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Black Friday gaming deals: What to buy, and what to avoid

an image of a mouse, keyboard and gaming headset to show off Black Friday deals
(Image credit: Logitech)

Black Friday deals are in full swing, which means the Internet will soon be awash in a veritable sea of inexpensive tech. As always, however, there’s a difference between getting a good deal and simply buying something cheap. When it comes to Black Friday gaming deals, that logic still holds. You could wind up saving hundreds of dollars on some truly excellent gear — or you could wind up with a bunch of bargain bin merchandise, which would be a bad deal at any price.

Since it’s difficult to tell which particular items will and won’t go on sale for Black Friday, as a video game and gaming hardware reviewer, I find that it’s usually better to give broad recommendations. This way, readers will have all the resources they need to make informed decisions, whether they’re in the market for a $1,500 laptop or a $15 video game. By keeping in mind a few basic recommendations about each gaming category, you can get the most mileage out of your money, whether that means shopping on Black Friday or waiting until another price drop.

One important caveat, however: everything in this article is a general recommendation. If you see a truly amazing deal in a category that I don’t recommend buying — or a truly horrific deal in a category I do recommend buying — you’ll have to use your best judgment. One of the exciting (and frustrating) things about Black Friday is that anything could go on sale, at any discount, and you may not have much time to decide whether to buy it. In that scenario, all I can recommend is picking a budget and sticking to it, so you won’t find yourself facing down a bad case of buyer’s remorse come December.

Black Friday gaming desktop deals: Maybe

Alienware Aurora 2021

(Image credit: Alienware/Shutterstock)

Normally, I wouldn’t recommend buying prebuilt gaming desktops on Black Friday. This may sound counterintuitive, since prebuilt gaming desktops are often available at steep discounts, potentially saving readers hundreds of dollars. The issue is that these machines tend to be from second-rate manufacturers rather than trusted brands, such as Dell, HP and Corsair. Getting all the parts you want at a killer price sounds great on paper, but you may not feel as enthused if the system suffers from shoddy construction or non-existent customer service.

However, this year, I can’t put a hard “no” on prebuilt gaming desktops. The reason why is simple: It’s basically impossible to build a PC from scratch right now. If you want PC parts — particularly GPUs — buying prebuilt is often your only viable option. As such, an inexpensive, imperfect gaming PC is considerably better than no gaming PC at all. Just be sure to read as many reviews as you can before you buy any PC, since this is one piece of gear you’ll likely be stuck with for a while.

Black Friday gaming laptop deals: Maybe

Razer Blade 17

(Image credit: Razer)

Black Friday is a prime time to buy some of the best gaming laptops, if you listen to Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy and similar sites. Retailers often slash gaming laptop prices by hundreds of dollars, even on big brands, such as Razer, MSI and Alienware. While I’ve seen some subpar laptops go on sale during previous Black Fridays, I’ve also seen some excellent models.

There are two reasons why I’d still exercise some caution and mark this category a “maybe.” The first is that Black Friday, much like Prime Day, is primarily about cleaning out inventory space to make room for next year’s stock. 

As such, there’s a lot of outdated gear available, and not always discounted as much as it should be. Second, seeing a laptop available at hundreds of dollars off can make a $1,000+ purchase feel like an impulse buy. You should resist this urge. If you’ve been planning to get a gaming laptop, Black Friday can be a good time to get one — if not, don’t spend thousands of dollars on something you don’t really need.

Black Friday gaming monitor deals: No

LG 34UC89G Gaming Monitor

(Image credit: Future)

Maybe this year will be different, but I’ve never seen any terrific Black Friday gaming monitor deals. I’ve seen some good ones, and a lot of forgettable ones, but nothing that made me sit up and say, “We’ll never see a deal like that again.”

Gaming monitors are a complicated category, with dozens of variables going into each ever-so-slightly different model: resolution, refresh rate, panel composition, USB-C connectivity and so forth. Every gaming setup will have slightly different requirements, and the odds of the exact monitor you need going on a significant sale are astronomically low. Feel free to keep an eye out, but generally speaking, I’d just research the perfect monitor for your setup, then buy it, even if it’s full retail price.

These could come in handy this December as Amazon has a load of new games on its Prime gaming service.

