HP Victus 15 review: As cheap as gaming laptops come

HP Victus 15 front view showing display and keyboard deck.

HP Victus 15

MSRP $800.00

“The HP Victus 15 provides modest performance, but ceratin configurations make it worthwhile.”

Pros

  • Solid productivity performance
  • Decent 1080p gaming performance
  • Good keyboard and touchpad
  • Conservative good looks
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Confusing configurations
  • Poor battery life
  • Ho-hum screen

Gaming laptops tend to be expensive, and the chip shortage has only made that situation worse in recent years. HP’s new Victus 15 slides in with options well under $1,000 that attempt to provide a fix to that problem.

While the larger Victus 16 gets you up to an RTX 3060, the Victus 15 tops out at an RTX 3050 Ti — and starts at a budget-tier GTX 1650, which is what my review unit included. Despite having the latest 12th-gen CPUs, we don’t normally recommend gaming laptops with graphics that are quite that bottom of the barrel. While our unit lacked in performance, there are some configurations in the lineup that could make the Victus 15 a solid purchase — especially considering the alternatives.

 Design

HP Victus 15 front angled view showing display and keyboard deck.
Mark Coppock/

Like the Victus 16, the Victus 15 has a design that carries over a few elements from HP’s Omen lineup but maintains a more conservative aesthetic. The Victus logo shares the Omen logo’s basic geometry, cutting off and retaining the bottom portion. The logo shows up on the lid and in the venting above the keyboard. Otherwise, the Victus 15 has simple lines and few gamer-oriented elements. The rear vent has a bit of a fighter jet look, but from the front and sides, you wouldn’t be blamed for mistaking the Victus 15 for a mainstream budget laptop. That perception extends to the thin side bezels and reasonably small top bezel that contrast with the massive chin at the bottom of the display.

There are three available colors, Mica Silver (dark gray), Performance Blue, and Ceramic White. The Victus 15 doesn’t look exactly like a smaller version of the Victus 16 — the rear edges are more rounded, giving a sleeker look. It’s not unusual for gaming laptops to strike a more mainstream look. Other examples include the Razer Blade 15 and the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14. If you want a laptop that looks like a gaming machine, you’ll want to consider something like the Asus ROG Strix G15 that’s a gamer through and through.

HP didn’t set out to make a thin and light gaming laptop, but it didn’t make the thickest or heaviest either.

The Victus 15 is made of all plastic, just like the Victus 16. Also like that laptop, it has a lid that’s quite bendable. The keyboard deck also comes with a bit of flex, although the smaller model is a bit more solid. The hinge works well, allowing the lid to be opened with one hand and avoiding any serious wobble during intense gaming action. Overall, the Victus 15 is slightly improved over the Victus 16, but it falls well short of more expensive machines like the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro and the Razer Blade 15.

Even given the large chin on the bottom of the display, the Victus 15 is sized like the typical 15-inch gaming laptop. It’s fractions of an inch narrower and shallower than the Lenovo Legion 5, for example, and just as thick at 0.93 inches. The HP is slightly lighter at 5.06 pounds compared to 5.3 pounds. The Acer Nitro 5, a similarly priced gaming machine, is about the same size, but thicker at 0.94 inches and lighter at 4.85 pounds. HP didn’t aim to make a thin and light laptop, but it didn’t make the thickest or heaviest either.

Connectivity is robust, with one exception. There’s a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a full-size HDMI 2.1 port, an Ethernet connection, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a full-size SD card reader. The one glaring omission is Thunderbolt 4, which we’ve seen on laptops at this price point. Wireless connectivity is either Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 or Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, depending on the configuration.

Price and configurations

Affordable gaming laptops are tough to come by these days, especially ones that are actually worth buying. As with all cheap laptops, though, digging into the configurations is key — and unfortunately, HP has created a confusing lineup with the Victus 15, offering preconfigured models via retailers that utilize different Intel CPUs than you can buy via HP’s configure-to-order (CTO) system.

