It was the best of guides, it was the worst of guides. It was a time of gifts, it was a time of self-care. It wasn’t actually the worst of guides because everything on it was really pretty neat. Maybe I should have picked a better book to use as the basis for this guide introduction, but here we are: It's the 2019 PC Gamer Holiday Gift Guide!
This here is a guide to the finest things one could buy their nerdy, PC gaming friend, family member and/or self for the holidays. But PC Gamer, you ask, why would I buy myself a gift for the holidays? I don’t know, it’s your money, maybe get yourself something nice with it. Speaking of something nice, here are some nice things that won't break the bank, followed by gift ideas broken down by category.
Know what kind of gift you're looking for? Hit a category on the nav to jump ahead.
Gifts Under $20
Fangamer Enamel Pins | $10-19 at Fangamer
Okay, let me try again: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a nerd in possession of a jacket or bag, must be in want of enamel pins. However little known the feelings or views of such a nerd may be on their first entering a gift guide, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of gift buyers, that the nerd’s unadorned wearable must be considered the rightful home of some glorious enamel pins. Further, these Slay the Spire pins are absolutely adorable.
Book Cover Posters | £14.99 / $19.50 at Gametee
Gametee continues to make some of the best posters in video games, and their book cover series is no exception. From the Dark Souls posters just above to "Fear and Loathing In New Vegas," these are brilliant design aping classic book covers with incredible aplomb. If you don’t like the posters, how about some cheeky tin signs?
Dead Cells Snapback | $19.00 at Fangamer
There’s nothing like a good hat, and it’s also nice to get a hat that is about your favorite game but isn’t entirely dorky. This is a classy washed grey with a logo that could go to a sports team or a fashion brand, but it is instead a superb roguevania game.
Stardew Valley Plush Hangers | $11.99 at Sanshee
Surely it’s 2019 and I couldn’t desire more Stardew Valley merch. Yet, omg, the duck is the cutest. Look at the duck! Look at the void chicken. The goat. The sheep. Places I think you could hang them: Your keys. Your car mirror. Your doorknob. Your holiday tree. There are 10, so you could hang one from each finger, but that would make it hard to get anything done.
Cactuar Carabiner | $9.99 at Square-Enix
I don’t know y’all, just, every time I look at it I start laughing.
Minecraft: Builders & Biomes | $39.99 at Amazon
Surely, you’d think, the Minecraft board game can’t be great. Think again, friend. Ravensburger knocked this one out of the park. This is an interesting, strategic game of resource collection and push-your-luck exploration. Truly one of those age 9-99 board games I’m happy to play with a diverse group.
ALIEN RPG | $50 at Amazon
There’s an official tabletop RPG based on Alien now. It’s made by Free League, a Swedish roleplaying game publisher that makes some of the prettiest books and accessories you can put on a table right now. I've played it, and it’s up to snuff. There’s lots of great world art and homages to the movies, but the real star is how surprisingly well the system adapts to the game setting. The "Game Master" is instead the "Game Mother," which is a brilliant bit of writing. There’s a bevy of accessories to bling out the game. A big bundle of the core rulebook, custom dice, special stress dice, neat maps, a GM screen, the custom card deck, and the adventure would make any GM thrilled on the holidays. If you prefer to go light, the books will show up on DriveThruRPG as PDFs.
Journeys in Middle-earth | $73.75 at Amazon
Know someone who loves roleplaying but doesn’t have a roleplaying group, or one that only meets infrequently? This is one of the best board games of the year, and it really scratches that roleplaying itch. Journeys in Middle-earth is an app-supported board game from Fantasy Flight that absolutely nails the feeling of Middle-earth. The game itself is played cooperatively, with 1-5 players as heroes on a quest against evil. The game generates itself, with the quest evolving as you go—a nice storytelling experience on top of the game.
Wingspan | $60 at Stonemaier Games | $60 at Amazon
The hotness in board gaming this year was not about the typical subjects of fighting dragons, crawling dungeons, etc. It's about bird watching. Wingspan is a superb game about collecting sets of birds with one of the most finely-tuned, fun economies I’ve ever seen in a game. And the birds are lovely.
