Season's greetings, PC gamers—and friends and families of PC gamers! This century of a year has made time malleable (wasn't it just July last week?), but according to the calendar, 2020's winter holidays are very nearly here, and that means it's gift guide season. While daydreaming about pumpkin pie and fresh-baked cookies, the PC Gamer team has spent the last few weeks assembling a range of gifts we'd like to give to the special PC gamers in our own lives. Or to ourselves, if we're being honest.
Below you'll find a range of suggestions sorted into practical budget categories of $200 or less, $100 or less, $50 or less, and $25 or less. They're all items we can either personally vouch for because we own them, or gifts we'd be happy to give or receive ourselves. Some are directly related to PC gaming, while others bear a looser connection: Practical, like a super comfy pair of pants to wear while working from home, or tasty, like a collection of holiday ice cream.
Before we get to the gift ideas, one note for those of you looking to buy the special PC gamer in your life a fancy new headset, or chair, or even laptop: our hardware buying guides have you covered there with in-depth recommendations.
- The best gaming PCs
- The best VR headsets
- The best gaming chairs
- The best gaming laptops
- The best gaming headsets
And now, onto the gifts!
Gifts for PC gamers under $200
Skyrim laser-cut map: Detailed world maps ($50 - $300+)
These handsome maps of Skyrim, Game of Thrones' Westeros, and real cities like San Francisco are beautifully detailed. Layers of wood give them depth, and the lettering and iconography are excellent. Get a small one for a conversation starter, or go big for the gamer with wall space to fill.
Logitech G903 wireless: An incredible gaming mouse ($127.57)
I've used this mouse for years, and I'm convinced it's the best gaming mouse ever made. What really makes it special is the mechanical hinge design of the left- and right-click, which is extremely reliable and clicky without any bounceback. Once you use it, it's hard to use anything else.
Slim kangaroo leather wallet: Beautiful and durable ($122)
I've been using this wallet for three years, and it's one of the finest gifts I've ever been given. Because kangaroo leather is much more durable than cow leather, it holds up well despite being much thinner. This gift could last years or even decades, and the leather takes on a fantastic patina as it ages, too.
Achewood "Oh No It's Today" art: 2020 in a picture ($200)
I like art that reflects the world, so I find comfort in the idea of waking up every day and seeing the words "Oh No It's Today" from the webcomic Achewood on my nightstand. We're all hurtling through space in this nightmare together.
Philips SmartSleep: a natural light to wake up with ($123)
Looking at your phone is an unpleasant way to wake up. A blast of blue light, the horrors lurking in social media… Instead, this wake-up light mimics the sunrise with warm light and is meant to help you wake up more naturally and gradually. Is there any gift better than a good night's sleep?
Gifts for PC Gamers under $100
Raspberry Pi 4 starter kit: A mini PC to tinker with ($99.99)
The Raspberry Pi 4 is a damn impressive little PC with all sorts of uses. Classic game emulation, programming Arduinos, blocking internet ads as a Pihole. This kit includes everything needed to get started. Give the gift of possibility, but in computer form.
Rover Pack Classic: A stylish Topo Design daypack ($99)
Topo Design makes a range of immediately recognizable bags and backpacks thanks to their colorful designs, and we can attest to the Rover Pack Classic living up to the hype. We'd recommend it as a day bag, whether a day means working from a coffee shop downtown (it'll happen again someday!) or hitting a hiking trail.
Cyberpunk 2077 "Tyger Claws" art: 12x20" print ($85)
Cook and Becker does fantastic art prints, and this unique piece from artist Josan "Deathburger" Gonzalez is packed with detail from the streets of Night City. It's a limited edition that a Cyberpunk obsessee will surely treasure.
Jeni's Ice Cream holiday collection: 6 perfect pints (~$88)
One of the leaders of the ice cream renaissance (yes, that's a thing), Jeni's makes wild flavors and ships them in dry ice to keep them frozen all the way home. Choose your own flavors or go with this holiday collection, which includes cognac gingerbread and white chocolate peppermint. I'm talking myself into a box, too.
Deep Sea Sand Art: Hypnotizing desk decor ($95)
I spent 30 minutes writing this entry because I kept staring at videos of the Deep Sea Sand Art sculpture, which looks like a more sciency snowglobe. Would I be permanently distracted if I had something this cool on my desk? Probably. Worth it!
Public Rec All Day Every Day pants: Ultimate leisure ($98)
These pants changed my life. Not to be dramatic, but they're real good pants. Soft and stretchy, yet cut to look more like khakis than sweatpants. I love them for long flights, but they're also perfect for WFH life. Warning: Whoever you buy these for will never want to wear jeans again. For similarly comfortable women's non-jeans, Wirecutter recommends the Outdoor Voices Rectrek Pant ($98).
Gifts for PC gamers under $50
The CRPG Book: 500 pages of RPG history (£29.99/$40)
RPGs were once commonly called "Computer RPGs" to distinguish them from pen-and-paper games like D&D. This hardback covers hundreds of them, from '80s legends like The Bard's Tale to modern favorites like Dragon's Age. An immense tome of PC gaming history.
Home Computers: 100 Icons That Defined a Generation: A coffee table PC museum (£25/$33)
PC Gamer and Edge magazine contributor Alex Wiltshire wrote this lovely, photo-heavy time capsule of classic computers. Learn something about the early PCs of the '70s and '80s while poring over the close-up shots of their keyboards and quirky designs.
Marble Queen Pothos: A hearty plant for the office ($37)
I speak from experience when I say it's pretty tough to kill a pothos. For someone who needs a nice plant to brighten up a room, this is a great place to start, and The Sill offers a range of nice pastel planters and affordable shipping.
