The Black Friday 2021 deals season has seen some great savings on high-end gaming PCs, so long as you don't pay too much for them. Look a little lower down the stacks though, and it can become unstuck, with old hardware holding court, especially once you dip below the $1,000 price point.
Don't despair though, there are still some good deals to be had, and you can end up with a surprisingly capable machine at the end of it all if you choose wisely. Such machines should last you for at least a few years, especially if you're not shy about performing a little upgrade or two.
Of all the systems I've looked at this Black Friday, one system, in particular, has stood out as offering great value for money, and that is the HP Pavilion TG01. This machine is currently enjoying a $100 saving off the final price, which means it can be yours for as little as $549.99. It ships with Windows 11 as well, which means you don't have to worry about any upgrade issues spoiling your experience.
HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop | AMD RX 5500 4GB | AMD Ryzen 3 5300G | 8GB RAM (dual-channel) | 256GB SSD |
$649.99 $549.99 at HP (save $100)
This is fine as a budget PC, but it can be so much more. Set the graphics card to an RTX 3060 in the configuration screen, and you can get a 30-series gaming PC for a mere $869—saving $100 on the normal price. You'd ideally want to up the CPU to a Ryzen 5 5600G, RAM to 16GB, and SSD to a 512GB model too, but you'll soon find yourself way over $1,000 if you do.
You can configure what goes inside its understated chassis, and that's exactly what I'd recommend, switching the default GPU option of the AMD Radeon RX 5500 up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 to take the total up to $869.99. You probably want to up the SSD to a 512GB model for an extra $40 too.
This is still the cheapest way I've seen of getting your hands on Nvidia's excellent 1080p graphics card. Alternatively, you have the option of going with a GeForce GTX 1660 Super, which isn't a bad call either and leaves you with an overall price of $639.99.
The core configuration features a quad-core, eight-thread AMD Ryzen 3 5300G (that's a modern, if somewhat low-end chip), paired with 8GB of RAM and that tiny 256GB SSD.
The memory is at least made up of two 4GB sticks of DDR4-3200, and adding more is straightforward too—although I'd recommend upgrading it yourself, as HP is charging $100 to upgrade the memory for you. And given that kind of money will net you 32GB right, your money is better spent elsewhere.
Another big PC box-shifter that has managed to release a PC that limbos under that $1,000 mark is Dell, with its XPS Desktop PC. This machine manages to squeeze in the capable Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 alongside a Intel Core i5 11400.
Dell XPS Desktop | Nvidia RTX 3060 | Intel Core i5 11400 | 8GB RAM | 1TB HDD |
$1,369.99 $999.99 at Dell (save $370)
Dell has managed to fit this understated machine out with an RTX 3060 and an Intel 11th Gen Core i5 and keep the price under $1,000. Impressive. Unfortunately, the memory subsystem and storage have taken the hit for this, and you only get a single stick of RAM and a spinning hard drive. Still, this is a good deal on some decent components, and its problems are easy enough to fix.
Dell has had to make a few compromises to hit that price point though, and that's most evident with the single stick of DDR4 memory and a spinning hard drive. Yeah, a hard drive in 2021.
Still, both of these are easy enough to fix after the fact (check our Black Friday SSD deals for a Samsung 1TB at $109). And given that core combo of the RTX 3060 and the six-core, 12-thread Core i5 11400, you should be in a strong place for years to come.
The other machine to catch our expert eye is the CyberPowerPC Gamer Master over on Best Buy. Here your $999.99 nets you a new Radeon RX 6600 XT alongside the last-gen Ryzen 5 3600.
CyberPowerPC Gamer Master | AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT | AMD Ryzen 5 3600 | 8GB RAM |
$1,149.99 $999.99 at Best Buy (save $150)
This PC isn't gonna set any benchmarking records, but it's got a solid AMD CPU and GPU for a mid-range gaming desktop.
Don't be put off too much by that last-gen AMD CPU either, it's still a capable six-core, 12-thread chip with a Max Boost clock of 4.2GHz. Importantly, alongside the Radeon RX 6600 XT, it will handle 1080p gaming happily.
Again it's somewhat limited on the RAM front, with only 8GB of RAM present, and this time as a single stick, meaning by default it's running in single-channel memory mode, but again upgrading is easy.
This machine does at least have a 500GB SSD as standard though, and there's plenty of space to add more, as this is a standard mid-tower case.
Whichever machine takes you fancy, you should be able to grab a bit of a bargain this Black Friday. And with a few upgrades, you should end up with a machine that will last you for years.