Res Arcana | $38 at Amazon
A highly strategic game of specialist wizards, this is a great game from Tom Lehmann, who also did the famous Race for the Galaxy. It’s competitive in a great way, encouraging players to build themselves up rather than screw over their opponents—but there are still direct attacks and competition.
Samson G-Track Pro USB Microphone | $139.99 at Amazon
This beautiful mic is a bit of a record setter. Microphones from Blue have sat at the top of our best microphones guide for years, but this Samson mic casually knocked them off. This is a superb choice for anyone wanting to get into streaming, podcasting, or music. In fact, we'd say it's our favorite USB microphone to date.
HyperX Cloud Alpha | $88 at Amazon
A well-rounded, well-balanced headset for game audio. The Cloud Alpha presents excellent sound and build quality with the essential features done well, and nothing inflating the price. It has a pretty impressive build quality, good padding, a clear mic, and high comfort for long play sessions. It’s our current top choice for best gaming headset.
A Keyboard Upgrade | $36.99 to $174.99 at Amazon
You can go two directions with this, but both of them are mechanical keyboards. For an excellent, but low-cost gaming keyboard go for the STOGA Mechanical Gaming Keyboard for as cheap as $36.99 at Amazon. It gets you RGB backlighting and nice clicky key switches. It’s also tenkeyless, so it doesn’t take up too much desk space. For the bells and whistles, go for the Razer Huntsman Elite at $174.99. The Huntsman Elite uses proprietary opto-mechanical switches for what are likely the most responsive switches on the market, a detachable magnetic wrist rest, and customizable bojillion-color RGBs.
Crucial P1 1TB NVMe SSD | $99 at TigerDirect
This is a superb drive for the price if you want to speed up a gaming PC. Even just as a secondary drive, or as a dedicated space for holding a few of the biggest and latest games, the Crucial P1 is an obvious choice for a quick computer upgrade. At low storage totals it beats SATA drives on speed while at higher ones it at least matches them. If you’d like a simpler SATA drive, check out our list of the best SSDs for gaming.
G.Skill Trident Z RGB 16GB DDR4-2400MHz | $80 at Newegg
Last year we recommended you get this RAM to upgrade a PC because it’s effective, cheap, and it glows in a nice tasteful way. This year, we’re going to continue to recommend this RAM because it has only gotten cheaper with Newegg selling for as low as $80. Heck, spring for 32GB if you're feeling generous.
Turtle Beach Headset Stand | $30 at Amazon
How simple a thing is a headset stand that it could make such a difference in one’s life? Friends, I am here to attest to this simple fact: A headset stand will improve your life. There are fancy headset stands with USB hubs and the like, but really you don’t need that. It’s just more space to gather dust. This Turtle Beach headset stand is a simple, minimal stand that will do its job and go away when you don’t need it. So, please, hang up your headset. Don’t just leave it lying there like a dead fish.
OXO Good Grips Sweep & Swipe | $9.99 at Amazon
Someone’s laptop, desk, keyboard, mouse: They are all filthy. These things are not hard to clean, but they are inconvenient to clean, and we're all lazy. So, how about a cleaning tool? One small enough to keep on a desk? It's it’s intended for laptops, but it works great on all kinds of hard-to-clean electronics with odd bumps and such. I mean, have you seen a Razer mouse lately? They’re like a batmobile, all edges and corners and crevices. OXO also makes an incredible little tool for crevices.
CableRack Bamboo Cable Management Box | $30 at Amazon
Your messy cable pile makes me sick. Please fix it. The space behind your monitor and tower should not look like the kraken has emerged from the deeps. You can just put those cables in a box, though. You don’t even have to untangle them. A lot of things can be solved by putting them in a box, honestly.
Witcher Notebook | $24.95 at Cook & Becker
You, like me, might enjoy jotting down notes about games as you play. Where to find things, thoughts on the design, or ideas about where the story might go. You might also plan elaborate dwarf fortress colonies or factorio setups. Scope this lovely notebook that will turn your notes from madman’s scrawlings to treasured heirlooms, passed down for generations and eventually used by future scholars trying to decipher the media landscape of the 2020s. Cook & Becker make gorgeous things.