Glow and Grow Herb Garden: 2-in-1 candle and basil ($35)
It's not weed, though the name sure sounds like it. This cute kit from Modern Sprout starts life as a scented candle, then becomes the planter vessel for an actual basil plant, seeds included. First it smells good, then it smells good and tastes good. Delightful.
Sam & Max figures: Your new desk friends ($40 each)
Two wonderful comic/game characters get handsome new poseable figurines. Nice and timely with one of their adventure games getting remastered. These guys are so lovable, even a non-fan should get a kick out of them as desk buddies (and maybe play the games as a result)!
Noctua NF-A12 120mm: A fan-cy upgrade ($29.90)
Your favorite PC gamer deserves best-in-class cooling, and that means Noctua's "next-generation" NF-A12 fan, which pushes tons of air while remaining remarkably silent. Gift them a couple of these to give them something fun to install in their PC, and they'll enjoy the quieter, cooler performance for years to come.
Anker 65W PowerPort III: A beastly 3-port USB charger ($49.99)
Anker makes quality chargers, and this PowerPort III can handle whatever you throw at it. One USB-C port and two USB-A ports let you charge a laptop at 45W with enough juice leftover for a phone and Kindle, too. It can fast charge most devices and even has swappable plugs for travel.
Dune Imperium: It's Dune, in board game form ($50)
We can't watch Denis Villeneuve's Dune this year, but maybe Dune Imperium can lessen the sting. It's part deck-builder, part "worker placement," where you gather resources to build up your house and try to control the spice, the universe, etc. And yes, there is a card of Oscar Isaac with his magnificent beard.
Peanut Butter Sampler: 6 jars of pure joy ($40)
Let's be honest: Peanut butter is delicious solo, even if society tells us it needs to be on bread or whatever. This collection grants your giftee permission to just chow down with some daring concoctions. Snickerdoodle? Coconut?? White chocolate pretzel?!? This is a mouth party, and all tastebuds are invited.
Skull Headphones holder: Extra af ($29.99)
Yes, it's a crystal skull that you put headphones on. Do you need to know more? You could buy someone a boring headphone stand on Amazon, but why do that when you could give them the most extra gift of the year? "I love that dumb thing," says hardware writer Jorge Jimenez, who uses it in his headphone reviews.
PC Gamer subscription: Hey, that's us! ($32)
Our website's cool, but did you know you can read it on paper, with beautiful page layouts and exclusive cover stories and special features about all things PC gaming before they hit the web? It's true! We think it makes a pretty dang good gift.
Gifts for PC Gamers under $25
Bugsnax pins: 4 cute fruit critters ($19)
It's Bugsnax! Talkin' bout Bugsnax! The best theme song of the year belongs to this indie game about collecting bizarre fruit creatures. Turns out they make for great pins regardless of your interest in the game. The scorpion is a pepper! The apple is a crab! Adorable.
Jixia Academy: A great 2-player card game ($18)
This clever card game is a bit like the more famous Love Letter, but well designed for just two players. You're essentially bidding over the favor of smoldering scholars by playing some cards in secret and some revealed, trying to outbid your opponent for certain characters without letting on which ones you're going for. Strategizing allows for endless fake-outs.
Dark Souls map poster: Lovely Lordran ($14-$120)
A timeless poster for a timeless game, this map of Dark Souls' densely connected world is intensely detailed and beautifully colored. We'd go for the mid-size 12x36" "Chunk" version at $24, but if you know a true Souls superfan, you could always splurge for the mammoth 24x72" "Slab" print.
USB hand warmers: A cute cure for freezing fingers ($16.99)
They're toast. I just needed to make sure you realized: these are fuzzy, smiling stuffed toast gloves you put on your hands. That they then plug into a USB port to heat up and provide warmth is really just a bonus. They're so cute! Help someone with cold hands get through the winter in adorable style.
Sol Food Pique hot sauce: A tangy tastebud treat ($12)
This hot sauce from Sol Food, a beloved Northern California Puerto Rican restaurant, was born to elevate eggs and rice to godly status. It adds just enough heat to transform a dish and give it a spicy, subtly sweet flavor, without nuking your mouth—the chili peppers are pretty mild here. I'm not even a hot sauce fan, but give Sol Food's Pique my highest recommendation.
Powell's Octopus Mug: Drink to a great bookstore ($12)
Powell's in Portland may be the best bookstore I've ever visited. Vast enough to get lost in, yet full of cozy corners. 2020 has been hard on bookstores, so at least buying a mug from Powell's will help support them and spread the love, too. And it has an octopus reading a book on it! Cuuute.
This be bad book translation, video games!: Videogame localization in a nutshell ($15)
Gamers of a certain age will never forget translation oddities like "All your base are belong to us." Professional translator and funny writer Clyde Mandelin wrote a book about some of Japan's most famous English goofs, discussing both the games' development history and the root of their linguistic peculiarities.
Dungeons & Dragons starter set: Ground floor D&D ($11.22)
Covid has made in-person game gatherings a challenge, but the roleplaying of D&D is a great fit for Sunday afternoon Zoom sessions. If you know someone who's always been curious but never taken the plunge, gift them their starter set to coax out their inner DM or dwarf.
Console Patent t-shirt: A nicely designed gamer shirt ($25)
I know, I know, we're PC Gamer, but patent diagrams are rad! This one showcasing the classic Super Nintendo and Game Boy makes for a nice, subtle gaming shirt. No obnoxious branding here, just a celebration of cool hardware design.
Slaughterhouse-Five: The graphic novel: A loving adaptation of Vonnegut's classic ($24.99)
Reviews have heaped praise on this new graphic novel, which somehow pulls off adapting Kurt Vonnegut's famous book into a whole new form. You may know writer Ryan North from Dinosaur Comics and Marvel's Squirrel Girl, but the art here is wonderful, too, the right mix of silly and sad. So it goes.