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The Fandomentals Cyber Monday 2019 PC Gift Guide

Are you shopping for a techy friend or relative and you’re not sure what they could use? Maybe you’re shopping for yourself but aren’t quite sure what to look for? Well, just in time for Cyber Monday, this guide will help you figure out what could best suit your or someone else’s needs across a wide spectrum of PC gift possibilities. I’m someone who keeps my ear to the ground on tech and has spent entirely too much money on computers and computer accessories, so let me help you navigate the murky waters of the tech buying world. These are only recommendations from my own experience, you don’t need to listen to me at all and I recommend doing your own extra research on the side, but this will make a good jumping off point. With PC gaming on the rise, this list will be PC-centric, so unfortunately this isn’t the place to look if you’re after console deals.

Top recommended keyboard:

Corsair K68 RGB Keyboard

Retail: $119.99

Amazon: $89.99

I have owned several Corsair keyboards and mice over the years. They’re always high quality and as such any of them get a huge recommendation from me. The K68, however, strikes a great balance between features and budget that makes it stand out from its peers. You can get it in a variety of switch types (I recommend the Cherry MX Silver for their low actuation point, making them extremely fast switches for high-octane gaming), it’s water resistant in case of spills, has dedicated media controls for music and video playback, and it has gorgeous per-key RGB backlighting to match any color scheme the gamer in your life can imagine. It has a full sized layout, so you still get the number pad, but let’s be honest, you’re not going to be doing your taxes if you’re sitting down to game, but at least it’s there if you need it. The iCue software can be a bit of a pain, but for the quality of the hardware you’re getting, the software is worth trudging through. You can find the Corsair K68 on Corsair’s website here, but keep an eye out on other retailer sites like Amazon for Cyber Monday deals. You might be able to score this excellent keyboard for even less than the MSRP.

Honorable mention:

Razer Hunstman Elite

Retail: $199.99

Amazon: $174.99

I won’t spend too much time on this keyboard, but it gets an honorable mention for Razer’s new opto-mechanical switches that have extremely fast actuation, and for the keyboards overall excellent build quality, dedicated media controls, and plush wrist rest. This board can be had for $200 here, but can likely be found discounted elsewhere during Cyber Monday.

Top recommended headset:

Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision Stereo Over-Ear Headphones and V-MODA BoomPro Microphone

Retail: $99.00 (headphones), $30 (mic)

Amazon Price: $54.99 (headphones), $29.98 (mic)

This is a bit of a strange recommendation because it’s actually two products that when combined, come together to form an excellent gaming headset. The Philips SHP9500 are an excellent pair of over-ear headphones that have crisp, clear sound. The open-back design means no more yelling over and over for your kid to come downstairs for dinner because they couldn’t hear you. Plus, since you’re giving them headPHONES and not a headSET, it means they can remove the microphone for casual listening and for use on other devices, so you’re really getting a multi-purpose setup. For $90, you really can’t find a better pair of cans at this price point. At the time of writing, they were discounted on Amazon to $67, which is an incredible deal for some excellent headphones. They go on sale frequently, and might be discounted even more for holiday deals. Pick them up here.

The V-MODA BoomPro is a microphone with in-line controls that plugs into a standard 3mm headphone jack, meaning that they can be used on nearly ANY headphones. This versatile little mic features zero compression, so the audio quality is crystal clear. It’s great for in-game communication, or even video voice over and live streaming. If the gamer in your life is looking to get into YouTube or Twitch but can’t quite afford something like a Blue Yeti, you can get this great starting point here for only $30, which is a steal.

Honorable mention:

Corsair VIRTUOSO RGB WIRELESS High-Fidelity Gaming Headset

Retail: $179.99

Amazon: $139.99

The Corsair VIRTUOSO gets an honorable mention for really knocking my socks off. I frequently attend large-scale LAN events, which are difficult to take my full audio setup to due to table space, so I keep my eyes peeled for all-in-one packages that get the job done, and that’s exactly what the VIRTUOSO accomplishes. With audio quality on par with even some relatively high-end headphones, a wide array of built-in features such as volume control, a mic mute button, removable mic, and lag-less wireless connectivity with Corsair’s new Slipstream wireless protocol, this headset really has it all. However, it also comes at a premium price of $180 for the non-SE version, and a staggering $210 for the SE version. You can find it here on Corsair’s website, or on other major retailer sites.

