In this article, we’re going to discuss the best time of the year to buy PC hardware. Whether you’re a stone-cold professional, a budget-conscious consumer, or an enthusiastic gamer, we’re going to make sure that you know everything you need to know for informed purchasing decisions.
Best Time To Buy Computer: Why Does The Time Of Year That You Buy PC Parts Matter?
It’s more than just FOMO (Fear of missing out).
Depending on what time of year you buy your PC hardware, different parts will be available at different prices. Whether you’re an enthusiast who wants the most cutting-edge hardware or a savvy consumer who wants to save the most money, this is something you should be thinking about.
We’ll start with a personal example.
It was a machine with an Intel Core i5 4690, which was well above the requirements of any games wanted to play, and an Nvidia GTX 760, another powerful part for the time. While that PC ultimately did last me a fair while, it did start showing its age in 2016 and started becoming too weak for the experiences wanted not long afterward.
What was particularly infuriating about the experience is that it was barely behind.
CPU was definitely pulling its weight, but my graphics card and RAM were not. This could have been avoided, or at least alleviated if we had waited a little bit longer.
Some major generational leaps happened in 2014, and because I hadn’t done sufficient research, I didn’t know to wait for them. The same year I bought into a motherboard chipset that only supported DDR3 RAM, motherboards released that supported DDR4 RAM.
Likewise, my GTX 760 was quickly overshadowed at the same price point by the GTX 960, which released in late 2014 and boasted a 20% performance increase– enough that many of my barely-unplayable experiences would have become playable.
To an extent, this can be a slippery slope. Waiting just a little longer or spending just a little more will seemingly always result in a better deal.
What’s important is that you are aware of what you can get now versus what you can get later in the year. You can’t make that value assessment if you don’t know what’s going on, and manufacturers have no incentive to teach you this yourself.
Best Time To Buy Computer: Is There A Better Time Of The Year To Buy Particular Components Over The Other?
The answer is Yes.
For most PC parts and peripherals, major sales in the Winter (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc) are perfectly viable times to buy.
This is because things like storage drives, PC cases, monitors, keyboards and so on have much less frequent generational upgrades than CPUs and GPUs, which means their effective life cycle on the market is much longer.
Most CPUs and GPUs- especially high-end components- will either not go on sale during the aforementioned Winter sales, or will have only marginal discounts. Additionally, this is around the time of year that the newest CPUs and GPUs will have just been released- and those will almost certainly not be on sale.
If you want to get the best deals on most components, the wisdom of “wait for the big sales” applies here. But for CPUs and GPUs, the story is actually quite a bit different.
So for everything except the core processing components, Winter sales are best for saving money. For core processing components (CPU, GPU), the timing is quite a bit different.
Is There A Best Time Of The Year To Buy PC Parts For Everyone?
Simply put: nope.
If your primary concern is the newest hardware, the biggest Winter sales aren’t for you. And if your primary concern is the best deals on things like hard drives or keyboards, the quarter-based price cuts and releases windows for CPUs/GPUs aren’t for you, either.
Now for some general tips.
- Check the rumor mill to be aware of upcoming releases – This applies especially to buying a CPU or GPU. Generational leaps usually happen once every two years or so for both components. With GPUs, though, you may see more iterative refreshes more frequently, especially with Nvidia’s “Ti” or “Super” GPUs.
- Double-check the quality of on-sale components – This may seem obvious, but double-check to make sure that you aren’t buying junk. This applies especially for things like storage drives, monitors, and motherboards.
- Compare sale prices to price history to make sure you aren’t being cheated – Unfortunately, not every “sale” is actually a sale. An unfortunately common practice for big sale events like Black Friday is listing a product with an inflated pre-sale price when in actuality, it’s being sold for little, if any, discount below MSRP. With sites like CamelCamelCamel or PCPartPicker, you can find a detailed price history for what you’re trying to buy. This will help ensure that you don’t fall for “deals” that are too good to be true.
- Compare CPU/GPU benchmarks before buying – Last but not least- make sure you’re making an informed purchase! Use reliable benchmark sources and hardware reviews in order to compare the performance of CPUs and GPUs within your price range.
Best Time To Buy Computer: The Best Time To Buy Computer Parts
Last but not least, what you came for. The answer to this question depends on your needs, though!
The best time to buy PC hardware for enthusiasts
For the latest core performance components (CPUs and GPUs), this is whenever the latest product releases have all come out. These will rarely get sales within the first year of their release. These most frequently come out at the end of Q2 or beginning of Q3.
When there aren’t any sales. For CPUs in particular, this is mainly the end of a given quarter This can also occur when a product has just been released, especially when stock is low- be sure to check MSRP when buying new to make sure you’re getting a good deal.The worst time to buy PC hardware.
But in all seriousness, the best time to buy PC-Parts is: When you need it. The fact of the matter is, time is the one resource that you can’t ever get back.
Everyone has fear of missing out and buyer’s remorse a year or two down the line. Be informed before making a purchase so you can choose the desired balance.
What’s important, though, is that you don’t get caught in a loop of waiting just a little longer or spending just a little longer.