Tim and Scott
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium
Falling squarely into the "something I'd like to get, but would not buy for myself" category, a subscription for the premium version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a great gift idea for the techy and non-techy alike. Help keep your family and friends' PCs secure this year with this piece of software, and who knows? – It may just pay for itself with fewer tech support calls and more time spent not working IRL with those same people!
A subscription (unfortunately it is not a one-time purchase like it used to be) starts at $24.95 for 1 PC for 1 year and goes up from there with discounts for combining multiple years and multiple PCs.
Pocket Juice 12,000 mAh Portable Battery Pack
Not sure what to get the geek in your life that seems to have everything? What about more power? Portable power, that is, with a rechargeable battery pack that can provide power to charge up any number of USB-based devices (smartphones, tablets, portable games, a Raspberry Pi, ect). In particular, Walmart has a nice power pack under the Pocket Juice brand. They come in several sizes but the 12,000 mAh (Li-Po) version is neat in that it has two USB ports (one 2.1A, one 1A) as well as two prongs for the wall that fold up for storage allowing you to just plug the battery pack itself into the wall to charge it.
It is light enough to keep in a backpack or purse but with enough power to charge up a smartphone multiple times. The outside has a soft rubberized texture and build quality seems okay for only $20 at your local Wally-World. If you are looking for soemthing a bit higher end, Anker (review) and Lumsing (review) are good brands and Amazon has a huge selection to choose from including those and others. (Note: usually the more expensive the more recharge cycles the batteries are rated for and the case uses more expensive components like aluminum).
Valve's Steam Link Game Streaming Hardware
For the PC gamer in your life, consider picking up a Steam Link for them this holiday season. While not perfect (see our first impressions in the video below), the Link allows you to bring your PC games to the living room using your home network. You can pair the Steam Link with a USB gamepad or even the new Steam Controller. Share in the vast selection of PC games (from all those Steam sales…) with them on the big screen.
The Steam Link is available directly from Valve for $49.99. The Steam Controller will run anouther $49.99. You can also pick up the hardware at your local Gamestop.
Microsoft Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10
This one has a few caveats. First, it is a terrible idea if you intend to purchase it for someone who runs any operating system besides Windows 10. Second, they should already have an Xbox One controller and intend to play gamepad-based games on their PC. (An Xbox One Controller and Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows 10 bundle exists, but at a price that requires more thought.) It could also be a good way to introduce someone who typically plays console games to Super Meat Boy, Rocket League, and other titles that will run on most PCs.
- Amazon.com – $155.01 – Crucial 4x8GB @ 2133 MHz
- Amazon.com – $183.99 – Corsair Vengence LPX 4x8GB @ 2400 MHz
- Amazon.com – $196.99 – Corsair Vengence LPX 4x8GB @ 2666 MHz
- Amazon.com – $199.99 – Corsair Vengence LPX 2x16GB @ 2666 MHz
Now that Skylake has been on the market for a few months and the holiday season approaches, DDR4 RAM has finally dropped to within spitting distance of DDR3 levels. If you own a Skylake-based machine, then prices are on the order of ~25% cheaper than the processor's launch. For instance, four 8GB sticks of Corsair Vengence LPX (32GB) at 2666 MHz are $196.99, which is down from $259.99 in August and September. Two 16GB sticks are just three dollars more!
Haswell-E users will probably be the big winners, though. Through the launch window of those processors, a 32GB kit like we discussed above could maybe be found for $500? Chances are, you probably had to settle for a couple hundred dollars more than that. Now could be the time to fill up the rest of the slots.
Does someone in your house use a desktop PC with a swivvel chair? If so, where do they put their feet? If you find them trying to rest their feet on top of their case, subwoofer, or other miscellaneous junk, then maybe you want to get them an ottoman. While keeping in mind that space can be tight under the desk, there might be room for a tiny, cheap piece of furniture to keep their feet comfortable.
The linked model is just an example that I found on sale when I wrote this. It really depends on size, color and style, whether you want it to have a storage compartment, whether it needs legs to rise above wires, and so forth.