It's time to balance out that daily grind at school with some well-deserved leisure. Fortunately, many of our choices walk that fine line between work and play -- if you're willing to stump up some more cash beyond a normal laptop, you could get something capable of handling the latest PC titles. Some of our other choices may be a harder sell in the education stakes, but we all need some stress relief, right? And with bigger consoles nearing the end of their life cycles, there's never been a more wallet-friendly time to get involved. Jump in after the break for our favorite gaming choices. If all your money's been earmarked for learnin', then you should certainly enter our sweepstakes. Leave a comment after the break for a chance to win, and visit our giveaway page for all the details.
On the cheap

Nintendo DSi

While we've already reached the second generation of 3DS hardware, there has been more good news from Nintendo since last year's guide. Yes, this time, the camera-toting DSi got a substantial price cut -- down to around $100, depending on your color preferences. There's still a raft of respectable games for the elder statesman of Nintendo handhelds and the DSi was also the first to connect to Nintendo's online store, with an increasing selection of mini-games and retro titles available for download over WiFi.
Key specs: Dual 3.25-inch displays, two cameras, SD card slot, WiFi.
Price: $119 on Amazon
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Nyko Power grip for Vita
Nyko says its Power Grip will double your handheld play time -- a boon for the otherwise precarious battery life of the PS Vita. The extended handles should also make those longer gaming sessions a cinch, though the rig's unlikely to fit in your pocket anymore.
From $30 on Amazon
XBox 360 two-year subscription bundle
Granted, you'll have to be willing to pay an additional $15 per month for the two-year term, but for a lot of us, that's a pretty manageable price for the best-selling console in recent history. Rounded out by a Kinect, it's a very solid package for a $100 entry fee.
$100 at Microsoft


Sony PlayStation Vita

There's no handheld with quite as much power as Sony's latest effort. It's also been around for a few months now, with several appealing game bundles now making the rounds and Sony's online game catalog continuing to expand. A capacitive touchscreen and dual analog sticks arguably make it the gamers' handheld console, while those feeling slightly more flush have the option to pony up a little more cash for the 3G version.
Key specs: 5-inch OLED display, dual analog controls, dual touchscreens, WiFi, backwards compatibility with PSP titles online.
Price: From $250 on Amazon
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Nintendo 3DS XL
We're still a week away from Nintendo's newest handheld appearing on US soil, but that didn't stop us putting it through the review wringer ahead of its launch. A bigger screen, more pervasive 3D effect and longer battery life make it a noticeable improvement over the original 3DS.From $199 at Nintendo
PS3 320GB Call of Duty MW 3 bundle
Sony's console doesn't seem to be shaking things up as much as its Microsoft rival when it comes to pricing, but the latest Modern Warfarebundle now manages to duck under the $300 mark. This nets you a 320GB system, a controller, a copy of MW3and, naturally, an embedded Blu-ray player.
From $300 on Amazon

Money's no object

Maingear Pulse 11

This 11-inch gaming portable surprised us with a potent showing in benchmarks and real-life use. Not that we should have been all that surprised. The laptop packs an Intel 3rd-generation Ivy Bridge processor alongside an NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M. Given thepaucity of 11-inch gaming laptops, the Pulse 11 seems to be a winner if bag space is at a premium. Naturally, all that power will ensure it's also more than capable of handling those weekly essays and web-based research projects.
Key specs: 11.6-inch 1,366 x 768 display, Intel's Ivy Bridge processor, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, 250GB hard drive.
Price: From $999 at Maingear
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Apple iPad (2012)
Apple continues to offer a rich selection of gaming ware in its App Store -- so many titles, in fact, that its firmly landed itself in gamer territory. If you have the money, then the 3rd-generation model could be worth the extra investment over older flavors, with a super-crisp display and a battery life that's likely to last 'til the final bell.
From $499 at Apple

Alienware M17x
For gaming laptops that could dominate your backpack, Alienware's latest refresh fits the bill. Now customizable with the latest NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680M and still compatible with 3D Vision, the M17x is powered by Intel's new Ivy Bridge processor range, and offers support for PCI Express 3.0 and several hybrid storage drive options.
From $1,499 at Dell