Scott Michaud’s Picks

My first pick would be the SteelSeries Siberia V2 Headset available with or without a USB soundcard. If you get the one without the USB adaptor you also have a fairly wide choice in colors.

I purchased the SteelSeries Siberia V2 to replace another brand's headset which broke. I have not had it too long so I cannot speak to its long-term durability except that I cannot see many places where it *could* reasonably break unless abused. The earcups squeeze pretty firmly on my head which is a definite plus.

I have somewhat of a reputation for mechanical keyboards. The microphone of the Siberia V2 is uni-directional and does not pick up the Cherry MX Blue switch clicking much at all. I was initially worried about a lack of windscreen although I have never had an issue with breathing into the mic. The mic also slides away into the unit if you need to eat.

The speakers also sound pretty good too. I find max volume to be slightly too loud which is actually a bonus: it is easy to reduce volume (especially with the inline volume control that basically every headset has) but it is pretty hard to increase it. I really do not want to solder together a 9-volt opamp in an Altoids tin. The speakers themselves are also pretty.

The USB version also claims virtual 7.1 surround. I have never tried it so I cannot comment on that. Still, it is about the best headset I have used.

My second pick would be an SSD, any decent SSD.

Last year I recommended getting a second monitor because it makes your PC feel substantially more responsive. I know Al and/or others will probably have specific recommendations for SSDs but all I care about is that you get a half-decent one. Just like last year where I claimed that you do not need a good monitor to enjoy the benefits of extra desktop space, you will be happy enough just getting away from spindle-based HDDs.

So just get one or more decent sized SSDs. They are only between 50 cents and a dollar per gigabyte.

My last pick would be RAM, again any decent RAM.

Like above, RAM prices have fallen off of a cliff. Along with the SSD, RAM will make your computer feel so much more responsive as you do more and more things at once. Most users will only require about 6-8GB to completely max out their usage for the near future so I am not even recommending buying a 32GB kit. If you are only running 2GB, why haven't you upgraded?

« PreviousNext »