In case you haven’t noticed, Black Friday is happening right now. There are more than a few deals floating around, covering everything from full systems to brand new mousemats. But what if you’re the type that loves to piece together their own machine? Are there enough good deals out there to throw together a complete system from the deals alone? Yes, of course there are… you just have to look a little harder than usual.
It’s a slightly tricky proposition this year, for one very simple reason: graphics cards are scarcer than milk on Mars. If you’re in the market for an overpriced old graphics card, then you’re in luck (there are loads of marked up 1050 Ti to choose from), but if you’re after an actual bargain, then the pickings are much slimmer. Pretty much non-existent to be honest.
I’ve forced myself to stick to the Black Friday deals remit though and gone for the MSI Radeon RX 5500 XT, which is a perfectly serviceable graphics card, but it’s not going to get the blood racing in these days of RTX 3080 and RX 6800 XT cards. So while we’ve thrown this into our recommendation below, I’d actually suggest not buying a GPU right now, and keeping checking our How to buy an RTX 3080, RTX 3070, or RTX 3090 guide for when next-gen graphics cards might actually come back in stock. Which, by my reckoning, should be sometime around Spring 2021.
If you’re instead trying to find out how to buy an RX 6800XT or RX 6800 we’ve got you covered on the AMD side too, you just might be waiting a little longer unless you’re ready to bite the bullet and just buy a whole pre-built system.
One thing to note when building your own machine, particularly if you’re waiting for a specific part to arrive, is to make sure that the components are functioning when you get them. Some resellers will not accept returns after a surprisingly short amount of time, so if it’s been sat in a cupboard for half a year before you actually try it, only to discover it’s broken, then you could be out of luck in terms of a return. So if that means pulling your graphics card out of your current machine to make sure all your new bits work, it’s worth the effort.
With that out of the way, let’s see what we’d recommend building from Black Friday 2020’s deals.
Picking your CPU is the first major decision, as that governs your choice of motherboard, RAM, and potentially how big a power supply you need. AMD’s Zen 3 is the architecture of choice right now, but you can’t buy them at full price, let alone at a discount, which limits your options a bit. The good news is there are plenty of good deals on Intel Comet Lake chips this year, so we’ve gone with the Intel Core i7 10700.
Intel Core i7 10700 |
$339.99 $324.99 at BestBuy (save $15)
The Core i7 10700 is an 8-core, 16-thread chip that can turbo all the way up to 4.8GHz. It’s got the raw grunt to handle more serious work, as well as keep any graphics card you do end up buying fed during the most arduous gaming session. This non-K version isn’t unlocked, so overclocking isn’t really on the cards, but then you don’t really need to overclock it to get good performance.View Deal
You’re going to need a cooler with that.
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition |
$39.99 $33.99 at Amazon (save $6)
As we’re not overclocking, a decent air cooler is all we need here, and the Hyper 212 is a great option. It’s not much of a saving, to be fair, but these CPU chillers are great value anyway, so we’re not going to hold that against it. Four direct contact heat pipes pull heat away from the CPU, with the quiet-running 120mm fan keeping things cool. View Deal
Processor selected, it’s time to grab a motherboard. There are plenty of options out there, but this one stands out as offering great value for money.
MSI Z490-A Pro |
$159.99 $134.99 at BestBuy (save $25)
This ATX motherboard may be a bit overkill for the non-K processor, but it means you have upgrade options further down the line, and it’s always good to have options. It’s a solid, thrill-free board that does what you need, and does it well. If you want RGB everything, you’re going to have to spend more. It has a pair of M.2 slots for storage for your drives, plus plenty of USB headers too.View Deal
There are some great deals on RAM right now, and you can spend more if you want to go up to 32GB, but this seems like a sensible kit for this build.
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB | 3200MHz | CL16 |
$98 $63.99 at Amazon (save $34)
Corsair, now known for its peripherals more than anything else, started out as a well-respected name in RAM. That’s still absolutely true. This kit ticks everything you want from a good kit of memory—decent frequency, great latency, and thanks to this deal great value for money. You know it’ll just work in any system too. Note there is no RGB bling to be had here. View Deal
I love superfast NVMe SSD storage, and there are plenty of great choices for SSDs right now. This is one of the better options for the PCIe 3.0 interface that Intel limits itself to.
WD Black SN750 SSD | 1TB | PCIe 3.0 |
$234.99 $115.99 at Best Buy (save $119)
This 1TB PCIe SSD will deliver high-end storage performance, with a serious gobbet of game storing capacity. It’s not going to hit the heights of PCIe 4.0 drives, but you’ll struggle to find a comparative option with the space on offer to this WD SSD.View Deal
Now to the tricky question of the graphics card. We’d essentially recommend waiting until graphics card stock returns to something approaching normality, but if you absolutely need to build a fully working machine right now, this is probably the best option. Unless you want to use your CPUs integrated graphics that is (it’s an option).
MSI RX 5500 XT | AMD Navi | 8GB |
$204.99 $189.99 at Best Buy (save $15)
It’s hard as all hell to find a new graphics card right now, with the old high-end GPUs running dry as the new ones came out only the lower end of the market has cards. The RX 5500 XT is a decent sub-$200 card right now, and a bit cheaper than its release MSRP. There are RX 570 cards on Amazon which cost more, a damning indictment of the market…View Deal
You’re going to need somewhere to throw all this lovely hardware. A case seems as good an option as anything, and there are loads and loads of options on sale. I’ve gone for a bit of an old favorite here, just because I’ve built with it a number of times now, and the fact I don’t hate it is as much of a recommendation as I can give any case.
NZXT H510 |
$79.99 $69.99 at Amazon (save $10)
This compact case not only looks great when finished, but it’s one of the easiest cases to build in. There’s plenty of space around the motherboard, with a cut-out behind the CPU socket in case you want to upgrade the CPU cooler. The power supply shroud helps to keep things looking neat, while the cable-routing touches are genuinely useful. A great case any time, it’s even better with $10 off.View Deal
To finish, you’re going to need to give this thing some juice.
EVGA Supernova 750 GA |
$124.99 $104.99 at Newegg (save $20)
Given I’m not sure which graphics card is going to end up in this machine, I’ve gone slightly over the top with the power supply, but that does give ample room for updating later. EVGA is a reliable name in power supplies and this fully modular PSU helps keep things manageable as well. 750W is probably overkill for any normal build, so if your needs are less demanding, feel free to drop to 650W or even 550W and save a chunk of cash. But it’s better to overprovision now than waste your money. View Deal
So there it is, an almost awesome gaming PC for $1,039… with just a weakness in the graphics department. But there’s not a lot we can do about that as system builders are hogging all the shiny new next-gen GPUs. If you can’t beat them, then I guess you might have to join them, so check out the best Black Friday gaming PC deals for bargains on full rigs.