The holidays are fast approaching, and it's time to get excited about spending time with your loved ones, eating all the food you want, and of course, going into a darkened room to play all the video games you missed earlier this year. Whether you're clearing out your backlog, or if you know you'll be getting a couple of new games in your stocking this year, you might also want to make sure your PC is up to the task.
A new graphics card will have those games looking better, a new SSD will have them loading up quicker, some more RAM will let you do some more multitasking. There are a million sales this time of year, but the products on sale aren't always great. Below you'll find two things:
1. Our advice on where to look for hardware deals between now and the end of the year.
2. A guide to the hardware we recommend for putting together a powerful, affordable PC this holiday season. These will all be pieces of hardware we've recommended in our various buying guides across the site, so if you spot them on sale, you'll also know they have the PC Gamer seal of approval.
Where to look for deals
- Keep an eye on the Amazon lightning deals page for limited offers. Follow this link for a list of all the computer and videogame sales.
- Check Newegg regularly for deals like its 4 Day Sale on laptops and desktops.
- If you spot a deal, make sure it's a good one by checking out its price history on a tracking website like or .
- Look at SlickDeals computer deals page for a collection of deals from all over.
Hardware for the holidays
CPU: Intel Core i5-6600K
The Intel Core i5-6600K is the best processor around right now when it comes to value for money. Core i5s aren't as powerful as Core i7s, but unless you're doing some seriously CPU intensive work, you'll get by just fine. You can currently find them for around $230 on both Amazon and Newegg, or if you can travel to a MicroCenter store and pick one up in person, you'll pay just $200.
Graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
The GTX 1070 is our favorite GPU at the moment because it hits that sweet spot between performance and price. Again, you can opt for the more expensive GTX 1080 if you want the absolute fastest card around, but the GTX 1070 still offers great performance and will save you a bunch of cash. The cheapest you'll find right now is this 1070 Mini for $380 on Amazon. Unless you don't mind buying refurb, in which case you can get a refurbished Gigabyte model on Newegg for $360. Bear in mind the Mini runs at slightly lower base clock speeds than some other 1070 variants, and with a smaller cooler likely won't hit the absolute highest speeds possible. For the higher performance ones, you'll be up around $400.
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z170X Gaming 6
Despite a shaky start in their early days, Z170 motherboards are now nice and stable, coming with plenty of features and high speed ports. If you're getting an Intel Skylake CPU, you'll need a shiny Z170 motherboard, and the best all-round one right now is this one from Gigabyte. It's well engineered, solidly made, and most importantly, not too expensive at $145 after rebate on Newegg.
Solid state drive: Samsung 850 Evo
The Samsung 850 Evo has been top of the SSD pile for a while now, and it's still the best pick available. It hits 500 MB/s read speeds and has great reliability at a good price. There are some issues with some of the lower capacity models being slower, but if you stick with 500GB and above, you can't really go wrong. You'll pay $170 for one on Amazon right now.
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws V Series
RAM is fairly cheap across the board these days, but we generally stick to brands like Corsair, G.Skill, Kingston and Crucial for reliable getting quality. We like the G.Skill Ripjaws V Series, which uses Samsung's memory modules. They're clocked at 2666MHz, which is nice and speedy, and if you want to have absolutely no memory problems you can go for 16GB on Amazon for $86.49. If you want to save a little cash, 8GB should be fine for most gaming rigs.
Case: NZXT Phantom 410
There are a bunch of good cases out there, from brands like NZXT, Corsair, Phanteks, and Fractal Design. One of our favorites is the NZXT Phantom 410, a mid-tower case with plenty of features for the money. You can find one at a discount on Amazon right now for $90.
Monitor: Asus MG279Q
To make the most of your new PC, and particularly your graphics card, you're going to need a nice gaming monitor to display those games on. You can spend some serious money on the higher quality displays these days, but there are certainly affordable options available. The 27-inch Asus MG279Q is a great 2560x1440 monitor for AMD users thanks to its FreeSync support. You can save some money on it on Newegg for $550 right now.
For Nvidia gamers, check out the Asus ROG PG278Q for only $500. It's a TN panel, so colors and viewing angles will be inferior, but it's high resolution and refresh at a good price.
Keyboard: Razer BlackWidow Chroma
Keyboard choice is all a matter of taste, and you can end up spending well over $150 on a top quality one. The Razer BlackWidow Chroma is the best overall keyboard we've tested, and you can find one discounted on Amazon at the moment for $120.
Mouse: Razer DeathAdder Elite
Razer has refreshed our favorite mouse with an even better sensor. The ergonomic shape is top notch and it uses the best optical sensor around with up to 16,000 CPI. You can find one for $66 on Amazon right now, which is a slight reduction from its normal price.