The latest in tech, gadgets, and electronics can make for excellent gifts, and they don’t always have to break the bank (in fact, you can find plenty of cool tech gifts under $50). However, if you’re looking to splurge for something special, like graduation gifts, birthday gifts, or anything in between, you might be wondering what the absolute best tech-related graduation gift ideas are. With everything from iPads and AirPods to Elite controllers and coffee makers, there is a ton to choose from, and it can get overwhelming fast, especially if you have a college grad and high school senior to shop for this year. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered.
We’ve rounded up the best tech gift ideas, so read on for some great graduation gift ideas to avoid just buying a gift card for that special person in your life–or even a nice treat for yourself. Just keep in mind that the prices below indicate the regular price and won’t reflect any discounts or fluctuations–Amazon regularly discounts most products, so you might get one of these awesome graduation gift ideas for a cheaper price. Just don’t forget to add a more sentimental gift along with these great all-purpose gifts.
Quick look: The best tech gifts for 2020
- New iPad (32GB) — $329
- Apple AirPods Pro — $249
- Kindle Paperwhite (8GB) — $130
- Nintendo Switch — $299
- Nintendo Switch Lite — $200
- Xbox One Elite Series 2 controller — $180
- Sega Genesis Mini — $80
- Creative SXFI Air Bluetooth headphones — $140
- Keurig K-Select coffee maker — $146
- …and more!
Best video game consoles
One of the best gifts to give and get is a video game console. Not only is it a deluxe item they’ll never forget; they’ll also be able to get a ton of use out of it. Below we’ve collected the best video game consoles out there, bound to make anyone who’s even remotely interested in gaming happy. Of course, next-generation consoles–the PS5 and Xbox Series X–are coming out later this year, but thankfully, Microsoft has confirmed that it won’t release any exclusive games for the Series X for at least a year, maybe two. That means all Xbox One owners will be able to play every first-party game for a good while. Plus, there are still huge games releasing in 2020 that are worth owning a console for–Final Fantasy VII Remake, Cyberpunk 2077, and Resident Evil 3 Remake, to name just a few. And fortunately, it’s easy to find a PS4 or an Xbox One at a steep discount these days.
The Nintendo Switch is an excellent hybrid console with a large number of fantastic games. You can play on your TV in docked mode, and then pull it out of the dock and take it with you on the go. It works with a wide range of controllers–see our guide for the best Switch controllers in 2020–and features some of the best games of the last five years, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Hollow Knight. The best part is that the two controllers on the side of the Switch can be removed and used in multiplayer games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It won’t help your loved one graduate any more quickly, but every grad needs a way to unwind after a big day of finals.
Nintendo Switch Lite
If you’re not interested in docking the Nintendo Switch and outputting to a TV, then the Nintendo Switch Lite is a cheaper, handheld-only alternative that’s a great graduation gift. It also boasts the first official D-pad Nintendo has released for the Switch, though you won’t be able to remove the Joy-Cons for multiplayer sessions. If you want to play the Switch Lite in tabletop mode, you’ll need an additional controller for each player–and a stand, as the Switch Lite doesn’t have one built-in. However, you can still play all of the same games the regular Nintendo Switch can, so you won’t be missing out on any of its great titles.
PS4 Slim – Only on PlayStation bundle
The PS4 Slim may not be the most powerful version of the PlayStation 4, but this bundle trounces every other. It comes with three of the console’s best games–God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition, and The Last of Us Remastered–and there are plenty more where they came from. And that’s not mentioning some of the exciting exclusives releasing this year like Final Fantasy VII Remake, Ghost of Tsushima, and The Last of Us Part II.
Xbox One X – Gears 5 bundle
The Xbox One X is the most powerful console out there right now–in most cases, it’s the best one to play third-party games on. This particular bundle packages the entire Gears of War series, including the latest entry, Gears 5. On top of that, a bunch of the most exciting games coming out this year are coming to the Xbox One X, making it a great choice for any gamer, especially those with a 4K TV.
Sega Genesis Mini
If you want to relive Sega’s Genesis years, then there’s no easier way to do so than the Sega Genesis Mini. A perfect gift for retro gamers, the Sega Genesis Mini features 42 built-in games, including the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage II, and ToeJam & Earl as well as Castlevania: Bloodlines, Contra: Hard Corps, and Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master. In the package, you also get two controllers and everything you need to play it on modern TVs. GameSpot’s Sega Genesis Mini review called the micro-console “one worth buying,” noting its great selection of games. For the retro gaming fan, this is a great personalized graduation gift.
