Holiday 2012: Game On!
Dear Mom and Dad,
I know you’re probably out there right now looking to purchase me your usual assortment of socks and sweaters as holiday gifts, but I was hoping this year to leave this letter on the kitchen counter and have you read this before you went shopping. You both know what a passionate gamer I am, and I was hoping you could use some of that hard-earned socks and sweaters cash for something that I might really want this season.
Let’s start with the basics. I can’t really get my game on unless I start with a proper base. To me, a proper base means a dedicated gaming laptop or desktop system. Still with me? Okay. I was thinking of something like the ASUS Republic of Gamers G75VW-DS73-3D 17.3" Notebook Computer. This baby cooks, mom and dad. With a widescreen 17.3” Full HD screen, a sick 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, and 12GB of RAM, it’s loaded for gamers like me. It also has an nVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M graphics card with 3GB of dedicated memory. That should power through any game I have on my shelf. The CyberpowerPC Zeus X Series GZX7-100 17.3" Notebook Computer is similarly loaded and uses a 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a Full HD display. Yum.
If I have to share the computer with the rest of you, though, then the CyberpowerPC Gamer Aqua GLC2160 Desktop Computer would make a great addition to our household. With 3.5 GHz of Intel Core i7 processing power, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX650 graphics card, I could get some serious pwnage going (I’ll explain pwnage, maximum pwnage, epic fail and more to you later, Mom and Dad). This baby also has a Blu-rayer player integrated into its liquid-cooled system.
If, however, we want to upgrade our current PC, might I suggest we start with some hot monitor action? If you don’t want it to overpower the PC, the Dell U2412M UltraSharp 24" LED Monitor is perfect—it features high 1920 x 1200 (60Hz) resolution, 300nit brightness and a 178° by 178° viewing angle. But if we want to blow it out, we should consider getting a HP 2711x 27" Widescreen LED Backlit LCD Computer Display or ViewSonic VA2703 27" Full HD 1080p LCD Display. These 27” babies both have 1920 x 1080 resolution, 300 nits of brightness and 170°/160° viewing angles. Seriously.
After monitors, the graphics card in the PC is going to need an upgrade if I’m going to melt it with my resource-hungry games. I like the PNY GTX 660 TI 2048MB GDDR5 PCI-E Graphics Card with HDMI, DisplayPort and dual DVI outputs. This means it can be hooked up to any monitor or HDTV. It has a 915 MHz core clock speed (higher clock speeds mean faster performance), and 2048MB of GDDR5 memory. Let me explain. Dedicated memory on a graphics card means that the card doesn’t have to pull from the PC’s memory resources. This makes a faster card, with less chance of burning your PC to the ground. The PNY Technologies nVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1GB PCIe Graphics Card also has DVI, VGA and HDMI connectivity, as well as 1GB of dedicated memory. Plus, it’s nVIDIA 3D Vision Ready just in case I decide to go 3D with my gaming. Also look for PNY’s nVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2048MB PCIe Graphics Card, which is loaded with 2048MB of GDDR5 RAM memory, dual DVI connections, a DisplayPort and an HDMI output. It is nVIDIA 3D Vision Ready as well.
Okay, let’s see what we’ve tackled so far. Graphics... Check. Monitors... Check. Now, let’s talk sound. PC sound comes from onboard audio, a dedicated audio card and speakers. Audio cards like the ASUS Xonar Essence STX PCI Express Sound Card feature Nichicon 'Fine Gold' capacitors (I know it sounds expensive, but gold-plated connections transfer sound better, as do gold-plated input jacks). The signal-to-noise ratio (or SNR, keep up with me Mom and Dad) is important in sound cards, and this one features a 124 dB SNR. Plus, it also features an integrated headphone amplifier. Another audio card on my wish list, the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe Card, offers Dolby Digital Live encoding, a dedicated high-quality headphone amplifier (so I can play my games in peace and not wake you guys up), and a Sound Core3D processor, which integrates a quad core high-performance digital signal processor (DSP) and high-quality converters onto a single ship. Impressive. The quad-core accelerator improves the frame rate for my games by eliminating 'sound lag.' Or, if your holiday budget is thinning out by this point, you could consider USB sound cards like the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Amigo II USB Sound Card & Headset Adapter or the SIIG USB SoundWave 7.1 Sound Card. Both of these feature plug-and-play interfaces. Plus, they both act as amplifiers for connected headphones and speakers.
Speaking of speakers, getting a nice pair of speakers would be nice. Look for the Creative Labs GigaWorks T20 Series II Stereo Speakers with 28W of RMS power and BassXPort technology for low-frequency amplification. The GigaWorks T40 Series II Speakers feature 32W RMS power output, as well as two woven glass fiber drivers and one silk dome tweeter. Or you could spring for the Logitech Z506 5.1 Channel Surround Sound Speakers and Subwoofer. Five speakers and a subwoofer? Boss. 75W of RMS power and a ported, down-firing subwoofer? Epic. The same goes for the Logitech Z906 Surround Sound THX-Certified 5.1 Speaker System. That one features 500W of total RMS power, a control console, four satellite speakers and a ported, side-firing subwoofer.
