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Gaming setups can be very personal. If you're anything like me, your setup has been forged over countless hours on tech forums, seeking out ways to make the most of your current setup, and discovering what products you actually need for your preferences. Whether you're a hobbyist or a full-time streamer, there are a few must-haves that can help you grow your gaming setup with the various bits and bobs you prefer.
If you have been looking to upgrade your gaming setup or build one from scratch, look no further. We've rounded up 12 of our favorite and expert-tested pieces of tech that you can use for gaming, as well as some of our all-time favorite gaming items that we've tried. Here is everything you need for the ultimate gaming setup.
1. Our favorite gaming chair
This is a throne fit for Emily Kaldwin herself (I see you, Dishonored 2 fans). The AKRacing Core Series EX offered the best performance out of all the gaming chairs we tested, boasting lumbar-support pillows, an adjustable neck for ultimate posture maintenance, and excellent adjustable armrests. It’s a seriously comfortable place to nestle into when you get sucked into a game for hours on end.
If you're looking to spend a little money on a more luxurious item, however, the SecretLabs Omega earned our Best Upgrade pick and is definitely a fan favorite in the gaming community.
2. Noise-canceling headphones for immersive play
If you're in the market for a high-quality pair of noise-canceling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM4s are our favorite noise-canceling headphones. We've tested plenty of noise-canceling and wireless headphones and this powerhouse pair by Sony came out on top, comfortable enough for all-day wear and providing high-quality audio, as well as features like active noise cancelation that allows you to adjust how much noise is blocked out.
It’s important to note that some reviewers have said that these headphones may experience lag depending on your gameplay specifications and setup. If you want to be sure you're getting the best audio quality, use the aux cord that’s included.
3. A high-powered gaming monitor
Graphics are everything when it comes to the best gaming experience, which is why investing in a good monitor is pretty much essential. The Acer Predator XB253Q Gwbmiiprzx topped our testing pool as the best gaming monitor, offering a high contrast ratio, a 240 Hz refresh rate that can keep up with almost anything you throw at it, and an adjustable stand for the best viewing angle.
4. A gaming laptop to take your campaign mobile
For a long time, I wasn't a gaming laptop fan. But with technology improving and the rise of next-gen gaming laptops, they’re a great choice if you want a high-powered machine that can withstand long hours of gaming. Plus, it’s less expensive compared to constantly upgrading a PC. The Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition is pretty universally agreed to be a powerhouse when it comes to gaming, and when we tested it we found that the use of AMD's Smart Access Memory to boost frame rates in-game really made this laptop a standout—and the battery life too!
5. Our favorite VR headset
Into VR gaming? We recommend this VR headset from Facebook's Oculus collection, which is the best one we’ve ever tested. The Oculus Quest 2 is a fantastic VR option, with great specs, a comfortable design, and a catalog of excellent games at its disposal. If you've been looking to get into VR and want options at a good cost, the Oculus Quest 2 fits the bill.
The only downside is that the Oculus Quest requires a Facebook login, so if you're not on Facebook you might want to try one of the other VR headset options we tested and loved, like the Merge AR/VR Headset.
6. A highly adaptable mouse
If you want a mouse that will provide comfort and stability over long hours of gameplay, the Dark Core RGB Pro is your best bet. It’s our favorite of all the gaming mice we tested and has an up to 18,000 DPI sensor, eight programmable buttons, nine RGB lighting zones, and a great battery life.
7. An Xbox Game Pass
A lot of game consoles are moving toward subscription-based models for their games and services for access to a ton of games for a monthly fee—the Xbox Game Pass. We tried the Xbox Game Pass and explored what options would work best for individual kinds of gaming, whether you're an online MMO person or a single-player RPG devotee. If you're looking to update your game catalog with both older and newer games for a great cost, an iteration of the Xbox Game Pass might be a great call.
8. Great speakers for more immersion
If you want to level up your gaming, having high-quality speakers for game audio is the move, especially if you're a fan of single-player games. Sleek, powerful, and wireless, this speaker from Audioengine is a great upgrade for your current computer speakers and relieves your ears from headsets. We tested it and found it’s the best computer speaker on the market. While using it with in-game chat, we were pleasantly surprised to find that all input came through loud and clear.
9. An external hard drive
For all your storage woes, this standup external hard drive offers 4 TB of space (read: so much space) and can sit alongside your workspace or PC. The Western Digital My Book also comes with free backup software for Windows 10 and performed the best out of all the external hard drives we tested.
10. A keyboard that’s comfortable on your wrists
Sometimes the real key to improving your game is some additional performance and comfort. This no-frills keyboard from HP is perfect for gaming in the sense that you'll be able to game with it for hours. Part of the HP OMEN gaming line, this keyboard will set you up for long-term comfort and offers consistent connection and highly responsive keys.
11. A gaming PC with solid specs to get you started
If you're in the market for a gaming PC that won't break the bank and performs well under pressure, look no further than the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10. Boasting an AMD Radeon RX 5300 3GB GDDR6 graphics card, a 6-core processor, and a stylish chassis with heatsink technology, the Alienware Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 is a great machine that will get you started on PC gaming and can be easily customized to suit your exact needs.
There are many different gaming PCs out there, so make sure you do your research before selecting the model or base kit of your choice, but this a good starter option, in general.
12. A fantastic video capture card
A video capture card takes video feed from one device and transmits it to another device, which is essential if you want to play back your past games or stream them. I personally use and will always vouch for the Elgato Capture Card HD60 S+, and if you're planning on streaming from a more nontraditional route (i.e. not a PC) or are recording gameplay, it's a must-have item. You can stream from an Xbox, PS4, or Mac using video capture with the can, which is compatible with OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS, and more and provides 1080p resolution video at up to 60fps.