Black Friday gaming console deals: No

ps5 xbox series x

(Image credit: Microsoft/Sony)

Trying to write about Black Friday gaming console deals in 2021 almost seems like a cruel joke. No one can get a PlayStation 5; no one can get an Xbox Series X; no one can get a Nintendo Switch OLED. Maybe you can get a base Switch or Switch Lite, but if last year is any indication, even a PS4 or Xbox One is a pipe dream. Consider yourself lucky if you can pick up a console at all during one of the infrequent, stingy restocks; any discount will almost certainly be part of a prohibitively expensive bundle, or an outright scam.

Black Friday gaming mice deals: Yes

razer deathadder

(Image credit: Razer)

I’ve written about Black Friday deals on gaming mice, keyboards and headsets in a separate article, so I won’t rehash my entire argument here. But generally speaking, we’ve seen incredible deals on gaming mice in past years. Companies like Razer and Logitech slash prices on fan-favorites, such as the Logitech G502 or the Razer DeathAdder V2. Not only are the discounts significant, but the mice themselves are fantastic peripherals as well. Be sure to stick with known brand names, such as Razer, Logitech and SteelSeries. But if you see a good deal on a mouse, don’t hesitate to pick it up.

Black Friday gaming keyboard deals: Maybe

corsair k70 rbt tkl champion series

(Image credit: Corsair)

Perhaps it’s because gaming keyboards are somewhat more complex peripherals than gaming mice, but I’ve never seen any absolutely killer Black Friday sales for them. Amazon or Best Buy might knock $20 or $30 off of a popular gaming keyboard, but you probably won’t one seeing going for half price, or less, as is often the case with mice.

Still, if you’re in the market for a gaming keyboard, Black Friday is at least a good time to look. If the exact model you want is on sale, it’s better to save $20 than to save nothing at all. But if you’re not married to any gaming keyboard in particular, it’s better to save your money and keep doing your research. They may go on sale again around Christmas, or something better may come out early next year.

Black Friday gaming headset deals: Yes

Best headsets for PS5: SteelSeries Arctis 7P

(Image credit: SteelSeries)

I dithered on whether I should recommend gaming headsets on Black Friday, since many models don’t get much of a price break. If you’re in the market for high-end wireless headsets, you shouldn’t expect much of a price break. These peripherals tend to sell well, regardless of price, so there’s not much incentive for retailers to discount them.

On the other hand, wired gaming headsets often get significant discounts, bringing $100 models down to $50, or $50 models down to $30. While I tend to recommend wireless gaming headsets if you can afford them, wired 3.5 mm headsets are good choices for console gamers, since they can simply plug the peripherals into their controllers. Furthermore, these inexpensive headsets are great gifts for kids and teens, who may have never owned a dedicated gaming headset before.

Black Friday gaming chair deals: No

Razer Iskur

(Image credit: Razer)

It’s been a few years since gaming chairs came onto the market in force, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of them. They’re expensive, they’re garish, and they’re often not as comfortable as a good office chair. If you’re absolutely, positively devoted to buying a gaming chair, I will grant that there are a handful of good deals, including up to $150 off some of our favorite models. But at least check out some similarly priced office chairs before you pull the trigger. They look better, and often feel better, too.

Black Friday video game deals: Yes

Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut review

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

I’ve saved the best for last. There’s one Black Friday gaming deal that’s been consistently good, year after year, and that’s on the video games themselves. Game inventory must take up a lot of space in retailers’ warehouses, because they always seem eager to pawn off as many games as possible, as cheaply as possible. Between “buy two, get one free” sales and steep individual discounts, you could theoretically walk away with five or six video games for the price of two or three.

I don’t have any solid recommendations in this category, since which video games you’ll want to buy depend entirely on your tastes — or the tastes of the person for whom you’re shopping. But I will say that even newer games, such as Far Cry 6 or Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut are already on sale, so you can imagine what Black Friday itself might bring.

Black Friday gaming deals: Outlook

Xbox Series X controller being held

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

While I can’t predict exactly which gear will be worth your money on Black Friday, I can say that I’ve gleaned these observations over eight years of covering Black Friday gaming sales. During that time, I’ve saved a good deal of money on video games, and helped connect friends and family with hardware that they wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. If you’re looking for a special gaming gift on Black Friday, I hope you find it — and if not, remember, the sales will return for Christmas and New Year’s.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.