2018 Computer Gift Guide

Home Theater / Tech

Sit back and relax and let the 2018 Techaeris Computer Gift Guide show you just a few great picks for your loved ones!

Buying a computer can be a daunting task. Laptops, desktops, hybrids, 2-in-1s, and more can be confusing. Well, don’t worry! We’ve been reviewing a wide variety of computers, peripherals, workstations, bags, and more all year and we’ve got some suggestions you might think about taking a look at. Sit back and relax and let the 2018 Techaeris Computer Gift Guide show you just a few great picks for your loved ones! Happy shopping, Merry Christmas, and stay tuned for more gift guides over the coming days!

Laptops

Dell Precision 5530

The Dell Precision 5530 can be configured with some serious power for a mobile workstation, and it’s built like a tank. But Dell has also thrown in some goodies like dedicated graphics and a brilliant display that looks amazing. The Dell Precision 5530 is intended for working creatives, but if you have enough cash it could make an excellent home desktop alternative for many. It also won a Techaeris Top Pick award for 2018!

The Dell Precision 5530 is a serious contender for the hearts of content creators. Especially if those creators are looking at the maxed out version of this device and have the money to sink into it. It won’t disappoint. It’s a powerful machine with an amazing 4K display, rugged design, and amazing specs for getting serious work done. The Dell Precision 5530 starts at $1149USD and can be configured a myriad of ways.

 Purchase from Dell

Razer Blade Stealth

Razer-Blade-Stealth-review

Razer often comes to mind for gaming, but they also offer up the Razer Blade Stealth, a light, sleek ultrabook for portable productivity. The Razer Blade Stealth definitely has that sleek, compact, sharp look. Its black aluminum housing (gunmetal gray is also an option) feels solid and is very durable. While some portable ultrabooks lack in ports, the Razer Blade Stealth has a USB-C Thunderbolt port, 2 USB-A ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a full size HDMI Port.

If you’ve been looking for an ultraportable laptop for productivity on the go, you might not have considered Razer due to its gaming focus. Our review found that the Razer Blade Stealth is an excellent choice with its solid performance, great build quality, and reasonable price given its specs.

 Purchase from Amazon Purchase from Razer

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme 15.6″

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme 15.6″ is another Lenovo laptop I have been noodling around with for the past few weeks. I am a huge fan of the Lenovo X1 13″ laptops and when I saw the company was offering them up in 15.6″ I was all in. This is an absolutely amazing laptop in every way.

From multi-monitor support to a rich VR/MR experience, to hardcore gaming, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme handles demanding computing tasks without a hitch. Built with extreme power, specs include 8th Gen H Series Intel Core processors, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics, and up to 64GB memory. This ultralight powerhouse also boasts the option of a 15.6” 4K touchscreen display with Dolby Vision and optional pen support.

Having used both the P1 and the X1 Extreme it was very hard to choose one over the other. But I do find myself going back to the X1 Extreme more often than not. The X1 Extreme starts at $1301USD and can be configured a host of different ways on Lenovo’s website. Plus Lenovo is holding Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals so click the link below to head over to their website!

 Purchase from Lenovo

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

Dell-XPS-15-2-in-1-review

The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 (read our full review) is the company’s first XPS 15 with a flexible hinge that allows for laptop, tablet, or tent mode use. With many different configurations available, including Radeon RX Vega graphics, option 4K resolution, and more, you’ll be sure to get the laptop/tablet you want with this one.

If you’re looking for a premium, durable, portable laptop, the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 won’t let you down with its amazing screen, build quality, and performance. While it can be pricey, there are other configurations that are more affordable to help soften the blow to your wallet. The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 starts at $1299.99USD.

 Purchase from Amazon Purchase from Dell

Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1

Laptops are great but sometimes you want something a little more portable and versatile. Enter, the Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1. The Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 is Dell’s answer for those looking for a competitor to the Microsoft Surface Pro. While Microsoft does make a nice device. Dell understands that the market sometimes wants choices so here we are. The Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 also won a Techaeris Editor’s Choice award for 2018!

