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Should you buy a new graphics card during the Black Friday sales?

Should you buy a new graphics card during the Black Friday sales?
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Unlike with most electronics, it can be difficult to figure whether or not to buy new PC parts on Black Friday, especially if you’re looking for a new graphics card. While retailers go hard, pushing TVs, game consoles, and full-blown PCs... deals on PC components fly under the radar. On top of that, demand from crypto-currency miners has, in previous years, stripped the GPU supply bare. Until as recently as last year, it was hard to find new graphics cards for sale period, forget about getting them on the cheap. Thankfully, though, we're expecting some decent Black Friday graphics card deals in 2019 because this truly has been a good year for GPUs.

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(Image credit: Future)

Our guide to all the best Black Friday deals on PCs, games, components and more.

Things are certainly looking up for those looking at a new card, so yes, it should be a good a year to get a graphics card on Black Friday… depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re holding out hope for 50 percent off one of the best graphics cards, like an RTX 2080 Super or 2080 Ti, you may want to recalibrate your expectations. The deals may not be huge, and they will likely be on slightly older and/or less powerful cards, but there’s reason to hope that this year might set new lows for Black Friday GPU prices.

The biggest reason why you should look for graphics cards on Black Friday is that we’ve already been waiting for some serious price drops in the space. When Nvidia announced its 20-Super cards earlier this year, analysts, pundits and players all expected to see prices on the original 2060, 2070, and 2080 drop since they were no longer at the top of the heap, and both the 2070 and 2080 are technically out of production. That’s only just starting to happen now.

(Image credit: Nvidia)

If you take a look at the GPU pricing chart on our Black Friday graphics card deals hub, you can see that the value of most of the top GPUs is trending down. The RTX 2080 retails for 700, but the street value is down to $600. Still, these values aren’t always reflected in the prices at retailers. There have been sales here and there, but the bottom hasn’t fallen out yet. That could change come Black Friday: a discontinued, high-end GPU sounds like exactly the kind of thing that stores put front and center in a Black Friday sale. That could mean big gains for your system for less than you’d expect.

Though Nvidia has more clear indicators suggesting sales are on the way, AMD has also released a slew of enticing graphics cards. The AMD Radeon RX5700, for example, may technically be a mid-range card, but its critical reception could drive down prices for AMD’s older cards. Then again, retailers have always shown much more willingness to put AMD products on sale, so even the new stuff could get a slight reduction in November.

Smooth Sailing

In 2019, we’re in the rare position where GPU prices are dropping, but there isn’t a new wave of graphics card immediately around the corner. Nvidia and AMD both tend to launch graphics cards on a three-year release cycle, so whatever you pick, you can rest easy that your card’s performance won’t get pushed down the power rankings until 2021.

(Image credit: Nvidia)

There is one wrinkle here. In 2018, Intel announced that it plans to break into the Graphic card game, and said it’s first graphics card (or cards) will launch in 2020. Intel GPUs are a wild card: we don’t know a whole lot about how that will change the GPU landscape, or if they’d factor into your purchasing decision. Still, it’s something to keep in mind.

Despite the fact that the stars are aligning in favor of some great Black Friday bargains, it’s worth pointing out that those deals may still not be enough to make you jump the gun and buy a graphics card if you weren’t planning to already. During the year, the cheapest graphic card deals at any given time may be $15-20 dollars off. An excellent deal, especially on a new card, may be as little as $100-$200 off. When combined with generally declining prices, that could translate into a much better price than what you would pay right now, but it’s all relative.

Put it another way, there will not be a price so low that you should fly off the handle and buy something just because it’s on sale. All the rules for smart GPU shopping still apply. Know what constitutes a worthwhile upgrade before you start shopping, and set a budget so you know what that’s worth to you.

Sapphire RX 5700 Pulse graphics card

(Image credit: Future)

So, what should you look for?

Still, if you’re looking, Black Friday is undoubtedly the best time to buy a GPU in 2019. At the moment, the 2060 Super and 2070 Super feel like the most valuable picks, since they offer a jump in performance over the original 20-series cards for the same price. Any deals on these cards are well worth considering, as are significant cuts on the 2080 Ti, which remains the most powerful card. 

If you are looking for the absolute best savings, your best bet will be the original 20-series models. That said, they aren’t top of the line cards anymore, so you may find yourself needing to upgrade again in a couple of years as more developers adopt ray tracing, and games become ever more demanding on your components. 

Lastly, budget cards under $250 will always remain limited by their lifespan and performance, but they’re smaller gambles to begin with, so picking one up during Black Friday is less of a necessity. If you're in doubt about the performance of lower-end cards, check out our graphics card hierarchy to see how they all stack up in terms of power.