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12 incredible gaming gadgets you should seriously consider snapping up this Christmas

From the Xbox One X to the Retro Freak, there's something for everyone this festive season

There’s never been a better time to be a gamer.

Whether you’re after raw power or a blast from the past, there’s something for everyone in today’s gaming market.

Here we go through all the best options – from consoles to TVs, soundbars and other gaming gadgets.

Remember, if you’re stumped on what games to buy, check out our top 22 titles piece.

Let’s start with the new kid on the block, the Xbox One X.

Xbox One X

Overview 

The Xbox One X is the most powerful console on the market right now

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The Xbox One X is the most powerful console on the market right now

The Xbox One X is, hands down, the most powerful console ever made. In fact, it holds its own with some top gaming PCs.

Under the bonnet is a six TFLOP graphics processor running at 1172 Mhz, 12GB of GDDR5 memory and a 2.3 Ghz custom central processing unit.

It’s significantly more powerful than the Xbox One S and, crucially, Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro, which has a 4.2 TFLOP graphics processing unit and 911 Mhz CPU.


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The X aims to play games at native 4K at 60fps – while the PS4 Pro can only manage this with some titles.

There’s also a UHD Blu-ray player, a component missing from the Pro.

For those without a 4K TV, the X will shorten loading times and boost quality at 1080p.

Games 

Forza 7 is one of the few games that really shows off the X’s graphical muscle

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Forza 7 is one of the few games that really shows off the X’s graphical muscle

This is where the X really falls down. There are no Triple-A exclusive games on launch.

Thankfully, with the likes of Assassin’s Creed Origins and Gears of War 4 (which really looks stunning on the X in 4K), there are still plenty of titles for it to show off its muscle.

The X is backwards compatible with Xbox 360 and some Xbox games, too.

Games with Gold, a free service bundled with Xbox Live membership, rarely disappoints – offering a handful of free, older games per month.

Price and Verdict 

At £449, the X is very, very expensive.

However, if you’re after a raw power and want the most powerful console in the world, then X marks the spot.

The PS4 Pro will likely see price cuts around this time of year, adding some serious competition – so we may need to wait until next year before the X really takes off.

If you don’t have a 4K TV and have a standard Xbox One, hold off upgrading for now.

Xbox One S

Overview 

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It may look the part, but the Xbox One S is essentially the same machine as the original Xbox One – bar a couple of minor improvements.

The S has a 4K Blu-Ray player, supports 4K video steaming and high dynamic range (HDR). The latter will result in more vibrant, life-like colour when you play games.

It does make a huge difference – and if you’re playing on a screen smaller than 32 inches, it’s more than adequate.

Games 

All Xbox One games can be played on the S.

However, as time goes on, more and more games will support HDR, to make the most of the S’s tweaked hardware.

Thankfully, all games can still be enjoyed with some form of HDR, even if they’re not officially supported.

Forza Horizon 3 makes great use of the Xbox One S’s HDR capability

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Forza Horizon 3 makes great use of the Xbox One S’s HDR capability

 

Price and verdict 

If you’re after a good all-rounder, the S is the way to go. It’ll give you decent performance and the 4K Blu-Ray player is a masterstroke.

Sadly, if you’ve got a large 4K TV (plus 40ins), visuals will lack the crispness offered by the more powerful X.

The average Xbox One S will cost you around £200, a figure that may drop now the X is out.

PS4 Pro

Overview 

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The PS4 Pro packs some serious grunt – not to mention a number of great exclusive games

If you want more power but don’t fancy forking out £449, then the Pro is the way to go.

Think of the Pro as the ‘sports car’ version of the PS4 – tweaked, refined and built for raw performance.

In fact, it’s twice as powerful as the standard PS4 in some tasks.

The Pro’s graphics chip is rated at 4 TFLOPS (trillion floating point operations per second), where the standard Xbox One is 1.4TFLOPS.


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Unlike the Xbox One S, it doesn’t have a 4K Blu-Ray player. These can cost around £400 if bought separately.

Elsewhere, you can opt for PSVR, which works a treat for games such as Resident Evil 7.

PSVR is still too expensive to recommend a purchase, though – with units retailing for around £299.

Games 

Huge win here for Sony’s console, with certain games getting a ‘Pro’ upgrade to capitalise on the power boost.

