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AusGamers Holiday Buyer’s Guide: 2018 Edition (Part Two)
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From simple trinkets to cool gadgets and awesome game-related merch. Plus, a special VIP section for those with an endless supply of disposable income. Or the Brad Pitt meets George Clooney smarts and know-how to pull off a daring Ocean’s 14: Holiday Heist. Coming soon to Netflix.



Click Here for Part One


Console Wars: Wallet Edition



A buyer’s guide with a videogame theme needs to include a section on consoles. It simply has to. If the Founding Fathers wrote a guide for all of us, err, guide writers to follow they’d probably include a passage like - “For shall it be known, when offering advice on the subject of Pictrola Gamery thoust must include consoles of varying appeal. From the delights of 4 thousand K visuals to being able to play Diablo Von Hellington the Third whilst taking a horse and buggy ride to the theatre.”

This is that section. Be sure to click on each game title to be magically transported to our full review.

PlayStation 4 Pro


When it comes to 2018, the platform of choice for many of our most memorable gaming moments would have to be the PlayStation 4 Pro. And we’re talking about the Pro version because the near-4K resolution and HDR capabilities of the console make it the perfect choice for anyone with on of those new Ultra-High Definition TVs. Playing through God of War this way is how, well, Kratos intended. As the market leader the Sony PlayStation 4 not only has a huge library of exclusives and brilliant third-party titles, but it’s also home to the affordable and impressive PlayStation VR.

Games to Gift: God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2

Price: $529.00 | Link

Xbox One X


The most powerful console currently available certainly lived up to that promise this year with absolutely stunning performance in titles like Forza Horizon 4 and Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2. The addition of subscription service Xbox Game Pass adds incredible value to the hardware by offering a huge library of titles to download and play each and every month. Including several fantastic indies like Ashen and Warhammer Vermintide 2. Naturally, it helps that the 4K and HDR capabilities of the X make it the perfect companion to any high-end display.

Games to Gift: Forza Horizon 4, Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Price: $559.00 (bundled with Battlefield V) | Link

Nintendo Switch


The Nintendo Switch may not have the visual fidelity of either the PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X, but it’s got the goods where it counts. Games. Plus, the ability to play said games on-the-go out in the world. Which makes it the platform of choice for many of 2018’s wonderful indie releases. The handheld capabilities of the Switch are a huge part of its appeal, alongside of course being the home for all the latest Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon action.

Games to Gift: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Dead Cells, Diablo III: Eternal Collection

Price: $399.00 | Link


Hardware



And now we come to the hard stuff. Hardware! This year we had the pleasure of testing and reviewing a wide range of different hardware products ranging from PC memory to headsets and even the best gaming laptops and displays that money can buy. Broken up into different categories based on pricing - Silver, Gold, and Platinum - here are our picks to make anyone’s holiday season that much more Tech. Silver being the more affordable gear, with the Platinum offerings being the stuff that you’d either buy for yourself or for loved ones after winning the lottery like Hurley from hit TV show Lost.


Hardware: Silver



HyperX Cloud Stinger Core


When it comes to gaming headsets, the Cloud Stinger Core from HyperX offers decent sound quality across a wide range of games and hardware. As per our review, “For a budget headset, the Cloud Stinger Core’s sound quality is great – offering a wide frequency range and enough power to properly sell in-game environmental effects and bombastic musical cues.” Not as versatile as oferr offerings in this guide, the Cloud Stinger Core certainly offers the best value for money. Or, for those looking to grab a headset for someone that won't break the bank.

Our Review | Price: $69.95 | Link

HyperX Pulsefire FPS Pro


HyperX has had a stellar year in terms of improving its line-up, especially when it comes to it’s first-person shooter gaming mouse the Pulsefire. As per our review “the HyperX Pulsefire FPS Pro is a sequel to last year’s clicker, but in the traditional Hollywood sense. Bigger, better, and packed with more explosions. Err, features. In that in addition to RGB lighting, and proper software support, you also get the latest Pixart sensor that offers a noticeable improvement.”