Best video game controllers
For gamers, no accessory gets more use than their favorite controller, especially when it’s a premium pad made to last them a long time. The following controllers are the best you can get for their respective platforms, but if you want to see more options, check out our guides on the best Nintendo Switch controllers, the best Xbox One controllers, and the best PS4 controllers.
Xbox One Elite Series 2 wireless controller
The Elite Series 2 wireless controller made our list of the best Xbox One controllers for a reason. It has adjustable analog-stick tension, three trigger-lock positions, and the best grips you can find on an Xbox One pad. It also just feels more solidly built, sanding out the rough edges that were left on Microsoft’s first try at an Elite-style controller. If you’re looking for one of the best controllers for Xbox One and PC, it doesn’t get much better than the Elite Series 2.
Scuf Vantage 2 wired PS4/PC controller
Scuf’s Vantage 2 controller is a fantastic pad for Sony’s console, even topping the list of our best PS4 controllers for 2020. It has adjustable triggers, interchangeable analog sticks, and six extra buttons, four of which are some of the most comfortable back paddles I’ve ever used. The wired edition costs $30 less than the wireless version, but either way, you’re getting a fantastic Elite-style controller. Your loved one will definitely appreciate it as they spend countless hours with it in the months between high school graduation and their first year of college.
See also: Scuf Vantage 2 wireless version
Nintendo Switch Pro Controller
The Nintendo Switch Pro Controller may be expensive, but it’s still one of the best Switch controllers you can buy. It’s more expensive than many third-party options, but it’s got everything you need to play the best games on Nintendo’s hybrid console. It feels the best to hold out of every controller we’ve tested, with satisfying buttons, comfortable grips, and off-set analog sticks. It also features NFC/Amiibo support, HD rumble, and motion controls. Every Switch owner should have at least one Pro Controller.
Best gaming headsets
The quality of gaming headsets can vary wildly, and if you’re not sure which ones are good, then it can be incredibly intimidating to look through all of your available options. We’ve highlighted some of our picks for gaming headsets below, but be sure to check out our full guide to the best gaming headsets in 2020.
Creative SXFI Theater headphones
Works with PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch
Every college graduate deserves something special, and Creative’s Super X-Fi technology makes it sound like you’re listening to surround-sound speakers when you’re really hearing everything from your headphones. It’s an impressive technology, earning the SXFI Theater a spot on our guide to the best gaming headsets. The Theater’s microphone quality may not be the best we’ve tested, but the audio experience is so impressive across music, movies, and gaming that it’s hard to stop using them now that we’ve started.
HyperX Cloud Alpha S
Works with PS4, Xbox One, and PC
The Cloud Alpha S is HyperX’s latest gaming headset, and it’s a definite over-achiever. With a solid, flexible build and extremely comfortable earpads, the HyperX Cloud Alpha S is as great to wear as it is to use in the heat of a tense multiplayer match in your game of choice. It’s a wired headset that comes with a detachable mic, on-hand bass adjustment, and an audio mixer. It works with all of the consoles–all you need to do is plug it into your controller’s 3.5mm jack–which makes it perfect for that special gamer in your life.
Best gaming laptops
If you really want to knock the socks off whoever’s on your shopping list, then a gaming laptop will absolutely do that. We have a great guide on the 2020’s best gaming laptops, but if you want the absolute best at a good price, then the following notebooks are excellent choices.
Asus ROG Strix Scar III gaming laptop
The Asus ROG Strix Scar III is an excellent gaming laptop that will make any gamer happy in their travels. Equipped with a 240Hz, 1080 display and an RTX 2060, shooters like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare can be enjoyed at high frame rates and settings. It’s one of the more expensive graduation gifts on this list, but if you’ve been really hyping up your graduation gift to your loved one, this is definitely a college send-off gift worth waiting for.