If you’re on the hunt for a Surface Pro competitor for business or just for a personal machine. The 5290 2-in-1 is a great choice. It has a lot going for it and with Dell’s current deals, it may be worth your dime. If you’re a business user looking for a Surface Pro competitor and need security features to boot, then this is it. The Latitude 5290 2-in-1 starts at $899USD and you can configure a bunch of different ways.

 Purchase from Dell

Lenovo ThinkPad P1

The ThinkPad P1 is one of a few Lenovo laptops we still have to finish our written review on. Having used it for a few weeks now, I’m very impressed with the power in this machine. The P1 is a mobile workstation for pros and is just 18.4mm thin and weighs 3.76lbs. It’s powered by 8th Gen Intel Xeon processors, NVIDIA Quadro graphics and enhanced performance options.

The ThinkPad lineup has long been recognized for its business appeal but these machines can seriously be used for consumer use as well. Our review unit handles Adobe Creative Suite just fine and is a powerhouse of a machine. The ThinkPad P1 starts at $1299USD and can be configured with a huge amount of options. Plus Lenovo is holding Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals so click the link below to head to their website!

 Purchase from Lenovo



Desktops/AIOs

Lenovo Ideacentre 520 AIO

Lenovo-AIO-27-FI

Lenovo does pretty well at coming out with some nice AIO (All in One) computers these days, whether it’s a small update to the previous model or some new feature that gets added to its PC lineup and the Lenovo ideacentre 520 27″ fits that category.

If the price isn’t an issue and you’re in need of a new PC and don’t want to buy a tower and a monitor, then you should definitely look into the Ideacentre 520 27″ AIO from Lenovo. The color itself is nice and will handle just about anything you throw at it, especially if you’re going to be using it for work creating document or spreadsheets or basic web browsing.

 Purchase from Lenovo

Monitors

BenQ EX3501R 35″ Ultrawidescreen Monitor

BenQ-EX3501R-review

For a beast of a monitor, the BenQ EX3501R 35″ Ultrawidescreen Monitor is nicely designed and pretty sleek. The panel itself is framed with a thin black bezel along the top and sides with the bottom bezel coming in at about an inch thick. As our review found, the QHD resolution is perfect. It’s nice and crisp with 100% sRGB color gamut and using Windows 10 at 100% scale setting worked perfectly.

If you’re currently using dual monitors or a laptop with a secondary screen for more real estate, or looking for a bigger gaming monitor — and this is a great monitor for gaming — you’d be well off to invest in the BenQ EX3501R. Not only large and aesthetically pleasing, the included features like HDR and BI+ support are more than worth the cost of the monitor. It’s for all these reasons and considerations that the BenQ EX3501R ultra-widescreen monitor is more than worthy of a Top Pick of 2018 Award here at Techaeris, even with it’s $849.99USD price tag.

 Purchase from Amazon

Dell S2719DM 27″ monitor

Generally, we’ve been pleased with what Dell has been doing with their monitors. The Dell S2719DM isn’t an exception but there are a few gripes along with some praise. Read on for the full Dell S2719DM review!

This is a great monitor with some great features, including HDR, 600 nit brightness, great colors, thin bezels, 2K resolution, and great blacks. There are some things missing that some may want, such as height adjustability, VESA mount option, and cleaner whites. Overall, I think this is a good buy for most, and the pros outweigh the cons for most regular consumers.

The Dell S2719DM 27″ monitor retails for $499.99USD on Dell’s website but you can get it for $319.99USD on Amazon right now!

 Purchase from Amazon

Dell S2719H 27″ monitor

We are hot off the heels of our Dell S2719DM review and on to another Dell monitor review. This time Dell sent us the Dell S2719H full HD monitor with integrated speakers. While it’s a little lower resolution than the S2719DM, it’s also a little bit friendlier on the wallet. Wallet savings is one thing but can the Dell S2719H deliver value for that lower price? Read on for the full Dell S2719H review!

The Dell S2719H is a nice monitor. There are some things I could do without or would have like to have seen included like the black glossy back, lack of VESA mount, and lack of adjustability. The latter two just seem to be a thing most monitor makers are doing so it’s not strictly a Dell thing. Still, at its sale price, this is a decent buy. Dell also offers these monitors in a 23″ and 24″ version.

