HP Victus 16 Review: Svelte Budget Gaming Laptop Stifled by Slow Display


When shopping for a budget gaming laptop, you are forced to make sacrifices to keep the price within the reach of your wallet. To begin, you’re likely looking at configurations that top out with an RTX 4050 or RTX 4060 GPU. It will be an all-plastic chassis with one- or four-zone RGB lighting instead of a sleeker, more rigid aluminum enclosure with per-key backlighting. These are concessions worth making to hit a price around the $1,000 mark. 

The HP Victus 16 forces you to make the above tradeoffs, but it also adds a display with a standard 60Hz refresh rate to the bargaining table. With many budget gaming models supplying faster 144Hz or 165Hz displays, that’s an offer you should reject. Our Victus 16 test system is a fixed configuration that costs $1,450, which is too expensive to be stuck with a slow display. While HP offers customizable models for the Victus 16 with speedier panels, the prices quickly rise to the point where you exit the budget category and enter the midrange arena where you can rightly expect a better design and more features. With faster displays, higher frame rates and lower prices, Acer’s Predator Helios Neo 16 and Nitro 16 are better bets for budget shoppers looking for an affordable 1080p rig.

HP Victus 16-r0097nr

Price as reviewed $1,450
Display size/resolution 16.1-inch 1920 x 1080 60Hz
CPU Intel Core i7-13700H
Memory 16GB 5200MHz DDR5
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU @ 120 watts
Storage 1TB SSD
Ports USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 (x3), HDMI 2.1, Ethernet, combo audio jack
Networking Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3
Operating system Windows 11 Home

Our HP Victus 16 test system (model 16-r0097nr) costs $1,450 and features an Intel Core i7-13700H processor, 16GB of RAM, RTX 4050 graphics and a 1TB SSD. Unlike 16-inch displays with boxier 16:10 aspect ratios that are increasingly common, the Victus 16’s display is a 16.1-inch panel with a widescreen 16:9 ratio that’s a better fit for games. Sadly, the 60Hz refresh rate is a poor fit for games because the display will be out of sync as frame rates climb above 60 frames per second. With its RTX 4050, the Victus 16 is more than able to surpass that number.

Our test system is a fixed configuration, but HP offers a wealth of customizable configurations with both AMD and Intel CPUs. While some of these configurations feature a baseline 60Hz display, many offer a 144Hz or 165Hz display. 

On the AMD side, there are both AMD Ryzen 7000 and 8000 series options. The AMD models start at $1,110 for a system based on a Ryzen 5 7640HS and RTX 3050 graphics and $1,200 for a system with a Ryzen 5 8645HS and RTX 3050 graphics. The previous-gen RTX graphics are disappointing, especially when paired with an AMD Ryzen 8000 series processor, but you can upgrade up to an RTX 4070 GPU.

On the Intel side, both 13th- and 14th-gen Core chips are offered and newer RTX 40 Series GPUs. Intel models start at $1,200 for a config with a Core i5-13500HX CPU and RTX 4050 GPU. The newer Intel configs start at $1,300 for a Core i5-14450HX and RTX 4050. Strangely, you can choose up to an RTX 4070 on the 13th-gen Intel models but only up to an RTX 4060 on the newer 14th-gen Intel models. While both the Intel and AMD configurations are pricier than what we typically consider « budget » for a gaming laptop i.e. less than $1,000, HP regularly discounts models in the Victus line to under $800. 

The HP Victus 16 isn’t available in the UK but you can find Victus 15 models that start at £750. In Australia, the Victus 16 starts at AU$1,619.

Gray plastic top cover of HP Victus 16 budget gaming laptop

Matt Elliott/CNET

Competitive budget performance

Our Victus 16 test system proved itself to be a strong overall performer. Its Core i7 CPU is a step above the Core i5 and Ryzen 5 chips commonly found on budget gaming laptops and allowed the Victus 16 to excel on our Geekbench 6 test and post an excellent PCMark 10 score above 7,000, but you aren’t buying the Victus 16 to run spreadsheets and other office applications. It also produced competitive 3D graphics and gaming scores. 

