Holiday | Tech
A Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for the Gamer in Your Life
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Buying a gift for a gamer can be a little nerve wracking, especially if you’re not a gamer yourself. Before diving headfirst into the complicated world of flashy and expensive gaming products, make your life easier by knowing these details at the minimum: the platform your partner games on, the kinds of games they like, and the accessories they have in their gaming setup.
Once you’ve done your homework, we’ll clue you in on gifts that any gamer would love to have. From headsets and keyboards to the latest video game drop, score some points with your partner by choosing any item from our Valentine’s Day Gift Guide that’s specifically curated for gamers and lovers alike.
Price: $39.99 at Best Buy
Battery life is always in the back of a gamer’s mind, especially when graphically-intense mobile games like Genshin Impact are such energy hogs. If your partner is a big mobile gamer, eliminating that pesky worry is one of the greatest gifts you could give them.
The Anker PowerCore Metro has the capacity to store about 2.5 full charges for Apple and Android phones — equivalent to about 1.3 charges for an iPad Mini 5. As powerful as this battery may be, it comes in a convenient ultraslim profile and only weighs 0.55 pounds. Outside of gaming, this portable charger is an ideal companion for travel or when going on a hike. Did someone say Pokémon Go?
Price: $99.99 at GUNNAR
A pair of GUNNAR glasses can go a long way in reducing eye strain if your significant other is regularly gaming for hours at a time.
It’s hard to understand how much of a difference these glasses can make without trying them out for yourself, but the simple act of blocking out blue light is a major quality-of-life improvement. These benefits aren’t just for gamers; anyone who works with screens for a prolonged period of time will enjoy better eye health and prevent headaches from ruining the day.
GUNNAR has a variety of frame styles to choose from, letting you lean as far into the gaming aesthetic as you’d like, or opting for a more understated pair of glasses. Our choice of GUNNAR glasses is the RPG Razer Edition pair. They are lightweight but sturdy, flexible enough to fit a variety of head sizes, and are a great choice for gaming or professional work.
While the frames come in at $99.99, keep in mind that prescription lenses will more than double the cost of these glasses. Unless you’ve got the coin, wearing contact lenses along with these glasses is the way to go.
Price: $25 - $100 at Walmart
One of the easiest gifts to buy your gamer partner is a gaming gift card. They’re a subtle but meaningful way to show your partner that you’re paying attention to the kinds of games they like and that you want to invest in their experience.
Is your partner a League of Legends player? A $25 gift card can help them buy that new character skin they’ve been eyeing. Do they game on Steam? A $50 Steam card would be enough to buy a few indie games and some downloadable content (DLC). Major consoles brands like Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo also have gift card options that gamers can use to pay for an online membership, buy digital games, or download additional in-game cosmetics.
If you’re unsure whether your partner’s game requires additional funds, Best Buy and Walmart have just about every gaming gift card on the market and are great places to look.
Price: $79.99 at Best Buy
Transform your partner’s game room into the ultimate gamer lair with the Philips Ambiance Lightstrip Plus.
With just a little color from these vibrant LED lights, you can get in the zone for an intense gaming session or warm up the mood for a cozy movie night. Previous versions of this light strip required users to buy a Hue Bridge for an additional $60, but that barrier of entry has since been removed. Now, thanks to bluetooth technology, the hue and brightness of these lights can be controlled from an app on your smartphone. Did we mention this thing has 16 million colors to choose from?
The starter pack comes with about six feet of lighting, but you can purchase additional three-foot extensions depending on your needs. If money isn’t an issue, you can still buy the Hue Bridge for more advanced lighting options, but if all you plan on doing is backlighting a desk or entertainment setup, it isn’t necessary.
Price: $99.99 at Best Buy
Whether your partner needs a headset for gaming or enjoying media, the HyperX Cloud Alpha Headset is able to do it all.
For under $100, the build quality is exceptional. The headset avoids using too much plastic and opts for a sturdy aluminum frame that gives the unit some toughness when traveling. Aluminum is also flexible, resulting in a headset that exerts minimal pressure and reduces head fatigue over long periods of wear.
