Hey there, readers! Chris here, Hardware Editor around these parts. After reading Joe’s guide, I was inspired to add a few of my own recommendations to the list. Over the last year, I’ve reviewed dozens of keyboards and headsets, a bunch of mice, and internal components. I wanted to add a few of my own recommendations here based on what really stood out to me most this year. These are some my personal stand-outs!
Quick note before we begin: We’re listing the MSRPs here but many (most?) of these items are on sale right now or will be soon for the holiday season.
Keyboards: Corsair K70 Mk.2 SE ($179.99): When it comes to dedicated gaming keyboards, few are better known that Corsair’s K70. The recent Mk. 2 addition is a solid improvement on the original but it’s the SE edition that really stands out. Featuring a silver colorway, superb white PBT keycaps, and some of the best programmability in the business, it’s the RGB gaming keyboard to own from a major manufacturer.
Alternative: Cooler Master CK550 ($79.99): If the price on the K70 is too much for you, have no fear: the Cooler Master CK550 is here. Retailing for $79.99, it features full programmability, per-key RGB lighting, software and hardware lighting and macro controls, and an aluminum top plate. It’s one of the best values on the market today.
Mouse: Logitech G Pro and G Pro Wireless ($69.99 and $149.99 respectively): Logitech’s new HERO sensor is as good as it gets in today’s gaming mice. The G Pro and G Pro wireless were designed with months of feedback from professional e-Sports players and are simply fantastic. The Wireless also has great battery life.
Alternative: Swiftpoint Z ($229): The Swiftpoint Z is a frankly amazing mouse. It’s pricey but features an incredible array of controls, including tilt and pressure, and extra buttons to make it a great fit for players of any genre. Read our review and be surprised at how much it has to offer.
Headset: Audeze Mobius ($399): Put simply, the Mobius is one of the most amazing and impressive headsets we’ve ever used. It features audiophile grade sound driven by planar magnetic drivers (one of the very few gaming headsets to feature these). They sound downright fantastic but it’s the 3D headtracking that really makes them stand out.
If that’s too much money (and it may be - $399 is up there), I would recommend the Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2s ($249). They’re wireless, feature a good mic, and are one of the best built, most durable gaming headsets I’ve ever used.
Alternative 2: HyperX MIX ($199): HyperX has become one of the most respected headphone manufacturers in the gaming world and for good reason - they haven’t had a badly reviewed headset in as long as I’ve been covering hardware. The MIX is their first “lifestyle” headset that also features bluetooth and a fun tuning to take on the go.
Microphone: Audio-Technica AT4040 ($399): Don’t let the price scare you (too much): this is a professional microphone that will last you forever if you treat it well. More importantly, it sounds downright amazing, putting normal streaming mics to shame with its large diaphragm condenser capsule. Alternatively, the Blue Bluebird ($299) favors the treble in your voice a bit more than the bass and looks downright cool.
Alternative: Blue Yeti Nano ($99.99): If both of those are more than what you’re looking for, I would highly recommend checking out the Blue Yeti Nano. It features the same great sound as the larger Blue Yeti with a smaller form factor dual polar patterns.
Monitor: Pixio PXC32 Gaming Monitor ($449): For the cost, I haven’t seen another monitor this year that’s quite so nice. It’s 32-inches, 1440p/144Hz, 1800R curved, and has an awesome black aesthetic with red LEDs on the back. It also features AMD FreeSync and great color reproduction due to its Samsung SVA panel.
Alternative: BenQ Zowie XL2546 240Hz Monitor for eSports ($549): If that’s a bit too large, I also covered this awesome, super rapid XL2546 eSports monitor from Zowie. It’s great in more than just refresh rate, too, with awesome features like DyAc built in.
Everything Else: Now we come to the “catch all” section to cover a lot of the neat things we’ve covered that don’t fit nicely into one category:
WhirlWind FX Vortx ($119): This is a neat accessory that simulates the environment of whatever’s on your screen. If there’s a fiery explosion, it will blow hot air at you. Chilly mountainside, a cold wind. They’ve recently added stream integration that allows your viewers to control device while you’re gaming. It’s a neat way to give your fans a way to impact your stream and is great for VR.
Oculus Go (starting at $199): Speaking of VR, this is probably the coolest thing I’ve seen on that front all year. Think of it like a Gear VR without needing a phone. I wasn’t sure if I would be convinced at first, since I do most of my VR gaming with an HTC Vive, but as Face Your Fears showed me, it will trick your brain just fine. It also features higher resolution screens than either the Rift or the Vive, which makes it great for movies too.
Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Racing Wheel ($199): This is one we don’t have a review up for yet but can confirm that it’s surprisingly good for the cost. If you like driving games, you owe it to yourself to check out this force feedback racing wheel.
Creative Sound Blaster X7 Headphone Amplifier ($399): This has been one of the most meaningful upgrades I’ve made to my gaming setup this year. It not only makes your audio louder but adds a whole suite to enhancements on top of that. Just as importantly, this also acts as a bluetooth transmitter. Running an XLR mic through an interface? Run the interface through the X7 and monitor wirelessly. It’s also able to drive very high impedance headphones, so if you’re an audiophile, it’s definitely worth checking out.
NZXT Kraken X72 All-in-One CPU Cooler ($199): The X72 is the bigger brother to the X62, coming in at 360mm. Not only does the pump head look great, but it’s got the surface area to keep up with my 8700K and avoid the progressive warm up many all-in-ones suffer from. Pair it with the affordable but surprisingly feature rich H500 tempered glass case and an E850 power supply and you’ll be well on your way to a a high-end build!
That will about do it for me! Stay tuned for our Best Hardware of the Year lists next month. Until then, what do you plan on picking up this shopping season?