The preconfigured models range from a $600 (on sale from $880) configuration with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and an Nvidia GTX 1650. My review unit was similar, though it cost $800 and includes a Core i5-12450H and a 144Hz Full HD display. At the high end is the $1,000 (on sale from $1,100) model with a Core i7-12650H, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and the Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti. Other options include the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H and the RTX 3050. These higher-end options will give you far better performance.

You can configure the Victus 15 at HP.com, which lets you spec out your laptop in finer detail, ranging from $870 on the low end to $1,230 on the high end. There are two primary competitors that price out closely to the Victus 15: The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 and the Acer Nitro 5. The Nitro 5 is $50 more expensive when configured similarly, while the IdeaPad Gaming 3 comes with the latest Ryzen processor for $900.

Performance

HP Victus 15 rear view showing lid and logo.
Mark Coppock/

The most important distinction is that the Core i5-12450H is a 45-watt, 10-core (four Performance and six Efficient), and 12-thread CPU, compared to the 45-watt, 12-core (four Performance and eight Efficient), 16-thread i5-12500H. The Core i7-12650H is a 45-watt, 10-core (six Performance and four Efficient), 16-thread CPU, compared to the Core i7-12700H, a 45-watt, 14-core (six Performance and eight Efficient), 20-thread CPU. We’ve only benchmarked the Core i7-12700H, but looking at the Geekbench 5 database, the Core i5-12450H and Core i7-12650H are (as expected) slower than their higher-core and higher-thread counterparts.

We haven’t tested a 28-watt P-series Core i5, but again, looking at the Geekbench 5 database, it seems to be faster than the Core i5-12450H in my review unit. It’s worth noting that the Victus 15 couldn’t quite keep up with laptops running the 28-watt Core i7-1260P with its 12 cores (four Performance and eight Efficient) and 16 threads, of which we’ve reviewed quite a few. The AMD Ryzen 7 5800H is also faster than the Core i5 in my review unit.

Accordingly, the Victus 15’s productivity and creativity performances were mixed. It had the second-slowest Geekbench 5 results in our comparison group, well behind the Core i7-1260P in the MSI Prestige 14 and the core i7-11800H in the HP Victus 16. The same held with our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, although the differences weren’t as significant. At the same time, the Victus 15 was more competitive in the Cinebench R23 benchmark, producing the third-fastest single-core score and beating the MSI Prestige 14. The Victus 15 was again behind most of the pack in the PCMark 10 Complete test that runs through a range of productivity, multimedia, and creative tasks.

The Victus 15 can handle demanding productivity workflows and some low-end creative tasks.

Finally, in the Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark that runs in a live version of Adobe’s Premiere Pro, the Victus 15 again fell behind the MSI Prestige 14. That laptop was configured with the RTX 3050, a faster GPU than the GTX 1650 in the Victus 15, and the Pugetbench benchmark is heavily influenced by GPU performance. However, it wasn’t GPU performance that held the HP back. In fact, the Victus 15 tied the Prestige 14 in the GPU section of the benchmark, and it was in the CPU-dependent video playback section that the HP was much slower.

Overall, mainstream performance was still solid for an $800 laptop. The Victus 15 can handle demanding productivity workflows and some low-end creative tasks. But you’ll see faster results by ordering via the CTO system. Interestingly, the Omen Gaming Hub app has a performance tuning section, but the GTX 1650 version of the Victus 15 doesn’t have a performance setting, which is disappointing.