Unlike some headsets that force users to have a microphone attached at all times, the HyperX Cloud Alpha is modular. Switch between long or short cables, and leave the microphone at home when listening to music on the go. The microphone itself does a great job isolating background noise and putting your voice communications front and center. Most importantly, the sound output is fantastic. With a good separation of bass, mid, and high frequencies, your significant other will get the most out of their music and hear every detail of the game they’re playing.
Price: $62.94 at Walmart
Are you noticing a trend? Razer has just about cornered the midrange competitive gaming peripheral market with quality accessories that are irresistible for the price point.
Your gamer valentine will certainly up their gameplay with the Razer DeathAdder Elite mouse. This mouse has been a favorite for casual and competitive gamers alike. It has an incredibly precise sensor, a 16,000 CPI maximum, and lets you customize its color, macros, and button binds through its mouse dashboard, Razer Synapse.
For the sake of fairness, here are two more mice recommendations we stand behind that aren’t under the Razer brand. For those just starting out with specialized gaming gear, the SteelSeries Rival 3 at $29.99 is the best entry-level gaming mouse. If your partner is already deep into the peripheral rabbit hole, splurging on the Logitech G Pro Wireless Mouse at $149.99 is a smart buy that many esports professionals use on the regular.
Price: $129.99 at Best Buy
If your partner has been using a regular keyboard up until now, this will truly be a gamechanger.
The Razer BlackWidow Elite Mechanical Keyboard has been a solid mainstay in the gaming world for a few years now. Despite Razer introducing upgraded models since the BlackWidow debuted, people still find themselves going back to the original. The media controls and comfortable leather wrist rest are often celebrated in user reviews, on top of the great feeling and excellent response time from the keyboard itself. It also has the RGB backlighting that all gamers love, and can save up to five profile configurations within the on-board memory storage. The BlackWidow isn’t always on sale, but if you find one for under $100, that’s a big win in our book.
Price: $499.99 at HP
A computer monitor is one of the most important purchases a gamer can make for their setup. Sifting through the market can be a challenge, though. Like televisions, trying to find a quality buy between unreliably cheap and obscenely expensive takes a lot of research.
If your partner is looking to upgrade to a monitor with higher performance, you can’t go wrong with the HP Omen 27i. With a 165Hz refresh rate and 1440p resolution capabilities, games will run as smooth as butter and look absolutely incredible on this monitor. The Omen’s IPS panel outputs vibrant colors, and while its blacks could be deeper, they are still more accurate than other monitors around this price point. For a gaming monitor, its design is sleek and tasteful, with a sturdy frame that allows you to adjust both the height and angle of the monitor.
The HP Omen 27-inch isn’t exactly cheap at this price point, but the value per dollar spent is worth every penny.
Price: $59.99 at Best Buy
After eight years, Super Mario 3D World, one of the highest-rated Wii U games, is finally making a comeback to the Nintendo Switch console on February 12. Unless your partner is a die-hard Nintendo enthusiast, it’s likely they missed out on this game and the Wii U console back in 2012. It’s a complicated story, but the gist of it is that the Wii U didn’t sell many units during its lifecycle and a ton of amazing games got overlooked as a result.
Luckily, those who skipped Super Mario 3D World are getting a second chance with this Nintendo Switch rerelease. Along with the original game, Nintendo is also including a brand-new adventure campaign called Bowser’s Fury where Mario and Bowser Jr. join forces to take on a Godzilla-sized angry Bowser. Both games are co-op and can be enjoyed with your gamer valentine.
Price: $15.99 at Best Buy
If you’re planning on buying the Super Mario 3D + Bowser’s Fury game for your partner, adding the corresponding amiibo figures to your gift would be the cherry on top.
Cat Mario and Cat Peach are making their amiibo debut and promise to offer in-game enhancements and power-ups to elevate your Super Mario 3D + Bowser’s Fury experience. They’re also pretty darn cute! Not to be outdone, older amiibo versions of Bowser and Bowser Jr. will also be rereleased and will have "special activations" within the game.
