HP TECH TAKES /...
5 Tips for Choosing the Best Gaming PC this Holiday Season
With the holidays approaching, chances are you may run across a gamer or two on your list as you’re getting ready to shop for friends and family. Gaming continues to rise in popularity, and PC gaming is growing along with it.
When it comes to finding good gifts for PC gamers, the first (and perhaps final) stop on your journey will likely be a dedicated gaming PC. As you shop for a PC gaming rig, there are several important things to keep in mind:
- Check for adequate graphics and hardware specs
- Compare display size and resolution
- Look for improved heat regulation and cooling
- Make sure it has room to upgrade and expand
- Don’t forget gaming accessories
But before you start shopping, it’s important to know the type of PC gamers on your list.
What type of PC gamer are you shopping for?
Some gamers are casual, and they tend to play their favourite games as a way to relax after work or between chores. Others are active throughout the day, gaming for long stretches and taking advantage of every opportunity they can to dive back in to the game. Where and how they game is also important. But when it comes to the two types of PC gamers, let’s narrow it down to the basics: desktop or laptop PC.
For the serious at-home gamer, the sky is the limit. Hardcore gamers are always looking for the best specs. The HP OMEN 875-1009 gaming PC is a fantastic desktop option that provides powerful hardware and specs, as well as plenty of space to upgrade over time. Plus, it comes with support for 5.1 surround sound.
Casual gamers are usually more flexible and aren’t as concerned with having the latest hardware. This is exactly what makes the HP Pavilion TG01-0299 gaming PC a great choice for more casual players, because it’s priced affordably and still delivers strong performance. It also features HP OMEN Command Center for total control over the device.
Just like with desktop users, gifts for serious laptop gamers should center on the HP OMEN series. The HP OMEN 17-cb1010ca gaming laptop is a popular option that features robust hardware, NVIDIA® G-SYNC™ technology, and a stunning 17.3-inch diagonal display.
For casual laptop gamers, the HP Pavilion gaming laptop line is full of appropriate options that boast strong specs. Most of these laptops feature a 15.6-inch display, but some go up to 16.1 inches if your gamer needs the extra display space.
5 Tips for choosing the best gaming PC this holiday season
Now that you know the type of PC gamer you’re shopping for, let’s get started on their wish list and how you can find the best fit for gamers this year.
1. Check for adequate graphics and hardware specs
When shopping for a new gaming PC, it’s important to have a clear baseline for graphics performance and overall specs. Few other factors will save your gamer more headaches and frustration down the line.
Your first priority should be a PC with a dedicated graphics card. While integrated graphics may be able to handle plenty of games, most gamers would rather avoid the guessing game; “Will this work with my PC?” An NVIDIA GeForce® GTX graphics card sets the bar high and is included in most HP gaming devices.
But serious gamers also need more memory and storage. Look for 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage as a target for this audience. While casual and mobile gaming won’t require quite as much, you’ll still want to look for at least 12GB RAM and 1TB storage.
Fortunately for laptop buyers, questions about hardware and graphics are a little less high-pressure when you shop from a dedicated gaming line. Just focus on the HP OMEN and the HP Pavilion gaming series to guarantee you’re choosing a device with gaming potential.
2. Compare display size and resolution
It’s also important to consider the ideal display size and necessary resolution for your gamer’s situation. Focus on high-definition options and refresh rate. The HP OMEN series boasts incredible specs at 144 Hz as the standard minimum, but HP® has a variety of products with similar numbers.
For serious desktop gamers or for laptop gamers using a dock, avoiding lag or latency issues on a display is paramount. The popular HP OMEN X 27 240 Hz gaming monitor is always a strong choice, thanks to its 27-inch Quad High Definition (QHD) resolution and lightning-fast 240 Hz refresh rate.
