Though Black Friday itself is still a few weeks away, the holiday shopping season is upon us and that means we’ll see a slew of sales on PC hardware, gadgets and tech accessories. However, just because something is promoted as a “black friday deal,” that doesn’t mean it’s actually going to save you money.
Every holiday season, we see retailers that tout their sale prices on products when those prices only match the non-holiday costs on competitors’ websites. If a monitor is now on sale for $199 at retailer A and but retailer B has always sold it for $199, that’s not a deal. Similarly, if a 32GB microSD card from brand X is on sale for $5, but a similar-performing 32GB card from brand Y has always been $5, that’s not a deal.
To help you tell PC hardware deals from promotional duds, we’ve created a list of prices to look for. If you find any of these products at these prices, you can feel comfortable pulling the trigger.
16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM (Under $60): Given how much prices have fallen and much memory browser tabs can gobble up these days, tou shouldn’t even consider building or building a desktop PC with less than 16GB of RAM in 2019 and, while you can save a few dollars by getting 2666 MHz or 3000 MHz speed, 3200 is a solid sweet spot for balancing performance and price. Just make sure your motherboard and CPU supports this speed, as Intel’s lesser (non Z-series) motherboards are locked at lower memory speeds.
32GB of DDR4-3200 (Under $125): There’s a good argument to be made that you shouldn’t have any less than 32GB of RAM if you do a lot of multitasking--and particularly if you’re a serious content creator. The Black Friday season could be a great time to step up to 32GB, particularly if find a 2x16GB kit for less than $120.
Intel's 660p M.2 NVMe SSD 1TB (Under $90): Intel’s uber-inexpensive M.2 SSD is a good budget choice because it gives solid performance, particularly if you don’t often blow through the 6-24GB SLC buffer. The 660p (1TB) frequently sells for well under $100 and has been as low as $80. If you see it below $90, it’s a deal.
Adata XPG SX8200 Pro SSD 1TB (Under $125): Our favorite SSD overall offers fantastic performance at a very-good regular price of $147 and, with coupon, was available for $127 at publication time. However, if you see the XPG SX8200 Pro drop below the $125 mark, you’re getting a particularly great deal on a speedy boot drive.
AMD Ryzen 7 3700X (Under $320): This CPU is a great value at its regular price, delivering 8 cores and 16 threads with plenty of performance for around $330. If it drops below $20, it’s a steal.
AMD's Ryzen 5 3600 / Ryzen 7 2700X (Under $190): If spending over $300 on a CPU isn’t within your budget, grab this year’s mid-range Ryzen 5 3600 or last-year’s high-end Ryzen 7 2700X if you can find them for less than $190.
AMD Radeon RX 5700 Card (Under $320): If you want to play games at 2K resolution, any card that’s powered by an AMD Radeon RX 5700 card provides the best balance between price and performance. Currently, these cards start at about $330, so if you can find one significantly less than that, it would make a great gaming upgrade.
Nvidia RTX 2070 Super Card (Under $490): Our top GPU for VR gaming, Nvidia’s RTX 2070 Super features a VirtualLink port for easily connecting headsets and plenty of power to drive them. It’s also great for 4K gaming, just not with all the settings turned up. A number of companies make these cards, but the best price we could see at publication time was $499 so, if you see a card for much less than that, it’s a good deal.
Name-Brand, 27-inch 144Hz Gaming Monitor (Under $200): Getting a new monitor is the most noticeable upgrade you can make. If your video card is powerful enough to run games above 100 frames per second (fps), getting a 144Hz monitor will deliver a noticeably smoother gaming experience. High-refresh displays used to be extremely pricey, but they’ve become increasingly more affordable this year. If you can find a 27-incher from a familiar brand you trust below $200, it would be a great addition to your gaming rig.
Name-brand AIO coolers (Under $65): A good AIO (all-in-one) CPU cooler allows you to overclock your processor to higher speeds while keeping fan noise to a minimum. If you can find one that fits your processor for less than $65, an AIO kit makes a great holiday upgrade.
Finding Your Own All-Time Deals
If you see any of the products above at the strike prices we set, you can know you’re getting a deal. But what if you’re curious about whether a different product’s current price is an all-time low, there are a couple of tools that will help you check. PCpartpicker.com provides detailed price histories for every major component and peripheral (and plenty of minor ones), but doesn’t always have Amazon pricing included in its charts. Camelcamelcamel, which offers a Chrome extension called the Camelizer, does a better job of covering Amazon.