Are you stumped on what gift to get the computer geek in your life? Don’t really understand the world of PC hardware and gaming? Fear not, we’ve got your back. We’ve curated a list of the best tech gifts big and small that the computer nerd in your life is sure to love.
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PC Gear Gift Ideas
1. Eyecatching Mousepad/Desk Pad
Every computer geek needs a mousepad. Help your loved one replace their old anime mousepad with something tasteful and unique like the Great Wave Mousepad from Etsy.
For a larger and equally artistic desk pad, we like the distinct look of this snake-based Psychosis mat. It should pair well thematically with any PC peripherals from the popular gaming brand Razer.
If you think they’d prefer something less aesthetically polarizing, the MP510 from Cooler Master is a popular performance-focused black mousepad that sports a minimal logo and a reasonable price tag.
2. High-Performance Gaming Mouse
Let’s continue our accessory based PC gift recommendations with the next logical step, mice! For this, we have narrowed hundreds of mice down to our three favorites.
The Logitech G305 is our default all-purpose mouse recommendation. It closely resembles Logitech’s mighty G Pro Wireless (also good) but is half the price. It features low latency performance with Logitech’s “Lightspeed” wireless technology and has excellent battery life. Its wireless dongle can be stored inside the battery compartment making this small wireless mouse ideal for laptop users and even those who could care less about gaming. If you live in Asia, you can find this same mouse rebranded as the G304 for even cheaper.
For serious gamers, the absolute best value FPS mouse is the MM710 from Cooler Master. This mouse’s honeycomb shell design helps it achieve a desirably low weight for accurate, low friction mouse movements. Without any lighting and a light flexible cable, this is an absolutely no-frills gaming mouse. This mouse will outperform most mice twice its price and comes highly recommended from us as well as the experts we trust.
Atop mouse Mount Olympus is a two-mouse war for wireless FPS supremacy between Razer and Logitech. No other company has come close to them in wireless latency or the overall weight, shape, and polish that these two have refined over the years. Razer has the Razer Viper Ultimate and Logitech, the Logitech G Pro.
Many reviewers and gamers gave the nod to the Razer Viper Ultimate until Logitech launched their long-awaited update with the Logitech G Pro X Superlight. They shaved off 20 grams of weight and for many, edged out Razer in overall performance. What they removed in weight, however, they added in price. If you don’t need the absolute best mouse for FPS gaming performance, you will find much better deals and availability with the older Logitech G Pro and Razer Viper Ultimate.
3. Excellent 1440p Monitor
With all the chatter about 4K and 8K resolutions nowadays, it’s easy to forget that the real balance between performance and value remains at 1440p. A 1440p monitor offers more than enough pixel density for most gamers at 27 inches and allows for consistently high frame rates.
There are a lot of great monitor entrants in the 1440P 144Hz sweet spot, but the LG 27GL83A is still one of our favorites. It brings the best of both worlds with its high refresh rate for gaming and an IPS panel for vibrant and accurate colors.
4. Immersive RGB Gaming Speakers
With its own down-firing subwoofer, the Logitech G560 provides excellent sound for a set of “gaming speakers”. But its most exciting feature is its lighting software that allows you full control and an incredibly immersive experience. The speaker lights can sync with your system audio, acting as an audio visualizer, or mirror colors from your screen, extending what you’re experiencing in-game into the real world.
5. Sleek Gaming Headset
Razer surprised us in 2020 with a really great gaming headset for under $100. The Razer Blackshark V2 X has solid audio and microphone quality and well-balanced spatial audio. It comes in at an attractive price point and an understated design, especially for Razer. The closed-back design is great for noise isolation but wouldn’t be ideal for those in an environment where they’d want to communicate with the people around them.
For the ultimate all-in-one PC gaming headset, we predictably turn to Sennheiser and their refreshed headset collaboration with Drop. The PC38X offers high-end audio that garners audiophile approval, is super comfortable, and thanks to Drop, comes in at a lower price point than we would otherwise expect from Sennheiser. You won’t see much of an improvement in microphone quality going from the Razer V2 X to this, but you will notice a significant improvement in headphone quality and comfort. Anyone who appreciates good audio and doesn’t own a dedicated microphone will love these.
