2017 Hardware Holiday Gift Guide

2017 has been one heck of a year for games and it’s no different on the hardware side of things. Whether you’re a PC, console or portable gamer, there’s something out there for everyone to better improve their experience. While we’re only highlighting a couple of categories, here is here is our holiday guide for hardware with a couple of key choice items that everyone should consider getting.

Best Bang For Your Buck PC Gear

Latest HyperX Set

HyperX, a division of Kingston Technology, has been making a name for themselves over the last few years with some of the best PC peripherals on the market. It’s weird to say that consider I always associated them in the early to mid-2000s with budget computer parts such as RAM, but they have some of the best gear available in 2017.

First is the HyperX Alloy Elite Mechanical Keyboard – $109.99 (Buy). This bad boy is a sleekly designed keyboard that feels as powerful as it is weighty. It comes with textured WASD keys, along with four silver replacements for 1, 2, 3 and 4. It also comes with media functionalities in the top right, and being that it’s available in Red, Brown and Blue Switches, it’s accessible to everyone. If we had to compare it to something, it would be the Corsair STRAFE, but better considering it actually has media functionality, and probably my favorite addition, an actual wrist rest for those who use keyboards for an extended period of time. One component we hope to see in the future is a full RGB backlight, even though the red does have a nice effect and there are a couple of modes to choose from. For around $100, it’s surprising how much you get. It’s not the ultimate keyboard by any means, though, as the caps lock indicator is somewhat hidden from view and the we wish the media controls had a more tactical feel like the rest of the keys. Regardless, when you consider it’s on the same level, if not better in some aspects, than its competition, the Alloy Elite becomes an incredibly appealing product.

The HyperX Pulsefire FPS mouse – $49.99 (Buy). If you’re on a budget, this will be the go-to mouse. It’s a simple, albeit powerful, optical gaming mouse that has an incredibly low $49.99 price point that you really can’t go wrong with. It does everything any gamer would want (especially for first person shooters) without any unnecessary flash. It’s an ergonomic design to perfectly fit to your hand, contains rubberized grips on both sides, a DPI selector below the wheel (with four selections that are identified based on the color of the LED light), and back & forth buttons on the side. Really, it’s a simple, affordable solution for anyone looking for a gaming mouse.

Now for the best part: HyperX Cloud Alpha gaming headset – $99.99 (Buy). If there’s one section of the industry HyperX excels at, it’s the headset game. My personal favorite headsets (for both gaming and listening to music) remains as the HyperX Cloud, both the first and second iterations, and their latest release is no different. I personally wasn’t huge on the Stinger or Revolver series of headsets that were put out relatively recently, but their standard Cloud lineup still provides one of the best headsets available on the market. The Alpha has a fully detachable braided 3.5mm jack and microphone, an incredibly durable aluminum frame and Dual Chamber drivers. Obviously, performance and comfort are the largest components to any headset, and they’re top of the line with the Alpha. The plush ear cups and headrest provide more than enough comfort and the sound quality is crisper thanks to the dual 50mm chambers. It’s unfortunate that the media control isn’t modular, though, as while it’s lighter than much that has come before it, it can still get in the way. The HyperX Cloud is arguably the most comfortable gaming headset I’ve ever worn and the Alpha version carries this forward with improved audio quality.

 

For Those Playing Switch Games Docked

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller – $69.99 (Buy)

If you’re someone who primarily plays your Switch docked and you don’t have a Pro controller, what are you doing? While Joy-Cons are far from the worst controllers to use — in fact they’re more than suitable while playing the device in portable mode — the Pro Controller is in a league of its own. It feels perfect in your hands, as you’re able to perform more precise movements in games such as Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild. The Gyro sensor in the Joy-Cons caused a lot of frustration in the latter game’s motion control puzzles and even more hardcore games such as Doom and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus will most likely be the only way to truly play on the Switch, although that is just speculation right now. It may cost slightly more than your average controller, coming in at $69, but it’s worth every penny.

 

For Those Who Can Afford an Xbox One X

Xbox One Elite Controller – $149.99 (Buy)

I have recommended the Xbox One Elite Controller for two years now and there’s a reason for that. The best controller you’ll ever hold in your hands, it takes the most appealing parts of the Xbox One controller, which is arguably the best standard controller available, and improves upon it by giving it additional buttons and a sleeker design. It’s a modular design where the d-pad, thumbsticks and back paddles can be replaced, allowing for a lot of customization. The back paddles alone should be worth it, as you’re able to assign different actions to each. The fact you can plug this into your PC and play your collection of games there only adds value to it. The biggest issue is that this is an expensive controller, coming in at $149, but if you’re able to afford an Xbox One X or a pricey PC, then this should be in your collection.

 

For Those Looking to Actually Connect Online with Switch

Bionik Ethernet Adapter for Nintendo Switch – $24.99 (Buy)

If there’s one accessory recommended to anyone with a Nintendo Switch, it’s this Ethernet adapter. The Nintendo Switch has one of the worst Wi-Fi problems I’ve seen with any console or handheld, as when it goes into sleep mode, the connection is instantly lost and will require upwards of five minutes to obtain it again. That changes with the Bionik Ethernet Adapter as it connects directly to your Nintendo Switch Dock via USB and allows for instant access via an Ethernet cable. Granted, this will require you to actually have a cable to do so, but it helps immensely if you do. Plug and play and you’ll gain access to the internet instantly.

