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Best games and gear for gamer dads

Gamer Dad deserves an upgrade. Here are consoles, PCs and games that will help him embarrass you in Fortnite.

Dan Ackerman
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Dan Ackerman
1 of 19 Sarah Tew/CNET

PlayStation 4 Pro

Higher resolution output and better graphics (in select games) make this a worthy step-up from the original PS4, but the real extra value comes from better performance with the optional PSVR virtual reality headset. 

2 of 19 Josh Miller

Xbox One X

Give Dad a console upgrade to the 4K/HDR version of the Xbox One. Microsoft's top-of-the-line living room console has more graphics power, plays great games, and handles all Dad's streaming media needs. 

3 of 19 Sarah Tew/CNET

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo's portable/living room console hybrid is a smashing success, defying skeptics who thought the idea too complex and usual. The secret sauce is in same-room multiplayer games, like Mario Kart 8 and Just Dance, that encourage actual human-to-human family time interaction.

4 of 19 Sarah Tew/CNET

Nintendo Labo

Video games for the maker generation. Labo is a series of cardboard fold-it-yourself projects that work with the Nintendo Switch. It's a fun group activity for dads and kids, and encourages teamwork. Start with the Variety Kit for a fishing pole, piano and more, then move up to the advanced robot kit.

SNES Classic Edition
5 of 19 Sarah Tew/CNET

SNES Classic Edition

This once hard-to-find curio is now much more widely available. That's good news, as this mini-sized Super Nintendo is a great shot of '90s nostalgia for gamers of a certain vintage. RPG fans, take note -- several classics are included here.

6 of 19 Sarah Tew/CNET

Xbox One S

If you don't have an HDR-ready TV and don't plan on buying one in the next couple of years, it's cool to save a few bucks and get the slimmed-down Xbox One S, which fits the original Xbox One hardware in a sleeker, smaller box. Bonus: 4K support is included, so you're at least half-future-proofed. 

7 of 19 Aloysius Low/CNET

PlayStation 4 (slim version)

There's no 4K, no higher-power game rendering, and fewer ports than the original PS4. But as a lower-cost alternative to the PS4 Pro, this will get you into God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, PSVR and plenty of other PlayStation exclusives. 

New Nintendo 2DS XL
8 of 19 César Salza /CNET

Nintendo 2DS XL

The 3DS is still kicking around, even in the age of game-ready smartphones and the very portable Nintendo Switch. The bigger screen on the XL adds a lot, and its non-stereoscopic sister handheld, the Nintendo 2DS, plays all the same games. 

9 of 19 James Martin/CNET

Razer Mamba HyperFlux

For any PC gamer looking to turn heads with a truly flashy mouse. The Mamba HyperFlux combines a wireless mouse and powered mouse pad in one expensive ($250) package. The hook -- both the mouse and pad have Razer's programmable lights, and the lightweight, battery-free mouse draws its power from the mouse pad itself.

10 of 19 Sarah Tew/CNET

Oculus Rift

Now that it offers motion-sensing hand controllers and dual sensors for about half what the original Rift cost, this is one of the best deals in virtual reality hardware. It's also probably the best user experience among a series of products that aren't always beginner-friendly. You might still have to help Dad manage all the cables. 

11 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET

HTC Vive

The first current-gen PC-based VR system to hit stores, the Vive is still the most impressive overall hardware package, with great 360-degree tracking and lots of tweakable options. A few design tweaks over the past two years make it even better, and the sheer range of games available is astonishing. 

12 of 19 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony PlayStation VR

The easiest to use full VR system, as it works with the PS4 Dad probably already has. Recent price cuts also make this the most appealing choice for those who want to dabble in virtual reality without investing a small fortune. 

13 of 19 Scott Stein/CNET

Oculus Go

The latest from Oculus is untethered from PCs, consoles or phones, operating as an all-in-one self-contained headset. The games and tech aren't as advanced as big VR sets, but there's a real appeal to the get-it-and-go experience.

14 of 19 Sarah Tew/CNET

Asus Zephyrus GM501

This super-thin gaming laptop won't take up a ton of space, and it even looks "normal" enough to double as an everyday laptop, at least in Dad's home office. New Max-Q technology from Nvidia means it can fit in a graphics card typically only found in bigger, heavier, desk-busting systems. 

Acer Aspire E15 E5-576G-5762
15 of 19 Sarah Tew/CNET

Acer Aspire E15

The laptop for everyone who can't find what they want in a laptop. It's got an old-school optical drive, a retro VGA port, and good-enough-for-gaming Nvidia MX150 graphics, all for an insane $599.

Dell G series
16 of 19 Sarah Tew/CNET

Dell G15

Dell makes some very good budget Inspiron gaming laptops, and now those systems are getting their own name, the "G" series, along with a revised look and new, better processors. Starting at $750, these work as pretty serious PC gaming machines, but also make for a great general-purpose family laptop that won't look out of place on your desk. 

17 of 19 Larian Studios

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Encourage Dad to get back in touch with his inner D&D geek. This old-school turn-based RPG is perfect for anyone who ever rolled a 20-sided die or knows what a "saving throw" is. For everyone else, it's a deep, fantasy-driven story of power and revenge, and one of the most satisfying game experiences I've had in years.

18 of 19 Ubisoft

Far Cry 5

A great open-world game on either consoles (Xbox One/PS4) or PCs, the latest in this series tackles modern-day America. There's plenty of satire and a smattering of politics, but also action, stealth and puzzle solving. 

19 of 19 Sony

God of War

Every once in a while a game comes along that everyone agrees is simply an amazing must-play experience. That's what gamers and critics are saying about God of War, a PlayStation exclusive and the latest entry in a series that dates back to 2005. The action is built around a father-son dynamic, but don't worry, young Atreus doesn't take out the trash, either. 

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