Top recommended mouse:

Logitech G502 Hero

Retail: 79.99

Amazon: $48.57

This was the triumphant return of a legend. Mouse fans absolutely adore the G502, and had been waiting on a refresh for quite some time, when finally Logitech dropped the G502 Hero. This mouse boasts the same ergonomic layout fans have come to love, while adding in the new and improved Hero sensor, with more accurate tracking and highly customizable DPI settings. Adding to the already feature-rich mouse, it also includes an adjustable weight system, allowing the user to customize the weight of the mouse to their liking. The G502 is a giant in PC gaming, and the Hero will please long-time fans and newcomers alike. Pick up the G502 Hero for $70 here, or at other major retailers (If you want to see the mouse in person, most Best Buys actually have them on display).

Honorable mention:

Logitech G502 Lightspeed

Retail: $149.99

Amazon: $149.99

The G502 Lightspeed features all the incredible functionality of the G502 Hero in a wireless package. Same mouse, same buttons, same sensor, same everything, but in a lag-free wireless version. It’s seemingly not sold directly through Logitech’s website, but you can find it on Newegg for $150.

Top recommended monitor:

Dell S2719DGF 27″ Quad HD

Retail: $384.99

Amazon: $279.00

Gaming monitors usually eat up a pretty sizable chunk of the PC buying budget. At $380 at the time of writing, this Dell panel is a bit steep, but it has features that every gamer would love to have. 1440p resolution for crisp visuals, 27 inch size meaning it’s large and in charge, a 1 millisecond response time (very important for those flick shots in CSGO), and a 144hz refresh rate (overclockable to 165hz) with FreeSync technology. Dell makes some really killer panels, and this one is no exception. No fuss, no muss, just a great panel and a great gaming experience.

Honorable mention:

DELL S2716DG 27″ Gaming Monitor

Retail: $599.99

Amazon: $413.00

This monitor gets an honorable mention because it’s MY monitor. I use this panel daily at home, and it’s simply a joy. 27 inches of real estate, 144hz refresh rate, thin bezels, 1440p resolution, and that sweet, sweet smoothness that comes with a G-Sync panel. G-Sync is Nvidia’s image-smoothing technology, so the G-Sync module in this panel works with any Nvidia graphics card to produce the smoothest possible image at your refresh rate. It’s a premium feature with a premium cost. This monitor comes in at a whopping $500, so it’s not for the feint of heart.

Top recommended processor:

AMD RYZEN 7 3700X

Retail: from $299

Amazon: from $334

I bet most people expected to see an Intel CPU in this slot, didn’t they? Not so anymore. AMD has been absolutely killing it with their CPU offerings for the last couple years, with the Zen line of processors really maturing into something to be feared. This 8-core beast has a 3.6 Ghz base clock with a a 4.4 Ghz max boost, meaning it can tackle everything from intense gaming to even some light to moderate video editing. Coming in at only $330, it’s a great sweet spot CPU, nestled between AMD’s relatively lower end, entry-level Ryzen chips and their much more expensive enthusiast CPUs. When friends ask me for recommendations when upgrading their computers, this is the CPU I always recommend. Grab it here, but keep an eye out for Cyber Monday deals, because snagging this CPU for even less would be a killer deal.

Honorable mention:

AMD Ryzen 9 3950X

Also has a lovely citrusy tang

Retail: from $891.99

This CPU gets an honorable mention because it’s the CPU that I myself want to upgrade to. This is the tippy top of the enthusiast consumer CPUs offered from AMD, superseded only by their Threadripper line of workstation CPUs. It’s brand spanking new, has a staggering 16 cores, a 3.5 Ghz base clock, and a blazing fast 4.7 Ghz boost clock. Intel still has the 5 Ghz boost clock cornered, but in terms of price to performance, all around usability, and accessibility, this CPU takes the cake at $750, with this CPU swinging all the way up into the big leagues and taking on Intel chips that cost THOUSANDS. It’s sold out at the time of writing, but if you’re someone who wants to get the bleeding edge, you can pick up the 3950X on Newegg here.