It features an RTX 4050 GPU at 120 watts — 115 watts from the GPU itself and another 5 watts borrowed from the CPU via Nvidia’s Dynamic Boost. That’s less than the maxed-out 140-watt RTX 4050 GPUs found on the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 and Nitro 16 but more than the Lenovo LOQ 82XT at 95 watts and the MSI Cyborg 15 at 45 watts. 

It averaged 141 fps on the Guardians of the Galaxy benchmark at 1080p, which trailed only the Predator Helios Neo 16 and was a few frames faster than the Nitro 16. It averaged 107 fps on the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark, which was good for only fourth place of the five budget gaming laptops we tested recently but still well above the 60fps minimum that gamers want.  (Scroll down to the bottom of this review to see the full benchmark results.)

It also lasted more than 9.5 hours on our online streaming battery drain test, which is an excellent runtime for a big-screen gaming laptop.

Right size and shape but the wrong rate

The Victus 16 features an all-plastic enclosure common to budget gaming laptops, but with our test system’s price of $1,450, it’s not unreasonable to expect an aluminum lid to add some durability and a higher-end look to the package. Still, the plastic surfaces are fairly rigid with only a minor amount of flex, and the wide display hinge is firm and keeps the display from wobbling. 

At just less than an inch thick and 5.2 pounds, the Victus 16 is thin and light for a 16-inch gaming laptop. Granted, they have roomier 16-inch, 16:10 displays, but the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 and Nitro 16 are each a half a pound heavier at 5.7 pounds — and with heftier power bricks, too.

The gray-on-gray design with charcoal-gray surfaces and lighter gray keys doesn’t hit you over the head with the fact that it’s a gaming laptop — and that’s the point. With a straightforward design that’s thin and compact for its size, the Victus 16 could be viewed as an entertainment laptop for general home use that also happens to be able to run AAA titles at 1080p. Because if you are buying it to play games night in and night out, you will want a faster and brighter display.

HP Victus 16 budget gaming laptop has a 16.1-inch 16:9 display HP Victus 16 budget gaming laptop has a 16.1-inch 16:9 display

Matt Elliott/CNET

The only aspects of our test system’s display that will appeal to gamers are its size and shape. It’s large at 16.1 inches, and the 16:9 aspect ratio is a natural fit for games. Sadly, it is deficient in other ways, the aforementioned 60Hz refresh rate being one. Action scenes just don’t look quite as smooth as it does on a faster panel. You can get a 165Hz display on the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 and Nitro 16, each of which costs less than the Victus 16. Even the entry-level MSI Cyborg 15 has a 144Hz panel. 

You also lose details in the darkest and brightest areas of a scene because the Victus 16’s display is rated for only a pedestrian 300 nits of brightness. My tests proved that the figure is aspirational, hitting a mere 287 nits measured with a Spyder X Elite colorimeter. By comparison, both of the aforementioned Acer models exceeded 400 nits and looked much brighter with more vibrant colors. Like the pair of Acers, the Victus 16 did cover 100% of the sRGB gamut in testing, so it could be used for photo editing and other creative tasks where color accuracy is needed.

HP Victus 16 budget gaming laptop keyboard and number pad HP Victus 16 budget gaming laptop keyboard and number pad

Matt Elliott/CNET

The keyboard lacks the snappy feedback that not just gamers but typists of all stripes appreciate. The keys are mushy and shallow. The touchpad’s click response was equally mushy but with too much travel. To make room for the number pad, the four arrow keys are half-height, which is always disappointing on such a large laptop. 

The keyboard offers one-zone RGB lighting, which is better than no RGB lighting but provides much less in the way of letting you customize the laptop’s look than the four-zone RGB lighting you get with either the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 or Nitro 16. There’s only one level of keyboard backlighting with the Victus 16, and the intensity of the lighting is lacking, making the overall effect look rather muted.