 

For Those Low on Bytes

External Hard Drives: Seagate Game Drive – $89.99 (XBO / PS4)

Storage is an important part to any player’s collection, especially with games forcing installations upwards of 100GB. Heck, I was looking at reinstalling Gears of War 4 only to realize it was 120GB. Seagate is arguably the best option for that, having both PlayStation and Xbox branded external storage devices. You can get a standard 2TB model for PlayStation 4 or move all the way up to an 8TB external hard drive for Xbox One. Be warned, though, as that 8TB model isn’t portable and will require an AC connection. While they’re standard external drives, they actually dramatically improve load times for games, probably because the stock hard drives in consoles are baseline. There’s even a solid-state drive option for Xbox One (that obviously works on other platforms, too) that’s 512GB, although that’s more for performance due to it being a little pricey. Speaking of which…

Solid State Drives: Western Digital Blue 3D NAND (Buy)

While having a bigger hard drive is important, so is performance. You don’t want to have to wait upwards of two minutes to load a game. Heck, looking at some of the games this holiday, such as Assassin’s Creed Origins or Forza Motorsport 7, a lot of them have extremely long load times that can breach the 60 second mark. Whether you’re on PC or console, Western Digital has the best solution, with a Solid State drive that has incredible performance. Testing it, the SSD met both its 560 MBps read speed and 530 MBps write speeds handily, with impressive scores in 4K and Sequential test results. Loading up games such as Assassin’s Creed Origins and Nioh on PC took mere seconds, a huge step up from what they are on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 base systems. This kind of power will come at a price, though, as the 3D NAND TLC drive will run players back a pretty penny the more space they desire. It should be a drive that compliments existing storage more than anything, only putting specific games and programs on so your day to day life is benefited. The Western Digital Blue 3D NAND is the best solution SSD solution available for the everyday consumer.

MicroSDXC: Sandisk 64 / 128 GB (Buy)

Now that we’re done covering the PC and console side of things, lets talk handheld. The Nintendo Switch has become an incredibly popular system, and rightfully so, but if you’re looking to go into the digital side of things, you’re going to need far more space than what’s supplied. Thankfully, Nintendo and Sandisk have teamed up to bring players storage solutions with Switch branded MicroSDXC. This little bad boy comes in two different sizes, 64GB and 128GB, offering read speeds upwards of 100 MBps and a write speed of 60 MBps. It doesn’t dramatically improve load times in comparison to what the Seagate or Western Digital drives do for console and PC games, but it helps and adds additional storage to boot. When games such as the Resident Evil Revelations Collection require 39GB digitally or LA Noire requiring a 14GB download regardless if you bought it physically, Sandisk becomes an storage option that is slowly becoming a requirement.

 

For Content Creators

Elgato HD60/S – $139.99 (Buy)

The gold standard for video game capture devices is the Elgato HD60 and there’s a reason for that. It’s one of the best and most stable products on the market, being used by YouTubers and media all across the world. It has been available for a couple of years now, with the S version being released last year with a focus on streaming. Really, either version will work for most people, although the HD60 does have a H.264 encoder and allows for a master copy. The HD60 S’ biggest feature is the USB 3.0 connection, allowing for their Instant Gameview feature to allow players to see the gameplay being captured with little latency. You’re not going to get insane bitrates (40Mbps), but it should be more than enough for hard copies to be uploaded to YouTube and more than enough for streaming. There’s a reason why Elgato is at the top of the division when it comes to capture technology, and the Elgato HD60 and HD60S are proof of this.

Elgato Stream Deck – $149.99 (Buy)
Elgato Cam Link – $129.99 (Buy)
Elgato Green Screen – $149.99 (Buy)

This is where Elgato steps up their game and goes all in on streaming. Twitch and YouTube streaming has been wildly popular over the last few years and Elgato is offering easy and affordable solutions to get the job done in a professional manner. Our favorite is easily the Stream Deck, allowing you to have control over your stream and all the functionalities on a small deck within fingers reach. Even when not streaming, the Stream Deck is handy for opening programs, performing specific actions and so much more. The $149.99 price point may scare some off, but it’s worth every penny. As for the other two, the Cam Link turns your camcorder or DSL camera into an easily accessible device for streaming, allowing you to convert it to USB with a single adapter. For only $129, it does what other devices do at one fourth of the price, allowing for the best quality face cam possible. As for the Green Screen, it’s arguably the most portable and easy to layout green screen available, allowing you to use your Chroma skills to the max. Easy to store, easy to roll out, and just easy use, the Elgato Green Screen is something every hardcore streamer should have.

 

For Content Creators on the Road

AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus – $215 (Buy)

If there’s one category AVerMedia does best in, it’s their portability. While we’ve had issues with the company’s more dedicated boxes in the past, there’s no denying that they offer the best portable capture devices. Their latest release, the Portable 2 Plus, is a big jump in what content creators are able to accomplish. All you need is a MicroSD card and a power source and you can capture 1080p60 on any platform. Not only that, but it allows for 4K passthrough, ensuring that you can enjoy your 4K content while still capturing at 1080p. Whether you’re a YouTuber or among the media, this is essential if you’re someone who goes to multiple events. You don’t need to break out a semi-powerful laptop and an unnecessarily number of cables in order to get what you want. And if 20Mbps doesn’t do it for you, there’s the option to plug it into a computer and capture upwards of 50Mbps. The only downside to this is that it runs on a USB 2.0, meaning there will be some latency issues if you want to play it through your computer’s screen. It’s only a little bit of latency, but it’s enough to make a difference. In the end, this is a must for anyone who travels to events to capture footage and a good dedicated capture device regardless.