Alienware m15 gaming laptop
While we’re on the topic of expensive graduation gifts, The Alienware m15 could be a good substitute for a graduation party. It features one of the best designs, not only in appearance but also in actually using it. The chassis and keyboard feel extremely smooth and typing on it is a delight. It’s a striking laptop, and thanks to its specs, it’s also capable of some serious gaming on the go. It features an RTX 2060, i7-9750H, and 16GB RAM as well as a 15.6-inch, 144Hz display, it’s a beast when it comes to gaming. With its 512GB SSD, you’ll enjoy fast load times and stutter-free, open-world gameplay that games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone will take advantage of greatly.
Best Bluetooth headphones
Gaming headsets are great, but they’re not the best for listening to music, especially when you’re on the go. And cables can get caught on everything these days–doors, benches, and anything else in between home and your destination. That’s where Bluetooth headphones excel. Wirelessly connected to any compatible device, your loved one will be able to listen to anything they want in comfort, making Bluetooth headphones perfect for anyone with a long commute or who travels frequently.
Creative SXFI Air Bluetooth headphones
If you’d rather have a pair of headphones that you can connect to your phone, tablet, or other Bluetooth-enabled devices, then the Creative SXFI Air is an excellent choice. Just like the SXFI Theater, it boasts Super X-Fi technology that makes it sound like you’re listening to a surround-sound system inside the headphones.
Apple AirPods Pro
Don’t just get them an iTunes gift card and call it a day–get the college grad in your life a pair of AirPods Pro, Apple’s premium true-wireless earbuds. They feature active noise cancellation, a transparency mode, and sweat- and water-resistance as well as a new design that helps the earbuds stay in your ear more effectively. By default, the earbuds come with a wireless charging case. It boasts up to 4.5 hours of battery life on one charge, though you’ll be able to throw them back into the charging case and get up to 24 hours of battery in total. For a cheaper alternative, the 2nd-gen Apple AirPods are also a great option. While they don’t come equipped with a lot of the same features as the Pro model, they boast a slightly higher battery life.
A tablet is always an excellent gift for anyone who loves movies, TV, comics, and books. Easy to enjoy around the house or take with you while traveling, tablets are great for entertainment, surfing the internet, or even games.
New iPad (32 GB)
Starts at $329
If they enjoy watching movies, reading comics and ebooks, and playing mobile games, then the new iPad would make for a fantastic gift. The 32GB iPad is Apple’s most affordable tablet, and while it features the same A10 chip from the previous generation of iPads, it now features support for Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. It’s also perfectly capable of playing games like Fortnite and Call of Duty Mobile. And if they need extra storage space–or even better specs–then there’s a 128GB iPad and a more powerful iPad Air.
See also: iPad Air (64GB)
Amazon Fire 10 HD
Starts at $150
If they’re a movie & TV buff, comic book fan, and/or anything in between–and you don’t want to break the bank–then the Amazon Fire 10 HD is an excellent option, especially for people who already have an Amazon Prime subscription. It’s not the most powerful tablet in the world, but at its price, it’s hard to beat. It’s capable of pretty much every form of entertainment you can think of and light gaming. It’s also available with in-device advertisements at a cheaper price, though we recommend choosing “Without Special Offers,” as no one enjoys ads. This is an all-around great gift, but will prove especially useful to any grad moving on from high school.
Kindle Paperwhite (8GB)
For someone who enjoys reading books, the Kindle Paperwhite is a no-brainer. It boasts a wonderfully lit screen that feels like you’re reading from actual paper, and you can even do so in the dark. There are two options in storage space–8GB and 32GB–but I’ve found that the 8GB one is more than enough to store dozens of books at any one time. It also boasts a battery that lasts weeks. If you’re tired of turning pages or need something that’s extremely easy to read in bed, then the Kindle Paperwhite is perfect for your needs. Even better, plenty of college must-reads and assigned books are available digitally, which could help that budding high school grad save money on books when they get to college.
Best tablet accessories
If you know they already own a tablet, consider getting them an accessory to make their tablet experience even better. A premium stylus, keyboard, or even a great case can improve the tablet experience tenfold–here are some of the best ones.
Apple Pencil (2nd gen) for iPad Pro
If you’re shopping for someone who enjoys drawing or simply taking notes with a pen, then the Apple Pencil is a perfect accessory for iPad Pro owners. You can switch from pencil to eraser with a simple double-tap on the side of the Apple Pencil, and there’s even pressure sensitivity, allowing you to press harder for thicker lines or tilt for shading. You can even attach the Pencil to the side of your iPad Pro and charge it wirelessly.
