After the gaming computer, comes gaming peripherals, and these are the three that deliver the most benefits for the money. Headsets are crucial for communication online, and you’ll spend most of your time inputting with a keyboard and mouse. So here are the choice picks for each this holiday season.
When it comes to communicating in online games, headsets are the best of both worlds. You get solid audio—usually with some surround sound or 3D audio features to give better tells of which direction sounds are coming from—and a microphone that communicates your voice clearly enough. There are plenty of great options now, regardless of your budget.
- Best Overall—HyperX Cloud II: For years, the Cloud II has been at the forefront of affordable gaming headsets, and that hasn’t really changed. Thanks to its comfortable build, quality audio both in and out, and the recent release of a wireless model to accompany the wired version, this headset covers all the bases for a reasonable price. The wireless model is naturally more expensive than the wired, but even the wired model comes with an extremely long cord so no matter which you get, you’ll have plenty of flexibility.
- Best Budget—Razer Kraken X Ultralight: There are few headsets under $50 worth talking about, but the Kraken X is definitely one of them. It has impressive build and audio quality for the money, including an aluminum frame and bendable microphone. Naturally, it won’t blow you away in the audio department, and there are no options for a wireless model, but it’s more than functional for some online games.
- Best Premium—ASTRO Gaming A50: If you’re looking to drop big bucks on a headset, the A50 is happy to comply. This wireless headset features high-quality sound that’s perfect whether you’re playing the latest triple AAA blockbuster or a competitive game online. It also includes a charging base so it looks cool even when not in use. It’s expensive, but if you’re after the best that’s what you have to expect.
From key reprogramming to fancy RGB lights, gaming keyboards are known for being feature-rich and extravagant. Quick response times and useful tools like macros are mainly what you’re after here, but higher prices bring better build quality and mechanical switches that’ll help ensure durability.
- Best Premium—Corsair K100: The K100 has everything you’d expect out of a gaming keyboard and then some. The aluminum body keeps things firm, the Cherry MX Speed Silver switches are responsive for gaming, and the many software features through Corsair iCUE mean you can tailor everything to your liking. Throw in the included wrist rest and various on-board media controls and there’s a reason why this keyboard has remained in good favor for so many years.
- Best Wireless—Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro: Good wireless gaming keyboards are few and far between due to the latency inherent in wireless connections that can mess up inputs in high-stakes games. But Razer has cracked the code with its HyperSpeed wireless, allowing for low-latency inputs over wireless. With media controls, extremely responsive mechanical switches, and software features through Razer Synapse, this keyboard is kitted out for anything you throw at it.
- Best Budget—SteelSeries Apex 3: While the Apex 3 isn’t mechanical like the other keyboards here, it still offers are an impressive number of features for the price. Media controls, software features, and water resistance are all included here for less than $50, along with membrane switches a cut above the rest. Everything can be customized in SteelSeries Engine, and there’s an alternative TKL layout version to choose from as well.
Gaming mice have been increasingly focused on keeping things light recently. A light mouse makes quick movements easy, which is exactly what you want in a high-stakes shooter. While that may seem like a simple task, mouse manufacturers have spent a long time whittling down the weight of their gaming mice for this very reason.
- Best Premium—Razer Viper Ultimate: Using Razer’s HyperSpeed wireless and ultra-fast mechanical mouse switches, the Viper Ultimate is easily one of the most responsive mice on the market. It also features reprogramming through Razer Synapse and up to 70 hours of battery life. The Viper Ultimate covers all the bases you’d want out of a modern wireless gaming mouse while keeping its weight low at 74g.
- Best Budget—Corsair Katar Pro XT: Nothing about the Katar Pro XT seems remarkable, but considering the ultra-low price tag it’s very good. The mouse is shaped for both right-handed and left-handed users, you can reprogram keys with Corsair iCUE, there’s a wired and wireless model to choose from, and at only 73g (96g for wireless version) it’s impressively light. It’s made for peak performance while keeping a low price, and you can’t ask much more from a mouse that costs less than $40.
- Best Lightweight Mouse—Glorious Model O: While the mice we’ve already discussed have been fairly light, the Model O steps things down only weighing 63 or 66 grams depending on which size you get. On top of that, it features premium mouse feet for smooth movements, software features, and an extremely flexible cord to further aid movement. The Model O wants to make sure you have as much freedom as possible when moving your mouse, and it does it all for a reasonable price.