Ask Reddit if you should wait until Black Friday to upgrade your PC, and you’ll get a stream of comments dismissing it as a time for good deals.
They’re not wrong, but they’re not exactly right, either.
If you’ve got your eye on a very specific part, your chances of a deep discount are generally a toss-up. For most components, it’s as likely you’ll get a better price at another time of the year as you will during Black Friday. The more niche it is, the rougher your odds.
On the other end of the spectrum, if all you care about is price and not so much specific models for your components, you can chain together Black Friday deals for ultimate savings. (In fact, you can go the full distance and build an entire budget PC for stupid cheap.)
So which way should you go? Because the situation gets particularly confusing in the early weeks of November, when everything’s on sale but it’s not clear what’s an actual bargain, I put together some general guidelines to help. These should allow you to find the best balance between sweet savings and waiting indefinitely for a discount that may never come.
Black Friday 2018: What to buy now, what to wait for
Below are my buying recommendations for the most common PC parts that people upgrade, tailored specifically for Black Friday 2018. Current supply and demand issues are incorporated into the advice.
For components not covered on this list, you can hone your own ability to figure out sales trends (and just how to spot deals) by following the advice in our Black Friday FAQ.
Let us help you: If you do decide to wait for Black Friday deals, we’ll be tracking the best prices on PC parts during Black Friday, both in the lead-up and the week of. Last year’s offerings are still listed in those articles for now, but we’ll refresh them with 2018’s deals as they go live.
- CPU Coolers
Wait. Last year, AMD took no prisoners, slashing prices on both its consumer-focused Ryzen chips and its beefy Threadripper CPUs. You could have snagged an eight-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 1700X for as low as $230 at Micro Center [MSRP $400].
This year, AMD has less of a need to win mindshare, but it lacks a top-tier consumer processor that can compete directly with Intel’s ultra-speedy new Core i9-9900K. Chances are good that the company will work with retailers and once again tempt builders with rock-bottom prices on second-generation Ryzen chips.
On the Intel side, sales have been fairly modest (or more typically, just outright disappointing). In fact, 8th-generation parts like the Core i7-8700K actually increased in price just before the launch of the new 9th-gen 9900K, 9700K, and 9600K parts. We don’t expect to see any discounts on those 9th-gen parts, especially as they’re hard to find in stock to begin with, but 8th-gen CPUs will likely get a tiny discount as a nod to the shopping season.
Even if we don’t see any stunning discounts on Intel processors, juicier motherboard combo and bundle discounts should be available during Black Friday, which still makes waiting a better prospect.
Toss-up. If you absolutely must get it for as low as possible, the week of Black Friday does offer better discounts on both air and closed-loop coolers. You’ll save roughly an extra $10 to $20, though there’s no guarantee a specific model you want will get a price drop.
Typically most discounts that spring up over the year are decent, so if the model you want is on sale, go for it.
Buy. Because many builders have brand loyalties, specific features they want, and additional form factor requirements, getting a killer bargain on your motherboard of choice can be like waiting to win the lottery.
However, if you’re buying a CPU too, you might want to wait. That gives you the opportunity to score a deal on the CPU, and possibly also an additional combo or bundle discount. It also pays to wait if you’re flexible with your motherboard requirements. Just be prepared to abandon any hope of keeping to a specific aesthetic.