This means the Pro can deliver games at higher resolutions, whilst maintaining a stable frame rate.

We’ve already started seeing some games taking advantage of the new hardware.

Horizon Zero Dawn is arguably the best-looking game ever made and is a wonderful showcase for Pro

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Horizon Zero Dawn is arguably the best-looking game ever made and is a wonderful showcase for Pro

Battlefield 1 on Pro, for example, has seen a 40 per cent increase in frame rate in some areas over the standard PS4.

Sony’s best exclusive is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, but the award-winning Horizon Zero Dawn is also outstanding.

There’s also The Last of Us Part II, God of War and Days Gone on the horizon – all of which will be exclusive to Playstation.

Price and verdict

The Pro has seen its price cut recently, with some offers coming in around the £299 mark.

If you have a 4K TV and want to see a noticeable step up in visuals and performance, Pro is definitely for you.

While it’s not quite up there with top-end PCs, Pro is massively more cost effective – and will serve you well for years to come.

The standard PS4 Slim is no slouch either, though – and at about £150 cheaper, is remarkable value for those gaming at 1080p resolution.

It even has HDR – putting it right up there with the Xbox One S.

Nintendo Switch

Overview 

The Switch is a remarkable piece of kit but only has three or four must-have games

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The Switch is a remarkable piece of kit but only has three or four must-have games

The Nintendo Switch is arguably the most exciting console of the lot.

It’s comprised of a portable tablet-like device and a docking station for home play.

The hybrid machine boasts a decent 6.2-inch HD touch screen and clip-on ‘Joy-Con’ controllers that can also be used independently as mini gamepads.

When in ‘handheld mode’ the Switch can be used on the go – which is where it really comes into its own.


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If playing on the TV is your thing, you simply connect the screen into a dock. This ups the graphical resolution from 720p to full 1080p.

The Joy-Cons can be clipped to a ‘Grip’ to make a normal-style game controller.

Under the hood there’s a Nvidia ‘customised’ Tegra processor – essentially the same architecture as the cheaper Nvidia SHIELD TV.

Games 

The Switch is home to some of the highest-scoring games of all time.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Odyssey are absolutely essential purchases.

For those after some adult shooter action, be sure to pick up Doom – a technical marvel that runs surprisingly well on the Switch.

Doom is brilliant on the Switch and runs smoothly at a cost to the resolution

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Doom is brilliant on the Switch and runs smoothly at a cost to the resolution

Elsewhere, Rocket league recently launched to rave reviews – playing just as well as on other consoles.

The Nintendo store, which offers some smaller indie and retro titles, is relatively sparse but will become more populated in time.

Price and Verdict

When used as a handheld, nothing comes close to the Switch. It’s ever so slightly too big for commutes but this won’t put people off.

Connect it to a TV and it’s not as spectacular – with its visuals not able to keep up with the PS4, Xbox One or SHIELD.

That being said, the quality of games on offer really is superb – especially Mario Odyssey.

The Switch can be picked up for around the £280 mark, with games costing between £40-60. The Pro controller, which resembles a traditional game pad, costs just shy of £70 – but is not recommended.

Nvidia Shield TV

Overview 

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The Nvidia SHIELD is a small but mighty Android TV streaming service that doubles up as insanely powerful gaming rig.

Rather than the old school way of having a dedicated graphics card, SHIELD TV taps into super computer farms placed strategically around the world.

These “play” the games  – streaming them back to you at 1080p / 60FPS – providing your internet connection is fast enough.

It’s all thanks to the Nvidia TEGRA chip – yep, the same processor found in the Switch. It’s also capable of streaming on-demand TV and movies from sites such as Amazon Prime in UHD (4K) – making it an excellent all-rounder.


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For PC gamers, the SHIELD can team up with your rig and stream games from your PC.

This means you can have your PC in the office, and be playing the games on the main TV in the living room.

Thankfully, it looks the part – with clean, crisp lines and an attractive, well-built remote and game pad.

Games

NVIDIA offers a service called GeForce Now, which offers hundreds of titles – which, admittedly vary in terms of quality – for a £7.49 monthly fee.

Think Netflix for games.

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The Witcher 3 runs incredibly well on the Shield – as long as you have a fast enough internet

Don’t expect FIFA 18 on there, though.

While the selection is impressive, including Tomb Raider, The Witcher 3 and a load of Batman games, some of the most popular titles won’t be appearing on the platform any time soon.

