PC Perspective Holiday 2014 Gift Guide
It's that time of year again! When those of us lucky enough with the ability, get and share the best in technology with our friends and family. You are already the family IT manager so why not help spread the holiday cheer by picking up some items for them, and hey...maybe for you. :)
This year we are going to break up the guide into categories. We'll have a page dedicated to PC components, one for mobile devices like notebooks and tablets and one for PC accessories. Then, after those specific categories, we'll have an open ended collection of pages where each PC Perspective team member can throw in some wildcards.
We thank you for your support of PC Perspective through all of 2014. 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 cod directly, it is: pcper0a4-20.
Intel Core i7-4790K Haswell Processor
Last year our pick for the best high-performance processor was the Core i7-4770K, and it sold for $379. This year we have a part running 500 MHz faster, though at higher power, for $80 less. If you are still waiting for a time to upgrade your processor (and hey, games will need more cores sooner rather than later!), the Core i7-4790K looks like a great option and now looks like a great time.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 4GB
Likely the most controversial selection in our gift guide, the GeForce GTX 980 is an interesting product. It's expensive compared to the other options from AMD like the Radeon R9 290X or even the R9 290, but it is also a better performing part; just not by much. The selection process of a GTX 980 stems from other things: G-Sync support, game bundles with Far Cry 4 and The Crew available, GeForce Experience, driver stability and frequency, etc. The GTX 970 is another good choice along these lines but as you'll see below...AMD has a strong contender as well.
AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB
For gamers that are primarily concerned with performance per dollar aspect of their high-end graphics card, the Radeon R9 290X is probably the best choice. For as little as $339, but going up as high as $400, the flagship AMD Hawaii GPU offers performance nearly on par with the GTX 980 but does so with more power, more heat and sometimes more noise (depending on the cooler). But at more than $200 LESS than the GTX 980 - and also including Never Settle game bundles - AMD's partners have an easy sell.
Crucial MX100 Budget SSD
Though opinions will vary depending on who on the PC Perspective staff you ask, all of us can agree that low cost SSDs are still one of the best selections for gifts for yourself or other tech enthusiasts that haven't jumped on this bandwagon yet. Though the Samsung 840 EVO is still a good selection now that the company has fixed the performance degradation issues, Crucial's MX100 gets the nod for us this year. At just $0.39/GB for the 512GB version, you can now comfortably fit your OS and games on a single SSD, and limit the necessity of a larger, spindle drive for gaming.
Corsair Carbide Air 240
Not everyone needs a full size ATX case, and for those of you with smaller aspirations in your PC build, I think you'll find the Corsair Carbide Air 240 to be quite accommodating. It's dual-chamber design separates the power supply and storage components from the motherboard, CPU and GPU, allowing you to improve airflow and keep each set of components at their best. You can pick this case up in either white or black for just $89 and if you look around the various forums you'll find plenty of suggestions for case mods too.
ASUS Z97-Deluxe (NFC & WLC)
If you are heading down the road of the Intel Haswell processor, then you'll need a motherboard to go along with it. One of my favorite motherboards is the ASUS Z97-Deluxe that Morry reviewed back in May. If you get the NFC/WLC model you'll get support for NFC and wireless charging right in the box as well as Thunderbolt connectivity courtesy of the ThunderboltEX II/Dual add-in card. You more or less get everything under the sun for your new system, along with the ASUS overclocking capability and incredibly slick UEFI interface.