Here’s a theory: being a gamer today is both easier and harder than ever. Easier because there’s an embarrassment of riches in content and hardware available to the discerning consumer—plus the mainstreaming of gaming culture means there’s more people than ever to play with. But harder because all those people mean increased competition.
Getting an edge is increasingly a matter of fine margins, especially when gamers are straight up making a living these days streaming their skills.
It turns out there’s no shortcut to success with gaming—like everything else in life. You’ve got to put in the long hours. Still, precisely because we’re down to such fine margins, the right gear can go a long way. After all, accumulating your share of Victory Royales in Fortnite isn’t just a pride thing. It’s more fun, too.
So check out our top picks for improving your chances at gaming glory below.
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Scuf Impact PS4 Controller (starts from $139.95, ScufGaming.com)
It all starts with inputs, and these high-end controllers sport four removable paddles, improved cable retention and optional wired connectivity for reduced latency and maximal response. The options for customization are ridiculous, from thumbstick height and shape to adjustable hair triggers. They look hot as hell, too.
Scuf Elite Xbox Controller (starts from $139.95, ScufGaming.com)
Like their PS4 counterparts, these babies allow for full modifications, grip materials and paddles, all so you can get the best hand feel and response times that work for you. You know how some things just feel right? Yeah, that’s these—except more so.
Razer Deathadder Elite ($69.99, Razer.com)
With a 16,000 DPI optical sensor and optimized switches, this mouse has everything you need to boost that kill-to-death ratio. Careful, though: next time your team gets hosed in CS:GO you’ll have nobody to blame but your own crap skills.
SteelSeries Rival 700 Gaming Mouse ($99.99, SteelSeries.com)
This is for those times when what you want is the most ostentatious nouveau-riche TV-in-the-trunk, diamond-wheel, Bieber-chrome-wrapped Porsche Spyder 918 of computer mice you can get your hands on. We’re talking a fully customizable OLED screen on the mouse.
Why would you need a screen on your mouse? If you’re even asking, then you better keep scrolling. But if you’re thinking how else am I supposed to track my headshots or knife kills—well, welcome home, friend. Practicality is for chumps.
Logitech G903 LIGHTSPEED Gaming Mouse ($113.39, Amazon.com)
Are you left-handed? Right-handed? Prefer a palm grip style? Claw? Fingertip? If you answered yes to these questions, chances are you already own this mouse. The rest of you? Get with the program.
Corsair K70 RGB RAPIDFIRE ($169.99, Corsair.com)
In keyboard terms, actuation refers to the distance and force required for the keyboard to recognize a key as pressed. Basically it's how far and hard you have to press the key for it to be recognized. And right now keyboard manufacturers are in a wild race to shave actuation distances lower and lower. Take the Corsair K70 Rapidfire here, with an actuation distance of 1.2mms in a world where 2mms is standard. That means faster key-mashing and response—which is like having a real-world buff over the competition.
Razer Huntsman Elite ($199.99, Razer.com)
It’s a little hard to hear the name “Huntsman” without harkening back to the good old days of peak Team Fortress 2, but this Huntsman is a lot more high-tech—trust us. Aside from the now-standard underglow that makes your keyboard look like a tricked-out Honda Civic, the solid aluminum matte top plate boosts sturdiness.
And in a world of ubiquitous Cherry MX keys, Razer has introduced their own “Opto-Mechanical” switches. These use light instead of metal contact points to register every time a key is pressed—which, because there aren’t any contact points to wear out, means increased longevity and durability: Razer’s are rated for over 100 million clicks.
Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro S RGB ($129.99, Amazon.com)
Want to get into mechanical keyboards but don’t know where to begin? The Pro S RGB from Cooler Master is the perfect place to begin. The Cherry MX Blue switches are chunky and satisfying without being so absurdly hair-trigger you’re double-typing all the time. That means the keyboard works just as well for gaming as it does for typing. One other benefit is the lack of proprietary software to get the thing up and running.
It’s pretty much plug-and-play, and all your preferences can be made right on the keyboard itself. Think of it as the whisky neat of keyboards: clean, uncomplicated and gets the job done.
Logitech G430 Headset ($79.99, LogitechG.com)
Clear communication is essential in today’s online gaming scene, which means noise-canceling mics and full-on wraparound sound. There’s so much data in sound design that without a 360-degree audio setup you’re at a huge strategic disadvantage.
Footsteps above, below, behind you; gunshots over your left shoulder; a cry for a medic; the clink of a grenade somewhere in the vicinity. Good audio can buy you a precious few milliseconds of reaction time in all these scenarios. The upshot? Less rage-quitting.
SteelSeries Arctis 7 Headset ($149.99, SteelSeries.com)
A lot of gaming gear looks like gaming gear—that is, you can’t shake a stick without hitting glowing logos, LEDs, and hyperactive colors all over the place. Sometimes it seems like everyone is taking their design cues from mid-’90s candy packaging. So it’s a relief to find something as relatively sober and minimalist as the all-black Arctic 7s.
But it doesn’t end with the aesthetics. Just check out the reviews—we’re talking full-on fawning prose and award after award. In every category—sound, connection, mic—it’s a world-beater. Just buy it already.
So there you are: a whole host of options to help you take your gaming to the next level. Dive in whenever you’re ready—we’ll see you out there.