The Dell S2719H 27″ monitor retails for $399.99USD on Dell’s website but is on sale on Amazon now for an insane $185USD making it a must buy!

 Purchase from Amazon

BenQ EW3270U 32″ monitor

BenQ-EW3270U-review

Over the past couple years, 4K UHD has been gaining popularity, especially on the media consumption side. HDR has also been gaining traction with many 4K TVs and gaming consoles supporting the format. Our BenQ EW3270U review took a look at a 32″ 4K UHD computer monitor with HDR 10 support, Eye-care technology, auto-brightness adjustments, AMD FreeSync support, and more.

While 4K HDR content is gaining traction, it’s still very much in its infancy but the amount of available content is growing fast. If you are looking for a 4K monitor and are looking to throw HDR into the mix, the BenQ EW3270U is an excellent choice with its multiple connection types, crisp display, and BI+ technology. This excellent monitor is currently available for under $600USD on Amazon.

 Purchase from Amazon

Monoprice 32″ 4K Monitor

For those in the tech industry, Monoprice is synonymous with affordable, high-quality cables, and other computer accessories. However, the company also sells other products including this 32″ 4K HDR monitor with AMD FreeSync. We’re currently reviewing it but for those looking for a cheaper option, this monitor definitely fits the bill.

Featuring an IPS panel and our A+ Pixel Perfect Guarantee, it supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) video and video resolutions up to [email protected] ([email protected]). The ultra slim brushed aluminum bezel is complemented by the soft matte screen finish and small footprint tilting desk stand, to give the monitor a simple, elegant appearance that fits with any room decor. With two HDMI® 2.0 inputs and two DisplayPort 1.a inputs, this monitor is perfectly suited to being the main display for your gaming and movie watching needs. Priced at under $400USD, you’re definitely getting great value here.

 Purchase from Monoprice

Keyboards/Mice

Azio Retro Classic BT

Azio-Retro-Classic-BT-review

When it comes to peripherals these days, there’s no arguing that there is a shortage of choice. Unfortunately, that means companies have to come up with different ways to stand out from the crowded market. Like almost any product, there are your basic standard choices all the way up to more luxurious and elegant options.

Our Azio Retro Classic BT review took a look at one of these more elegant solutions: a mechanical keyboard with old tyme typewriter-style keys and a real wood finish coupled with a Zinc alloy frame. If you’re like me and spent part of your school years handing in typewritten reports, the look of this keyboard alone may have some nostalgic allure.

The Azio Retro Classic BT mechanical keyboard isn’t going to be for everyone but makes a welcome addition for anyone looking for an elegant looking keyboard for their office or home office. It is a bit on the pricey side  at $219USD but considering the build quality and retro typewriter design, not to mention the use of real wood and custom Kaihl Blue mechanical switches, it easily earns a Top Pick of 2018 Awards here at Techaeris.

 Purchase from Amazon

Cherry MX Board 6.0

Cherry-MX-Board-6.0-review

The thing about keyboards is there are varying types of switches, especially when it comes to gaming and mechanical keyboards. The Cherry MX Board 6.0 mechanical keyboard has a solid, almost industrial, design to it given the shape and the sanded finish aluminum frame.

Featuring a softer 45cN actuation, the standard life of each switch is 50 million key presses. At any rate, seconds after I started typing with the Cherry MX Board 6.0 (read our full review), I knew I’d found my new favourite office keyboard. While it also works well for gaming, the keyboard is ultra-responsive and fantastic for daily typing and office use.

Available for around $135USD, the build quality and performance are top notch and you won’t be disappointed with this keyboard if you have the money to spare and don’t require extras like macros.

 Purchase from Amazon

Desktop Speakers

Creative Pebble Modern 2.0

Creative-Pebble-review

Like anything else, desktop speakers come in various shapes and sizes. Our Creative Pebble review took a look at a pair of “Modern 2.0 USB Desktop Speakers” from the longstanding desktop audio company. The Creative Pebble desktop speakers are aptly named given Creative derived the inspiration for them from the zen Japanese rock gardens. Circular in shape, each black plastic satellite has a flat back and the front is angled at 45º which gives it a sleek, modern look.