Geekbench (single/multi) Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23 (single/multi) Pugetbench for Premiere Pro PCMark 10 Complete
HP Victus 15
(Core i5-12450H)
1,450 / 6,699 118 1,670 / 9,521 441 6,059
HP Victus 16
(Core i7-11800H)
1,594 / 9,141 93 1,510 / 10,145 N/A 6,808
MSI Prestige 14
(Core i7-1260P)
1,505 / 10,041 114 1,553 / 8,734 553 6,201
Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey
(Core i7-11600H)
1,478 / 5,366 152 1,501 / 8,571 N/A 5,989
Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 
(Core i7-12700H)
1,625 / 11,543 72 1,725 / 14,135 793 7,430
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
(Ryzen 7 5800H)
1,460/7,227 99 1,430/11,195 N/A n/a

Gaming

HP Victus 15 rear view showing vent.
Mark Coppock/

Gaming performance was mostly in line with expectations given the GTX 1650 GPU. These are the lowest-end graphics cards you can find in a gaming laptop, so your expectations should be low when firing this up. First, the Victus 15 had the lowest 3DMark Time Spy test in our comparison group, as expected. It was considerably lower than the MSI Prestige 14’s RTX 3050, also as expected.

The Victus 15 performance OK in most of our benchmarks at 1080p and higher graphics settings. It managed playable frame rates in Civilization VI and Fortnite, but just barely in the latter case. You’ll need to drop down to a lower setting to play Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The results aren’t listed in the table below, but the Victus 15 managed to hit 45 frames per second (fps) in Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080p and Ultra graphics with DLSS turned off.

Overall, the laptop averaged greater than 30 fps in most of our benchmark titles. Of course, that’s the bare minimum fps for gaming, so you’ll want to configure the RTX 3050 Ti to get more comfortable frame rates at higher graphics.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (1080p Ultra High) Civilization VI (1080p Ultra) Fortnite (1080p Epic) 3DMark Time Spy
HP Victus 15
(GTX 1650)
25 fps 60 39 3,653
HP Victus 16
(RTX 3060)
59 fps 118 99 7,341
MSI Prestige 14
(RTX 3050)
20 fps N/A 26 4,438
Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey
(RTX 3050 Ti)
15 fps 61 54 N/A
Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 
(RTX 3070 Ti)
80 fps 177 fps 103 fps 1,0623
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
(RTX 3070)
61 fps 114 fps 101 fps 9,175

Display and audio

HP Victus 15 front view showing display.
Mark Coppock/

There are three display options for the Victus 15, all non-touch 16:9 Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS. They include a 250-nit 60Hz panel, a 250-nit 144Hz panel, and a 300-nit low blue light panel. My review unit was equipped with the 144Hz display, and it seemed OK to me when I powered on the laptop and used it during my testing. The colors were muted, but the contrast seemed deep enough, and the display didn’t get terribly bright.

That’s pretty much what my colorimeter confirmed. Brightness was indeed low at 236 nits, below our 300-nit threshold, while the contrast was good at 1,150:1, above our preferred 1,000:1. Colors weren’t very wide at just 65% of sRGB and 49% of AdobeRGB, and accuracy wasn’t great at a Delta-E of 3.04 (2.0 or less is considered the minimum for creative work). The Victus 16’s display was brighter and had wider and more accurate colors, and only the Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey‘s display was worse.

These results aren’t terrible for a laptop that’s $800 or less, but they become less palatable as you approach $1,000. The display is fine for productivity work and gaming, primarily thanks to the high contrast, but creators will find it lacking.

Brightness
(nits)
Contrast sRGB gamut AdobeRGB gamut Accuracy DeltaE
(lower is better)
HP Victus 15
(IPS)
236 1,150:1 65% 49% 3.04
HP Victus 16
(IPS)
375 1,120:1 100% 79% 1.86
MSI Prestige 14
(IPS)
317 1,820:1 97% 72% 3.67
Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey
(IPS)
350 800:1 65% 48% 2.37
Lenovo Legion 5i Pro
(IPS)
502 1,330:1 99% 76% 1.35

Two downward-firing speakers provide the audio, putting out plenty of volume with just a hint of distortion at the top end. Mids and clears were high, but there was zero bass, meaning you’ll want to wear some headphones for intense gaming and binging sessions.

