Incredible though it is to think, the annual Black Friday/Cyber Monday smorgasbord of sales is almost over. At times it has felt longer than most actual wars, but here we are: bank balances reduced, but with fresh electronic goods (and quite a bit else) winging their way to our homes thanks to the miracle of the nation's white van network.
As the dust settles, first, a thank you. To anyone who's read our deals coverage over the last few days, or bought something via one of our links, you help keep the lights on at PC Gamer towers, which we much appreciate. Secondly, we know the site gets a bit hectic around this time of year, but rest assured our number one aim is to turn over every virtual rock looking for the best savings on kit that will actually improve your PC gaming life.
And to prove that's not all just talk, I asked the team to tell me what they'd thrown their own cash down on this weekend. For kicks we're also including some non-gaming items, just to prove we're actual human beings and not sleepless automatons dedicated entirely to saving $5 on a stick of RAM. (I can't speak for Jarred there, honestly.) Let us know what you picked up in the comments, and I promise to ban anyone who says you're a sucker because they found the same thing cheaper on dark web eBay.
Tim Clark: An NZXT BLD PC for the living room
For the last couple of years I've made a substantial home entertainment purchase during these sales, including an ASUS ROG laptop with a 1070, and an LG OLED (which is the first TV that has stopped me missing my beloved Pioneer plasmas). This time around we've decided to take the logical next step as a family and become a two-rig household. Because I'm too old and lazy to build anything—I know, the shame, but still—I used NZXT BLD, which Joanna wrote positively about last year. Alice on our central hardware team walked me through which parts she felt were worth the money, and in the end we had a spicy rig complete with a 2080 Ti and enough SSD space to download the fractured remains of my own brain onto. To answer your follow up questions, yes I will probably mostly use it to play Destiny 2 on the couch in 4K. Yes, the saving of 10% NZXT was offering didn't stop it still being quite expensive. No, I don't have any regrets.
Corbin Davenport: Mostly gifts (and an ethernet switch)
I already bought a Dell XPS 13 laptop at the start of the year, and built a new Ryzen-powered home server a few months ago to replace my failing 2012 Mac Mini, so by the time Black Friday rolled around, I didn’t really need or want any more electronics around. My PC certainly doesn’t need any upgrades, since I bought one of the last GTX 1080 cards during last year’s Black Friday. So I mostly took advantage of the sales to get my family members some holiday gifts, like Spider-Man PS4 for $15 (I’m proud of catching that quick sale). For myself, I got some cheap Kindle books and a Netgear 5-port Ethernet switch. Exciting stuff, I know.
Wes Fenlon: Computers? Psh, Etsy is where it's at
I didn't buy myself a damn thing through these Black Friday sales, and I feel great. It's liberating, not getting caught up in that shopping frenzy. I usually end up spending a few hundred bucks on stuff I've wanted for awhile but don't need, justifying the splurge with a decent discount. I bought a Sony A6000 camera a few years ago, for example, and last year I replaced by Roku with an Nvidia Shield TV. Those were both great purchases, but I feel like this year's deals were lackluster--nothing tempted me to spend any money on myself. Or maybe this is just the year when I really didn't need anything.
I still got a bit of the dopamine deal-hunting rush by helping an uncle shop for a new smartphone (we settled on the Samsung A50 at a bargain $200) and a new Google Nest mesh wi-fi system, which will hopefully mean the next time I go to visit, I won't have to sit right beside the router to get a decent connection. My only purchases this year were on Etsy, where I'd already thrown a few patches and pins into my shopping cart as Christmas presents for my girlfriend. I figured I might as well wait to see if those shops did Black Friday deals before buying, and ended up saving a few bucks. I'm quite pleased with this pin that crosses Sabrina with Sailor Moon. My cheapest Black Friday in years.
Chris Livingston: An Acer Predator monitor
I've think I've let the last few black fridays slip past without buying a thing—I impulse buy small stuff all the time but with major purchases I tend to deliberate for about 6-7 years. But I had an actual need this year. My second monitor, this ancient Dell that I must have owned for over a decade, finally died in October, and I like having two monitors (more for work than for gaming). My main monitor is a ViewSonic, and I'm fine with the 1920x1080 resolution but I did want my next monitor to have a better refresh rate because… I dunno, everyone else's monitor seems to have a refresh rate over 60Hz and I succumb to peer pressure pretty easily.
I watched a few monitor deals pop up but then either expire or go out of stock while I deliberated, but when this Acer Predator showed up for $380 (it's now back up to $500) I finally pulled the trigger. It was more than I wanted to spend and the resolution is higher than I feel like I need, but it seemed like a good deal so what the hell. I bought it Friday and it arrived already, delivered by some poor guy who had to drive it here on a Sunday in a downpour because I ordered it with Amazon Prime because I'm scum. I haven't done much on my new monitor yet other than type this, but I'm hoping Red Dead Redemption 2 looks better at 2540x1440 than it does at 1920x1080, even if it runs a little slower.
Jody Macgregor: Videogames and CollegeHumor
I didn't grab any hardware but I did buy a few games. The best deal I got was Epic Pinball: The Complete Collection for 90% off from GOG, but I also grabbed the Enhanced Editions of Baldur's Gate 2 and Planescape: Torment because it's about time I replayed them. Apart from that, I got a subscription to Dropout.tv, the streaming service CollegeHumor run, for $1 with the code DOLLARDEAL. It's great. They've got a game show called Um, Actually that's just nerds correcting trivia and another called Paranoid where two of the players are secretly stoned and have to pass a bunch of Werewolf-esque minigames without being found out. Their D&D channel, Dimension 20, is excellent too and honestly that's the real reason I subscribed.
