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Best gaming gifts for holiday season 2021

Our list can help you find a elusive PS5, or even the latest in VR or handheld gaming, to go along with holiday games like Halo Infinite and Metroid Dread.

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

Gaming gear may be among the most popular holiday gift items, but it can also be the hardest to find. Even a year after their debut, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are in short supply, while the new OLED-screen version of the Nintendo Switch is expected to be similarly tough to find in stock. 

Read more: Best gaming laptop to buy for 2021

Fortunately, we've got a PS5 restock tracker you can keep an eye on for new inventory updates, as well as updates on where to find  the Xbox Series X and Series S, or even the fancy-looking Halo Infinite Limited Edition Xbox

Hard to find

These game consoles might only show up in blink-and-you'll-miss-it sales and restocks, so act fast if you want to grab one. 

Oliver Padilla/CNET

The Xbox Series X is a powerful 4K gaming machine that works best with a similarly advanced 4K TV.  The platform offers exclusives like Halo and Forza, and look for more games from newly acquired publisher Bethesda (like future Fallout and Elder Scrolls games)  to be Xbox only. 

Read our Xbox Series X review.



Spider-Man, the new Director's Cuts of Death Stranding and Ghost of Tushima, Ratchet and Clank, the next Horizon. If you know a gamer interested in any of those, then they're going to be looking for a PS5.  Sony actually has two models of its  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.


Dan Ackerman/CNET

The smaller, cheaper Series S version of the new Xbox plays all the same games, but outputs them at 1440 resolution, which lies somewhere between traditional HD and 4K. More importantly, it's great for downloading and playing the huge catalog of Xbox Game Pass games, or for free-to-play online games like Fortnite. 

Read our Xbox Series S review.


Dan Ackerman/CNET

This new Switch, really the fourth iteration of Nintendo's hybrid handheld, adds a bigger, better built-in display (now an OLED screen), plus a redesigned kickstand and TV dock. For someone looking to jump into Switch or add a second unit for household multiplayer, this is the new default model to consider. 

Easier to find

These consoles are usually in stock or can ordered directly online. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Quest 2 is the easiest to use VR headset, and recently got an onboard storage bump, from 64GB to 128GB for its $338 base model. And it's not just for gaming; it can be used for fitness training, virtual theatergoing and even VR meetings. 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. 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.


Érika García/CNET

For now, at least, this model (with a slight battery life bump from the initial Switch hardware) will remain in store alongside the more-expensive OLED screen version. If you know a gamer who don't care about the built-in screen and plans on keeping the Switch docked most of the time, this older hardware will work just fine. 

Read our Nintendo Switch V2 impressions.


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