It’s the holiday season, and that means fantastic deals on a lot of stuff you’ll put in your closet and never use! We here at USgamer are back with another round of gift guides, but this year, we’re narrowing our focus a bit. Instead of a general “this is what you should buy,” our gift guides are aimed at specific types of recipients.
For this particular gift guide, I’ll be helping you pick out all the equipment that your loved one would need to start up their own Twitch, YouTube, or Mixer stream. We can’t give you the effort—streaming or making videos on a regular basis to build an audience is a long, hard process—but we can point out the hardware that’ll make it easier.
The Best Gaming Hardware for PC
Panel: ASUS ROG PG279Q
If you take a quick look at the spec of this panel, you might notice that it’s not a 4K panel. 4K is great for your personal play, but if you’re streaming, you’re rarely sending a 4K stream out into the world. This monitor comes in at 27-inches with a 2560×1440. It’s an IPS panel, meaning the colors are fantastic at viewing angles up to 178 degrees. Since it’s not 4K, you benefit from being able to hit refresh rates higher than 60Hz, topping out at 144Hz out of the box. The PG279Q is also G-Sync compatible if you own an Nvidia card, meaning your visual experience will be mostly stutter free. If you’re rocking an AMD card, try out the Asus MG279Q, which is essentially the same monitor, but for Freesync.
Second Monitor: BenQ Zowie RL2455S
I can’t live without a second monitor. It’s just not possible once you get used to working and playing on two screens. But you might not want to spend the pretty penny necessary to go all-out on a second monitor. Well, BenQ has you covered. The Zowie RL2455 is mad cheap, coming in at a clean $140. This is a standard 1920×1080 24-inch panel running at 60Hz, but it features a low 1ms response time and a Black Equalizer feature to bump up the contrast. It’s the best gaming monitor for the cheapskate inside.
Keyboard: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum
The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is one of the best gaming keyboards you can pick up at the moment. It’s a full-sized monster and it’s a bit pricey, but for $129-165 you get the basics and all the bells and whistles like metal construction for the base, RGB lighting, media controls, a USB passthrough, and a detachable wrist rest. It’s simply a fantastic keyboard, without muddying its design with “gamer” aesthetics. The K95 comes in two price points, depending on which type of mechanical keys you want: the linear Cherry MX Speed or the clicky Cherry MX Brown. I’d go with the latter, but that’s because I write for a living. If you want some more information on the keyboard, check out our review of its non-RGB counterpart.
Keyboard: Logitech K840
Again, if you’re looking to spend a little less, there is an option available to you. This isn’t technically a gaming keyboard, but it does the job quite well. The K840 is actually the non-RGB version of the Logitech G512 Carbon; same look, same build quality, same Logitech Romer-G switches. What it lacks is the RGB lighting, or even the single-color backlighting of the similar G413. But without fancy lights, you get a strong workhorse of a keyboard for cheap.
Gaming Mice: Logitech G502 Lightspeed Wireless
Logitech is going to be the best manufacturer for gaming mice if only because of the Powerplay charging mat. This is a mouse pad that charges the mouse while you play and it’s frankly indispensable if you’re going to be gaming for long hours. You have two strong options in terms of gaming mice that are compatible with the Powerplay. If you’re fine with the hard edge of gaming ergonomics, go with the G502, which includes modular weights, a DPI switch, and additional programmable buttons. If you want something a bit more understated, go with the Logitech G Pro Wireless. It’s quite plain, but sports fantastic build quality. Both mice also include Logitech’s low-latency Lightspeed wireless technology and 16K HERO sensor for accuracy. It’s just a matter of what type of mouse you prefer.
The Best Gaming Hardware for Console
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
If you’re going to be playing games this much, even your console controllers need to be up to snuff. You can use a standard Xbox One controller, but it’s going to wear out quicker than you’d expect. Instead, there is a premium alternative available. The Xbox Elite Series 2 is the granddaddy of Xbox One controllers. Not only do you get a better build quality over the standard controller, the entire thing is modular. You can switch out the directional pad, change the length and tension of the analog sticks, and program every button on the controller, including the additional paddles on the rear. The Xbox Elite is pricey, but if you spend the time customizing it, the price absolutely pays off.