5. Wooden Headphone Stand
If your person in mind already owns a quality pair of headphones, a nice wooden headphone stand makes for a good gift. The famous and pricey Sieveking Omega Wood Headphone Stand is a favorite of ours.
For those who don’t want to buy a stand that costs more than the headphones that will be placed on it, there is a bevy of decently received copycats available on Amazon.
Alternatively, we also quite like this wooden stand from Batelier Handicraft on Etsy.
6. Mechanical Keyboard
There are few upgrades as satisfying as going from a membrane keyboard to a mechanical keyboard. If the person you have in mind is still using a regular ol’ office keyboard, give them the gift of a gratifying typing experience.
Our first mechanical keyboard recommendation is the Corsair K70 RGB, a solid choice if you think they’ll appreciate the pro gamer aesthetic. It features the standard full-size keyboard layout with RGB backlit keys and media controls. We especially love it for its handy volume knob.
If you think they’d want a full-size keyboard but could care less for RGB lights, we recommend the Ducky One 2 Skyline. The One 2 gives you a classic keyboard layout in an elegant design that doesn’t scream “I’m a gamer!”
Lastly, if you know your person is only using their keyboard for pleasure and won’t really need a number pad, you could get them the compact Anne Pro 2. This 60% mechanical keyboard is a favorite in its class and its small size allows for more mousepad space and ergonomic typing positions.
7. Artsy Custom Keycaps
Perhaps your person in mind is already clacking away on their own mechanical keyboard. In that case, you can gift them some well-made artisan keycaps. These handmade resin keycaps install easily on nearly all mechanical keyboards and there’s likely one that will help show exactly how well you know them.
Whether it be succulents, sushi, or Star Wars, there’s an artisan keycap out there for your special person. Check out our article on artisan keycaps to learn more about them and other places to find them.
8. Cable Management Helpers
Cable management can be tricky on a desk full of electronics. If you know someone that would appreciate a more clutter-free desk setup, they might appreciate this handcrafted wooden cable organizer by Batelier Handcraft.
We also have plenty of more practical cable management product suggestions in our desk cable management guide, although those aren’t as pretty as the wooden cable organizer above. Perhaps you could bundle them all together as an ultimate cable management care package.
The final two gift suggestions in our PC gear section will require some homework to make sure they’re compatible with your person in mind’s computer. But that just makes your present all the more thoughtful right?
9. An SSD for Lighting-Fast Load Times
Friends don’t let friends play games on old-school spinning disk hard drives. A solid-state drive like the Samsung 970 EVO installs easily onto the motherboard and any program downloaded onto it will load up lightning-fast — a godsend gift for PC gamers.
The tricky thing about purchasing a PC component for a friend is figuring out if it’ll be compatible with their system. Luckily, M.2 SSDs have been around for a while and should work with most motherboards. Additionally, Amazon has a handy toolbar at the top of most of their SSD product pages to help verify compatibility.
10. Custom GPU Backplate
One of NVIDIA’s new high-end graphics cards might be too difficult to find in today’s market but you can always jazz up an older one with a custom backplate. A GPU backplate rests on top of the graphics card and can display a brilliant design in shining lights.
There are plenty of vendors that offer attractive aftermarket GPU backplate designs which we cover in-depth in a separate article. But as a personal gift, we like the idea of creating one completely custom, and that’s where we found V1 Tech’s order experience to be superior.
Gaming Room/Home Office Gift Ideas
11. Mood Lighting
The Phillips Hue Play lighting kit is a versatile ambient lighting solution. The two customizable light bars can stand horizontally or vertically on a desk or adhere to the back of a monitor. You can customize these lights to whatever colors fit the current mood, choose from their list of presets, or even set them to change dynamically in sync with music, games, and videos. Please note that a Philips Hue Smart Hub is required with this purchase to control the lights.
Nanoleaf light panels have become a mainstay among PC gaming desk setups. You’ll find this geometric light kit in the backdrop of most front-page submissions on Reddit’s r/Battlestations and featured throughout our gallery. The triangles on this wall lighting kit can be arranged to create an endless amount of interesting shapes and the customizable RGB lighting gives full control of the room’s ambiance.
