HotHardware Holiday Gift Guide 2009

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Pre-Built Gaming Desktops and Conclusion


When it's time to take down the tree and look forward to ringing in the New Year, you'll probably have a much easier time dealing with the letdown if you've received (or have given) a brand new PC. Or, at least that's our best guess. To close this year's Holiday Gift Guide out, we'll point you to a few of our favorite pre-built gaming rigs that emerged in 2009. Good luck out there shopping, and Happy Holidays!

Lenovo IdeaCentre all-in-one desktop  - $699 (and up)



To kick this product category off, we'll offer a suggestion for those of you looking to maximize space and/or perhaps add a system to your home with more style than the average mid tower box.  The Lenovo IdeaCenter all-in-one desktop we tested at the time came with Windows Vista installed but we'd highly suggest going with Windows 7 as your OS option of choice at this point.  Ours came with a bit more horsepower but starting at $699, you can get a 2.1GHz Core 2 Duo machine with 2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive.  At its base configuration, you'll get integrated Intel X4500 graphics which will offer at least decent HD video playback.  However, if you want a little casual, light gaming on this machine, step up to an ATI Radeon HD 4650-enabled configuration.  Get the Blu-ray player option while you're at it, if you plan to have this system double as a complete entertainment center in the dorm room.

Maingear X-Cube - $879 (and up)



Not everyone needs a monster gaming rig, and not everyone has unlimited space for a full-tower. The X-Cube is a very respectable mid-range desktop that can be souped up for medium-duty gaming, A/V editing or just watching multimedia. It's also great for doubling as a LAN party rig, and the lower starting price makes it a more viable gift for most.

CyberPower Gamer Extreme 3000 Core i7 860  System - $995 (and up)



CyberPower impressed us earlier back in October with their Core i7 860-infused Gamer Extreme 3000 rig. Though our test system was outfitted with a few higher end components, a base system can be had for just under $1K, stock built with 4GB of RAM, a 700W PSU (650W pictured), ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics and a pretty swank Thermaltake Element chassis.

Maingear SHIFT - $2199 (and up)



Maingear has really stepped it up this year, and the towering SHIFT is its crown creation of 2009. Totally customizable to fit your needs, you can get a DVD or Blu-ray drive, the most expensive Core i7 CPU that you can buy, Windows 7, up to 12 SSDs,  8GB+ of RAM and an optional water cooling system. Oh, and the case doesn't look half-bad either.  Check the motherboard and card slot orientation on this baby.

Dell - Alienware Aurora ALX - $2299 (and up)



Got a taste for the high-end? Alienware's got your quencher, as the heart-pounding Aurura ALX provides more power than most individuals would know what to do with. The hardcore gamer in your family would understand though, and they'd probably be owing you favors for the rest of their adult life should you gift them with this.

BFG Phobos - $3000 (and up)



With Core i7 CPUs across the board, the range of Phobos machines are oozing with speed. From the classy, high-tech case to the cutting-edge lineup of internal parts, there's hardly anything this thing can't do. The best money can buy? Probably.
This concludes our 2009 Holiday Gift Guide, but we'd like to point out that these items are far from the only ones deserving. We've highlighted a few of our favorites in 2009, but we'd love to hear some of your alternatives down in comments. Got any good gifts you're giving away or begging to receive? Let us know!

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