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Gaming has never been more popular, so it's more than likely you'll hit the bull's-eye for anyone on your list with gaming gear. But getting your hands on some of the most sought-after products may be tricky, since you might not be able to order some of the hottest models, and even then they might still not ship in time for the holidays.

Here's our list of the best gaming gifts for the discerning gamer in your life to play with -- VR headsets, PCs, plus the PS5 and the Xbox Series X and Series S, even though they're insanely hard to get. They're also on the expensive side, so check out my developing list of mobile, PC, Xbox and PlayStation accessories (every PC gamer needs a great gaming keyboardgaming mouse and a comfortable gaming chair, after all) that should appeal to a wider variety of gaming gifters and wallets.

Read more: Best gaming laptop to buy for 2020

Sarah Tew/CNET

The original model was "the best self-contained virtual reality headset on the planet," and the Quest 2 VR gaming headset is better, faster and cheaper. And it's not just for gaming; it can be used for fitness training, virtual theatergoing and a big monitor you can wear on your face. Caveat parentis, though: The user has to login to Facebook, so be wary if you're giving it to a kid.

Read our Oculus Quest 2 review.

 

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

The Switch Lite is a smaller, lighter version of the popular Switch console, built exclusively for mobile game use (relive the days of your old Game Boy). That means it is a Switch that can't connect to your TV, but the mobile gaming design is perfectly hand-size, with permanently attached game controllers that won't get lost in your bag, making it the perfect gift for any gaming fan. In fact, the Switch Lite is arguably the gamer gift of the season. And if your gamer giftee will need to transfer game saves from an original Switch console before they play, they can navigate that particular minefield by following these instructions.

Read our Nintendo Switch Lite review.

 

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The so-called V2 version of the original Switch has quietly made its way into stores, and many a gamer has even traded in their original Switch hardware for the new model. The difference between the two versions of the modular Switch device is a processor upgrade that improves battery life, which means longer gaming sessions. In case some of the older models pop up in your shopping searches, note that the V2 Switch comes in a box with a red background on its front panel.

Read our Nintendo Switch V2 impressions.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Who knew people would want to play retro micro consoles like they have? The Nintendo NES Classic and SNES Classic were both huge hits with players (the PlayStation PS1 Classic, less so), but this Sega Genesis version was the retro video game console an entire generation of Gen-X video gamers were waiting for. The list of included games to play is solid with classic favorite video game options, leaning heavily on Sega Genesis nostalgia. Original pack-in video game Altered Beast is there, as is Sonic the Hedgehog and Ecco the Dolphin, plus Phantasy Star IV and the Zelda-like Beyond Oasis. They make for great gifts, and they're cheaper than an arcade machine.

Read the Sega Genesis Mini review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Corsair's petite gaming systems pack a big gaming experience performance wallop while looking cool and running quietly. They're not showy, but they can cram into a small space. (Pictured is the workstation version I reviewed, the Corsair One Pro i200. The gaming models are matte black.) But they're not cheap, either -- the least expensive model I can find still available is the A100 at $2,700 -- so it's not the gift for every giver.

Read our Corsair One Pro review.

 

Dell G5 SE gaming laptop

A budget-conscious gaming gift

Lori Grunin/CNET

If your goal is to get someone a solid gaming laptop for less than $1,000, the Dell G5 SE or its Intel-based sibling the G5 is a good option to add to your list. For the money, it's eminently playable and has better-than-average battery life if they need to work on the couch.

Read our Dell G5 15 (2020) review.

 

Start checking now

The hot consoles for the holiday season are both out now, but good luck finding one; they sold out fast when preorders went live and are doing so again now they're officially on sale. And at least Microsoft has said its consoles will likely be in short supply until as late as April 2021, so an IOU might be in your giftees future. 

Now playing: Watch this: PS5 vs. Xbox Series X: the ultimate comparison
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Here's the latest on finding the Xbox Series X, Series S and PS5 in stock. If you're looking for a gift for a console gamer fiend, though, it's likely that they'll want one of these.

Oliver Padilla/CNET

The Xbox Series X is one of the cutting-edge consoles debuting this year. If you can afford the price tag and know that your video gaming giftee has a 4K TV or monitor to hook it up to (or plans on getting one), this is one of the two that'll be the perfect gift to make them squeal when they open the wrapping paper. Just make sure you know whether they're an Xbox or PlayStation fan, because if you get the wrong one you're more likely to earn a "noooooooo" than a squee.

Read our Xbox Series X review.

 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

As a gamer's first console, this is probably a cheaper and better choice than any of the tabletop boxes. Older models can handle 4K resolution as opposed to the Series S' 1440p, but the frustrating tradeoff is slower performance and the inability to play newer, whizzier games optimized for the new technologies of the Series X and S generation.

Read our Xbox Series S review.

 

Sony

Sony's debuting two models of its brand-new PS5 console which differ only by the presence of an optical disc drive; that may be a consideration for a long-time PlayStation gamer who has old games on disc. Otherwise, save $100 and get them the digital-only version.

Read our PS5 review.

 

More holiday gift ideas