12. Nerdy Wall Art
If you want to get your person some PC gaming-themed artwork but don’t fancy hanging anime posters in your office, this monochromatic patent print strikes a nice balance between undeniably nerdy while not immediately recognizable. We’re particularly fond of the chalkboard black aesthetic.
For those who like their art pieces functional, this line of mounted wooden sound diffusers from Shepit Workshop is absolutely eyecatching. Besides looking super cool, they help reduce echo and improve the recording environment in whatever room they’re hung, making them ideal for wall mounting behind a desk with a microphone. They look infinitely better than traditional acoustic foam but they cost much more. This is a great gift for an amateur musician with a home studio or part-time podcast host.
13. Geeky Coasters
Coasters are so useful yet underappreciated in most households and offices. Help your loved one prevent water rings on their computer desks with this affordable stocking stuffer.
Anyone who loves computers or works in the field of IT would appreciate a geeky circuit board coaster. However, you can also find plenty of other charming coaster designs depending on what your person is into. Whether it’s Pokemon, Harry Potter, or Star Wars, we’re sure you’ll find something they’d love.
Ergonomic Gift Ideas
14. Adjustable Monitor Arm
The ideal monitor height and viewing distance aren’t always easily achievable on every desk and monitor combo. That’s why you should give the gift of ergonomics this year with a practical present like a monitor arm.
There are plenty of great options to choose from based on the size of your desk and monitor, but we always defer to the tried and true Freedom Arm from Ergotech. It’s moderately priced, well-designed, and comes in two weight classes: 8-17lbs and 20-30lbs.
For dual monitor setups, we like Eletab’s Dual Monitor Arms.
15. Fancy Desk Chair
High-quality office furniture isn’t cheap but is a worthwhile investment for the health of anyone who uses it.
In a distant second, but still highly recommended, is Steelcase with their Leap and Amia chairs. You can expect to spend in the ballpark of $1000 for each of them brand-new and for about a third of the cost used or refurbished.
Keep your eyes peeled for local business liquidation sales on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Ebay also often has refurbished models of both of these lines for reasonable prices, but be aware that Steelcase chairs are one-size-fits-all whereas Herman Miller offers their chairs in a range of sizes. Make sure to pick one that fits your person in mind.
16. High-Tech Standing Desk
The only thing that is better for your health than sitting in a good chair is not sitting in one at all. In late 2020, we covered some of the best standing desks a PC user could buy: a desk PC case. Most adjustable standing desks suffer from cord clutter as it’s difficult to cleanly cable manage a tower and monitor with a desk that moves up and down 3 feet. That’s no longer an issue when your PC is built inside of your desk.
Lian Li’s top of the line single system desk, the DK-04 FX, offers plenty of room to build, convenient front I/O integration, and a striking electrochromic glass panel that gives you the option to conceal or reveal your internal components at the touch of a button.
If a standing desk and PC case in one sounds too complicated of a gift, an ordinary standing desk like this one from Uplift would also provide an equally excellent ergonomic upgrade. If you are looking for a gift with some serious pizzazz, a standing desk is about as big as you can go, both physically and monetarily.
17. Comfy Footrest
We’ll close our ergonomic gift section with a few that are simpler and much kinder on the wallet. A footrest allows the user to plant their feet and sit more firmly against the back of their chair. If you’ve ever noticed yourself slouching and slipping further and further down your seat as the day dragged on, a footrest would’ve helped.
Our recommended Kensington footrest is adjustable, sturdy, and is fitted with memory foam for extra comfort. It also has a grippy base so it stays locked in place when used on hard floors.
For a bougie friend, a tan leather footrest would provide a comfy, classy, pop of color in most dull office environments. This one isn’t as practical as the Kensington but will do the job in unmatched style.
Other Gifts Computer Geeks will Love
18. Fitness Tracker
Fitness gifts are a tricky proposition. Giving it to the wrong person can easily backfire so please know your audience. We don’t want to be responsible for an emotional breakdown during a gift exchange.