A New Chair | $175-325
Last year I bought a Secretlab gaming chair and it is absolutely the best thing I’ve done in ages. My back is better, my posture improved, my knees hurt less, all because I got a chair that actually fits my body rather than one that was simply available. You need not spend that kind of dosh, either: there are good chairs for pretty cheap too. Check out our guide to gaming chairs for a more in-depth look.
Overwatch Beanie | $14.99 at Amazon
Earlier I told you I like hats, then immediately after I told you about an Overwatch wallet that I liked. Well, this is both of those things but combined and also it is a beanie, a kind of hat I particularly like because my head gets cold. It also has a pom-pom, and who doesn’t like a pom-pom? Bad people, that’s who.
Slay the Spire Shirt | $24 at Fangamer
Slay the Spire is by far one of the best games you can play on a PC right now. It’s a blend of deckbuilding and strategy with an elegantly balanced design that begs to be played over and over. This t-shirt will show that you are a strategically minded roguelike player of taste and culture. One who understands fine things like balance, angry robots, sleek design, and snecko eyeballs.
Nuka World T-Shirt | $19.99 at Amazon
Nuka World was probably not a fun theme park before it was totally wrecked. The concept of Nuka World, however, is fun. "How was your trip to Nuka World?" someone will ask. "Ugh," they will say, "I killed three hundred feral ghouls and a billion security robots and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."
Destiny is in Thy Hands Hoodie | £34.99 / $45 at Gametee
Does someone you know love tabletop roleplaying? How about art with the stylings of an arcane grimoire from the enlightenment? Well, do I have the perfect hoodie for them. It is laden with symbolism. The dice is destiny, encircled with ancient runes and signs, the all-knowing, all-weeping eye beneath knows that the 1 or the 20 will appear.
Keep On Keeping On Shirt | £13.99 / $18 at Grindstore
The PC doesn't get Death Stranding until mid-2020. If your gift target wants to get the hype train rolling, then what better way to do so than to sport Norman Reedus’ silhouette? There is no better way than to show off the outline of famous actor Norman Reedus with a dazzling array of future gadgets and an apocalyptically devastated United States in the background.
Cuphead Shirts & Hoodies | $15-30 at Fifth Sun
Cuphead has lovely visual design. You can get your own piece of it at Fifth Sun, who have a superb line of official game wear. Hoodies, t-shirts, tank tops, it’s all here, with a few excellent designs available on a variety of formats. I’m a particular fan of the "Don’t Deal With The Devil" dice motif.
Diablo 4 Bomber | $79.99 at Blizzard
This absolutely gorgeous bomber is a bit pricey, but it’s also superb design considering we know so little about Diablo 4. A Diablo fan is going to love this thing. The understated stitched design on the back is surprisingly intricate, featuring the visage of Lilith and the strange fleshy cape she sports. Given my experience with Blizzard merch in the past it’s likely a sturdy jacket worth that price tag, rather than just branded junk, to boot.
Apex Legends Pullover Hoodie | $49.95 at Play Apex Shop
Remember that rule of good gaming wear I brought up talking about hats, earlier? Understated rules. Logos are great for just that reason. Here’s a nice black-on-red hoodie with the Apex Legends sigil on it. The red interior lining and cords are a pleasant touch that keep this hoodie from being dull.
Evil Llamacorn Sweatshirt | $50 at Epic Games
You may own a significant number of Fortnite outfits, but those are all digital. They’re in the game. They aren’t real. They're game skins. They are composed of bits and/or bytes. You cannot wear them to the park, nor to school, nor to work. This you can wear. On your physical body. In actual, real life.
Stardew Valley: Before the Farmer Comic | $28 at Fangamer
This is a prequel comic to Stardew Valley from a talented author-illustrator combo Chihiro Sakaida. It is adorable and gives some charming backstory to the town of Stardew Valley, including the arrival of the nefarious Joja Corporation.
