While the rest of PC Gamer is off working hard in the deals mines, dutifully ferreting-out the gems hidden among all the stone, I've been assigned something far more pleasant: A budget.
You see, I'm what we in the UK call a tight arse. I love my PC and all its accoutrements, but outside of the Big Upgrade every five years or so, I only buy peripherals and accessories when they're dirt cheap. Hey I've got kids! But even if I didn't, I'd still probably be a bit of a miser.
Thus I, Meany McMeanface, am going to take you past the overwhelmingly numerous number of Black Friday PC gaming deals (opens in new tab), and focus on one thing. If I had $250 to spend this Black Friday, where would I spend it?
I have 250 dollars shopkeep, show me your finest wares
Razer DeathAdder Essential | 6,400 DPI | Wired | Right-handed |
$49.99 $19.99 at Amazon (save $30) (opens in new tab)
An absolute no-brainer. My ancient and beloved Microsoft Sidewinder gave up the ghost at a time when I was skint, and I bought this as a stopgap until I could afford something more expensive. Instead it's become my go-to gaming mouse, simply because it's got a great handfeel, perfectly placed buttons and thumb triggers, and an excellent optical sensor. If you need a good mouse then for $20 this is unmissable.
Razer Cynosa Chroma | Membrane | Per-key RGB lighting |
$59.99 $29.99 at Amazon (save $30) (opens in new tab)
Yeah, the snobs will tell you a keyboard has to be mechanical, but tell that to the thousands who have been slaughtered by my membranous boi. I had a Cynosa for years before recently upgrading, which was more thanks to my infant son's fascination with chewing on the Cynosa than any problems with the durability or quality. This is a seriously solid performer and you won't get a better keyboard for $30.
Now I have 200 dollars, and with that I shall not part
HyperX Cloud Alpha | 50mm drivers | 13Hz–27,000Hz | Closed-back | Wired |
$99.99 $54.99 at Amazon (save $45) (opens in new tab)
Another easy one: Cloud Alpha's not the newest headset on the block but it is one of the best and best-sounding ever made: to the extent Razer even ripped off the smart driver design in its (also excellent) BlackShark V2 range. This is as close as you can get to an expansive open back design in a noise-isolating closed back headset, and at nearly half price is a steal.
HyperX Solocast | Black|
$59.99 $34.99 at Amazon (save $25) (opens in new tab)
If you need a mic and, like me, are too old for all that streaming nonsense, this dinky little fellow offers superb sound quality at a seriously good price. The only downside is that this lacks some features that tend to be standard on the super-fancy alternatives, but if you just want good sound quality from a mic this is hard to beat.
110 dollars remain!
Now I'm in a bit of a pickle. I've spent just under $140 on a new mouse, keyboard, headset and mic. I was wondering if there's any chance I could squeeze a decent monitor in there and, if we push the budget up to an overall $260 (don't tell the PCG hardware team), my eyes are gazing Scrooge-like at this as I fumble for coins.
Acer PG241Y | 24-inch | 1080p | VA | 165Hz |
$179.99 $119.99 at Amazon (save $60) (opens in new tab)
This is the cheapest we've seen this Acer screen, and it was already one of the more affordable high refresh rate gaming monitors out there. For an entry-level 1080p screen you won't do better than this price.
I decided not to go with the monitor after all. Breaking the budget is not in-keeping with my parsimonious character, and I think that, as well as quality, we want quantity. One thing I do need to buy for myself is a new pad (once again: big shout-out to my wonderful well-behaved children), and now things really fall into place:
Sony DualSense Wireless Controller | The good colors | Bluetooth|
$74.99 $49.00 at Amazon (save $26) (opens in new tab)
Now we are cooking with some serious charcoal. The Playstation DualSense controller is an incredible piece of kit, and once you've felt the haptic feedback on this baby you'll never go back. This feels gorgeous in the hands and many PC games now support its more advanced features: it's also a real premium product that is rarely on-sale, and certainly not at a discount like this. Heck you even get to choose what color you want.
My last 61 dollars goes to...
Solidigm P41 Plus | 1TB | PCIe 4.0 | 4,125MB/s reads | 2,950MB/s writes |
$89.99 $59.99 at Amazon (save $30) (opens in new tab)
This is probably because I need to buy an NVMe SSD IRL, and this is a chunky discount on what's already one of the cheaper options out there. The performance is solid rather than exceptional but it will still out-perform any SATA drive and, next to a GPU, an NVMe SSD is the single most affordable upgrade you can make to your PC's overall performance.
I'd buy that for a dollar
How about that then. A new mouse, keyboard, headset, mic, an amazing gaming pad and an overall PC performance boost with the NVMe drive: not bad for $250 and, in fact, we even came in under budget at a princely $248.95.
I suppose this is what I personally enjoy about Black Friday. Some PC gamers like to coo over the shiny high-end stuff, but I'm the kind of dumpster diver alternative, looking to get as much for as little as possible. What can I say, they chose the right man for the job.