Price: $29.99 - $39.99 at Best Buy
Little Nightmares II doesn’t exactly scream Valentine’s Day, we know, but if you have a partner who enjoys all things creepy and spooky, this upcoming puzzle-platforming horror game will be a welcome addition to their video game collection.
Released in 2017 and developed by Tarsier Studios, Little Nightmares is a short-length horror game that flew under the general games radar but absolutely enraptured horror fans. Often described as having Spirited Away vibes and Burtonesque elements, Little Nightmares pulls players into a whimsical larger-than-life world that is irresistible to explore, but that curiosity quickly turns to fear upon realizing how easily that world can kill you. Now that Tarsier Studios has more resources and deeper pockets thanks to the Embracer Group acquisition, many are expecting the sequel to be even more ambitious with its scares.
Little Nightmares II will be released on February 11. While the Little Nightmares series does have some plot to worry about, the dread and atmosphere of each set piece requires no context and will entertain and terrify new and returning players alike. The game is also available on Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch, making it a gift that all (horror) gamers can enjoy.
Price: $19.99 at Best Buy
Playing Overcooked has almost become a rite-of-passage for many gamer couples. If you can still love your partner as they set your food on fire or dump your finished plate down the trash chute (by accident or otherwise), you know you’ve found the one.
For newcomers to the series, Overcooked is a cooking simulation where you and your partner must evade obstacles while putting together culinary dishes. The more dishes successfully assembled, the better. We recommend starting with Overcooked 1 because it is a great introduction to the series that has a lenient learning curve. The game contains 28 campaign levels for you and your partner to cook through, and has a competitive four-player mode that is guaranteed to have the entire room screaming with laughter.
Price: $28.99 at Best Buy
Managing hard drive space after buying a new game has to be one of the most annoying inconveniences a gamer can encounter. Not only will it take time to download and install the new game, but they can’t even begin the process until choosing which game to cut from their library.
Help your partner avoid this problem before it happens by buying them a micro SD card. Even if they don’t plan on buying many digital games, the internal hard drive space of a Nintendo Switch is particularly small at just 32 GB. Larger games weigh in at around 20 GB and will quickly make short work of their storage space. It’s not a glamorous gift, but it’s convenient! SanDisk makes it a little more fun by including a Mario mushroom logo on its Nintendo-themed 128 GB SD card.
Price: $1,249.99 - $1,629.99 at HP
Want to set your partner up with a mobile gaming rig that can play Triple-A games at a respectable level? The HP Omen is a great introduction to a more serious gaming machine. The default specs do need a little upgrading, though.
Make sure to upgrade the memory to at least the 1 TB + 256 GB SSD combo so your partner isn’t scrambling for hard drive space. As far as the graphics and processor are concerned, if you’re trying to stay on budget, upgrading to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 will give you about a 20% improvement in graphic performance for an additional $60. Upgrading to the GeForce RTX 2070 Super from there will boost your performance by another 20%, but you’ll have to make the judgement call on whether that incremental boost is worth $300.
After those upgrades, the default 16 GB of RAM and high-refresh rate on the monitor should ensure a smooth gameplay experience that will rival competing gaming laptops around its price point.
Price: $499.99 at Walmart
Gifting your partner a Playstation 5 during these times would elevate you to legendary status, possibly giving you a free pass on future gifts for the next five years. The reason it’s last on our list is because it’s currently hard to find. Best Buy and Walmart carried the console but instantly sold out upon making it available to the public.
Why are people going crazy over this video game system? Aside from gorgeous graphics, it absolutely decimates loading times with its new solid-state hard drive. Games that took minutes to load are now booting up twice as fast. Even more impressive than its speedy loading times is the new Playstation 5 DualSense controller. It’s building out an entirely different dimension in the gaming experience with its haptic feedback and adaptive trigger features. The sophistication of the rumble is detailed enough to simulate different kinds of terrain, and the triggers provide varying levels of resistance depending on the kind of weapon you’re using.
Once your gamer partner gets a taste of the PS5 experience, video games will never be the same.