Best Holiday Gifts for the PC Gamer
Best Holiday Gifts for the PC Gamer
Produced in partnership with MSI
This is the time of year when holiday music fills the airwaves and, depending on where you live, the weather outside turns frightful, but that’s all the more reason to cozy up inside and bask in the warm glow of a computer monitor. Of course, staring at a blank screen isn’t any fun. Playing games is, however, and we’ve put together a holiday shopping guide so you can treat your game-loving friends and family to the hottest PC gaming gear that would make even make Santa’s toy-making elves green with envy!
Whether it’s a recommendation on a CPU upgrade or a brand new laptop that you’re after, we have you covered. All of our picks are tailored towards PC gaming and are sure to bring a grin to the recipient’s face. The toughest part will be actually handing over this sweet gaming gear instead of keeping it all for yourself!
LG 34UC79G UltraWide
Once you game on an ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio monitor, it’s tough to go back to 16:9—you’ll feel like something is missing. The 34UC79G from LG delivers that ultra-wide experience with a 34-inch high-quality curved IPS panel delivering a blazing fast 144Hz refresh rate and AMD FreeSync support for smooth gaming. It even has three preset game modes that adjust the settings based on the type of game you’re playing. And with a 2560x1080 resolution, this monitor delivers a spacious view of the scenery without taxing your hardware like a 4K resolution panel will.
MSI GK-701 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Your fingers deserve better than what a squishy membrane keyboard can offer, hence the rise of mechanical planks that now litter the landscape. MSI built its GK-701 around Cherry MX Brown key switches, a popular choice among gamers because it provides tactile feedback without the loud clicking noise that can disrupt others within earshot. It also has individually backlit keys that emit a menacing red glow with four levels of brightness, and a Windows key lock so you don’t accidentally dump yourself to the desktop when in the middle of an intense battle. For added comfort, each key surface has a unique angle to reduce muscle strain. When things get really hairy, N-Key rollover makes sure the keyboard registers all of your keystrokes.
Logitech G403 Prodigy Gaming Mouse
When it comes to gaming, reaction time is everything and this mouse won’t hold you back. Built for the discerning gamer, Logitech paired a gaming grade sensor that’s adjustable from 200 DPI all the way up to 12,000 DPI with low friction feet to suit both fast movements and more precise input (think: sniping). We also like the level of customization here—there are half a dozen programmable buttons, a 10 gram removable weight to lighten the load if desired, and a button tensioning system that uses metal springs to keep the left and right mouse buttons always working like new.
Steelseries Siberia 800
Formerly called the H Wireless, the Siberia 800 remains a top pick in the PC gaming audio space. The closed earcups help drown out background noise while Dolby virtual 7.1 surround sound keep you immersed in the game. A pair of swappable batteries, each good for up to 20 hours of gaming, makes this wireless headset a fantastic choice for even marathon gaming sessions. It’s also comfortable to wear for extended periods thanks to the use of memory foam ear cushions and ample padding on the headband.
Fractal Design Define R5
Available with or without a side window, the Define R5 is a top-shelf chassis combining steel and brushed aluminum. It doesn’t crave attention the way gaudy cases do, instead taking a sophisticated approach to case design with clean lines. Don’t mistake that to mean boring. You can stuff a lot of hardware inside this thing, including up to eight storage drives, graphics cards up to 310mm long (or 440mm with the top cage removed), and a liquid cooling radiator up to 460mm. Whatever you cram in its belly, the Define R5’s sound dampening material will keep things quiet.
Intel Core i5-6500
The bang-for-buck ratio is pretty high with Intel’s Core i5-6500. It’s a quad-core processor built on a 14nm manufacturing process and based on Intel’s highly tuned Skylake architecture. While it lacks Hyper Threading support, the four processing cores race along at a 3.2GHz base frequency and 3.6GHz turbo frequency, plenty fast enough to prevent the CPU from being a bottleneck in games. It also has 6MB of cache and a 65W TDP, and comes with its own cooler (retail version, not OEM).
MSI GeForce GTX 1070 GAMING X 8G
MSI’s GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G leverages Nvidia’s mighty new Pascal GPU architecture that came into the scene like a wrecking ball and rendered anyone wielding a previous generation graphics card with upgrade envy. However, MSI didn’t stick to the reference blueprint and call it a day. The GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G has three different modes: Silent, Gaming, and OC. The Silent mode stays true to Nvidia’s stock clocks while running whisper quiet thanks to the custom cooling solution, while the Gaming and OC modes goose the base and boost clockspeeds to squeeze even more performance out of Pascal, all while still running cool and quiet. A solid metal backplate adds a bit of toughness to an already muscular card that’s capable of playing games at 4K.
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo
Do you prefer low temperatures or quiet cooling? You don’t have to choose with the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo, an inexpensive air cooler that performs much higher than its price tag suggests. It has four heatpipes that make direct contact with your CPU to pull heat up and into the a large aluminum block with ample fins. The bundled PWM fan snaps into place and adjusts its rotation from 600-2000 RPM to keep things chilly without causing a ruckus. Oh, and it supports all the latest CPU sockets, too.
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-3000
Having 16GB of RAM is enough for even the most demanding games and most other tasks, such as power surfing with several browser tabs open at once and manipulating pictures in Photoshop. Corsair’s Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-3000 kit has the added benefit of being designed for overclocking. The individually screened ICs are selected based on their ability to run at a fast frequency and then nestled into an eight-layer PCB to help manage heat. All this is topped off with a pure aluminum heatspreader available in a variety of color options.
MSI Z170A Gaming M7
Once you’ve decided to adopt a processor based on Intel’s Skylake architecture, the challenge becomes giving it a good home. MSI’s Z170A Gaming M7 is an excellent choice for several reasons. This motherboard is packed to the gills with features that gamers can take advantage of, including M.2 and U.2 connectivity, an optimized LAN port powered by Killer, and studio grade sound. It even has a gaming hotkey to initiate real-time overclocking when you need a performance boost. For more robust overclocking, gamers will appreciate the easily navigable BIOS and onboard buttons for things like powering up and down the PC and clearing the CMOS. There are so many gaming amenities here that Steelseries, a leading peripheral maker, certified this motherboard for use with its peripherals.
WD Blue 250GB SSD
A solid state drive can dramatically improve game load times and overall performance in day to day to activities. The WD Blue 250GB, available in both 2.5-inch 7mm and M.2 2280 form factors utilizing the SATA 6Gbps interface, offers ample storage space for Windows and several games at a reasonable price. Transfer speeds check in at 545MB/s for writes and 500MB/s for reads, giving your system a noticeable boost over even the fastest consumer hard drives. This particular model also has an endurance rating of 100 TBW (terabytes written) and is backed by a 3-year warranty.
MSI GT62VR Dominator Pro (GeForce GTX 1070)
Laptops powerful enough to qualify as desktop replacements used to be gargantuan anchors well in excess of 10 pounds that could break your back if you tried to lug it anywhere. Not anymore. MSI’s GT62VR Dominator Pro has a 15.6-inch Full HD 1080p display and weighs less than 6.5 pounds, yet it’s not lacking for power. Just the opposite, this Dominator Pro lives up to its name by pairing an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor with a GeForce GTX 1070 GPU that’s on par with its desktop equivalent. It’s a potent foundation that will allow you to crank up the eye candy in your favorite games, and there’s more than enough oomph here to play games in VR as well. If that weren’t enough, Nvidia G-Sync support kicks screen tearing to the curb, while the Steelseries keyboard will give you an edge over the competition.