HP Victus 16 budget gaming laptop RGB keyboard backlighting HP Victus 16 budget gaming laptop RGB keyboard backlighting

Matt Elliott/CNET

The Victus 16 supplies a 1080p webcam, which isn’t always a given on a budget gaming laptop. Its image was much crisper than the grainy image you get, for example, with the Acer Nitro 16’s 720p camera. It’s not an IR camera, and without a fingerprint reader on the keyboard, the Victus 16 has no biometrics that would provide a way to log in securely without needing to key in a password.

The webcam may be a step above budget class, but the speakers are not. They are a typical pair of underpowered laptop speakers that produce tinny sound. For games and music and even movies and shows, you’ll want to use headphones or external speakers.

Right side ports on HP Victus 16 budget gaming laptop Right side ports on HP Victus 16 budget gaming laptop

Matt Elliott/CNET

The port selection is varied but ultimately underwhelming. There is one USB-C port and three USB-A ports, but all of them are of the USB 3.1 variety with only 5Gbps transfer speeds. That’s a fraction of the 40Gbps that Thunderbolt 4 or USB 4 supplies. The Victus 16 does supply an Ethernet port, which isn’t always a given on today’s laptops but is appreciated on a gaming laptop where the speed and stability of a wired network connection are important.

The Victus 16 has a versatile if a tad boring design and a display that on the surface is a good fit for gamers, but our test system’s 60Hz panel is a downer. HP offers speedier 144Hz and 165Hz displays on customizable Victus 16 models but at higher prices. Our Victus 16 test system’s price of $1,450 already places it outside of budget class. 

For casual gamers looking for a large, entertainment laptop, the Victus 16 makes more sense when it can be found on sale for $1,150. Then again, the Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 and Nitro 16 are better deals even at their full price of $1,200. They each can frequently be found on sale for less than $1,000, which makes it no contest between Acer’s budget gaming offerings and HP’s.

The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computerlike devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device’s aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both objective and subjective judgments. 

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we’re currently running on every compatible computer include Primate Labs Geekbench 6, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra. 

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found on our How We Test Computers page. 

Geekbench 6 (multicore)

HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 13501Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 13312MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 11871Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 10642Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 8212

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

PCMark 10 Pro Edition

Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 7660Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 7441HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 7038Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 6600MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 6541

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R23 (multicore)

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 18853HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 18697Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 15146MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 13673Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 12863

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 16855Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 16275HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 15836Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 14506MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 11815

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 4802Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 4541Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 4534HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 4268MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 3687

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Guardians of the Galaxy (High @ 1920 x 1080)

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 165HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 141Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 128MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 100Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 90

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Highest @ 1920 x 1080)

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 136Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 126Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 116HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 107MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 75

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

The Riftbreaker GPU (1920 x 1080)

Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 218HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 198Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 195Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 194MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 144

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Online streaming battery drain test

Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV 598HP Victus Gaming Laptop 16 577Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 485Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 391MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE 310

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System Configurations

HP Victus 16-r0097nr Windows 11 Home; Intel Core i7-13700H; 16GB DDR5 5,200MHz RAM; Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics @ 120W; 1TB SSD
Acer Nitro 16 AN16-41-R3ZV Windows 11 Home; AMD Ryzen 5 7640HS; 16GB DDR5 5,600MHz RAM; Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics @ 140W; 512GB SSD
Acer Predator Helios Neo 16 PHN16-71 Windows 11 Home; Intel Core i5-13500HX; 16GB DDR5 4,800MHz RAM; Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics @ 140W; 512GB SSD
Lenovo 82XT LOQ 15APH8 Windows 11 Home; AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS; 8GB DDR5 5,600MHz RAM; Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics @ 95W; 512GB SSD
MSI Cyborg 15 A13VE Windows 11 Home; Intel Core i7-13620H; 16GB DDR5 5,200MHz RAM; Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 graphics @ 45W; 512GB SSD



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