2016 Holiday Gift Ideas For Linux Enthusiasts, Gamers
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 27 November 2016 at 02:02 PM EST. 10 Comments
If you are looking for any gift ideas this 2016 holiday season for a Linux gamer/enthusiast or just a casual user looking for some friendly PC hardware, here are my favorites for this holiday season.

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Graphics Cards: Might as well start with the most contentious item when it comes to Linux hardware... For those that don't mind binary blobs on the system, the GeForce GTX 1050/1060/1070/1080 series is fantastic! Great OpenGL/OpenCL/Vulkan/CUDA performance nearly on-par to Windows and with almost feature parity to the Windows drivers. Assuming you don't mind using the NVIDIA proprietary drivers, the GeForce GTX 1000 (Pascal) series is a safe bet and is great for gamers. The GTX 1060 series at around $200 USD is great for Linux gamers while those playing at 1440p or 4K will be better off with a GTX 1070/1080 series.

For the open-source advocate, the open-source AMD Linux driver stack has never been better! There was a heck of a lot of progress made by AMD this year and illustrated well in the recent RadeonSI's Gallium3D Driver Performance Has Improved Massively In The Past Year. For the open-source advocate, the Radeon RX 480 line-up is great for gamers or the RX 460/470 if you really aren't doing much gaming. The only big caveat for those using the open driver and planning to use a newer GPU is that until the DAL code lands in Linux 4.11 or later, there won't be HDMI/DP audio as part of the mainline kernel. For me at least that's a big deal since I only use HDMI/DP audio these days on monitors and can be a big issue for HTPC/Kodi boxes if you are planning to use a card with the AMDGPU kernel driver. Once the DAL support is there, nice open-source possibilities for HTPC/video setups with a fully-free stack and having Gallium3D-based video acceleration.

Steam Controller / Steam Link: Great stocking gifts right now for Linux fans! Currently the Steam Link is only $19.99 USD and the Steam Controller is $35. Nice discounts for the holiday and make great gifts for a Linux gamer.

Storage: If you need to upgrade your storage this holiday season such as for storing more Steam Linux games, holiday pictures/videos, or more storage for the sake of it, the Intel 600p NVMe SSDs provide great value and work well under Linux. Really happy with their performance along with other NVMe SSDs. For those just looking for a conventional SSD, the Samsung 850 series continue to run great and I have around ten of them running strong this year on test systems. There are also our other Linux storage reviews on Phoronix.

NUC-like / SFF Linux PC: If you are looking for a new mini PC this holiday season, I recently bought the MSI Cubi 2 with Kabylake CPU. It has played well on modern Linux distributions -- including the new Kaby Lake graphics -- and I recently switched to this MSI Cubi 2 as my main system when moving over to Fedora 25.

Other Gadgets: The outdoor Nest Camera and the Seek Thermal that turns your Android phone into a thermal imager are among the cool gadgets I've encountered this year.

Pleasing The Significant Other: If you are looking for some gifts for your wife or significant other to better justify your tech purchases, here are some non-tech-specific recommendations I got from my wife that she would endorse this holiday season... She's a big fan of the Roku streaming stick, the most durable dog toys she has ever encountered have been from GoDog as a brand less known but quality compared to say Kong, Popcorners are some healthy (compared to conventional chips) popcorn-based chips she enjoys and recommends but not being too widely known at least in the US, for the home chef wanting to get into sous vide cooking there is the Anova precision cooker, or some delicious Dallmayr coffee.

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Looking for other Linux holiday recommendations, ask away in the forums such as if you are looking for a specific Linux-friendly PC component I'd recommend this winter.
About The Author
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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