Our recommendations for holiday tech
It's that time of year again, where giving thanks has given way to the season of gift-giving. And what could be better than giving (or getting) the latest technology this year? Whatever your budget there's a good chance at least part of your holiday shopping this season will include some sort of tech hardware, and once again the staff here at PC Perspective have put together some of our recommendations. Sure, we might be biased in our belief that PC hardware and other tech gadgets make the best gifts, but we live and breathe this stuff every day (it's hard to turn it off!).
Our guide is once again broken up into categories, beginning with this page dedicated to PC components. Next up we have one for mobile devices like notebooks and tablets, and then one for PC accessories. Then our staff members have the chance to throw in some "wildcard" picks on the remaining pages.
We thank you for your support of PC Perspective through all of 2015. The links included below embed our affiliate code to Amazon.com (when applicable) and if you are doing other shopping for the holidays this year we would appreciate it if you used the button above before perusing Amazon.com. In case you want to know the affiliate code directly, it is: pcper0a4-20.
You can also support PC Perspective through your Amazon gift card purchases, and then purchase whatever you want!
Intel Core i7-6700K Quad-Core Unlocked Processor – $431, Amazon
Last year we picked the Intel Core i7-4790K as our high-end consumer desktop CPU, and with a current retail somewhere near $300 (Amazon) it's a fantastic option, and still the #1 selling CPU on Amazon. Going forward the Z170 platform will be the enthusiast standard as Z97 starts to be phased out, but the poor availability of the 6th-generation Intel Skylake unlocked parts (particularly this i7-6700K) has helped keep the new platform from wider adoption. The $400+ retail for this CPU is steep, but there is no faster option outside of the X99 platform processors.
Intel Core i5-6600K Quad-Core Unlocked Processor – $254.99, Amazon
For a more affordable option, particularly for gaming where the importance of Hyper-Threading is debatable, the unlocked quad-core i5-6600K is a very attractive option if you want to get into an unlocked Skylake CPU for a lot less money.
Intel Core i3-6100 – $131.49, Amazon
Having been very impressed with the performance of the 4th-gen Core i3-4130 processor, the move to 6th-gen Skylake will only provide more per-thread performance for a dual-core part that still plays the latest quad-core dependent games thanks to Hyper-Threading.
AMD Athlon X4 860K Quad-Core Processor – $69.99, Amazon
The king of the budget quad-core processors, the 860K provides very good performance that might be a little below Intel's Core i3, but for about half the price it's a sensational way to start a build that will still play all the latest games and provide a good productivity experience.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti (Zotac) – $599, Amazon
At the top of the performance (and price) charts we have options this year from both AMD and NVIDIA. We'll start with NVIDIA, where the mighty GeForce GTX 980 Ti can now be found starting at $599 as seen with the above Zotac variant.
AMD Radeon R9 Fury X (PowerColor) – $589, Amazon
The R9 Fury X is finally starting to show up under $600, as evidenced by the PowerColor version linked above. Depending on your needs (and preferences) this might be a better option than the GTX 980 Ti for the same money, and with the potential to overclock this liquid-cooled card now fully enabled it could soon become an even better option.
AMD Radeon R9 390 (Gigabyte) – $299.99, Amazon
There are a number of reasonably-priced options for AMD's R9 390, and currently the Gigabyte is the lowest at just $299.99 for a card that is finally selling below $300 (if only by a penny). A 390X is still selling for about $80 more that this, and for gaming below 4K this 390 is all you'd really need (plus the savings can be spent on an SSD!).
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB (Zotac) – $169.99, Amazon
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti (EVGA) – $119.99, Amazon
A couple of lower-cost NVIDIA options, these two represent a significant amount of power for the money, and would make a welcome upgrade for existing systems for a great 1080p gaming experience.
Sandisk Ultra II 960 GB SSD – $199, Amazon (may be out of stock currently!)
While stock status isn't guaranteed for this smoking $0.20/GB SSD deal, this SanDisk Ultra II SSD is the lowest price we've ever seen per GB for an SSD. Prices for solid-state storage have been dropping more rapidly (with the mythical $0.10/GB sounding more likely every month), and while the Ultra II isn't the fastest consumer SSD it's still plenty fast for this much storage space.
The smaller 480 GB version of the Ultra II SSD is selling for $107.49 on Amazon (when in stock), making the value nearly as good for what is still a lot of fast storage space.
Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD – $147.99, Amazon
While not as tempting as a value SSD compared to the SanDisk Ultra II above, the 850 EVO is a higher performance drive, and this is a fantastic deal for the 500GB version. $0.30/GB is very reasonable for one of the fastest SATA III SSDs you can buy.
Samsung 950 Pro 256GB SSD – $197.99, Amazon
Speaking of fast SSD's, the current king of consumer solid-state speed is none other than the Samsung 950 Pro, and if you have a compatible system (or an inexpensive PCIe adapter card) you'll be blown away by this drive, which is surprisingly affordable given its performance.