comes with a Kaby Lake version of an Intel i5 processor, along with 8 GB of RAM, a 128 SSD, and 1 TB HD, along with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 as a graphics card.

Designed for VR

For another $1,030, you can upgrade to the top-end line, featuring the older, 6th-generation i7 processor, 32 GB of RAM, a 256 GB SDD and 2 TB HDD, and the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X Graphics card.

Although HP said that the Omen family was designed exclusively with gamers in mind, the company is not being shy about the fact that it sees the devices as VR platforms.

That is particularly true of the Omen X Compact Desktop. Although it has "desktop" in its name, it is also designed to be worn on a user’s back once removed from its docking station, providing the same ability to freely explore a virtual environment without having to be wired to a stationary desktop.

The Omen X Compact is also lighter than last year’s developer version, and features a new, more efficient cooling system to help prevent both the processor and a user's back from overheating, according to the company. It should also help keep the fan noise down so it doesn't drown out the soundtrack of a user's favorite game.

External GPU Dock

The Compact will come with an Intel Core i7 processor, and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card. It is expected to ship sometime next month for $2,499, although users who want to take advantage of its mobile abilities will need to kick in an additional $599.99 for the backpack accessory.

HP also made a play to get in on the trend of external GPU docks with the Omen by HP Accelerator, also announced yesterday. An external dock allows users to connect an external graphics card to their notebooks for when they need the extra compute power, while allowing them to leave the GPU at home for greater mobility when they don'.

The Accelerator dock connects via a Thunderbolt 3 connection and will work with any laptop that has the port. "You get the best of both worlds: An amazingly mobile notebook for everyday tasks, and high-end graphics processing power to play games when you dock," according to John Ludwig, gaming and VR product manager at HP.