9to5Toys Gift Guide: Patrick’s must-have PC gaming upgrades from under $55

It’s that time of the year again — the time when we try to find our loved ones exactly what they’ve been waiting all year for. Maybe you’ve got a PC gamer in the house and have absolutely no idea what to get them. There are quite a few different options when it comes to storage, monitors, keyboards, mice, and the lot, making it all a bit confusing. Well, that’s what we’re here for. In this PC gaming gift guide, I’ll outline exactly what gifts you should be looking at, from budget-focused $50 NVMe SSDs to high-end desktops, monitors, and everything in between.

Must-haves for PC gamers

Internal components to blow your socks off

Let’s start out this PC gaming gift guide with the components that go inside your machine. The first place that you should start is storage. Are you (or whomever you’re shopping for) still running a SATA-based SSD? Or worse yet, a standard platter-based hard drive? Well, if so, it’s time to upgrade. NVMe is the new standard and offers insane speeds. My top pick, should you have access to a machine with PCIe 4.0, is the WD BLACK SN850. Pricing on Amazon starts at $150 for a 500GB model, and, while a little expensive, you’ll see up to 7,000MB/s transfer speeds here. This means that a 7GB file can be moved in just one second. However, those on a slightly tighter budget can take a look at WD BLACK’s SN750 drive, which runs off the PCIe 3.0 bus.

The SN750 comes in configurations starting as low as 250GB, which is priced at just $55. I’ve used both of these drives personally and absolutely love the performance you can get from either, so, no matter which you choose, this is a great holiday gift idea.

Another area of any PC to check on would be ensuring that it has quality RAM. Many times, pre-built or custom, you might opt for a lower-cost memory solution at first, thinking you’ll upgrade later. It leaves extra cash for more important components (like CPU or GPU) and gets the job done just the same…right? Well, kinda. If you don’t have quality RAM with fast timings and clocks, then your system could seriously suffer from slower performance.

The RAM that I personally chose for my new desktop and absolutely love is CORSAIR’s DOMINATOR RGB. It has a latency of C16 and a speed of 3600MHz, both of which are perfect for AMD’s latest Ryzen 5000-series processors. Plus, it looks absolutely great, so that’s another huge bonus. It can get to be a bit pricy though, as the kit I’m using retails for $223 right now from CORSAIR and $240 at Amazon. However, if this is outside of your price range, CORSAIR has a slightly slower model at C18 for $153 that will get the job done quite well, while still leaving more cash in your pocket. Either way, high-quality RAM that also looks beautiful is crucial to any build.

A display for all occasions

Something else to consider in our PC gaming gift guide would be the quality of the display at your desk. Sure, that old monitor works for gaming just fine, but does it really work well? I recently upgraded from my 60Hz 34-inch UltraWide monitor to a 144Hz one, as well as my peripheral displays, and let me tell you, it makes a huge difference. Not just when gaming, either. You’ll notice a quality monitor in all aspects of computer usage, but gaming is where it really takes center stage.

While I absolutely love UltraWide and highly recommend it if you have a more powerful graphics card, there’s no denying that 1440p 144Hz at 16:9 is the sweet spot for gaming right now. Sure, the new 30-series RTX and 6000-series AMD cards supposedly offer up to 8K gaming capabilities, but if you’re like most people, then you don’t have that type of gaming horsepower. Gigabyte’s G27QC 165Hz monitor delivers all that and more since it has a slightly faster refresh rate. You’ll find that it’s HDR-ready, offers AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, and a 1ms response time. The best part is that it’s curved, which really helps with feeling immersed in your game. Coming in at $350, this is the perfect balance between affordability and high-quality features, which is right where most people want to sit.

Peripheral upgrades make for great stocking stuffers

Now that you’ve got internal components and displays covered, it’s time to take a look at what’s sitting on your desk. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the keyboard and mouse, of which I highly recommend you take a look at two companies. While you can go with the same company for both, I’ve opted to pick SteelSeries for my keyboard and CORSAIR for my mouse. The Apex Pro keyboard is absolutely fantastic. You can change where each key registers its press, and the switches feel awesome. Plus, the built-in OLED display can be used to see additional information, and the overall design is just beautiful.

When it comes to mice, my go-to for gaming is the CORSAIR Scimitar RGB Elite MMO. That’s a mouthful, so we’ll just say the Scimitar RGB Elite from here on out. You’ll find a plethora of buttons along the side of this mouse and that allows you to program a ton of hotkeys at a moment’s notice. I love this as it’s perfect for MMO games like Apex Legends or Call of Duty, as you can swap weapons, ping locations, and more without moving your left hand off of the WASD keys.

Now that we have your keyboard and mouse sorted, it’s time to focus on in-game audio. That comes from your headset and microphone, and they should absolutely be separate. Sure, most gaming headsets have built-in microphones, but if you want to take things to the next level, you’ll need a dedicated mic. For the headset, we’d recommend the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless for those seeking the highest-end possible, or the Arctis 1 Wireless for those on tighter budgets. Both offer killer features, so you really can’t go wrong here. It just depends if you want the additional connection and hot-swappable batteries that the Pro Wireless offers or the USB-C wireless dongle that the 1 Wireless packs.

For microphones, the Elgato Wave 3 is a must-see. The Wave 3 takes advantage of Elgato’s Wave Link app, which can control the microphone as well as up to seven other audio sources, and you can create two independent mixes. This is perfect for those who want to record and game at the same time from the same computer, and it’s why this is our #1 recommended microphone.

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