Astro Gaming C40 TR Controller
That only works if you’re on Xbox One though. If you’re on PlayStation 4, this is a good alternative. Out of the box, you’ll feel the impressive build quality of this hefty marvel. Like the Xbox Elite, this is a modular controller, allowing you to remove the faceplate and change the position of the analog sticks: DualShock or Xbox configurations. Unlike some of its competition, you only get one pair of rear paddles, but for many people that’s going to be enough. The biggest problem with the Astro C40 over the competition is that it doesn’t have a battery indicator when plugged into the PS4 and it won’t turn the system on and off. (The officially licensed Scuf Vantage 2 does have both of these features, I just enjoy the feeling of the C40 more.) Otherwise, this is the PlayStation 4 controller I swear by.
8Bitdo Sn30 Pro+ Bluetooth Gamepad
Likewise, there’s an option for all you Switch players out there. This gamepad from 8bitdo features Super Nintendo styling at its core, but improves upon that classic controller. You have some long arms for grip, dual analog sticks, and the ability to customize the button mappings. The latter feature requires you to hook the controller to a PC, but 8bitdo’s software is easy to get used to. The Switch Pro controller is good, but this is better.
The Best Streaming Hardware
Elgato Game Capture HD60 S+
I have every single Elgato Game Capture model, and the company has done a great job of improving them over the years. The latest version is the HD60 S+, which retains the simple pog shape of the HD60 S. It’s easy to hook up—HDMI In, HDMI Out, and a USB-C USB 3.0 port—and connects easily to Elgato’s software, OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS, and XSplit. The “+” denotes the ability to passthrough video signals up to 4K 60FPS with HDR and capture 1080p 60FPS with HDR, whereas the HD60 S topped out at 1080p 60 FPS. If you don’t need those extra bells and whistles, the HD60 S will also treat you right.
Samson G-Track Pro
Since we’re starting out in the streaming world, it’s worthwhile to get a solid microphone. This is one part of your connection with viewers, so it should be a good connection. While you could jump up to a $400 Shure SM7B or a solid XLR mic like the Audio-Technica AT2020, here’s an easier option. The Samson G-Track Pro is a straight-up professional-level condenser mic like the AT2020, but it has a USB connection. You get 24-bit, 96kHz digital recording and three different pickup patterns to work with, even though you’ll likely only need one. The price and features are perfect for this mic.
Logitech G Pro X Gaming Headset
The Logitech Pro X is a wonderfully sleek headset, skipping most of the hallmarks of “gaming” design aesthetic. You get a setup that’s made of metal and leather, and feels amazingly comfortable on your head. There’s a 3.5mm cable connection in order to hook the Pro X to nearly any console, and a USB sound card for the PC connection. And if you happen to use the built-in microphone—which you can pull right off—it’s a Blue Voice mic with additional voice filters and equalizer settings. If you’re a legit audiophile, it’s probably the best gaming headset you can pick up.
Elgato Key Light
Lighting is damned important, because viewers have to be able to see you. While you could go to Home Depot and pick up some cheap clamp lights, the issue there is there’s no way to easily diffuse that light, leading to harsh lighting conditions. Enter the Elgato Key Light, which is a flat bay of LED lights. Key Light outputs up to 2500-lumens, has a built-in diffuser, and you can control the intensity of the light via the Elgato Control Center. It’ll cost you, but it’s by far one of the easiest light solutions to deal with. It even works with the Elgato Stream Deck!
Neewer Lighting Kit
If you have the floor space and are willing to put a little bit more effort into setup, this lighting kit will help. You get two LED lights, each with their own stands and diffusers. Both lights are dimmable and you can place them anywhere around your room. At this level, you’re looking at something closer to a professional camera lighting setup, but you also save $100 over the Elgato Key Light.
Logitech C922 Pro Stream
There are better options available. You could go for the 4K Logitech Brio and Elgato’s Cam Link with a full-fledged DSLR, but at the end of the day, video of you isn’t as important as the game. The Logitech C922 has a decent price tag, and streams at 1080p30 or 720p60. It plugs right into any USB port and clips right to the top of your monitor. The Logitech G922 is no muss, no fuss. Once you’ve grown your viewership, then you can buy a better camera.