Thankfully, there are a host of games playable via the Android Store – which all run perfectly. There’s an impressive selection of Indie games on there, too.

Price and verdict 

Here’s the best bit – the SHIELD comes in at £189.99 – which, for this amount of hardware is an absolute steal.

SHIELD is a brilliant all-rounder that excels at streaming UHD TV and delivering breathtaking performance in games.

A word of warning, though. Nvidia recommends a 5-10 Mbps internet download speed to use GeForce Now… that’s super quick.

Oh, and best invest 5GHZ router, too. By far the best one out there at the moment is the insanely powerful NETGEAR Nighthawk.

If your speed isn’t up to the mark, you’ll still be able to play games – but expect some lag and the resolution to drop.

However, if it’s fast enough, the SHIELD is a viable, attractive alternative to the mainstream consoles.

PC

Overview 

A few years ago, PC gaming was thought to be on the way out. How wrong we were.

In fact, it’s never been more popular – and building a powerful PC has never been easier or more cost effective.

We’ve broken it down by resolution and included the costs below.

1080p gaming – equivalent to the Xbox One S /  PS4 Slim 

witch

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1080p gaming is still the most popular way to play and will remain so for some time

If you’re looking for something with similar performance to the Xbox One or PS4 at 1080, opt for the GTX 1050Ti.

It’ll offer great performance at 1080p resolution and, at around the £130 mark, is much cheaper than a new Xbox One S or standard PS4.

The AMD equivalent, called the RX 460, isn’t quite as refined, but for the same price will offer solid 1080p performance.

Games such as The Witcher 3 still look stunning at 1080p on PC – easily trumping the console versions.

Ultra graphics at 1080p and beyond – (PS4 Pro-level of performance)

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Crysis 3 may be a few years old but is still the benchmark for many PC gamers when it comes to visuals

For around the £200 mark, you can end up with an AMD RX 480 – which runs at around 5.2 TFLOPS… more than the PS4 Pro.

Even better, consider Nvidia’s brilliant GTX 1060 card, which offers console-beating 1080p performance and solid frame rates at 1440p.

With all this extra horsepower comes a host of cool features that are often parred down on console.

For one, thanks to greater GPU memory, you’ll be able to activate advanced anti-aliasing techniques, which smooth out the overall image.

Textures, frame-rates, draw distance – all of this will be massively improved, too.

To test it out, try Crysis 3 (above) on Ultra settings.

For a game that’s more than three years old, its visuals will still blow you away.

4K Ultra-level graphics gaming at 60FPS (Beyond PS4 Pro and Xbox One X)

This is where PCs really start to pull ahead from consoles.

Nvidia’s older Geforce GTX 980Ti is currently the best budget option – but even that will struggle a bit at 4K.

Metro Exodus, out next year, will arguably look its best on the PC – if the previous games in the series are anything to go by

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Metro Exodus, out next year, will arguably look its best on the PC – if the previous games in the series are anything to go by

For a little over £600, Nvidia’s GTX 1080 offers superb performance at Ultra settings at 4K.

Expect silky smooth framerates even with graphics options turned up to Ultra. Battlefield 1 looks absolutely stunning at 4K using this card, especially.

For those after the very best performance, it’s hard to top the incredible GTX 1080Ti.

This packs an eye-watering 11GB of dedicated graphics memory – that’s about three Xbox One Xs!

Verdict

PC gaming is the only way to go if you’re after the very best in graphics and performance.

Don’t get put off by new waves of graphics cards coming out either.

Opt for a card that has at least 4-6GB of graphics memory and you’ll be fine for at least the next two years.

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The GTX 1080 may be pricey, but with an enormous 8GB of power, will last you for years

However, make sure to read the graphics card specifications carefully.

Putting a huge 4K-capable beast into a massively-ageing PC won’t work due to power supply and cooling issues. Always make sure to check your power supply (PSU) is up to the task.

Retro Freak

The Retro Freak isn’t much to look at but does its job very, very well

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The Retro Freak isn’t much to look at but does its job very, very well

Overview

A true blast from the past, the Retro Freak is actually 11 consoles in one.

It supports NES, Famicom, SNES, Super Famicom, Genesis, Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, TurboGrafx-16, PC Engine and PC Engine Super Grafx.

