Repurposing Gaming Keyboards and Desktops for Multimedia Work

By Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

After nearly ten years, I decided to upgrade my desktop computer. It was being overwhelmed by the multimedia tasks that I’ve been throwing at it. After reviewing the available options, I ended up getting a gaming PC. I’m not a gamer and never have been, but the features that I need happen to be in gaming machines. I got the HP OMEN Obelisk Desktop1 with an Intel Core i7-9700 processor and 16 GB system memory.2 (See the details below.) For serious gamers, this is a modest system.

I completed the purchase online and drove to the store, which is about four miles away. While waiting for the order to be filled, I browsed the keyboard section. I decided it was time to get a new one with backlit keys. The search led me to gaming keyboards, and the best for my needs was the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro mechanical gaming keyboard. It was compact and felt substantial. It didn’t have a numeric keypad. I never use a keypad, so I welcomed the smaller size.

HyperX Alloy FPS Pro mechanical gaming keyboard with backlit keys. All of the photos in this article can be enlarged by left-clicking the photo.

I do a lot of photo and video editing as well as webpage layouts, so I prefer a darker work environment. Thus, a backlit keyboard had been on my wish list for a long time. This was my first backlit keyboard, and I was completely impressed. Via the function key and the up and down arrow keys, I can adjust the intensity of the back lighting or turn it off completely. The lowest level works for me. (See the photos below.)

The keys are very visible in both dark and light conditions.

The visibility of the keys is a godsend. I no longer need to rely on tiny desk lamps to see the keyboard. The tactile feedback on the keys is natural and comfortable. Its small size makes it an easy fit for the nook under the center monitor. (Update 8/17/19: The keys are sensitive and will skip a space if pressed too long or hard.)

The HyperX Alloy FPS is pictured next to my old keyboard. It’s about three inches narrower, which is a huge plus for my cramped desk space.

On the old keyboard, I tried stickers to make the keys stand out in low light, but they eventually peeled off of the heavily used keys. In the photo above and below, remnants of stickers are still visible on some of the keys.

The difference between the old and new keyboard when the light is low or poor. Click the image for a better view of the difference.

The Omen Obelisk is a beautiful machine. (See the photos below.) The entire side that’s opposite the motherboard is glass, and it lifts off with a simple press of a button, allowing quick access to card slots, RAM sticks, and drive bays.3

HP Omen Obelisk Desktop. Model 875-0034 SKU: 6349466. Processor: Intel® Core i7-9700F (3 GHz base frequency, up to 4.7 GHz with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology, 12 MB cache, 8 cores). Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (6 GB GDDR 6). Internal hard drive 1 TB 7200 rpm SATA; M.2 SSD 256 GB PCIe® NVMe.  Dimensions: 6.5 x 14.06 x 17.05 inches. Shadow Black Front Bezel/Dark Chrome Logo.

I switched in a hard drive from the old computer in a few minutes with no tools.  It was a second hard drive in the old and serves the same function in the new. In comparison to the Omen, my old computer is a tin can. The build and engineering is solid and precise. It has plenty of fast USB ports and allows me to hook up my three-monitors (see the ports in the photos below).

Ports: 1 RJ-45, 1 USB 3.1 Type-C™ Gen 2, 2 USB 3.1 Type A, 1 headphone/microphone combo, 4 USB 3.1 Gen 1. Ports on the graphics card, L-R: DVI, HDMI, Display Port.

The interior lights up when the computer is on, and the effect through the glass panel, especially in a dark room, is beautiful. (See the photo below.) (Update 7/7/19: The interior color can be easily changed via the Omen app. I now have it at a light blue.)

This is the side view, through the glass panel, of the HP Omen Obelisk when it’s running. This photo was taken with a Fujifilm XT2 with Fujinon 23mm F/1.4 lens. The other photos were taken with a Nikon D810 with a Tamron 35mm F/1.8 and 85mm F/1.8 lens.

The capstone is its performance. With programs on the SSD (solid state drive), it’s fast and silent for the tasks I run, primarily related to Lightroom (photo editor) and Camtasia (video editor). (Update 7/10/19: Both LR and Camtasia run noticeably faster. Rendering is much faster. The Omen Command Center app displays live memory, CPU, and GPU percentage utilization as well as download and upload speed.) Programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Soundbooth are lightning fast.

Youtube videos run faster with minimal hiccupping. (Update 7/10/19: Uploading and downloading videos much faster.) Videos from news sources also run smoothly. Power on to program access is quick, a big contrast to the old computer.
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1 Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with HP, Omen, or any of the products mentioned in this article. This purchase was made at Best Buy, and, again, I’m not associated with this store. I paid full advertised retail for these products.
2 See Keyan’s excellent review, “Good Choice for Gamers and Power Users” (June 2019), in the Best Buy Ratings & Reviews section for this computer.
3 This computer doesn’t come with a CD/DVD drive, and there are no 5.25″ bays for one. If you need one, you’ll need to buy an external USB drive.

3 Responses

  1. Just bought the same, I make videos and am not a gamer. My logic was the same about the video/Intel quality so great minds think alike.

    • Anonymous, thanks for the feedback. I’ve thought of upgrading one or more of my 1080p monitors to 4K (3840×2160). Have you made the upgrade? Your thoughts on this?

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