Should you wait for Black Friday to buy a graphics card?

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Graphics card prices are lower than they have been in years, which makes it especially hard to predict whether you should wait until Black Friday to buy one.

The weekend after Thanksgiving has long been a popular shopping season here in the United States, but these days the savings start earlier every year and we're already seeing some of the best Black Friday deals of the season hitting stores.

That's generally good news, but it makes knowing the best time to buy a new graphics card tricky business. To help you make the best decision, let's look at the reasons why you should and shouldn't wait for Black Friday to buy a new GPU.

Of course, one perennial bit of advice applies: Buy what you need when you need it. So if you absolutely need a new GPU, don't feel bad about taking whatever the best deal you can find right now is; the important thing is that you not beat yourself up waiting for a perfect storm of buying conditions that may never arrive.

Why you shouldn't wait for Black Friday to buy a new GPU

Graphics card prices, which were once astronomical, have been falling since the first quarter of the year. While you can still occasionally find an over-inflated price tag, especially if you're shopping for the latest and greatest cards from third-party vendors, most GPUs can be purchased for MSRP these days.

Nvidia 40-series GPUs from third-party vendors

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Sure, you're not likely to find a great deal on a new Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, but cutting-edge cards like this $1,599 beast rarely go on sale this early in the month. If you just want a new mid-range card from the likes of AMD, Intel or Nvidia, now is a great time to start hunting for deals.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 press image

(Image credit: Nvidia)

They're coming so fast and early this year that we've already started our Black Friday deals liveblog, and it's a great page to keep tabs on if you're in the market for a new GPU. While you might see better deals as we get closer to Thanksgiving, this year retailers like Best Buy and Newegg have started slashing prices early enough that there's no need to wait.

Why you should wait for Black Friday to buy a new GPU

That said, if you do really want one of the latest and greatest Nvidia GPUs it would be smart to wait and see. The most attractive deals will be held until just before the end of November to drum up interest, and the new Nvidia GeForce 4090 and 4080 will likely be included.

If you don't care about owning the latest cards you may as well start deal-hunting now, because we're already seeing significant price cuts at retailers like Best Buy and Newegg. But if you want one of the the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 40-series cards, the best deals are likely only available in the Black Friday exclusion zone.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 being held by Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang pictured holding up a 4090 card. (Image credit: Nvidia)

Why would you want to wait for a new 40-series card? In addition to delivering a performance bump over the previous generation, these cards are the only ones to support Nvidia's new DLSS 3 upscaling tech. Nvidia has rolled out this new DLSS 3 technology alongside the 4090. DLSS is a big deal because it uses machine learning to try and intelligently "upscale" graphics that are rendered at artificially lowered resolutions, affording you the performance of low resolution without a big drop in graphical performance. 

Nvidia pitches DLSS 3 as being leaps and bounds more effective than DLSS 2, and to use DLSS 3 you need the fourth-generation Tensor cores and new Optical Flow Accelerator tech built into Nvidia 40-series cards like the GeForce RTX 4090, which bears an MSRP of $1,599. So if you want one, best to wait for a Black Friday deal!

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.