Figuring out the best time to buy computer parts is tricky. It’s not quite like saying the best time to buy a TV is right around the Super Bowl. But there are some tips you can follow to help you find the best deals.
Good timing won’t make building a PC cheaper than buying one, but it can at least narrow the gap, if you have the patience to buy when you find a deal rather than buying all your parts in one shot.
The best time to buy computer parts used
There’s definitely a best time to buy used computer parts. Look early in the week. I’m talking Monday. Large resellers tend to list their wares on Sunday or Monday, and the best deals sell out pretty quickly.
So the best selection on the best deals tends to come on Monday or Tuesday. And the best deals sell out by Wednesday.
Since none of these things are especially rare, chances are more will show up next week. So if it’s Thursday or Friday, shop around, but don’t make any final purchase decisions until you’ve seen what comes up on Monday. Note the prices you find late in the week, and when you find a better deal, be ready to pounce on it.
The savings on inexpensive components can be significant. Conservatively, when I’ve checked prices on Monday vs Friday, I could easily find myself paying $25 on Friday for something I can easily find for $15 early in the week. It doesn’t scale linearly, so don’t expect a $200 SSD to be selling for $120 on Monday. But $180 or even $175 is possible. When you’re building a budget system, those $10 savings can add up.
If you’re trying to build a low-budget computer, such as a $100 gaming PC, playing the Monday game can really help you stay within a tight budget.
The best time to buy Intel CPUs
Intel cuts its prices every quarter. So that means the worst time to buy an Intel CPU is generally in March, June, September, or December. It pays to wait a month for the price cuts to take effect. The best time to buy is generally early to mid January, April, July, or October to avoid paying early-adopter premiums.
The biggest price cuts happen on high-end CPUs. Lower-end CPUs may get a slight price adjustment, or get discontinued in favor of a slightly faster chip at the same price point.
AMD’s practice generally follows Intel. Depending on what it thinks it needs to do, AMD will sometimes follow Intel, or try to cut its prices a little bit early in an attempt to get out in front of Intel.
The best time to buy computer parts new
There is no guaranteed best time to buy other parts, but like all other consumer goods, there are definitely patterns you can follow.
The large computer retailers and large online stores tend to run specials over three-day holiday weekends, making those a good time to scoop up some deals, especially if you’re not set on a particular brand. Typically they will put a selection of items on sale in each category, with a low-end, midrange and high-end component on sale, but they may all be different brands. Occasionally they’ll put one manufacturer’s entire line on sale.
So-called marketing holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween can also provide a good excuse for a store to run a sale.
Late August can be a good time to buy components, as computer stores try to attract business from students needing a computer for school. Some states will run a tax-free weekend, where they suspend state sales tax on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday on certain items. Computer components usually are eligible.
Most large computer retailers and large online stores will run Black Friday specials, and the discounts on select items may be bigger than what you would find earlier in the year. But unlike some other items at retail, there’s almost always a selection of items on sale throughout November and December, sometimes starting as early as November 1.
The sales typically don’t end at Christmas either. Retailers know a lot of people get cash or gift cards as gifts, so frequently they will run sales between Christmas and New Year’s so they can bring in those dollars sooner rather than later.
Playing the waiting game
Sometimes when I build a PC, I do it over the course of several months, buying whatever components are on sale and checking them off my list, and working my way up to a completed PC. I may start buying components in the summer and work my way up to a completed PC around year-end.
This requires you to put off some gratification because you’re building a computer over the course of several months, and if you don’t have a motherboard and CPU to build around, all you have is a pile of parts for a while. Once I have a motherboard and CPU, I may sub in older parts and replace them as I’m able to buy newer and better parts on sale.
To do this, I’ll compile a list of the parts I need, including any brand preferences. I’ll also go ahead and check prices so I’ll know what the items typically sell for. Then, as I acquire the parts, I’ll check them off my list.
Checking historical pricing
You can use sites like Camel Camel Camel to check Amazon’s historical pricing on items. Past pricing isn’t very helpful on things like memory, because memory pricing is fairly volatile. Historical pricing doesn’t help with video cards either because cryptocurrency mining is inflating those prices to ridiculous levels.
But if you see a consistent pattern in past pricing on components like the power supply you want, that can help you plan out your purchase.
So sometimes history can help you figure out the best time to buy computer parts. When you’re on a tight budget, you need all the help you can get. Good luck with your bargain hunting.