We all have PC gamers in our lives. Most gamers are very dedicated to their hobby, so this makes an obvious choice for what kind of gift to get them. However, without being a gamer yourself, it can be difficult to choose the perfect gift for the PC gamer in your life. Here is our 2015 holiday shopping guide with some gift ideas that PC gamers will cherish and enjoy.
We all know gamers love to play games. Simple, right? However, if you don’t follow gaming news you may not know what the most popular games are this year.
Here are what we consider the hottest games for the holidays this year:
- Fallout 4
- Star Wars Battlefront
- Just Cause 3: Summer of Chaos
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Star Wars Old Republic: Knights Of The Fallen Empire
These maybe good gift choices, but your favorite gamer may already have some of these games, or not want to play them. You can probably discover this by talking to them about what games they’re playing and what games they’re looking forward to. In a worst-case scenario they may not be able to play them on their PC. This leaves them with a game they want to play, but inadequate hardware to play it on, forcing them to spend hundreds of dollars on upgrading their custom gaming PC or buying a new one.
Instead, we recommend a gift card to an online game store. Think of it as the iTunes Store for PC games. This lets them buy the games they would like to play and that they know would run on their computer. The two most popular ones are Steam and Origin. Steam is the preferred store for many gamers, while Origin is also popular because EA, a big game publisher, only releases their games on Origin.
Hardware – Peripherals
Another good holiday gift idea for a PC gamer is a gaming hardware peripheral. These are things like keyboards, mice and headphones. They might sound boring, but an avid gamer would certainly appreciate these items.
A mousepad is one such item. I don’t think many of us would like receiving one as a gift, but for PC gamers it’s another story. They go through these fairly quickly as they’re always aiming and clicking. Any serious gamer will definitely want a high quality mouse pad that’s designed with textured surfaces for accurate cursor movement. We recommend mouse mats from Turtle Beach, Steelseries, Corsiar or Razer. Expect to pay between $10 and $60.
Gaming mice are serious business. As the most sensitive and precise interface between a gamer and their PC, the gaming mouse is very important. For first person shooters, a good DPI and optical sensor is important. For players of MOBA, MMO or real-time strategy games a mouse with multiple additional buttons is preferred. If this is confusing, see our earlier blog post on What Makes a Good Gaming Mouse. We recommend the Razer DeathAdder Chroma, Logitech G602 or G502, Turtle Beach Grip 500, Roccat Nyth or SteelSeries Sensei. Expect to pay between $30 and $100 for a good mouse.
Gaming keyboards are also highly sought after by PC gamers. These specialized keyboards usually have mechanical switches that provide accurate tactile feedback and make the classic click-clack sounds of old keyboards, instead of the mushy keys most keyboards have. Backlit keys allow gamers to play through the night. We recommend the SteelSeries Apex, Corsair Vengeance, Razer BlackWidow, Logitech G910, and Roccat Ryos keyboards. These typically run between $75 and $180.
Headphones are another great option for gamers. Many players chat with their online teammates, and thus need a headset with a microphone, as well as clear and balanced sound. They should also be comfortable for long periods. Premium headsets are also wireless so there is no distraction from an additional cable. We recommend the Audio Technica ATH, Kingston HyperX, Creative Sound Blaster Recon 3D, Sennheiser PC 363D and SteelSeries H headsets. Expect to pay between $100 and $300 for a high quality headset.
Hardware – Components
While buying a component like a video card for a gaming PC sounds like the perfect gift for a gamer, we don’t recommend it. Not only are these components expensive, but buying the right one is tricky at best. You have to find a component that is compatible with your recipient’s computer, but one that is also their preferred brand and an upgrade from their current equipment.
For example if you give an AMD graphics card to someone who loves Nvidia cards, they would feel obligated to use it, even though they would rather not. This is just like giving someone an ugly sweater as a gift.
High end graphics cards can cost hundreds of dollars (the Nvidia 980Ti is around $700), and dealing with repairs or returns isn’t going to be fun. If your loved one already has a 980, for example, upgrading to a 980Ti isn’t going to do much to increase performance and they now have to deal with finding something to do with their old graphics card. Buying CPUs and memory is similarly difficult. However, you could do some research and ask them about their gaming system. If they have an older or lower spec graphics card, upgrading to a new one from the same brand would be a good idea. Nvidia cards that start with 6 or 7 are considered older, for example the GTX 660 or 750Ti. Lower spec cards have lower numbers in the middle, like the GTX 950 and 960.
A Custom Gaming PC
If you have a budget for $700 or more for a gift, then consider buying them a custom gaming PC. You’ll have to do some research to discover what kind of computer they have now. This will tell you two things: what kind of brands and components they like, and the relative performance of their system so you can see if it is a good time to upgrade. Finding this out is easy – they may have shared it with their friends online. Alternatively you could ask them for advice on your computer or PC gaming, and ask them what games they play, their graphics settings and their system components.