Disclaimers out of the way, we’ve found that computer nerds and PC gamers actually take well to fitness trackers because it gives them more numbers to geek out about — in a way, it gamifies personal fitness. The first two we’d like to highlight are worn on the wrist and are direct competitors, the Fitbit Inspire 2 and the Huawei Band 4 Pro.
These are two of the best value fitness trackers on the market, both handily outclassing the expensive smartwatches from Apple and others in that space. The Huawei Band 4 Pro edges out the Fitbit Inspire 2 in our opinion due to its inclusion of an internal GPS and SPO blood oxygen level testing. However, Fitbit is the more mainstream brand and might be better received by someone who’s less informed.
Our third fitness tracker option is the Oura Ring. This is the worst fitness tracker out of the bunch but is the most accurate and complete sleep tracker. Its unique form factor also allows for maximum comfort while sleeping.
19. Multipurpose Streaming Device
The NVIDIA Shield is marketed as an all-in-one streaming box for media and modern games, but it also happens to be the single best retro game emulator on the market. NVIDIA first launched the shield in 2015 and has since released several iterations. The latest NVIDIA Shield features impressive AI upscaling tech to make 1080p streams look close to native 4K on UHD televisions but its killer feature is its ability to sideload applications. This allows you to run popular emulators with any Bluetooth or USB controller through the addition of a USB hub. This means you can even connect GameCube controllers to it.
We won’t go into the details of how to set all of that up that here, but there are plenty of resources you can find online. If you believe your intended recipient has the savvy or the will to go through that setup, the Shield is an eight-in-one retro game console and a great Android TV streaming box, capable of playing modern games through GeForce Now as an added bonus.
20. Photography Drone
With the booming popularity of FPV racing, amateur vlogging, and videography, drones are getting more affordable and capable by the year. The market leader in video drones, DJI released two of the consensus best-value drones at price points which have made the hobby more accessible than ever.
The best of these two is the Mavic Air 2 which launched in early 2020 with a feature list that was previously only available on drones over twice its price: 4K 60fps, great flight time, and 240fps slow-motion 1080p recording — this is the drone to buy if you want the best at under $1000.
The newly refreshed DJI Mini 2 is the newer of the two drones and doesn’t quite match the Mavic Air 2 in raw features and picture quality. However, it makes up for this in price and portability. The Mini 2 is super compact and weighs only 249 grams. That weight is no accident as it slides right in under the 250 gram legal limit in the United States at which a drone is required to be registered with the FAA prior to flying. These laws vary by country but it makes this drone a much more attractive travel companion. This reduced weight does come at the cost of stability in high wind scenarios where the larger and heavier Mavic Air 2 will outperform it.
Both are great options for anyone interested in flying or photography. We do recommend spending a bit more to get the “Fly More Combo” for the extra batteries and ND filters if you are sure this is something your intended recipient would want to use long-term.
21. Virtual Reality Gaming Headset
VR (virtual reality) headsets are now better, and in some cases, more affordable than ever. The Oculus Quest 2 launched in 2020 to rave reviews on its hardware and universal condemnation for its software privacy requirements. If you’re on a budget and can ignore the user privacy concerns, the Oculus Quest 2 is a great piece of hardware at an attractive price.
It is capable of standalone VR experiences with an integrated mobile processor and inside-out tracking, which means you don’t need a powerful PC to run VR games or a suite of whirring sensors set up around your room to track your movements. It can also connect to a PC for a more graphically intense and consistent framerate experience.
But for those with a powerful PC who want the best of the best, the leader in high-end VR headsets is the Valve Index. Valve is a company that only releases hardware when they have something they believe to be wholly unique. While they initially lent their VR expertise to HTC, they took matters into their own hands last year when they released the Valve Index.
Comparing the Valve Index to the Oculus Quest 2 is unfair as they are not competing for the same user base. The Quest 2 is an affordable entry-level offering that requires no dedicated hardware but performs better if you have access to a mid to high-end PC and the Valve Index is a high-end headset aimed at gamers who want the best VR experiences and already have modestly powerful PC hardware.
VR is undeniably cool and while there are some really unique experiences that you can only have in VR, it isn’t yet mature enough to be the undeniable future of gaming. It has come a long way in the past few years and if you can afford it, there are very few geeky gifts that could match experiencing VR for the first time.