Phil Savage: A set of RGB speakers
My old PC speakers were from the mid-2000s because I decided that if they ain't broke, don't replace them. Then they broke when the subwoofer decided it would try to be the left speaker and just didn't have the range to do the job. So I did what I always do when I want to replace something: go to one of our buyer's guides and purchase whatever looks good. I ended up with these Logitech G560 speakers, which—based on my time with them so far—are much better than the cheap set I bought over a decade ago. That said, the bass volume can only be described as 'extra', and a down-firing subwoofer was perhaps not the most sensible choice given that I live on the top floor of my building. Logitech's hub software is actually pretty limited, so I ended up downloading a free equalizer tool to tweak some settings so that my downstair neighbours don't come knocking.
Another bonus: they flash red when I die in Battlefield 5. So that's nice?
Tom Senior: Speakers, a new phone, and a 4K TV
This year I wanted some sweet backlights for my monitor, and some speakers. The Logitech G560 speaker set does both. The default settings are absurdly bass-heavy, but it's good tech once you've tweaked the settings, and I've enjoyed playing Call of Duty with the reactive lights and FPS sound settings. Carphone Warehouse goes wild on Black Friday, so I grabbed an iPhone 11 on a cheaper tariff than I was on with my iPhone 8. Thanks to Fraser's influence, I also bought a 4K TV, which also has backlighting (love that ambiance) and should let me finish Death Stranding in beautiful UHD detail.
Andy Kelly: Some fans
The fans in my PC have started sounding a bit rattly because they're A) ancient and B) cheap. So I decided to treat myself to a pair of Noctua Redux 120mm fans, which are apparently quiet AND powerful: the dream combo. I usually cheap out on case fans, but now I'm paying the price. I recently upgraded from an old i5 to a 9th Gen i7 processor and my PC sounds like a jet engine when I'm playing Red Dead. So I'm hoping these fans will make things a little quieter. It was finally time to spend actual money on some critically acclaimed fans. They're coming tomorrow. I can't wait. Yes, I'm excited about fans.
Robin Valentine: A phone and a board game
I’m not much of a Black Friday shopper myself—I’m always overwhelmed by the deals, and not tech savvy enough to know what to look out for. This year it happened to coincide with my phone being due an upgrade, so I thought that’d be a nice, sensible purchase, especially with my current one developing the unfortunate habit of going to sleep and then phoning emergency services when I try to wake it up. So I’ve switched from my beloved-but-compromised-by-the-Chinese-government Huawei P10 to a Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and saved a couple of hundred quid in the process.
Rather less sensible was my impulse purchase of Gloomhaven. This beast of a board game is like a 100-hour RPG in a box, and usually goes for £120 or more, so for £80 it was a steal. Y’know, relatively speaking. But I definitely shouldn’t have bought it. It’s not about the money, you see. The box is like a foot tall and 16 inches long and weighs over 20 pounds—where the hell am I supposed to store that while it gathers dust never getting played? Sigh.
Fraser Brown: A silly telly and a big game
I wasn’t going to buy anything, and now I have a big new TV. Whoops! It’s been over a decade since I bought one brand new, so I was pretty overwhelmed by the ridiculous names and long list of specs, but then someone wisely pointed out that most of it’s bollocks that I’ll never need to care about—so I just bought the one that lights up. When in doubt, go for lights. Philips Ambilight TVs have dynamic backlights that match the screen (or the audio, if you prefer), and while they can be bought separately, the TV they came stuck to is pretty good too. It’s 4K, got decent response time and it’s 55”, basically the only three things I care about. Aside from the lights. Honestly, they’re amazing. I never want to leave the sofa.
Like Robin, Rachel and maybe a few other people, I also picked up Gloomhaven. Don’t tell them this, but I may have found it even cheaper over the weekend and saved myself a bit extra. I’m also a bit worried about its size. The wardrobe in my study is now a health and safety issue and I’m increasingly certain that I’ll meet my end when the corner of a giant board game box collides with my skull. Adding this beast to my collection is an accident waiting to happen. Oh well! I’m willing to sacrifice a lot for a quality RPG.
James Davenport: Nothing from the digital realm
I bought a lot of coffee from the shop near my place though. The extended shopping nightmare that forces retailers and adjacent industries and employees into overdrive during a holiday Because Money is pretty antithetical to life itself, though it's hard to blame anyone for wanting to save on nice things. The culture is bad but we've kinda been cornered into it. To get away from it all, I walked around my town and almost bought hats. My head's so damn big I need a knit cap big enough for a birthday balloon. Nothing fit, so I bought a movie ticket and some popcorn. Saw The Irishman at the little theater downtown. It made my life feel very small, one of those old-timey crime epics that cover some guy's entire life with the narration and the same actors as always but drawn out to over three hours in Scorsese's most indulgent film yet—and rightfully so, I suppose. He's good at it.
I fell asleep around hour two for 15 minutes. I give it five bags. I also bought an album from a local band, Fuuls. Rock and roll, baby. My favorite track is Freudian Slurs. To close out Things I Bought That Bezos Or The Waltons Didn't Get A Cut Of: A five pack of Calvin Kleins, Perdido Street Station by China Miéville, a new litter box for my cat, Kale. So I still spent way too much. Still a consumer. Damn.
Andy Chalk: I bought a mouse
I owned the original Logitech MX518 way back when, and nothing I've had since (including some pretty sweet Razer units) has quite matched up. So when the reborn MX518 went on for half-price at Staples, I bought one. It might seem a little weird, given the very online nature of my life, but it was an entirely offline transaction: I saw the flyer, then I drove up to the store and, uh, I bought one. And that was it for my big Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping spree—in and out in 30 seconds.
For the record, the MX518 is as perfect as I remember it.