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The 2017 Ars Technica gadget gift guide: Power-user edition

Enlarge / What many Arsians have on their wishlists this vacation season…

Mark Walton

It’s the vacations, which implies it’s as soon as once more time to rack your mind seeking the fitting presents for the fitting folks. If somebody in your checklist is into tech, although, we’ve obtained your again.

For this 12 months’s version of the Ars Technica vacation reward information, we’re breaking down our suggestions into themes. Our fourth and remaining crop of suggestions are for energy customers, or individuals who immerse themselves in tech and demand excessive utility or excessive efficiency.

Lots of the gadgets beneath could skew on the expensive facet because of this, however they need to nonetheless function a reminder that you just get what you pay for.

Storage reward concepts
Synology DS218+


You’d get a NAS (or network-attached storage) for somebody who has tons of knowledge—a set of downloaded films and albums, as an example—and needs to entry it throughout a number of units. Synology’s DS218+ ought to cowl a superb swath of that area of interest market right here: it’s comparatively fast, it helps 4K video transcoding (which supplies it some futureproofing), it has a few USB ports for backing up and sharing information, and its 2GB of included RAM might be upgraded to 6GB to make it extra sturdy.

For the reason that DS218+’s drive bays are tool-less and thus don’t require a screwdriver to open, including and eradicating new drives isn’t a problem, both. It is a two-bay NAS, which needs to be large enough for many with a good-sized arduous drive. However those that want more room (or extra backups) would possibly desire a four-bay drive like Synology’s DS418play.

SanDisk Excessive


For individuals who could not wish to preserve their huge cache of recordsdata stashed in an organization’s cloud locker, a thumb drive just like the SanDisk Excessive stays a quick, easy, and dependable option to transfer stuff from one machine to a different. The Excessive doesn’t have the bottom value per GB ratio, however 64GB of area for round $45 isn’t horrible. And it’s about as fast to switch recordsdata as these items get.

It is a USB stick, which implies it performs noticeably higher than the older USB fashions that also populate on-line shops. However that additionally limits its capability to work with some newer laptops that solely use USB-C. Since we couldn’t discover a clear standout within the nascent USB-C thumb drive market, you’ll wish to choose up a few low-cost USB-C adapters; there shouldn’t be any drop-off in learn/write speeds.

Equipment reward concepts
Anker 10-Port USB Hub


For individuals who at all times appear to need extra ports on their laptop computer, Xbox, or what have you ever, Anker’s 10-Port USB Hub provides them with none fuss. Because the title implies, it holds 10 USB ports in whole: three for charging at as much as 2.four amps—which is competently quick—and 7 for simultaneous information switch along with your thumb drives, exterior HDDs, and the like. It’s a compact hub for the quantity of ports it carries. At $40, the Anker can also be not expensive.

For what it’s, the 10-Port works properly. The principle knock in opposition to it’s that it doesn’t use USB-C, which makes it much less futureproof. Sadly, there aren’t many standouts when it comes to well-reviewed USB-C hubs, significantly amongst fashions with this many ports. One thing like this Aukey hub with 4 USB three.1 Gen 1 ports, HDMI out, and pass-through charging ought to do the job on a smaller scale, although.

Logitech Brio 4K Professional


For the extraordinarily 21st-century one who’s desperate to broadcast themselves to the world, think about the Logitech Brio 4K Professional. You’ll want a reasonably sturdy rig to energy it, however in flip it lets your would-be livestreamer output video in a pointy and futureproof 4K decision. It additionally maintains a high quality picture in less-than-ideal lighting. Ars Technica’s Peter Vivid examined and advisable this one, so we’ll let him take it from right here:

The world of webcams has not seen a substantial amount of innovation over the previous few years. Whilst the remainder of the world embraced 4K video, most webcams had been caught at 1080p and a measly 30 frames per second. However earlier this 12 months, Logitech lastly supplied a step ahead with its 4K Professional and Brio cameras.

What’s the large cope with the decision? Online game streaming is the brand new hotness. Everybody and their canine has a Twitch channel lately, with streamers more and more working to enhance their manufacturing values and film high quality. With streaming providers beginning to make 1080p60 streaming frequent, having a digicam that may match the smoothness and high quality of in-game footage is very fascinating.