The Creative Pebble Modern 2.0 USB Desktop Speakers offer great sound at an extremely reasonable price ($24.99USD). If you’re looking for a small pair of desktop speakers that aren’t going to break the bank and give you decent sound, you should definitely give the Creative Pebble a go.

 Purchase from Amazon Purchase from Creative

Creative Sound BlasterX Katana

Sound-BlasterX-Katana-review-Top-Pick
Sound BlasterX Katana Soundbar

Granted this is an item we reviewed last year, but it is still by far the best desktop computer speaker system I’ve reviewed for entertainment and gaming.

For starters, this thing is INSANELY LOUD. Caps intended. The highest I was able to push it without going deaf was 20, which translates into 40/100 on the Windows volume scale. During regular gameplay and other computer tasks, a volume of 6 was more than sufficient in most cases. Even though it’s listed as a 2.1 sound system, when connected through optical audio you can achieve 5.1 surround sound and when connected via USB to a PC, you can experience high-resolution 24-bit 96kHz audio playback and virtual 7.1 surround sound.

If you’ve been looking for a compact gaming sound solution for your desktop computer, the Sound BlasterX Katana delivers fantastic sound for games, movies, and music in a solidly designed package, currently available for $219.99USD.

 Purchase from Creative

Accessories

BenQ ScreenBar

BenQ-ScreenBar-review

To be honest, I love when something a little unique comes across our desk to review here at Techaeris. Our BenQ ScreenBar review took a look at an e-reading lamp that sits on top of your monitor to provide extra light while you’re working.

If you spend any time working in dimmer lighting conditions, the BenQ ScreenBar e-Reading Lamp should be on your “must have” list. Priced at $99.99USD, the BenQ ScreenBar adds no screen glare and illuminates your desk below and in front of the light.

 Purchase from Amazon

StarTech USB-C Multiport Adapter

StarTech-USB-C-Multiport-Adapter-review

As far as USB-C adapters go, the StarTech DKT30CHVSCPD has a pretty basic design. The StarTech USB-C Multiport Adapter is super simple to use — simply plug it into your laptop or smartphone (we also tested this with a Pixel 3) and you should be good to go.

During our testing, the USB-C Multiport Adapter worked well for the most part. When used with the Razer Blade Stealth, the Power Delivery feature worked swimmingly and had no issues powering both the adapter and the laptop. The adapter takes up 15W to power the ports on the adapter, but supports up to 85W for the laptop.

At an MSRP of $127.99USD, the DKT30CHVSPCD USB-C Multiport Adapter is pretty pricey compared to some of the other alternatives out there. However, it does support PD 3.0 as well as 85W of charging for your laptop which is hard to tell with some of the alternatives and can currently be purchased for as low as $85 on Amazon.

 Purchase from Amazon

Aten USB-C Multiport Dock

ATEN-usb-c-multiport-dock

The ATEN USB-C Multiport Dock with Power Pass-Through is a sleek USB-C hub which doubles as a riser for your Macbook or Windows laptop. The UH3234 houses a single USB 3.1 port with power charging support, two USB 3.1 ports, an SD/MMC card reader, MicroSD card reader, RJ-45 Ethernet port, DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA ports, and a 3.5mm audio jack. These additional ports effectively allow you to connect up to 10 additional devices to your laptop.

The ATEN USB-C Ultra-Slim Multiport Dock is now available at select retailers for an MSRP of $175USD.

 Purchase from Amazon

IOGEAR USB-C Docking Station

IOGEAR-GUD3C03-review

The IOGEAR GUD3C03 USB-C Compact Docking Station has a pretty simple and mostly sturdy design. The docking station has ten ports in all. On the left side, you’ll find the Micro-SD card slot, SD/MMC card slot, and USB Type-C Power Delivery charging port. On the front is where the HDMI, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet, and Mini DisplayPort ports are located. Finally, the right side of the docking station you’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack (which doubles as input or output) and three USB-A 3.0 ports.

Priced at $99.95USD, there are definitely cheaper docks out there but there are also more expensive docks as well. With ten ports as well as it’s solid aluminum construction and decent performance, the IOGEAR USB-C Compact Docking Station is pretty reasonably priced. As with most items here, it’s currently discounted on Amazon.