Of course, if they have a compatible iPad that isn’t an iPad Pro 11-inch or iPad Pro 12.9 inch (3rd gen), then the first generation of Apple Pencil will work great as well (it’s slightly cheaper), making it an especially thoughtful gift for artists who’ve gone high-tech.
See also: Apple Pencil (1st gen) for iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iPad
Smart Keyboard for iPad (7th gen) and iPad Air (3rd gen)
The Smart Keyboard helps turn your iPad or iPad Air into a more work-friendly station, and thanks to iPadOS, it’s actually pretty effective. If you’re looking for something for a student taking notes or a writer looking to pen their next essay or story, then the Smart Keyboard is essential for iPad owners. If your grad complains about having to type things out on their iPad, this is a great personalized gift for them.
See also: Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro (12.9-inch)
Best movie & TV streaming devices
For movie and TV junkies, nothing is better than a high-quality streaming device that supports 4K, HDR, and Dolby surround sound. Streaming from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other services as well as buying and renting from multiple storefronts is made easy with one of these handy multimedia devices. Gifting a subscription to one of those services would be another great gift idea–check out our guide to the best streaming services for a breakdown of all current options.
Amazon Fire TV Cube
The Fire TV Cube is Amazon’s most powerful TV-streaming device. It’s able to stream in 4K with support for Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+, but it’s also got Alexa built-in, so you’re able to ask it to turn on your TV, dim your lights, and much more without even picking up your voice-enabled remote. Thankfully, you can also turn the microphones off completely.
Apple TV 4K (32GB)
If they’re tuned into the Apple ecosystem, then the Apple TV 4K is a great device for connecting their iTunes library and Apple devices to their television. On top of that, it has a lot of its own apps including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and you can even play Apple Arcade games right on it by connecting an Xbox One or PS4 controller.
Best smart devices
Smart devices make for excellent home assistants, perfect for people who love cooking or listening to music. Most people would appreciate some extra help staying organized and up-to-date, and smart devices can do just that, adding items to your shopping list, creating appointments on your calendar, reading you the latest news, and more, just from verbal commands.
Amazon Echo (3rd gen)
Amazon’s Alexa-enabled smart speaker is all you need for a hands-off experience with your music, news, weather, and more. It features thousands of different skills you can teach it, including fitness tracking, smart home control, and lost phone finding–and much, much more. One of the coolest features is using it as an intercom for your home–you’re able to talk to anyone in the house as long as they also have an Amazon smart speaker in waiting.
If the Echo is Amazon’s smart speaker, then the Echo Show is the company’s smart screen. It features everything the Echo does, except with the added bonus of a touchscreen display. You’re able to make video calls, watch movies and shows, and follow recipes, thanks to the many apps and skills the Show is capable of. It works great in the kitchen, living room, and bedroom, whether you’re using it as a cooking assistant, alarm clock, or anything in between. This is a fantastic gift for anyone closing in on college graduation and looking to move into a place of their own.
Best coffee gadgets
There are so many awesome gadgets for coffee lovers, and since coffee is paramount to any caffeine addict’s life, they’ll absolutely love receiving one as a gift. Whether it’s a coffee maker or a smart mug–yes, everything is becoming “smart” these days–they’ll surely love one of these coffee gadgets.
Keurig K-Select coffee maker
It’s hard to deny the power a cup of coffee can give you on a tough day–or any day, really. If you’re looking for the easiest way to enjoy a good cup of joe, then the Keurig K-Select coffee maker is a great option. And trust us, whether they’re moving on from high school, college, or joining the workforce, your grad is going to need some good coffee. All you have to do is fill the reservoir with water, throw in a pod, and then press the right buttons to get your coffee going. It doesn’t take long, and thankfully, there are a couple of Keurig pod options that are compostable and recyclable.
Speaking of a good cup of coffee, nothing is more frustrating than making yourself a cup, getting distracted by work, and then going for a grotesquely cold sip. The Ember Mug aims to prevent these catastrophic moments by keeping your coffee at the right temperature. It has a battery charge of up to 1.5 hours, but if you leave it on the included charging coaster, then it’ll keep your coffee hot all day. It’s the perfect gift to help your loved one get used to the obstacles of daily life after their college graduation.
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