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The worst Black Friday deal: an RTX 3090 for $300 more than its list price

PNY GeForce RTX 3090 24GB XLR8 Gaming REVEL EPIC-X
(Image credit: PNY)

It looks like it was built from a K'nex set, but this PNY RTX 3090 graphics card will no doubt ray trace the hell out of Cyberpunk 2077. Good news: Dell has the card in stock and on sale for $1,915.99, which is just $315 more than its list price! 

Black Friday deals

Black Friday deals

Black Friday 2020 deals: the place to go for the all the best Black Friday bargains.

That's right, Dell has a "doorbuster" deal on a graphics card which marks it up three hundred bucks over its $1,600 MSRP, and according to the page, the deal has almost entirely been claimed. (Update: It ended, but Dell says it'll start up again on November 28.) That's because you simply can't get RTX 3090s at list price right now. In a sense, the mark up here is a deal in that eBay sellers are listing them for around $2,000.

It's a deal that we don't recommend, to be clear. Yes, the RTX 3090 is a powerful GPU, but for $2,391.19, you can get an Alienware desktop PC with an RTX 3080. That's a whole computer for just $475.20 more, and you're still getting an excellent graphics card in the RTX 3080.

Alienware Aurora R11 | i7 10700KF | RTX 3080|  $2,439.99
A better choice

Alienware Aurora R11 | i7 10700KF | RTX 3080| $2,439.99 $2,391.19 at Dell (save $48)
If you want a new RTX 30-series graphics card, this small discount on the Alienware Aurora is one way to get one—and the RTX 3080 is plenty powerful. The framerate improvement you'll get from spending $1,900-plus on just an RTX 3090 right now is not worth it.

There is an understandable desire to play the big new thing—Cyberpunk 2077 for a lot of people—at the highest possible graphics settings, but if you're feeling disappointed, let me assure you that you aren't making a mistake by sticking with what you have for now, or, if possible, grabbing an RTX 3070 or 3080.

Here's why:

  • In a lot of games, you don't get that big of a framerate jump from the RTX 3080 to the RTX 3090. We're talking five to ten more frames per second. (See our review for benchmarks.)
  • Do you have a 4K monitor? If not, an RTX 3090 is not the best value for you, even at its list price.
  • Nvidia DLSS is genuinely pretty amazing tech: On all RTX cards, it can get you a great framerate with high graphics settings without a huge quality dip. I used it in Control with an RTX 2070 Super and it worked great, and it will be available in Cyberpunk 2077.
  • You're going to enjoy the latest videogames even if you have to tweak shadow resolution or ambient occlusion a little, and if you love the game, you'll also love replaying it when you upgrade your GPU for a more reasonable price in a year.

Just to satisfy my curiosity, I checked out Dell's financing offer to see if we could make its RTX 3090 deal even worse than it already is. Oh, we can. Sometimes websites will offer interest-free payment plans on big purchases, but not Dell in this case, whose interest rates range from 17.49 to 28.49 percent. That means that, at the minimum monthly payment, you could end up spending 20 years or so paying off ray-traced reflections in Cyberpunk 2077, ultimately spending over eight grand on shininess. What a steal!

For more deals on pre-built PCs, some with RTX 30-series cards in them, head to our Black Friday gaming PC deals hub. We've also got a Black Friday graphics card hub that we're keeping updated—it's a bit barren due to the same shortage that makes a $1,915.15 RTX 3090 a "deal," but if you're looking to make a budget PC which can run games at 1080p, you might find a nice little discount.

Tyler Wilde

Tyler has spent over 1,200 hours playing Rocket League, and slightly fewer nitpicking the PC Gamer style guide. His primary news beat is game stores: Steam, Epic, and whatever launcher squeezes into our taskbars next.