Now that we’re on the subject of rebuilding the family PC for gaming, I want to point you toward a few keyboards and mice that I’ve had my eye on this holiday season. Yes, they make keyboards and mice just for gamers, like the Cyborg V.7 Gaming Keyboard for PC, which has customizable multi-color backlighting that mixes shades from red through amber to green. It also features 12 programmable gaming keys so I don’t have to hunt and peck in the dark, as well as metal plating over all the keys for those times when I pound the keyboard during a hard-fought gaming session. For sick style, you should see the Mad Catz Strike 7 Gaming Keyboard. This thing looks like a control center for NASA. It has a full-metal chassis and a V.E.N.O.M. TFT-LCD touch screen control module. Plus, the integrated TeamSpeak functionality lets you check who’s online and mute players without leaving the game. Sweet.
What makes a mouse a gaming mouse, you might be asking? Well, it usually has customizable buttons, a high dpi rating (for more precise control) and a short response time. Oh, and it should look cool. The Razer Ouroboros Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse fits the bill with 8200dpi, an arched palm rest and back, a 1 ms response time and a 4G dual sensor system that features both laser and optical sensors for more precise tracking. The Cyborg R.A.T 9 Wireless Gaming Mouse does one better with an all metal chassis and an adjustable length/weight for comfort and ease of use. It’s wireless as well. Plus, it looks like it landed here from another planet. Me likey this one.
You could always forgo the whole PC thing and consider getting me the Optoma Technology GT750E Gaming Projector. It’s wicked bright with an impressive 3000 lumens. It also features a built-in 10W speaker system, 3000:1 contrast radio for super-sharp gaming and 3D-capable Texas Instruments DLP Link 120 Hz display technology. The projector is even made specifically for gaming consoles and PC connections. Plus, it has 1280 x 800 HD resolution (trust me, we want this) and dual HDMI inputs.
Okay, so you have my hints for the base game station. Let’s move on to the accessories. You know how I love racing games. And think about it—wouldn’t you rather me race online than take the family car out and do doughnuts in the school parking lot? You could help me out by hooking me up with a steering-wheel controller, like the Logitech G27 Racing Wheel. With its dual-motor force feedback for realistic in-game, curve hugging six-speed shifter and hand-stitched leather, it’s the boss choice for PC steering wheels. It includes durable steel gas, brake and clutch pedals as well. I also looked at the Thrustmaster Ferrari GT Experience Racing Wheel, which has dual Ferrari gear shift levers, auto-centered steering and vibration feedback—and it’s cheaper than buying me a real Ferrari.
The Thrustmaster Rally GT Force Feedback PRO Racing Wheel and Logitech Driving Force GT Racing Wheel are also great choices if you’re looking for wheel controllers. They both feature force feedback, multiple degree rotational control and sequential gear shifts.
You know how I love flight games, too. Let me pilot you towards some awesome flight sticks, like the Cyborg V.1 Flight Stick For PC. It features twist-action rudder control, a trigger with five buttons for various in-flight maneuvering and shooting, and a POV switch that varies the cockpit view. For more realism, check out the Mad Catz Saitek Pro Flight Cessna Rudder Pedals for PC. It authentically reproduces the experience of flying a Cessna plane, including a rudder axis with a self centering mechanism and independent toe brakes. Other good choices are The Thrustmaster T. Flight HOTAS X, which has a detachable throttle and internal memory, and the HOTAS Warthog Flight Stick and Throttle, which features 51 programmable action buttons, seven hat buttons and 3D magnetic sensor technology.
Don’t forget about wireless headsets and mics, either. You know how I love my online interactivity when gaming. The Chimaera Wireless Gaming Headset by Razer features 50mm drivers, extra soft ear cups and volume and mic controls on the headset. Oh. And it’s wireless, which is also a plus. Razer also makes the Electra Essential Music & Gaming Headphones, which are available in green or black. They include 40mm drivers, gold-plated headphone jacks and a copper-clad aluminum coil (for better sound transference, even at low levels). The Megalodon Elite 7.1 Gaming Headset, also from Razer, delivers 7.1 channel virtual surround sound, a noise filtering amplified microphone so I can trash talk all day with my friends, and a braided 10.8’ fiber sheath cable. The Turtle Beach Ear Force DPX 21 Dolby 7.1 Surround Universal Gaming Headset Bundle is another good choice. It features a headset, on-line amp and DSS processor, which is perfect if you want to go all high-tech on me this season. It gives you much clearer (and louder) gaming audio as well, thanks to the two 35mW headset speakers.
And, before I forget, there is an item that I think I should mention—not because it ups my game at all, but because of the insane bragging rights it brings—the Hauppauge HD Personal Video Recorder 2 Gaming Edition. This thing lets me record my gaming sessions in Full HD 1080p, and it features no delay, as well as real time HD video pass through. This means I can play my game console or PC games and use this thing to record the action with no lag, stuttering or jumps. I can then upload my videos to YouTube or wherever to showcase my gaming skills.
So, Mom and Dad, I leave the holiday shopping in your capable hands. Oh, by the way, I almost forgot to mention—there is one place where you could find all of these items so you don’t have to waste a lot of time wandering around the malls. B&H has these items in the store and online, so check them out. And don’t think I have forgotten you, either. There are plenty of gifts at B&H that I think you’ll love as well.