10 perfect Christmas presents for...PC gamers
Welcome to day 3 of the Pocket-lint Christmas gift guide bonanza. So we've got photographers covered and laptop addicts, but today is the turn of the gift guide for the PC gamer in your life. If you can coax these people down and away from COD or their meaty World of Warcraft habit, then you might want to give them one of our suggestions for the perfect gifts for PC gamers. Do go easy on them though. They probably won't actually realise it's Christmas Day.
Novint Falcon & Pistol Grip
How do you make Left 4 Dead even better than it already is? The answer: play it with the Novint Falcon pistol grip mouse controller complete with authentic recoil action. There's a school of purists that don't believe these items can compete with a trusty mouse but then there's a whole load of added fun they're missing out on. The tricky part is that these things are really quite difficult to get hold of. You can get the standard Novint Falcon shipped over from the States for $190 but the $20 pistol grips are very often out of stock. Keep your eyes on eBay and one might just come up.
Logitech G9X/Razor Naga mouse
Failing the Falcon, or if indeed your gamer is not a first person shooter fan, then a high quality mouse can also be worth its weight in gold. The Logitech G9X is a solid classic but, if you really want to impress, buy the 80 euro Razor Naga which has been specially designed for MMORPGs. It's got a whopping 17 buttons - left and right click, scroll wheel, the regular forward and back buttons on the sides, and also a pad consisting of another twelve buttons on the left hand side.
Naga, in case you're wondering, is Sanskrit for "snake", and is also the name of a prominent group of baddies in World of Warcraft. Best of all, it comes with an add-on for WoW that shows a grid and allows you to dynamically pick which spells correspond to the side buttons.
Logitech G110 Keyboard
If they've already got the perfect mouse covered, then the next port of call is the keyboard. Again, the Logitech is a good way to go with the Logitech G110 gaming keyboard. It has media controls, illuminated keys and 12 macro buttons but it adds a number of features of its own, too.
There's an integrated USB audio device in the unit, which will allow you to use a headset that has 3.5mm jacks as a USB audio device, providing clearer sound. Many gamers find that the plugs in their cases will "buzz" due to electrical interference, but this should solve that issue. There's also an extra USB port on the rear of the keyboard, and a "gaming mode" toggle switch that will disable the windows and menu keys so that you don't accidentally press them while mid-match. Very useful. You can pick one up for £70 and make any gamer's day.
Logitech G13 Advanced Gamepad
Without trying to sound too Logitech sponsored all of a sudden, the US peripherals expert does offer a combi solution in the shape of the Logitech G13 gamepad. It's got three game modes, 25 programmable keys and a programmable analogue stick with 87 ways for you to control your game. You can even set up custom button-profiles and create macros without having to pause the game. There's also a 160 x 43 pixel GamePanel LCD for live game stats and system info, and backlit keys, with hundreds of colours to choose from. Finally, they've also crammed in some onboard memory, which enables you to program up to five ready-to-play profiles, and pre-configured settings for all the PC gaming faves. Days of over-complicated fun for just £51.
Acer V193WBb Monitor
Monitors are one of the major keys to the whole experience and as much as we might recommend the likes of the stunning LG W2353, it is rather on the expensive side at £170. Instead, at around the £90 mark you can still get something very decent indeed like the Acer V193WBb 19-inch TFT-LCD display. It's got a 5ms response time to cut down on ghosting, a 1440 x 900 resolution and a nice vibrant contrast of 10,000:1. If that's going to break the budget still, you can get smaller version for more like £60, just remember to check resolution, contrast and response times and the rest should follow.
Creative Inspire T6160 speakers
Soundwise, there's two options for excellence and this is one of them. The Creative Inspire T6160 speaker system is particularly aimed at gamers and movie fans, and offers vivid 5.1 cinematic surround sound. Creative has a very good name of late in the PC speaker department and, best of all, for such an impressive audio array, you only have to fork out £55. Plenty of bang for your buck.
Sennheiser PC151 headset
Of course, if you happen to live with said PC gamer, you can actually spend around the same amount of money for your own personal peace and quiet. Sennheiser provides two, high quality level, on-ear, closed-cup headphones designed for gamers. Both sets are wired, for better and more reliable sound quality, and come with built-in booms for easy team talk. The PC151 you can pick up for as little as £26 while the PC161, although definitely better, probably don't quite represent the same level of value at £67. It all depends how much you love your gamer.
4GB DDR3 RAM
More memory. You can never have enough of the stuff. The good thing here is that you're already buying something that you know the other person has got and they'll still welcome it with open arms. The tricky part is getting the right stuff. If you buy any old RAM module for them, it simply isn't going to work. So, sneak into your friend/loved one's place in the dead of night and note down the make and model of their PC. Then head over to sites like this one and it'll tell you exactly what you need to go and get. DDR3 is the preferable choice at the moment.
Corsair H50-1 CPU Watercooler
Overheating is a serious issue for gamers, especially if they've started over stuffing their machines full of memory that they just got for Christmas. One excellent solution that's recently got a lot cheaper to get hold of is watercooler systems to keep your CPU temperature down. The added bonus is that they're a darn site quieter than the less efficient air cool fan systems too. Probably the best budget option is the Corsair H50-1 which delivers great performance at just under £70.
Obvious one really but there have been so many good releases recently that there's a very good chance that your gamer isn't going to have them all. Ones we recommend include Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Borderlands, Batman Arkham Asylum, Dragon Age: Origins or even a few months subscription for WoW. While we're on the subject. A year's worth of a good gaming magazine might be nice as well.