 Purchase from Amazon

Ergonomic Workstations

Varidesk ProDesk 60 Electric

Varidesk-ProDesk-60-Electric-Standing-Desk-review

Standing desks aren’t for everyone but after having used sit-stand converters and standing desks for the past couple years, I definitely see the benefit of having an adjustable standing desk that lets you sit or stand at your leisure throughout the workday. If you have the space for a full blown standing desk, the Varidesk ProDesk 60 Electric Standing Desk is a great looking, solid, quiet, easy-to-use desk with plenty of desktop space and is well worth the $995USD asking price.

The Varidesk ProDesk 60 Electric Standing Desk is a very solidly constructed and very attractive looking desk — at least in the case of our brown Reclaimed Wood finish and grey painted steel legs. The core material used in the ProDesk 60 Electric is a medium density fiberboard with a laminate wood finish. The kicker with this standing desk though is that it offers electric height adjustment, as well as three presets for easy use.

 Purchase from Amazon Purchase from SITENAME

VersaDesk Power Pro

VersaDesk-Power-Pro-review

Not everyone has the space for a full blown standing desk, which is where sit-stand converters come into play. Likewise, not everyone can easily raise and lower a heavy desk with a monitor and laptop on it and that’s where our VersaDesk Power Pro review comes in. Read on to find out if this powered lift standing desk converter is the one for you.

If you’re looking for a standing desk converter and don’t want the struggle of having to manually raise and lower up to 80 lbs of computer equipment, the VersaDesk Power Pro Standing Desk Converter is a great choice with its solid build construction, smooth/quiet operation, and decent stability. Staring at $370USD depending on width, there’s sure to be an option that’s suitable for your workspace.

 Purchase from Amazon Purchase from Versadesk

Ergotron WorkFit-TL

Ergotron-WorkFit-TL-review

The Ergotron WorkFit-TL features a larger keyboard tray, wider work surface, and higher weight capacity than some other sit-stand desktop workstations. In addition, the Ergotron WorkFit-TL requires no assembly and is ready to use out of the box. Simply unpack it, clear off your desk, place it on your desk, and arrange your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and anything else you may need on it.

With an MSRP of $429.99USD, the Ergotron WorkFit-TL Sit-Stand Desktop Workstation is pretty much in line with other solutions out there. Its solid build quality, five-year warranty, and straight up and down lift design definitely provide great value if you’re in the market for a sit-stand office solution.

 Purchase from Amazon Purchase from Ergotron

Bags

Buckle & Seam Sierra 15″

BNS-FI

The Buckle & Seam Sierra is a tanned cow leather messenger bag that exudes a classy and sophisticated look. The Buckle & Seam Sierra is priced at $326USD which is pricey. That being said, this is all leather and premium quality materials and some of the profits also go to #onebagonechild which is a worthwhile cause.

This bag isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of people who don’t care about leather and quality stitching and riveting. That’s perfectly fine. For those who are looking for this type of bag and this level of quality and luxury, this is an excellent 15″ leather messenger bag.

 Purchase from Buckle &
Seam

Solo New York Hybrid Briefcase

Solo-New-York-Duane

The Solo New York Duane Hybrid Briefcase doubles as both a briefcase and a backpack.  Inspired by the exciting buzz of Lower Manhattan, this collection channels a downtown spirit into stylishly laid-back bags. The everyday designs complement the urban lifestyle with an ever-cool black and grey color palette.

The backpack transforms into a briefcase with a fully padded 15.6″ laptop compartment, internal iPad/ tablet pocket, a large front pocket with organizer section, two front quick access pockets, and a padded carry handles with magnetic snaps.

Affordably priced at $54.99USD, the Duane Hybrid Backpack Briefcase is currently available for $30 on Amazon.

 Purchase from Amazon Purchase from Solo New York

And there you have our 2018 Computer Gift Guide. Of course, this is only a small sampling of the many items that we’ve reviewed this year and are available out there, so if something doesn’t quite catch your eye in this list, be sure to check out some of our other reviews from the past year!

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