There are ports for each of them, – just plug in the cartridge and you’re off.

Now for its greatest trick. You can save your games to a SD card or the system’s internal storage – so you can create a library of your favourite retro games.

Games

Need we say more. Any game released on the compatible consoles can be played.

There are even high-quality filters you can put on them, which sharpen the image, but they don’t work particularly well.

The standard controller is a bit lame, too.

If you want to play with friends, you can plug in a PS4 controller – but you’ll need to keep it connected via USB.

Price and verdict 

The Retro Freak comes in at around £170 – pretty heft for an emulator. Plus, it looks horrendous – so you’ll want to keep it hidden in a cupboard.

Teufel Cinebar Duett

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Snazzy 4K TVs may look the part, but sadly their sound systems are often underwhelming.

That’s where soundbars come in – and our pick of the bunch is the stunning Cinebar Duett from Teufel.

This two-piece bluetooth system is incredibly easy to set up and install – and delivers thrilling, high-definition sound.

While it works well with music, it really comes alive with games – with even the slightest detail getting picked up and channelled trough the speakers.


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Gunshots sound deep and aggressive, which helps make titles such as Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and COD WWII come to life.

This comes courtesy of 10 high-performance drivers, six power amplifiers and a hefty subwoofer.

It’s also got HDMI with CEC and ARC for operation with the TV remote control and single-cable connection.

The Cinebar Duett retails for £549.99 and can be picked up from www.teufelaudio.com

8Bitdo Twincube Wireless Retro speakers 

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Don’t let their cute looks fool you – these twin speakers pack a punch.

The stylish cubes connect via bluetooth to compatible devices and deliver up to eight hours of playtime with a super-fast one-hour re-charge.

You can also play your non-bluetooth devices with the included 3.5mm AUX cable – perfect for Nintendo Switch gamers on the move.

The ‘gamepad’ on top of the speaker is fully functional and sound is delivered through 2 x 1.5W stereo speakers.

The pair cost £47.99 and can be picked up from www.funstockretro.co.uk 

Turtle Beach Stealth 600-700 headset

 

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If you’re worried about waking the neighbours, then investing in a gaming headset could be the most sensible option.

You can’t go wrong with these new offerings from Turtle Beach – long the headset provider of choice for hardcore gamers.

The new Stealth models are the first gaming headsets to use Microsoft’s new Xbox Wireless technology to connect directly to the console just like a wireless Xbox One controller does.

They also take advantage of Microsoft’s new Windows Sonic for Headphones to deliver immersive surround sound for a more in-depth gaming experience.


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On PS4, the headsets’ wireless USB transmitter connects to the console using the latest smart, channel-hopping technology.

Sound comes courtesy of large 50mm over-ear speakers for amazing game audio, while a new flip-up high-sensitivity mic ensures your every command is heard loud and clear.

Thanks to plenty of cushioning, they’re remarkably easy to wear for long periods of time, too.

Prices start from around £89.99 and they can be picked up www.turtlebeach.com

Huawei Honor 7X

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The smartphone is arguably the piece of technology we spend most of our time with – but often under-deliver when it comes to gaming.

Enter the new Honor 7X from Huawei. With a stunning six-inch 18:9 and sleek metal body – it’s certainly nice to look at it.

But it’s under the hood where it really excels.

The 7X boasts a Kirin 659 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage – meaning you get plenty of bang for your buck.

It’ll run most games very well – and thanks to Honor working with certain big developers – they’ll be optimised for the screen so you get more of a scene.

Battery life is standard, the 3340mAh unit lasting around a day if used casually and draining much faster when gaming.

At around the £269 mark – this mid-range smartphone is definitely worth checking out.

Sony Bravia KD49XE7002 49″ Smark 4K Ultra HD HDR LED TV

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Hands down our favourite 4K TV – and a brilliant companion for gaming.

Stunning picture quality, simple-to-use menus and HDR make this Bravia model a must-have for those looking to upgrade from a 1080p set.

Sound quality is decent, although we recommend investing in a soundbar if you’re planning on having this in the living room.

For gamers, a dedicated Game mode disables a bunch of background processes, to minimise input lag and latency.

Always opt for at least 49″ if you want to really appreciate the jump from 1080p to 4k resolution. Anything smaller than that probably wouldn’t be worth the investment.

The best price we’ve found is around the £549 mark in Currys.


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