Gifts as a bonus are not unheard of in most industries and in some tech fields, it's understood that computer hardware is a decent gift for most folks.
But it's not generally seen as the same thing as a raise, which implies the commitment to pay a higher salary not only this year, but in future years as well. A smart company will divide compensation thinking into:
- awards and bonuses - cash or gifts that are given once, fully under control of the employee immediately and imply no future payment
- salaries and ongoing benefits - includes raises - it's the collection of costs that are required to keep an employee on staff.
- long term retention options - like vesting stock options, or incentive programs that promise delivery of extra money in discrete chunks if certain obligations are met. Sometimes that's as easy as "still be working here in 3 years and you'll get stock", some are more complicated involving hitting targets for an incentive.
These are not generally seen as interchangeable in the industry, but they are used at different times in different places depending on the company, it's financial state, and it's overall retention strategy.
Most companies will generally consider raises in two ways:
- cost of living increase - given to most employees to recognize that the economy can experience inflation, and to have the same lifestyle, salaries have to grow.
- good performance increase - a certain amount of the budget is earmarked for increasing the salaries of top performers to make sure that their pay stays competitive, or slightly better than competitive so that the company can feel more confident that they are likely to stick around.
Because raises are an ongoing commitment, they are generally reviewed as part of some sort of cycle - quite often an annual one. It's likely that salaries get reviewed at either the anniversary of employment or at the start/end of the fiscal year.
It's fair, since it's been well over a year with no raise, to ask your boss what the process for reviewing salaries and considering raises are, and if there are any conditions that you need to meet in order to be eligible for a raise. That's a good place to start to see what the mechanics are in this case, and it gives your boss a starting point to explain the specifics of raises and raise criteria.