HotHardware Holiday Gift Guide 2009

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Okay, so you've got your GPU squared away, but what good are great graphics without great audio to accompany it? No good at all.

Sleek Audio SA1 - $80

Known best for custom earbuds with "tunable acoustics," Sleek's latest pair is far cheaper than its other offerings. Priced for the mid-range market, the SA1s include the same wild acoustic tuning as the more expensive siblings, and anyone other than your audiophile friend shouldn't find much to complain about. Heck, there's even a Kleer wireless module available to cut the cord if you so choose.

V-Moda Vibe II - $120

We'd be remiss of our duties if we didn't include a set of earbuds that played nicely with Apple's iPhone, so if you've got a friend who loves Apple a little too much and needs a new set of buds, these are a solid option. The onboard button enables users to switch between calls and music with little effort, and the headphone's mic and call/music button control are compatible with all iPhone models (1G, 3G, 3GS), iPod nano (4th gen), iPod touch (2nd gen), iPod classic (120GB), MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac Pro (2009 models), as well as with VOIP, Skype, iChat and other audio recording applications.

SteelSeries Siberia v2 - $116

Getting a sound card is obviously just half the problem. Getting a decent set of earphones, headphones, cans or earbuds is the other half--because you know good and well you can't blast the satellites when rocking out at 3AM. The Siberia v2 headset is a great mix of music and chat, enabling online gamers to experience great sound and chat easily with online opponents/team members. And hey, these are fairly wild looking too, so the design-minded gift recipients should be pleased.

Asus Xonar HDAV1.3 Slim - $150

There's one major exception to the rule we noted above. If you're building a specialized machine, such as an HTPC, audio is obviously far more important than with a standard gaming rig. Add in a Blu-ray drive, and things get even more complicated when it comes to getting true multi-channel audio out from a PC. This super slim sound card is designed to operate in cramped media PC enclosures and decode lossless audio formats such as Dolby's TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. If your pal's looking to build an HTPC, you can't go wrong with this card.

Xonar Essence STX PCIe - $175

By and large, the dedicated sound card is dying. Most motherboards now include support for multi-channel audio, leaving cash-strapped consumers with little reason to splurge on something that's already taken care of via an integrated module. This particular card, however, caters to those who only want the best. It promises cleaner audio, more outputs, more support for audio formats and more bells/whistles than you'll ever use. But remember, this is a gift, and there's no denying that someone special would love unwrapping this.

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bob_on_the_cob 5 years ago

$600 for a motherboardIck!

I am actually thinking about grabbing that $99 Phenom x4 for Jens PC.

mentaldisorder 5 years ago

I still think that Thermaltake case is so bizarre, impractical and ridiculously over priced.

Dave_HH 5 years ago

Ridiculously over-priced yes, but I think it's cool!

realneil 5 years ago

I like the CoolerMaster Storm Sniper that my CyberPower PC came in.

As a matter of fact, I like the whole thing, and thanks again HotHardware, Dave, and Marco for changing my mind about Intel Based PC's, and giving me a whole new insight into PC Gaming.

I still have a moment when I head into the 'Computer Lair' and see it sitting there.


Thanksgiving indeed!!

ClemSnide 5 years ago

I considered the Thernaltake Level 10, but (1) it's more expensive than someone who shoves their case under their desk would want, (2) not really sure bout the airflow, and (c) it's too flagey. See, when your case gets dusty, you can just run a Clorox Wipe over it, taking about thirty seconds out of your busy day... if it's a traditional box case. This, you'd have to reach into all the nooks and crannies. That'd take far too much time out of our very important WoW levelling process. Same with the Aurora ALS ("Lou Gehrig's Disease") case, though it'd be amusing to watch the fins open and close like the machine was breathing.


It's also kinda troubling that only one item on the Guide overlaps with what I' using for my new rig. Oh well! I wasn't going to go $600 for a motherboard. Or anything, for that matter.


I should also mention that Micro Center has some great prices on processors; their i7 920 goes for under $200.

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