Do you have a pre-teen or early teen child? Are you struggling to think of what to get them for Christmas to complete or complement their PC setup? It’s that time of year again when we’re only a couple of weeks away from Santa leaving presents under the tree. If you’re still deciding what to get your loved ones, you don’t have much time left before there won’t be enough time to get your items delivered, so you’d better have a good think about what you can get your little monster for their gaming setup.
My son is 13 going on 26 and plays a mix of games from Minecraft, and Roblox, to many a zombie game. He also likes to hang around with his friends on their own little Discord server while they play multiplayer games together and stream their gameplay to each other . Having watched a lot of YouTube videos, my son has been well indoctrinated into the RGB-everything persona when it comes to the decor in his room. Studio 54 never had such a light show, even during the disco days.
Headsets: Go for Quality, Wireless is a Plus
So, what are some affordable options for kids who play PC games? I’ve found that my son goes through peripherals fairly quickly, thanks to a mixture of abuse, and the fact that some devices just don’t meet the needs of an active and excited teenager.
Headsets are always the first to go. I started off by letting him have my hand-me-downs when he was younger, but as he matured, he started to take more of an interest in the products that he wanted to use. The cheaper, flimsy headsets would only last a few months, so I started upgrading him to sturdier name brands and quickly became a fan of the quality and price of headsets like the HyperX Cloud II, which you could often find discounted – especially on sales holidays such as Black Friday.
It’s definitely worth spending a few extra bucks to get a product that’s more durable and likely to last a while. One thing he’s wanted recently though is a wireless headset, especially for using with his VR headset, as there are already enough cable issues when using that. So this year I’ve opted for a HyperX Cloud Alpha wireless headset and hope it will meet his expectations.
Wireless gaming headsets are a particularly good idea for kids, because they can get excited and accidentally yank at the wires of corded ones. On the other hand, you need to make sure that the headsets stay charged and have decent battery life. It almost goes without saying that you want a headset that uses 2.4 GHz wireless technology, not just Bluetooth because Bluetooth quality isn’t as good. If you want to find a top-tier headset, check out our list of the best gaming headsets. There are also a couple of good headset deals right now:
RGB Mouse Mats: A Really Cheap Gift
A simple and inexpensive present that I’ve gotten for my boy over the last few years is a new mouse mat. Sometimes it’s just a plain color, and other times it may be decorated with whatever currently trending interest he may have. A mouse pad is usually a little stocking filler as they don’t usually cost much, but of course, you can go crazy and spend a small country’s GDP on one with flashing lights and wireless charging if you’re so inclined.
As it so happens, Tom’s Hardware maintains a list of the best RGB mouse pads and we test them to make sure they really shine. There are a couple of solid sales on pads now too:
Keyboards: Compact and Colorful
When it comes to keyboards and mice, it’s all down to preference, and the prices of these range from quite low to obscene. Think of factors like size, space, mechanical or membrane, RGB, and price. For my son, it has to have the RGB; for him it’s more important than the functionality of the product, but I’m going to make sure it’s capable of both and also a good value for money.
He has a small desk in his room and doesn’t ever use the number pad on his current keeb, so I’ve opted to get him a smaller TKL (Ten-Key-Less) board which still keeps the functionality of the F-keys but makes a little more room on the desk. I opted for a Logitech G Pro TKL which I managed to find on sale for around $50, this keyboard comes with mechanical switches and all the RGB he could wish for.
We maintain an up-to-date list of the best gaming keyboards. There are also a few compelling keyboards on sale right now:
Mouse: Save By Staying Wired
Also for a mouse, I found a Logitech G Pro Wired for $30 that conveniently matches the keyboard and is nicely priced. He’s not worried about having a wireless keyboard and mouse and going wired for these two peripherals usually saves you a lot of money, and does away with the pain of your mouse or keyboard running out of juice at the most inconvenient time.
We have a list of the best gaming mice that’s based on our extensive testing and research. However, there are also some great gaming mouse deals right now:
Monitor: A Dramatic Upgrade, But Not Cheap
The last thing I bought my son for Christmas is a new monitor, as he was using a very old second-hand monitor that I had passed down the line many years back, just like the PC he’s using – made from all my old bits and pieces. The first thing to take into consideration when thinking about getting a monitor is the use case, and then, think about what hardware you have powering it. A monitor is one of those pieces of kit that can last multiple PC builds, so worth making the right choice.
My son uses his computer for school work and gaming and has an older Nvidia 6GB GTX 1060 powering the graphics. Space on his desk is also important, so I wouldn’t want anything larger than a 27-inch screen. Being a little gamer, and enjoying the FPS games, something with a decent refresh rate of 144 Hz plus would be nice, but with the GPU he has, he’s not able to play games at a higher-than-1080p resolution. So I’m considering a monitor that’s limited to a 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution.
Going for a 1080p monitor also gives you a lot of options and keeps the price low as high-speed, 1080p displays are available for less than $200. If you’re willing to spend closer to $250 or $300, you can get a 2K (2560 x 1440) screen that will make text and images sharper. Either way, if you upgrade the graphics card in the future, then you can think about another monitor with a higher resolution and perhaps convert the one you buy today into a second monitor.
We have a very detailed list of the best gaming monitors you can buy, based on our testing. However, these screens are on good sales at the moment:
- Dell S2721HGF (27-inch, curved 144 Hz, 1080p): now $179 at Dell (opens in new tab) (was $259)
- Dell G2722HS (27-inch, 165 Hz, 1080p): now $149 at Dell (opens in new tab) (was $279)
- Alienware AW2521HFL (25-inch, 240 Hz 1080p): now $199 at Best Buy (opens in new tab) (was $249)
The main takeaway from buying any bits of computer, peripherals, or monitors is to think about the purpose you want them to fill, the amount you’re willing to spend, and if it’s for the holidays, whether your child actually wants them.
Be sensible and shop around for good deals and prices and don’t make any rush purchases. Hopefully, you’ve already got your shopping done, but if not, check out our lists of the best deals on PC hardware and tech right now and the best monitor deals.