The HP OMEN X 25 monitor is another standout option with an affordable price point and 144 Hz refresh rate. But if you want a bigger screen for gaming and mixed use, then take a look at the HP Pavilion 32 QHD 32-inch display. In addition to QHD resolution, anti-glare, and AMD FreeSync™, you get even more screen real estate at 32 inches diagonal.
3. Look for improved heat regulation and cooling
Gaming is a resource-intensive activity for any device, and the best computers for gamers provide some level of improved onboard thermal regulation.
Cooling features come in all shapes and sizes. Built-in fans and venting are the most common ways to improve ventilation, but the best gaming laptops will offer a few improvements. The HP OMEN 15-dh1020ca gaming laptop, for example, boasts proprietary HP OMEN tempest cooling technology.
Expect even more cooling options from a gaming desktop. The HP OMEN 880-120 gaming PC boasts a comprehensive system with wraparound vents, a 120 mm front fan, and optional liquid cooling. These are all important features for reducing lag and hardware strain.
4. Make sure it has room to upgrade and expand
Desktop gamers have the distinct advantage of expanding their rigs as new hardware becomes available. HP gaming computers are designed to make access for maintenance and upgrades easy, which allows your gift recipient to extend the lifespan of their device.
As their video game library grows, they can simply open the chassis, install an additional hard drive or a new GPU and get back to it. Plus, easy-access features help make cleaning the rig a breeze.
In terms of expansion and growth, desktop PCs edge out the competition because they’re often made for upgrades down the line. This also allows you to save at checkout because you can upgrade specs later.
Laptop gamers gain mobility but the configuration is mostly set for the lifetime of the device. If you’re considering a laptop as a dedicated gaming platform, make sure to pick a model built for the long term.
5. Don’t forget gaming accessories
Are you looking for a few other gaming PC gifts to round out the perfect present? Don’t overlook accessories! They’re always great gifts to buy for gamers, especially for those on your list who already have a gaming laptop or desktop rig. Here are a few top gifts for PC gamers this holiday season.
While either wired or wireless mice are acceptable options, most gamers prefer a wired mouse. They guarantee the best possible responsiveness, reduce the risk of lag, and protect your in-game experience. The HP OMEN Mouse 400 is a standout choice that’s designed just for gamers, with an ergonomic design and high customisability. It also features Omron mechanical switches to increase responsiveness and extend the mouse’s lifespan.
Dedicated gaming keyboards
You can also find gaming keyboards designed for the utmost responsiveness and customization. The HP OMEN sequencer keyboard features optical-mechanical Blue switches that provide a 0.2 ms response time, which is 10 times faster than a conventional keyboard. It’s designed to adapt to their gaming style as well, with extensive colour and key customization from HP OMEN Command Center.
Headsets for deeper immersion
One of the best ways to deepen your gamer’s immersion is with a gaming headset. It allows them to focus on the game while they also communicate with other players. It’s important for the VR experience, too, especially if you want to avoid investing in an elaborate stereo system. Not only that, but you won't have to listen to their in-game chatter if it’s happening in their ears only.
The HP OMEN headset 800 is a comfortable and versatile pick with surround sound to make the game feel more real than ever. It features a retractable microphone for single-player sessions and a durable cord that prevents kinking. It also boasts 0.5 mm to single 4-pole adapter, so you can use it with other devices. For the VR gamer on your list, check out the HP Reverb G2 virtual reality headset.
When you’re shopping for the best gift for the PC gamers on your list, remember to focus on a dedicated graphics card from NVIDIA or AMD, 1TB of storage, and at least 12GB of RAM for the casual gamer and 16GB of RAM for serious gamers. From there, look for a high-resolution display with high refresh rates, as well as the right accessories and room for expansion. Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to prioritize cooling, especially for serious gamers.
Dedicated gaming hardware is always going to rank high on any list of gifts for computer gamers, whether it’s the holiday season or that special someone’s birthday. Remember to keep our tips in mind and you’re sure to provide many years of entertainment with your choice.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.