GameFront’s Holiday Gift Guide 2014: PC Components

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Published by 5 years ago , last updated 1 year ago

Posted on November 25, 2014, Ron Whitaker GameFront’s Holiday Gift Guide 2014: PC Components

Table of Contents

If you’ve got a PC gamer on your shopping list, you can’t go wrong with some shiny new components. Seeing the latest graphics card in your stocking is going to make any gamer’s Christmas morning better. But what should you buy?

We’ve put together a list of high-quality components that any PC would be proud to show off. We’ve also tried to include something more budget-friendly as well. As a final note, don’t forget that it’s perfectly fine to pick up a little something for yourselves, PC gamers — that way, you get the joy of giving and receiving at the same time.

Western Digital Caviar Black 2 TB HDD

Price: $144
Buy It For: That PC Gaming friend of yours. They’ll need the storage to install all the games they’ll get through Steam Sales.
Buy it from: Amazon
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

You need lots of space? Sure you do, as most of the AAA games you buy today take up an upwards of 20+gigs of space each. The Western Digital Caviar Black 2 TB includes around 1.8TB of actual space which should be plenty of real estate to store your average steam library on. Hard drives are typically items in your PC you only upgrade when it dies. So, at $150, it should earn its keep by the time you ever have to replace it, if you would ever need to at all.

Samsung 850 Pro Series 256GB SSD

Price: $169.99
Buy It For: For that friend who always complains about loading times in their games.
Buy it from: Amazon
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

Samsung’s 850 series is their latest generation of their SSD lineup. When you think of SSD, you’re generally thinking of other brands such as Intel, Corsair, Crucial or any other company that manufacturers RAM. Samsung came in and gave us one of the fastest SSDs on the market at a decent price tag. If the drive alone wouldn’t put it above the competition, their included software sure would. The Samsung Magician software is packed with all of the tools you’ll ever need to ensure you get the maximum performance out of this solid state drive.

ASRock Z97 Pro3 Intel Motherboard

Price: $85
Buy It For: That friend or family member you’ve, no doubt, been tricked into building a budget PC for.
Buy it from: Amazon
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

If you’re not looking to break the bank with a new motherboard purchase, the ASRock Z97 Pro3 should be one to look into. It allows up to 32GB of system memory and six internal SATA 6Gb/s ports. It has your typical chipsets for audio and LAN with a no-frills bios. If you’re not that particular about your system configuration and just want a motherboard so you can run the rest of your components, ASRock offers an affordable solution for your needs.

MSI Z97 GAMING 7 Intel Motherboard

Price: $185
Buy It For: Yourself. Who buys someone else a motherboard as a gift anyway?
Buy it from: Amazon
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

MSI really came into their own with their motherboard lineup of late, and the Z97 Gaming 7 motherboard is not different. It can handle up to 32GB of DDR3 memory and is compatible with using SLI or Crossfire. It’s LAN chipset isn’t your typical generic Intel network chipset either, this badboy comes packaged with a the Killer chipset. Let’s not forget the eight internal SATA 6Gb/s ports ensuring that the bandwidth between your system and your storage device isn’t a bottleneck in your gaming PC. Given this motherboard is $180, it’s a very competitive price compared to other motherboards with similar features.

ASUS N56JN-EB71 Gaming Laptop

Price: $949
Buy It For: Your college student child or sibling. For “educational” reasons.
Buy it from: Amazon
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

If you’re a gamer on a budget, then this ASUS laptop will be your best bet. At under $1k, this laptop comes with a 15″ display and a good amount of gaming power. You shouldn’t have any trouble running any game on this laptop. You many not be able to run your favorite game at “ultra” settings but it will still look pretty. As with any Gaming Laptops go, be sure to get a cooling pad to go along with this laptop for the sake of your legs.

Digital Storm Krypton Laptop

Price: $1,942 (Level 2, upgraded to 16GB system memory)
Buy It For: Your significant other. They’ve been wanting to share your hobby for how long now? Don’t be a Scrooge, get them something powerful enough to play with you.
Buy it from: Digital Storm
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

If you’re a gamer on the go who enjoys playing the latest and greatest but also likes taking your computer wherever you go, Digital Storm offers one heck of a beefy laptop for your needs. Digital Storm is a company that custom builds PCs and Laptops. The difference is this company doesn’t skimp on hardware quality as some companies do (*cough* Dell/Alienware). I suggest the “Level 2″ build to start with and just upgrade to 16GB of system memory when you configure it. That brings the cost of this laptop to around $2k. With the hardware that’s included in this system, plus the fact that they not only test the system to ensure it doesn’t have issues before it’s shipped, and they don’t add the typical crappy software other companies do, this laptop should be one to look into.