Top recommended GPU:

Nvidia RTX 2060 Super

Retail: $399.99

In terms of raw power at a reasonable price, the 2060 Super is the card for you. It won’t have earth-shattering 4k performance, but I’m of the mind 4k isn’t the ideal resolution for PC gaming anyway. What you want is 1440p, high refresh gaming, and the 2060 is more than capable of pushing those frames. With a core clock speed of 1710 Mhz and 8 gigabytes of GDDR6 memory, this Gigabyte branded 2060 Super takes the top spot for me at $400. Gigabyte is a brand I know well and have used many times in the past with no issues, so they get a big thumbs up from me. And don’t let Nvidia’s mire of SKUs fool you, the 2060 Super is the one you want, not the regular 2060.

Honorable mention:

MSI Radeon RX 5700

Retail: $360

Take this with a grain of salt, as I’m not nearly as familiar with the Radeon series of GPUs, but if you’re $40 shy of the 2060 Super, this will get you pretty dang close. It has a similar 8 gigs of GDDR6, but the clock speeds are slightly slower with a base clock of 1515 Mhz and a boost of 1750 Mhz. Grab it here for $360 if you’re more of a Team Red player than Team Green.

Top recommended RAM:

CORSAIR Vengeance RGB Pro 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4

Retail: $79.99

Amazon: $77.37

Taking the top spot for RAM this year is the 16 gig kit of Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro RAM. At the time of writing, this kit was only $70, which a great deal on some gorgeous, and more importantly fast, RAM. Clocking in at 3000 Mhz on the clock speeds, this RAM can keep up with the best of them. Moreover, it has the speeds to support the Mhz-hungry Ryzen processors, which love to use fast RAM. The RGB illumination is beautiful, with long, thick diffusion bars making for some very even RGB lighting, and it can be synced up with the Corsair peripherals I recommended earlier, making for a more seamless lighting setup on your entire system. Cash in on the finally falling RAM prices by grabbing this Corsair Vengeance RAM here.

Honorable mention:

G.SKILL Ripjaws V Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 288-Pin DDR4

Retail: $60

Amazon: $64.98

Maybe you’re on a tighter budget and that Corsair Vengeance RAM is just out of reach? Don’t worry, the fine folks at G.Skill have you covered with this set of Ripjaws V RAM sticks. With clock speeds of 3200 Mhz, they’re a bit faster than the Corsair RAM, but they’re aesthetically a little less pleasing. If that doesn’t stop you, get this pair of sticks here for a mere $60.

Top recommended motherboard:

ASRock X570 PRO4 AM4 AMD X570

Retail: $169.99

Amazon: $149.99

When it comes to motherboards, ASRock is the name of the game. I’ve used ASRock boards in almost every PC I’ve built. They have a great feature set, easy to navigate BIOs, and reliable performance you can trust. After getting burned by other brands that resulted in dead-on-arrival boards or mishaps with parts burning out, I stumbled onto ASRock and never went back. This X570 PRO4 board will pair perfectly with the 3700X I recommended earlier. With the ability to overclock your CPU and RAM, a wide range of speed support for RAM kits, and support for NVME M.2 SSDs, a whopping 8 USB 3.2 ports, and a monochromatic color scheme, this board will fit the needs of any AMD PC user. At $150, this is a fantastic board with great features, and the backing of ASRock quality.

Honorable mention:

GIGABYTE X570 AORUS ELITE WIFI AM4 AMD X570

Retail: $209.99

This motherboard made it to the honorable mentions slot by having a similarly wide array of features to the ASRock, but adding in built-in Wifi and some sweet RGB illumination, as well as a reinforced top PCIE slot to prevent GPU sag and a slick brushed metal aesthetic theme. Premium features come at a premium price, and this board clocks in at a cool $210. If that doesn’t scare you away, it will step up the aesthetics of your PC and prevent you having to buy a separate WiFi dongle if you want to go the wireless route.

And that’s it. That should cover all the bases of necessary components and peripherals for a gaming PC. When looking for things like a computer case, that comes down to personal preference, so I really don’t have a recommendation for that. Just do some research and make sure the case has good airflow so you don’t choke your components. For power supplies, you want an 80+ bronze rating or better. I generally recommend somewhere between 550 and 750 watts for most gaming PCs. For storage, get yourself a reasonably priced NVME SSD with 120 gigs to use as a boot drive, a 1 TB SATA SSD for game libraries, and a 1 TB spinning hard drive for general mass storage. It’s the setup I use in my personal system, and it has served me well. With that, Cyber Monday awaits. Happy hunting.

 

Images belong to their respective owners

Jeff McCord
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