Dark Souls: Beyond the Grave Volumes 1 & 2
$30 for Volume 1: Demons Souls - Dark Souls - Dark Souls II
$30 for Volume 2: Bloodborne - Dark Souls III
Two great books that explore one of the decade’s most definitive series, diving into the making of, the market effect, and the lore behind the games. They drill into how they changed video games as a medium in the 2010s, sparking a whole conversation around difficulty. They also feature the series’ weird philosophies and the lore that drives them. They’re a definitive gift for the lover of this series. (Along with You Died: The Dark Souls Companion. Which is kickstarting a lovely hardback edition of the book right now.) Oh god, I just realized a whole decade has gone past. Please help me, I've become old.
The Light Brigade | $11.99 at Amazon
Loading screens are devils, especially for those bound to the HDD, but by reading a book one might pass such time productively. How about one of the finest sci-fi books of the year? Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade is a superb sci-fi romp about soldiers beamed to Mars at the speed of light. How that works, I do not know nor care, but I did very much enjoy this book.
Dungeons & Dragons Books | $81.98 for the Core Rulebooks Gift Set at Amazon
$29.20 for Eberron: Rising at the Last War at Amazon
There has literally never been a better, simpler time to get into D&D. You don’t even have to figure out how to play it from the books: You can just watch some people play it on the internet. These are also the cheapest the set of core game books has ever gotten, well below the $90 to $120 the same set would have run you even a year ago. Just-released Eberron: Rising from the Last War is also a nice addition to the game, bringing the magi-tech pulp setting to the newest edition.
A PC Gamer Subscription | $24.00 at My Favorite Magazines
Get our 116-page magazine sent to your door every month, and read original features, reviews, retro stuff, et cetera. That's 0.0172413793103448 cents per page. We think it’s pretty neat. We're one of the longest-running games magazines in the world, and it's a cool thing to have arrive in the post, if you even get things in the post anymore. Most do not. Stand out from the crowd: Subscribe to PC Gamer.
Nintendo Switch Lite | $199.96 at Amazon
Try as we might, the war against loading screens is not yet won. So if you don’t like to read, perhaps you should get a device to play games on while you wait for games to load? Or when you leave the house? The Switch Lite is as of yet the best solution to this, and provides a full-fledged gaming experience on the go.
Wooden Dice from Dice Envy | $25-85 at Dice Envy
Dice Envy make some of the genuinely coolest patterns in dice today, and they’re now producing beautiful wooden dice the likes of which you just can’t find elsewhere. The feeling of wooden dice, if you’ve never used them, is just not quite like anything else—they have weight that plastic just doesn’t. They are literally unique because the material wasn’t just injected and molded. The discerning dice connoisseur in your life does not simply want, they feel a deep and profound need for wooden dice. There are even unique variations and stripes—ultramarine and green banded technical wood.
Insert Coin Jackets | £20 to £89.99 / $26 to $118 at Insert Coin
Insert Coin is killing it. The designs, the variety, and the little touches are unmatched by any other luxury gaming wear. Check out the Yakuza jackets: The Dragon of Dojima or the Mad Dog Majima. The iconic Hotline Miami "Jacket." The Monster Hunter Bazelgeuse bomber. The jean stylings of the Kojima Productions jacket. Or even the best Tunnel Snakes jacket.
Cook & Becker Art Prints | $100+ at Cook & Becker
Cook & Becker produce pretty much indisputably the highest quality prints of video game concept artwork you can find. They’ve expanded their line this year, too: They now have prints of some of Blizzard’s most iconic artwork. If you want game stuff on your walls that’s not cheap posters and can’t shell out for the literal original paintings, these are the people to go to. For example, check out this glorious Cyberpunk 2077 print. No? How about this Soul of Cinder from Dark Souls 3? They produce artwork from Arenanet, Arkane, Atlus, Bethesda, Bioware, Blizzard, Bungie, Capcom, CD Projekt Red, Cyan, Dice, From Software, Konami, League of Geeks, Level-5, Naughty Dog, Ready at Dawn, Sega, Sony, Square Enix, Vlambeer, and more.
The Rama Works M65-b | $390+ at Rama Works
Would you like to own perhaps the most beautiful keyboard I’ve ever seen? Of course you would. It is an impeccably designed masterpiece of an object. It bet it clacks so loud your neighbors’ neighbors complain about the noise. I bet it clacks so loud you will receive a complaint from God.