Our Review | Price: $89.00 | Link

Plantronics RIG 500 Pro


In 2018 Platronics quickly became on the most trusted names in gaming headsets, and with the Platronics RIG 500 Pro it’s not hard to see (or hear) why - you not only get the right level of comfort for hassle-free gaming sessions but also a balanced sound with great chat capabilities. Plus, Dolby Atmos on Xbox One. “From the rich and clean bass to the crisp highs, even the most action-packed games sound clear and immersive thanks to the effort Plantronics has put into clean distortion free audio. Especially if said games are optimised for Dolby Atmos – the virtual surround that offers excellent results for titles optimised for the technology.”

Our Review | Price: $119.99 | Link

Razer Kraken Tournament Edition


In addition to standing out thanks to its bright green finish (don't worry, it's also available in black), the new Razer Kraken Tournament Edition also happens to be one of the best Razer headsets we’ve had the pleasure of testing. Where audio quality, features, and versatility go hand in hand with the price. “Delivering impressive results across both movies and music with the option to simply unplug from the USB controller and straight into a smart phone, music player, tablet, or laptop. Or even, Nintendo Switch.”

Our Review | Price: $169.95 | Link

Razer Mamba Wireless


A world without wires is the dream. Taking a look behind just about any stacked home theatre cabinet and it’s like looking at the aftermath of a Borg orgy. Which, we’ve been told, happens around this time every year. The new Razer Mamba Wireless is a gaming mouse that more than delivers on the wire-free promise, as well as including a wired option whilst charging. “The new Razer Mamba Wireless may not look all that different, but underneath the hood the new and improved Optical Sensor and long-lasting battery make this a solid all-round performer.”

Our Review | Price: $169.95 | Link


Hardware: Gold



Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition


Although technically an Xbox One controller, the wired nature of the Wolverine Tournament Edition from Razer make it the perfect go-to controller for any gaming PC. In fact, we still use it almost everyday when PC gaming (that is, playing anything on PC that isn’t an FPS or strategy game) thanks to the exceptional build-quality and feel. As per our review, “Another great feature that we believe is exclusive to the Wolverine when it comes to Xbox One controllers, is the mechanical click and responsiveness of the ABXY buttons. It really sets the Wolverine apart from both the standard controller and others on the market, and is the sort of feature that you’ll miss immediately when changing to an alternate input device.”

Our Review | Price: $179.95 | Link

Cooler Master MasterKeys MK750 Mechanical Keyboard


When it comes to keyboards for gaming, the conversation usually begins and ends with the word mechanical. Which results in tactile response, reliability, and build quality. The new MK750 from Cooler Master is high-end in every regard but price. As per our review “it’s hard to fault the Cooler Master MasterKeys MK750, a brilliant mechanical keyboard that offers a simple, elegant, design coupled with great RBG customisation, a comfortable wrist rest, and tactile performance that comes from the use of Cherry MX switches.”

Our Review | Price: $189.00 | Link

Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 Memory


Random Access Memory as a gift? Yep, and no we’re not talking about the excellent Daft Punk album of the same name. Nothing says I love you to a PC hardware enthusiast like some fresh RAM - powered by RGB lighting. And that’s what the Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 Gaming Memory delivers. Plus, performance. As per our review, “Ballistix Tactical Tracer performs admirably – even compared to more expensive and higher frequency RAM.”

Our Review | Price: $299.00 (2 x 8GB 2666 MHz) | Link

Razer Blackwidow Elite


Here it is, perhaps the best keyboard money can buy. From the feel of the mechanical keys to the volume dial to the amazingly comfortable wrist-rest - the Razer Blackwidow Elite is everything we’ve ever wanted in a keyboard. And then some. As per our review, it’s all about that wrist-rest. “With the Blackwidow Elite, Razer has created what is the most comfortable mechanical keyboard we’ve ever had the pleasure to use.”

Our Review | Price: $299.95 | Link

Sennheiser GSP 550


Uncompromised sound quality, that’s pretty much what you get with any of the high-end Sennheiser gaming headsets. The new GSP 550s, which are aimed at the PC market, not only provide great support in the form of customisation and Dolby surround, they’re also Comfortable with a capital C. “What you get with these admittedly high-priced beauties is one of the most comfortable options on the market with open-ear design, a tough outer casing that is easily adjustable to any head size thanks in large part to a dual-axis hinge system and an adjustable headband. They’re also surprisingly light, and even after a few mammoth four and five-hour plus PC gaming sessions, there was little-to-no ear and head pressure.”