Crucial Ballistix Tactical 16GB DDR3

Price: $159.99
Buy It For: Come on, who doesn’t want RAM for Christmas? I do!
Buy it from: Amazon
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

RAM has always been an area in PC building that generally gets overlooked in terms of finding quality over price. Generally speaking, finding cheap RAM is what most people go for instead of any extra features. However, we’re not doing that here! Crucial’s Ballistix Tactical RAM is low voltage memory with CAS Latency of 9 (Lower is better, 9 is low). This is the lowest that I’ve encountered with DDR3 memory running at 1866GHZ. Why did I go for 1866 instead of 1600? It’s a little bit of future proofing, and I try to ensure that there are no bottlenecks when playing my games, and system memory can be one of them.

Crucial 16GB Kit (8GBx2) DDR4 2133

Price: $190
Buy It For: Your rich uncle. Because he’s probably the only one that purchased a system that uses DDR4 memory.
Buy it from: Amazon
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

I really can’t say that much about DDR4 over that of DDR3 outside of clockspeeds. It’s a new technology, and some want the most bleeding edge hardware you can get. But, as any builder knows, you shouldn’t get the most expensive. Right now, DDR4 memory is expensive once you go to higher clockspeeds. Coming in at the lowest clockspeed for DDR4, DDR4-2133 will give you the speed you need to run pretty much anything you want. At this time, you really don’t need RAM any faster than this and it would just be a waste of money to buy it. Price vs. Performance, 2133 is all you’ll need until DDR4 is more mainstream on PC systems.

Intel Core i5-4590

Price: $200
Buy It For: You’re already building that system for your friend/family member right? Here’s the CPU for it.
Buy it from: Amazon
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

At around $200, the i5-4590 is one of the most powerful CPUs at this price range. This Haswell generation CPU clocks in at 3.3ghz and will typically handle whatever game or application you throw at it. It runs cool, by CPU standards, and has the stability and reliability you’re looking for if you’re shopping for a CPU at this price range.

Intel Core i7-4790K

Price: $300
Buy It For: Your grandparents. Grandparent: “Oh, I don’t think we can use this.” You: “Oh, that’s alright. I suppose I can use it myself. It’s okay!”
Buy it from: Amazon
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

If you’re looking for power, it doesn’t get any more powerful than the 4790K. The K series has the multiplier unlocked to allow you to overclock beyond factory settings with ease. However, at the 4ghz that this CPU offers, you may not even see the need to. It’ll run a little hot given the clock speed, and even warmer if you plan on cranking this baby closer to 5ghz, so be sure to pick up an after-market cooler while you’re at it. I suggest the Corsair H100i Liquid Cooler

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760

Price: $220
Buy It For: That budget PC that you’re building. They owe you big time for your help building a PC!
Buy it from: Amazon
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

If you’re working with a budget, the 760 is your best bet. At around $200, the 760 can easily handle all but the most graphic intensive titles you throw at it with ease in a 1080p resolution. Using 2gig of GDDR5 memory, you may not be able to run all of your games at the maximum settings, but a few video configuration tweaks here and there in your game settings and you can make it look almost as good.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970

Price: $399
Buy It For: Wife: She’d better be a PC Gamer, or it’s the bachelor’s bed (couch) for you. – Husband: He’d better give you that holiday foot rub you ask for every year.
Buy it from: Amazon
Recommended by: Jeff Mills

When it comes to higher end GPUs, none compare to the price vs. performance ratio that the 970 offers. This card is about as powerful as a 780ti but around $100-$150 less than one and on newer hardware. With a good sized amount of 4gig of GDDR5 RAM, it has plenty of overhead for processing higher quality textures and allowing you to bump up those graphics settings in your favorite game.

Note: If you follow the retail links in this post and make purchases on the site(s), Defy Media may receive a share of the proceeds from your sale through the retailer’s affiliate program.

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