With one exception, I’ve chosen to focus soundly on gaming this year. Whether it’s PC or console, new or retro, Xbox or PlayStation, there are a ton of choices to be made. Which one’s the fastest? Which is the best? Which one has the most colors?
If you’re a gamer or buying for one, any of these should light up their holiday season.
Money is No Object
Devon Tread 1
Sure, watches are cool, but why wear a regular watch when you could have a freaking factory on your wrist designed to produce hours, minutes and seconds for your consumption?
Devon’s watches aren’t for the well-off, they’re for people who have so much money they’ve run out of things to buy. And they’re also some of the coolest watches around.
The watch runs on four belts powered by a microcontroller, using an entirely new movement not seen on any other watches. If you can afford to have this tiny time factory dangling off your arm, it might just be the flashiest thing in the room.
Gifts Under $2,000
Sony KDL55W950B 55-Inch 1080p 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV
It’s time to upgrade your TV. You’ve had it for, what, 8 years? You want something bigger, but you can only sit so far from your television.
If you’re a gamer, though, you have one more requirement: Input lag. 4K TVs are great, but they have their limitations. Compared to 1080p televisions, even the best 4K displays can’t equal the low input lag of televisions like this one. Additionally, 4K televisions aren’t always so good at running 4K video at a full 60 frames per second, so that beefy gaming PC you were planning to hook up might not be able to perform at its best.
For gaming, 1080p is still the way to go. And, as this is a Sony television, PlayStation Now compatibility is built in, so as Sony’s new streaming service improves, you’ll finally be able to play some of those PlayStation 3 games you missed after your PlayStation fried in a lighting strike when you lent it to your little brother.
I’m just saying.
Gifts Under $500
GIGABYTE GV-N970G1 GeForce GTX 970
The new generation of Nvidia cards, the GTX 900 series, have just debuted and word across the board is that they are rocking. While a card like the GTX 780 Ti might pack a little more horsepower, the 970 gets you a better price, significantly lower power consumption, and packs a whopping 4GB of VRAM.
With game consoles using unified memory, it’s likely we’ll see PC games start to require more memory as well, with games like Watch_Dogs already asking for quite a bit. If it’s time for a new card and you want to futureproof your system for a bit, the 970 is the way to go.
As great (and legally gray) as emulation is, playing NES games off your computer won’t ever be exactly the same as using a dedicated piece of hardware. Games sound, look, and sometimes feel different without the right chips powering the game.
The Analogue Nt runs off the same Ricoh 20A3 and 2C02 chips that power the original NES, as well as sporting a Famicom expansion port and four controller ports identical to those used on the NES. The Analogue Nt has better compatibility and better reproduction of the original NES images and sounds than any emulator or knock-off system. For a few more bucks, you can throw in an HDMI adapter to run games on that brand new television.
The system also sports a modern anodized aluminum body to ensure your rig still looks modern even with a bit of old school flavor.
Gifts Under $250
Asus RT-N66U Dark Knight Router
You can’t go wrong with this router, especially for the price. The router sports the standard four ethernet ports along with two USB 2.0 ports and a great looking exterior that looks about as cool as you could ask a piece of networking equipment to look.
The Dark Knight is a true N900 dual-band router, meaning you’ll be able to pull – not accounting for local interference – up to 450Mbps on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. With more and more devices compatible with the Wireless N standard, upgrading to a device that can handle it is a great investment. Gaming consoles and the new phones and tablets made in the last couple years all support N.
On the firmware side, the Dark Knight has solid default firmware but is also compatible with open source firmware like Tomato and DD-WRT if you’re into tinkering. If you’re still rocking a WRT-54G, it’s time to upgrade.
WD My Passport Ultra 2TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive
If you’ve chosen an Xbox One as your console and you’re starting to find the 500GB hard drive a bit cramped with all the games coming out this season, it’s time to plug in an external hard drive.
External hard drives offer a few advantages to Xbox One owners: You can swap them out for other drives (allowing you to collect instead of replace drives, if necessary), you can plug the drive into another Xbox and sign in there, and the USB 3.0 connection means that a 7200RPM drive like this should be significantly faster than the 5400RPM drive inside the box.
Gifts Under $50
Razer Sphex Gaming-Grade Desktop Skin
Of all the different mouse pads I’ve tried over the years, from the one that came with my original copy of Max Payne to a frosted glass mousing surface, the Razer Sphex is without question the best mousing surface out there.
Instead of this being a pad that sits on your desk and slides around, the Sphex is more like a heavy duty sticker. Clean a spot off on your desk, peel off the backing, and apply. If you don’t get it quite right, it’s easy to remove and reapply. What you end up with is a lightly textured non-stick gaming surface that won’t move around or get in your way. They’re durable and, better yet, cheap.
1 Year of PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live
It’s tough to get by in gaming anymore without a subscription. Whether it’s Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network, if you want to play online, you need to buy in. But, more than ever, it’s looking like a benefit in the long run, whichever network you choose. Both XBL and PSN have programs that get you free and discounted games every month, and as the two compete for the best service the game choices are better than ever. If you play even half the games you get access to, the service still pays for itself.