Our Review | Price: $299.95 | Link


Hardware: Platinum



Access beyond this point requires membership in the AusGamers Platinum Diners Club, restricted to the most well-known and well-to-do industrialists, capitalists, and err, cyclists.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6


The new Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is the best 2 in 1 currently available. And that’s 2 in 1 in terms of both tablet and PC. Excellent build quality, a wonderfully vivid and responsive touch screen, and the ability to snap onto the now classic fabric keyboard and touchpad combo. Available in everything from a Core i5 with 8GB of RAM to a Core i7 with 16GB the Surface Pro 6 is also surprisingly decent when it comes to game performance. A world class device from Microsoft.

Price: From $1,349.00 | Link

Dell G3 15 Gaming Laptop


Although a Platinum gift in terms of price, the Dell G3 15 Gaming Laptop offers an affordable and budget friendly entrypoint into the world of portable laptop gaming. For the price you get th capable NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti in addition to a 128 GB SSD drive and 8GB of RAM. Although lacking in terms of looks and advanced features and overall style (for that there’s Dell’s Alienware range), the Dell G3 delivers on its promise of entry-level pricing with decent performance.

Price: $1,599.00 | Link

Razer Blade 15 (2018)


The Razer Blade gaming laptop saw some big improvements this year, which helped make it standout among an increasingly populated gaming laptop crowd. From its bigger screen to the bezel-free look, it’s an impressive bit of tech. As per our review, “A more refined and confident visual make-over, near bezel-free design, and the addition of 144 Hz GSYNC 1080p capable output to the already world-class Razer Blade display. The sort of cutting edge feature that lives up to the new tagline ‘Ultra Fast. Ultra Small. Ultra Powerful.”

Our Review | Price: From $3,099.00 (144 Hz model) | Link

ASUS ROG Zephyrus M


Going thinner and lighter has been one of the more welcome trends we’ve seen over the past couple of years when it comes to gaming laptops. Going in this direction, without sacrificing performance, is the key. One that hardware maker ASUS nailed with the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M. As per our review, “the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M (GX501) continues the Zephyrus legacy of providing a powerful gaming laptop within a stylish and sturdy build. And perhaps more importantly, or impressively, in a thin and lightweight form factor too.”

Our Review | Price: ~ $3,299.00 | Link

Alienware AW3418DW UltraWide 120 Hz G-Sync Gaming Monitor


There’s just something about the UltraWide 21:9 aspect ratio that adds to immersion. Once experienced it’s hard to go back, especially with Alienware’s wonderful effort that also pushes the boundary in terms of picture quality. As per our review, “The Alienware 34 Curved Gaming Monitor (AW3418DW) is certainly more than a simple curved display. In addition to its sturdy and visually striking design, you also get brilliant G-Sync performance with support of up to 120 Hz at a WQHD resolution of 3440 x 1440 pixels. Plus, stellar colour, brightness, and contrast.”

Our Review | Price: $2099.00 | Link

Predator X27


The holy grail of displays. That, just like Indiana Jones, has no trouble completing the three trials. “Only the most resolute man shall pass.” Stunning and vibrant 4K. “Only the refresh rate of God shall proceed.” 144Hz G-SYNC for buttery smooth motion. “Only the leap from the brilliant HDR lion head will he prove his worth.” HDR 1000 with reference quality Adobe RGB output for a pristine image. To put it mildly, the Predator X27 is not a power to be messed with. So, we’re thankful that the Grail Knight let us take it home beyond the seal. We chose, most excellently.

Our Review | Price: $2799.00 | Link

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti


And so we come to it. The most powerful GPU on the market, featuring cutting edge technology in the form of real-time ray tracing and AI powered rendering. Which, when enabled in a title like Battlefield V, makes explosions looks magnitudes better than even Michael Bay’s wildest explosion-filled dream. Even regular game performance is remarkable, with almost any game being able to push 4K at over 60 frames-per-second at near or max quality settings. It’s no wonder our review calls it a “4K powerhouse”. And sure, the price is steep. But the 2080 Ti is exactly why a Platinum Club exists.

Our Review | Price: $1899.00 | Link