Keyboard, touchpad, and webcam

HP Victus 15 top down view showing keyboard and touchpad.
Mark Coppock/

There’s no per-key RGB lighting with the Victus 15, as HP is apparently reserving that for its Omen gaming lineup. Instead, there’s just a single, rather bright backlight setting. There’s plenty of spacing, and the keys with their gamer-oriented font are large enough. I found the switches to be ligh, with a nice click at the bottom, which should work nicely for gamers even if it’s not a mechanical keyboard. Overall, the keyboard felt much like the one on the Victus 16, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

The touchpad was large and had a surface that offered a touch of resistance. It was responsive and reliable for Windows 11’s complement of multi-touch gestures, and the clicks were solid and confident without being too loud.

The webcam is a 720p version, and it performed about as well as the typical laptop webcam. That is, it was OK with good lighting but lost details in low light.

The Victus 15 doesn’t support Windows 11 Hello passwordless login. There are no fingerprint reader or infrared camera options, which is disappointing.

Battery life

HP Victus 15 edge view showing HP stamp.
Mark Coppock/

My review unit packed in just 52.5 watt-hours of battery, which isn’t a lot for a 15-inch laptop with a discrete GPU. If you order a higher-end model via HP’s CTO system, you can get a 70 watt-hour battery. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of battery life.

Unsurprisingly, the Victus 15 didn’t do well. It managed just 4.25 hours in our web-browsing test that cycles through a series of popular and demanding websites, and it only managed five hours in our video test that loops a local Full HD Avengers trailer. In the PCMark 10 Applications test that’s the best measure of productivity battery life, it couldn’t quite make it to five hours. The average laptop in our database at least doubles those results.

The Victus 15 performed similarly to most of the gaming laptops in our comparison group. Only the Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey and the Razer Blade 14 with its AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX had meaningfully longer battery life.

Web browsing Video PCMark 10 Applications
HP Victus 15
(Core i5-12450H)
4 hours, 18 minutes 5 hours, 7 minutes 4 hours, 50 minutes
HP Victus 16
(Core i7-11800H)
4 hours, 25 minutes 6 hours, 25 minutes 5 hours, 7 minutes
MSI Prestige 14
(Core i7-1260P)
5 hours, 11 minutes 6 hours, 2 minutes 7 hours, 2 minutes
Samsung Galaxy Book Odyssey
(Core i7-11600H)
10 hours, 30 minutes 14 hours, 19 minutes 11 hours, 47 minutes
Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 
(Core i7-12700H)
4 hours 32 minutes 7 hours 9 minutes N/A
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro
(Ryzen 7 5800H)
7 hours 10 minutes N/A N/A
Razer Blade 14
(Ryzen 9 5900HX)
8 hours 17 minutes 11 hours 7 minutes N/A

Our take

Rating the HP Victus 15 is challenging given its wide range of configurations. The $600 configuration (on sale from $870) with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H and a GTX 1650 provides a lot of value and will likely provide similar performance to my review unit. Speaking of that, the configuration I reviewed justifies its $800 price, but barely.

In the end, the Victus 15 performed well enough and is built solidly enough to make it a solid new entry in the budget gaming arena. You’ll just want to compare the available options before making your choice.

Are there any alternatives?

The best alternative to the Victus 15 is the Victus 16. It’s a little larger, but it can also be configured with a much faster GPU, and its display is slightly better. For just $100 more, you can get a configuration with an AMD Ryzen 5 6600H and RTX 3050 that’s probably faster than my review unit.

There aren’t many other gaming laptops under $1,000 that have made the switch to Intel 12th-gen CPUs. One that has is the Acer Nitro 5, which has a more aggressive gaming design and similar configuration for a couple of hundred dollars more.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 is another alternative, offering a similarly conservative design and similar components for just a bit more money than the Victus 15. You’ll want to look for the newest AMD Ryzen 6000 models.

How long will it last?

Despite a little bending in the lid and flexing in the keyboard deck, the Victus 15 is a well-built budget gaming machine. It should still last for years of hard gaming. The one-year warranty remains as disappointing as ever.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The Victus 15 is a good value as long as you make your selection carefully from among HP’s confusing purchasing options.

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