Suggest a gift for a new-to-the-hobby computer builder


#1

My 19 year old son is interested in building a PC for gaming and I’m looking for suggestions (other than parts) for a nice geeky gift I can give him this holiday season. I’m thrilled with his interest in building PCs, but I haven’t built one myself in a long time.

I’m not looking at parts too closely for a variety of reasons. First, I’m not sure what his timeline is or if he’s still saving money for parts or if he’s waiting for a particular part or game to start building or what, so I’m just thinking I’d like to get him something other than a part, unless he, like, asks for a part, and then I’d get it for him. But the point of this gift is just a nice surprise that supports his interest in building PCs.

I know I’ve been to some tech conferences in the past where they handed out little tool kits. I’m liking that direction, just because I’ve had those and they’ve come in handy in the past, but I wonder if there is something a little more exciting available these days.

Ideas?


#2

A tool kit is always helpful.


#3

A good PC case will last him years. I suggest Fractal Design casing.


#4

How about that little thing you wear on your wrist and attach to the computer case to discharge static electricity? Whatever happened to those.


#5

They’re pretty much completely unnecessary. Just grab some metal before you stick your hand in there.

I find having a tripod LED light to be super useful when I am under my desk, especially the one that has the tripod and magnets that I can hook to the keyboard tray or wrap around something nearby. Obviously you don’t want it too close to components and it might not be useful if you have a big space to build it but when I want to get in my case and not haul the whole thing out, perfect… good light to look at wires, connections, indicators…whatever.

Zip ties are also handy and something I think a number of people overlook.

A good UPS can also be great.


#6

Second the toolkit. Indispensable.


#7

You mentioned NOT wanting to buy him parts, but outside of actual parts there isn’t much he’s going to need. Honestly a non-magnetic Philips head screw driver is about all he’ll need. I know you mentioned it’s been awhile since you built a PC, but brother, it’s only gotten easier. Outside of making sure each part is going to work with one another (not a huge task, but if you don’t know what you are looking for I guess I could see someone buying the wrong socket type board for their selected CPU or a power supply not up to the task of the parts plugging into it) the rest is just plugging stuff together and spinning it up.

If you don’t want to buy parts, how about buying the OS? That’s one important aspect that often forgets to get budgeted for. Or even a simple Amazon gift credit, so he can pick up whatever parts he’s just shy of getting? Maybe he’d rather go for a 1070 but had to settle for a 1060? That extra bump could keep him at 60fps all the longer.

I do like @Nesrie idea about light and power - I usually end up using my phone which is a pain to hold with one had. A stable light system could be really handy. Most cases come with zip ties these days though, I’ve noticed, for cable management. A decent UPS battery - they aren’t very expensive, like $50 is all I paid for the TrippLite I use, but it’s super handy - especially if you lose power frequently to storms in your area.


#8

I agree. The light is fantastic idea. Getting light where you need it can be a big challenge.


#9

Steam gift card.

Or Amazon.


#10

If he’s spending money on cans of compressed air to clean his PC, a DataVac would make a good gift. I use mine all the time.

(although modern PC cases have dust filters, so maybe this isn’t needed as much these days!)


#11

Why? Like Scott said, the only tool you actually need is a screwdriver. I’ve built computers for 20 years and I don’t have a toolkit myself. Occasionally I think about getting one of those magnetized mats to organize screws and whatnot but really, my old method of using espresso cups works fine so I never bothered.

Anyway it’s not indispensable, but I guess it’s a neat little gift if you must buy him something that isn’t an actual part.

When I give gifts to adults, I try to buy them something they could buy themselves, but never would because it’s extravagant or unnecessary. A toolkit fits unnecessary, but not extravagant. I would give him something like a gaming mouse (logitech g502 or razer), mousepad, and mouse bungee. Or a backlit mechanical keyboard.


#12

@stusser reminded me I put a cool mousepad on my wishlist earlier this year that might be a fun gift idea.

I absolutely love my steelseries mouse pad (best mouse pad texture I’ve ever used; it’s heavy, cloth, and comfortable), which is why I didn’t already get basically a cooler version of it, but when this one I have now gets scuzzy enough I’ll certainly replace it with the one of these. I also like this one is reversible for when you want a hard, smooth surface instead of a cloth surface.


#13

Guys thanks so much for your thoughts on this. Some really great suggestions here.

It’s funny because I have that exact same tool kit! I know he’s seen it in my closet. It’s funny because while it’s true that you only really need a phillips to build a PC, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the allen wrenches and the little screwdriver handle thingy for fixing shit or taking apart Ikea furniture after you’ve owned it for a little while and lost the little allen wrench that came with it at purchase time. hahaha, so that utility and the coolness of having a kit. It’s like something Greg Morris would have on the original Mission Impossible TV show. On the downside, I was hoping tool kits had evolved in the last few years. hahah, I don’t want him to think I re-gifted him my old shit.

I’m 99% positive I’ll play a role in this when he starts to build. :)

I would love a light myself. I completely agree about the utility of those little clip on dodads in the tool kit.

I need one of those things! My case gets super dusty. I should buy an add-on filter because it’s such a pain in the ass to get the PC out of its cubby to clean. I still have half dozen cans of air on the shelf. I’m pretty sure I got that box of air at Costco a long time ago.

Wow, yeah. stusser, that makes a lot of sense. I’m in the same camp as you with gifts for adults. And as practical and targeted as the toolkit is, a gaming mouse and mousepad sounds like something he might get a little more excited about. Even better, he’s a leftie and I see they have LH models of those razer.

Scott, that looks awesome! I love the flashing lights.

Okay, this is going good. Now my problem is I have to figure out something equally sweet for his twin sister or run the risk of playing favorites. All just part of dadhood. :)

You guys are awesome.


#14

LED headlamps have it way all over any other kind of lights when building. If you don’t have a good LED headlamp I can recommend that, absolutely:

Really high quality tools (Craftsman was recommended to me way back when, and I still have them) are an excellent investment. Just the most used stuff: screwdriver set, plier set, wrenches. This is sort of a personal call, though, because I agree that a typical PC build uses almost no tools. It’s more of a future, next 20-30 years investment?

You’ll also need a power tool… this one blew my damn mind because it charges using a standard mobile micro-USB port! Also has LED lights on the drive side and handle down (if you need it to be a flashlight). I own two of these and they are great deals for what you get.


#15

I’m with stusser on the toolkit. Never owned one. Just give me a decent phillips screwdriver with a magnetic tip, and a flashlight, and I’m good. Maybe an anti-static wrist-strap, if it’s a dry Winter day and I’m sitting on carpet building my PC while watching Sunny in Philadelphia on Netflix.


#16

Light or Datavac.


#17

$70 RGB mousepad definitely qualifies as extravagant and too expensive to buy for yourself.


#18

+1 to this.

Like a casing, a good keyboard can last through generations of PC builds so he will remember your gifts for years to come.


#19

Well, your 👂s will remember it for years to come, anyway…


#20

This is what I think I’m going to get. I got the idea here, so I’m going to put this link here, in case someone wants to click it.

EDIT: man, that mouse looks awesome. Those little doodads in the picture are weights you can add to the bottom of the mouse to give it a different feel. I didn’t even know that had that. :)