2020 has been a hard year for all of us. A lot of us resilient humans have found that we suddenly have a lot of time on our hands, and some of us have decided to take up new hobbies. For a lot of people, gaming has been a perfect escape from this year’s hardships, and a lot of people who have never picked up a video game in their lives have suddenly taken it up.
But as a new gamer, the industry can be scary. What tech do you need? What brands are best? Don’t you worry – we’ve compiled a list of the must-have gaming devices for 2021.
Must-Have Gaming Devices
1. GAMING HEADPHONES
If there’s anywhere you should start, it’s gaming headphones. Audio can make or break a game’s experience, and audio is only as good as the device you’re hearing it through. A lot of next-generation games have been taking advantage of new technology such as binaural audio – a process in which the audio is recorded through two microphones to give it a 3D effect, as though you were really hearing the game audio in real life.
A great pair of headphones is essential for a next-level gaming experience. The Razer Blackshark V2 gaming headset is PC Gamer Magazine’s Editor’s Choice for gaming headsets. It’s a lightweight, comfortable set with an integrated USB sound card included – which means you can run THX Spatial Audio with software if you wish.
They also have an excellent onboard microphone for when you’re playing with your friends or online. The only downfall of the Razer Blackshark V2 is that they are wired – no wireless play here.
2. HANDHELD CONSOLES
We love gaming on the go, and mobility is no longer limited to your phone. A handheld console can let you take your favorite games anywhere – to your friend’s place, on the bus, on a plane, or anywhere else you can think of. Even if you’re spending a lot of time at home these days, a handheld console allows you to game without taking over a TV, letting you stay in the room with your loved ones while they watch TV, movies, or even while they play other games.
By far the most popular handheld console out currently is the Nintendo Switch. The blockbuster console came out in 2017, and its popularity hasn’t waned. The main attraction of the Switch is its versatility – the console comes with a dock that allows you to play on a TV, but it can also be taken out of this dock and used as a handheld console.
Though there have been some issues with the system’s controllers, Nintendo will repair this problem for free, so the Switch is definitely a good gaming device for life in 2021. However, thrifty buyers beware – due to significant cuts in Nintendo’s production caused by the pandemic, the availability of the Nintendo Switch has dropped significantly, and the price has spiked.
3. NEXT-GEN CONSOLES
If you’re just getting into gaming now, you probably want to invest in the latest tech. A next-generation console will be the video gaming device for which the newest games will be released, and there are some gems coming down the line that you won’t want to miss. Additionally, next-gen consoles are the most likely to have the next-gen tech, meaning that they’re often capable of things that older consoles and even PCs aren’t.
One of the most highly anticipated next-gen consoles being released in 2020 is the PS5. The latest iteration of the PlayStation series is a tall, sharp, distinctive look into the future of gaming. The beautifully designed console sports a custom 825 GB solid-state drive – this new tech significantly cuts downloading times and moves data at astonishing speeds.
Sony has also created custom audio technology for it, referred to as the Tempest 3D Audio Engine. It’s designed to make the in-game audio as realistic and immersive as possible.
The console is available with or without a disk drive, depending on your preference, and will be released on November 12, 2020. You can see the full specs for the console here.
4. HIGH REFRESH RATE DISPLAY
We’ve talked about audio, but what about visuals? Modern gaming monitors have all sorts of features to look forward to, but the most important is a display with a high refresh rate. A higher refresh rate makes gaming much smoother and prevents lag in games with higher level graphics. It can even improve your gaming skills because your inputs will be recognized faster.
The Asus MG279Q is an older model, but it still has a lot of decent features for the price. It has 1440p resolution and 144Hz refresh rate, making it a powerhouse of a monitor. It also supports FreeSync rather than Nvidia’s G-Sync, meaning that this monitor has a much lower price point.
Unfortunately, it lacks a High Dynamic Range (HDR), so the colors might be a little more muted than what’s on a newer monitor.
5. PROGRAMMABLE RGB STRIPS
If you’ve ever wanted mood lighting for your PC, look no further. While not technically a video gaming device, programmable RGB strip lighting can add an extra touch to your favorite machine. RGB strips are the ultimate in PC customization – they can display any color in the RGB spectrum and can flash or change in any pattern that you like. So if you’ve decided to build your own PC, you can spice it up exactly the way you want it.
One of the more popular RGB sets that you can get is the Airgoo 4Pin RGB Strip Light set. The movement of the lights is completely customizable, and the lights are compatible with a wide range of motherboards and sync software. They are also compatible with Airgoo’s Magnetic Light Strips for easy installation.
6. GAMEPAD FOR PC
If you’re primarily a PC gamer, investing in a gamepad is entirely necessary. Some games just aren’t designed for a mouse and keyboard, and a gamepad can give you the control and fine motor movement that a traditional PC setup lacks. It’s also good to have the option to swap between the two to find a control setup that works for you.
The Astro C40 TR controller is an excellent candidate for all your PC gaming needs. The most unique quality of the C40 is that the parts are modular, meaning that you can swap parts around to make a truly customized gamepad. It also has its own Windows software for PC compatibility, despite being designed for the PlayStation 4.
With the software, you can remap the controls and adjust the sensitivity of the buttons, amongst other things. It also has an audio equalizer for the integrated headphone jack, a weird and wonderful addition. Though it sits at a very high price point – almost $400 USD on Amazon – the C40 promises premium quality and complete customization.
7. GAMING KEYBOARD AND MOUSE
While having a PC compatible gamepad is a must, two of the most essential PC gaming devices are the humble keyboard and mouse. There are a lot of games that are designed for a keyboard and mouse control scheme, and if you’ve invested in a high-quality PC and monitor, you should have a high-quality keyboard and mouse to match. Additionally, it’s generally cheaper to get a keyboard and mouse as a pair. Of course, if you find a keyboard and mouse separately that are good for you, it’s fine to mix and match them, but we have a pair that you might like.
The Corsair Gaming K55 mouse and keyboard combo is a good option. The keyboard is backlit with three different color zones and 10 separate modes, allowing you to customize the lighting to your personal aesthetic. The keyboard also has membrane keys, which allows it to be more accurate and faster than a regular mechanical keyboard. It also has six macro keys that can be programmed for specific game actions, and media controls that allow you to control your audio without having to exit your game.
The mouse is capable of 6000 DPI and is incredibly responsive. This pair has little to no lag, and its ergonomically contoured to make sure that your experience is as comfortable as possible. The mouse has rubber grips to make sure that it doesn’t slip in your hand during crucial moments. The mouse features 6 buttons that you can also program to particular game inputs for extra convenience.
The best part? Both of these are plug-and-play, requiring no setup or installation before you use them.
Gaming technology is changing fast in 2020 – all we can do is attempt to keep up. But whether you’re just getting into gaming, or you’re looking for new gaming devices to add to your experience, this list is an all-star look at some of the most essential gear for gaming. Whether it’s headphones, controllers, or RGB lighting, gear really does make the gamer. The world of gaming devices is so vast, it can be overwhelming sometimes. We hope we gave you a good place to start.