How to Find the Best PC Component Deals This Holiday Season

It’s been a mixed year on the PC builder front. We seem to be well beyond the worst of the cryptomining-related graphics card price hikes. SSD prices have continued to fall, and CPU core counts continue to climb. And while RAM prices remained high through most of the year, they’re starting to fall and indications are they will continue to drop as demand falls.

But Nvidia’s new RTX cards are decidedly expensive. And there’s been little response from AMD save for the power-hungry RX 590, which is meant to compete with the mid-range GTX 1060. Intel, meanwhile, faces ongoing issues with 10nm, as well as carryover problems with 14nm fabrication bandwidth, which is reportedly causing the company to cut CPU shipments. Then there’s the whole contentious US/China tariff issue that, regardless of how you feel about it politically, certainly isn’t going to do anything to help lower prices.

With all that and more affecting the cost of our coveted PC parts going into the holiday season, how can you prepare yourself to get the best deal? And which parts and brands are likely to see the most enticing price drops going into Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

If you’re after a specific type of component, you can see our previous deals analysis below:

And of course, you should keep an eye on our Best Black Friday Deals, Best GPU Deals, and Best SSD and Storage Deals pages. As the shopping season rolls on, we’ll be constantly updating those pages with the best deals we can find as they go live.

But just what should you be keeping an eye on if you’re looking to snag the best deal on an upgrade or that missing part from your new build? In short, we expect to see lots of deals on SSDs, AMD CPUs, and a couple of specific AMD graphics cards this year.

No Huge Deals on Intel or Nvidia?

As we mentioned up top, Intel seems to be having supply issues, so we don’t expect to see many deals from Team Blue--especially on its 9th Generation processors, which are brand-new and often selling for higher than their suggested prices. Nvidia is in a similar situation; its RTX cards are very new and seem to be selling well enough that we still can’t find a 2080 Ti anywhere close to $1,000. Recent reports indicate that there’s a glut of GTX 1060 cards on the market. But the fact that the company just released a tweaked GDDR5 version makes us think the company is unlikely to encourage retailers to cut prices now to make way for a 2060 card in the near-term future.

Look to AMD for Savings

Of the big three PC chip makers, that leaves us with AMD. And there, we see plenty of opportunity for deals. The company’s chips have seen enticing discounts throughout the year already. And older first-generation Ryzen chips are still readily available. The same is true of the company’s higher-end Ryzen processors. The second-gen parts are pretty new, but those first-generation chips, like the Threadripper 1950X and 1920X are prime candidates for price slashing this holiday season. For more detail on what CPU deals we expect, and what chips to avoid, check out our CPU deals analysis story.

On the graphics card front, AMD has the same problem as Nvidia in regards to extra stock due to the crypto crash. But word on the street is that profit margins on the RX Vega cards are pretty thin to begin with, so we don’t expect to see lots of sales on those higher-end cards. That said, the company just pushed out its updated Polaris-based part, the RX 590 which manages to beat the Nvidia GTX 1060. But it isn’t hugely faster than the RX 580, while using a lot more power.

Keep an Eye on the RX 580

Even before the 590 launched, we were expecting to see deals on the RX 580. Now that the 590 is here, that’s already starting to happen, and we now know that the RX 580 is nearly as fast (and generally more efficient). So if you’re looking for a deal on a card for 1080p gaming, keep an eye out for RX 580 deals, and for more details check out our GPU holiday deals story.

A Solid Season for SSD Deals

SSDs are one of the areas where we expect to see the most deals this holiday season. There are just so many drives on the market already, many newer models hitting all the time, and increased density and technological advancements like QLC are only expected to move prices lower going into 2019. In particular, we’d skip any capacities below the 240GB range, as prices are already so low there that there’s not a lot of room for price drops. Plus you can usually double your capacity for not much more money.

Also, while the price of Samsung’s SATA-based EVO drives have consistently remained a bit higher than the rest of the mainstream competition, they’re also starting to show their age. Given that the future is clearly moving toward QLC,  we would not be surprised to see significant price cuts on older Samsung drives, too.

Big Capacities = Better Deals

The biggest price drops will likely come on higher-capacity 1TB and 2TB drives--particularly older models that have been hanging around on shelves since the days when these capacities were prohibitively expensive. As the market increasingly moves toward QLC and 96-layer flash, these big drives are only going to get cheaper to make next year. So retailers are likely to try to move some stock to make way for new high-capacity models as 2019 progresses. For more details and advice about what specific drives to keep an eye out for, check out our SSD deals analysis story.

Other Parts? It’s Hard to Say

What about other components? Cases are tough to make a call on because models often stay on the market for several years. And with no underlying core technology to make them obsolete, there’s little reason (other than the space they take up in a warehouse) for retailers to push through stock. We’re sure there will be a few good case deals, but you’ll just have to keep an eye on our deals pages for any we come across.

Power supplies will also almost certainly see some decent sales, but with tariffs likely affecting prices of key internal components, and no must-have new technological advancements, retailers may be reticent to slash prices on a component we’re all going to need eventually. There will likely be some worthwhile RAM deals as well, especially on non-LED models since memory makers seem to be slapping RGBs on almost everything new these days. Maybe by next year we’ll all have grown sick of the pulsing lights and the RGB-clad components will be the ones in the bargain bin. Hey, we can hope, right?

There will undoubtedly be some surprise deals that we haven’t covered here. So keep an eye on our deals pages, because the best buys usually don’t last very long. Also, check a price-tracking site like CamelCamelCamel or PCPartPicker to see if that sale price is actually lower than previous prices before clicking the buy button. And be sure to check our reviews and best pages to find out whether something on sale is worth snatching up or skipping.

We hope you find what you need for your build while saving a load of cash along the way. If not, there’s always hope that prices will drop on those lusted-after parts next year.

Matt Safford

After a rough start with the Mattel Aquarius as a child, Matt built his first PC in the late 1990s and ventured into mild PC modding in the early 2000s. He’s spent the last 15 years covering emerging technology for Smithsonian, Popular Science, and Consumer Reports, while testing components and PCs for Computer Shopper, PCMag and Digital Trends.