I’ve been utilizing the 4K Professional (the Brio seems an identical save for branding and, I feel, a distinct cable within the field), and it’s an important digicam. Image high quality is great. The digicam additionally helps Home windows Good day facial recognition to log in, and that is fast, environment friendly, and very handy.

We’ll word that some 4K Professional customers have had driver-related points after previous Home windows updates; we didn’t have such troubles, however there are numerous fixes listed throughout the Net if that’s a problem.

PC half reward concepts
Samsung 960 EvoSamsung 850 Professional


All the pieces’s higher with a superb SSD, and Samsung’s 960 Evo provides the PC builder in your checklist blazing-fast storage for his or her high-end rig. It is a PCIe m.2 drive, which implies it’s a number of instances quicker than drives that use the older SATA customary. It’ll considerably lower down load instances throughout extra strenuous duties like video enhancing and huge file transfers. Regardless of these positive factors, it’s not considerably costlier than the premium SATA drives available on the market—even when it’s nonetheless a bit expensive in a vacuum.

That mentioned, Samsung’s 850 Professional may fit simply as properly for individuals who don’t want absolute most efficiency. Sure, it’s a SATA drive, nevertheless it’s very quick in that context. And the draw back of PCIe drives is that they have a tendency to overheat, which places them at better danger of dying early or cooling themselves to the purpose the place any noticeable pace will increase are lessened for many real-world situations. A SATA drive doesn’t burn up PCIe lanes that some players could wish to go away for his or her GPU, both. And it’s price noting that the 850 Professional has a 10-year guarantee, whereas the 960 Evo solely has a three-year security web.

The 960 Evo remains to be the brawnier and extra forward-looking of the 2, so we’re itemizing it for the facility customers for whom this information is meant. But when the rig in query isn’t tremendous new and gained’t be careworn tremendous closely, you would possibly wish to save a couple of dollars and go together with the 850 Professional as a substitute.

AMD Ryzen 7 1700XIntel Core i7-8700

Mark Walton

To be clear, the following couple of picks are primarily for buyers trying so as to add a chunk to a robust PC; those that don’t want a complete beast of a CPU needs to be more than pleased with a mid-tier chip just like the Core i5-8400. However for these striving for fewer compromises, Intel’s Core i7-8700 and AMD’s Ryzen 7 1700X are higher bets. Choosing between the 2 actually will depend on what your reward recipient is trying to do: the i7-8700 provides stronger absolute gaming efficiency; the 1700X is overclockable, often prices rather less, and has two extra cores (and thus is sensible for demanding duties like streaming, video enhancing, or software program growth).

Sure, it’s price noting each Intel and AMD technically supply quicker choices: the Core i7-8700Ok and Ryzen 7 1800X, respectively. Should you can afford the premium, they’re each nice for what they’re. However the extra vanilla fashions right here supply comparable efficiency whereas saving you not less than slightly money for different gadgets in your checklist. The one catch is that the i7-8700 might be tough to search out. In that case, you might have to maneuver as much as the 8700Ok should you’re dead-set on having Intel in your rig; simply know you’ll want a brand new motherboard both approach.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti

Mark Walton

Once more, we’ll lay out just a few choices right here. If you wish to spoil somebody trying to construct a top-of-the-line gaming PC, you possibly can get them Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti as a GPU. Its recipient ought to actually be all-in on 4K on this case, nevertheless it’s proper at high of the heap for graphics playing cards—quiet, cool, and so very quick. It additionally prices $800. Go forward and make your “e-peen” jokes now.

For many different energy customers taking part in in 1440p, you’ll wish to go together with both the GeForce GTX 1070 or the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti. The 1070 Ti is as a lot as 25 p.c quicker at inventory speeds and akin to a pricier GTX 1080 when overclocked. It ought to maintain up slightly higher over time, so we’ve listed it beneath. The 1070 is way from sluggish, although, and is often a superb methods cheaper. They’re each high-end; we’ll simply let your priorities determine.

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The 2017 Ars Technica gadget gift guide: Power-user edition


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