Ignoring the price-to-performance ratio
Around this time of year, everyone rolls out gift guides—suggestions for what to buy for the special, computer-loving people in your life. But we think that such guides sorely underserve one crucial but oft-ignored demographic: the filthy, stinking rich.
To remedy this pattern of neglect, we’ve put together the ultimate gift guide for recipients for whom the word “budget” holds no meaning: Here are 10 pieces of PC paraphernalia with price tags that push the boundaries of rational expense. We’re not talking about cheesy solid-gold mice and diamond-encrusted cell phone cases that nobody actually buys, either. The products on our list are legitimately awesome (though not exactly great bargains).
Eizo Duravision FDH3601
Sure, it’s a tad ugly, and it costs more than a modestly appointed luxury car, but if you want to get in on the ground floor of the 4K revolution, the Eizo Duravision FDH3601 is the only such monitor currently on the market. If you elect to shell out the $30,000+ necessary to give one as a present, the lucky recipient will get a 4096-by-2160-resolution display in a 36-inch diagonal package.
$30,000 and up at Eizo.com
SimXperience Stage 5 Motion Racing Simulator
If you’re trying to find the perfect gift for a racing enthusiast, but the cost of an actual sports car (not to mention the insurance!) seems a bit extravagant, check out the line of motion simulator cockpits available from SimXperience. Naturally, for real luxury you should insist on the most expensive rig in the lineup: the Stage 5, which comes equipped with three 46-inch screens, a touchscreen control panel, and a custom PC.
$17,500 at SimXperience
Razer DeathStalker Ultimate
For the highest-tech keyboard available, check out the Razer DeathStalker Ultimate. It features the same Razer SwitchBlade UI found on the high-end Razer Blade gaming laptop: 10 programmable keys with built-in displays, and a 4-inch LCD touchscreen that doubles as a trackpad. Additional features include custom-color backlighting, on-the-fly macro recording, and 10-key antighosting.
The Deathstalker Ultimate even gets in on the app craze, as Razer offers a handful of apps that function solely on that LCD touchscreen. Basics such as Facebook, Gmail, and YouTube are there, but gamers should skew toward game-specific apps that help with titles like Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Keyboards don't get much blingier than this.
$250 at Razer
Zana Design Apophis
If you’re looking for a 64GB USB 3.0 drive, you can probably find one for less than $2000. But if you’re looking for a 64GB USB 3.0 drive constructed from 200-year-old African Black Wood, 18-carat gold and—oh, yeah—a piece of a freakin' meteorite, the Zana Design Apophis makes complete sense. (If you want to pinch pennies, you can swap out the gold for silver to lower the price to $1130.)
$1990 at Zana Design
Nothing wins unanimous praise in the audiophile world, but the Stax SR-009 headphones are currently the leading contender for the title of world’s best set of cans. These Japanese-built headphones feature an open-backed design, craftsman-made leather earpads, and unparalleled sound reproduction, for just over five grand.
Of course, you'll have to buy an audiophile-grade headphone amplifier to power these bad boys, so plan to spend another $2000 (at a minimum) there. But if you're a demanding listener yourself, you know that putting your money where your ears are ain't cheap.
$5250 at Stax USA
Emperor 200 workstation
If someone you’re shopping for works in front of a computer all day in a setting that doesn’t win any ergonomic prizes, consider giving the gift of an Emperor 200 custom workstation. The Emperor 200 comes with a custom Core-i7 or Xeon-based PC with up to three 27-inch LED monitors, plus a completely actuated chair with built-in climate control and air filtration features. Nothing says "lair of a James Bond villain" like a command center graced with this high-tech furnishing.
$49,150 at MWE Lab
Maingear Alpha 24 Super Stock
Traditionally, an all-in-one system would be a poor gift for a PC enthusiast with a taste for raw, pixel-pushing power. But Maingear's Alpha 24 Super Stock upends the notion that an all-in-one must trade power for convenience. This model offers cutting-edge, upgradable hardware in a fairly slim touchscreen design. And good luck finding another all-in-one with a full-blown, discrete Nvidia GTX 680 desktop GPU! The Alpha 24 Super Stock is unquestionably the perfect PC to install in a luxury town car or private jet.
$1350 to $3000 and up at Maingear
Wacom Cintiq 24HD
Looking for a gift for a tech-lover who’s also into art (or vice versa)? The Wacom Cintiq 24HD was made for just such users. Standing proudly at the top of Wacom’s line, this 24-inch panel is designed for use with Wacom's pressure- and tilt-sensitive styluses, and it includes multitouch gesture recognition. Also, the adjustable stand was built with ergonomics firmly in mind. To get your arty friend started on the right foot, you'll want to throw in a $100 Wacom digital Airbrush Pen, and a $300 copy of Corel Painter 12.
$2545 at Wacom
Cyborg R.A.T. 9
Plenty of companies will happily sell you a garish gold-plated, gem-encrusted hockey puck of a mouse with bad ergonomics and few special features for thousands of dollars. But junk like that is what gives conspicuous consumption a bad name. So instead, choose the wireless R.A.T. 9—the most customizable high-end gaming mouse on the market. It might not drip with nouveau riche bling, but the R.A.T. 9 is one of the finer things you can add to a PC gamer's life.
$150 at Cyborg
LimbIC Office Chair
Simultaneously testing the limits of how much an office chair should cost and what it should look like, the LimbIC has no cushion or back. Instead, it offers a pair of free-floating, thigh-cradling carbon-fiber shells that allow the occupant to move around freely while remaining seated. It's like floating, without having to lie down or stand up.
$8500 at Inno-Motion