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Every year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shoppers scour retailers looking for the best deals on computer parts. Those two days are well known for having the largest sales and best discounts. But is it really the best time to buy?

PCPartPicker tracks prices for over 10,000 computer parts across dozens of retailers. To find out if the holiday season is the optimal time to purchase parts, I plotted out historical prices across different part categories.

Should you wait for the holiday sales? It depends...

SSDs

First, let's look at Solid State Drives (SSDs) limited to the SATA interface and sized between 60GB-120GB.

For each part retail prices are plotted as blue points, creating an intensity plot. Gray banding represents the span from lowest to highest price. The vertical blue line represents Thanskgiving, and the vertical red line represents Christmas. The thick black line shows the overall average price.

SSD prices dropped slowly during Summer 2011, but then held steady from roughly October through January. Holiday sales showed up as week-long dips on the gray lower bound immediately after Thanksgiving and right before Christmas. Therefore, if you are looking to buy an SSD and aren't locked into a specific model, your best bet to is to buy the week after Thanksgiving or the week before Christmas. If you are locked into a specific model, however, it may not matter; prices generally hold steady well into the next year.

Hard Drives

In 2011, flooding in Thailand took several hard drive manufacturing plants offline, resulting in significantly reduced production. The effect began to take hold in October 2011, when inventory shortages caused prices to rise. Because of limited inventory, sales were extremely scarce during the holiday period. As production resumed, prices gradually dropped. Looking forward to the 2012 holiday season, I expect to see much better hard drive deals as production and inventory has largely been restored.

Monitors

Next, let's look at LCD monitors between 20"-27". It's a very different story here.

From the plot we can tell that LCD monitor prices are slowly trending upwards. (Monitors were added to PCPartPicker mid-July 2011.) The real surprise is during the holiday shopping period. Prices rose quickly leading up to Thanksgiving. Immediately after Cyber Monday, prices rose sharply again. Roughly a week before Christmas, there was yet another rise in prices. There is evidence of spot sales a few days after Black Friday, but overall if you are buying a monitor it is better to do it sooner than later. Waiting for specific deals could end up costing you more.

CPUs

For CPUs, I first restricted the selection to the most popular segment - Intel CPUs using an LGA1155 socket (excluding Extreme Editions).

Intel LGA1155-based CPUs held steady in price over the last year, even amid the introduction of Ivy Bridge. During the 2011 holiday period, prices were relatively immune to sales, suffering only a small price increase the week before Christmas. Therefore, if you are in the market for an Intel CPU, timing should not have much of an effect. It is worth noting that combo deals are not reflected in this plot.

Next I took a look at AM3 and AM3+ socket based CPUs from AMD:

Like Intel LGA1155 CPUs, AMD CPUs saw steady average prices with few lower-end sales.

Video Cards

With video cards, the introduction of Radeon HD 7000 and GeForce 600 series chipsets caused quite a bit of average price fluctuation. To get a better look at 2011 video card pricing, I chose to look at two previous chipsets - the Radeon HD 6000 and GeForce 500 series. The price trends are different between the two, making for an interesting comparison. GeForce 500 series cards dropped in price slowly throughout the holiday period, with spot sales at the usual times. Radeon HD 6000 series video cards also saw a steady reduction in price throughout the holiday period, in addition to typical spot sales.

Summary

When is the best time to buy? It depends on how picky you are about buying specific models. If you don't have specific parts in mind, you should be able to pick up significant savings. But be warned: for several part types, waiting until the week before Christmas could prove costly.

To make your holiday computer shopping easier, PCPartPicker closely tracks part prices. If you have specific components in mind, subscribe to price alerts to be notified when prices drop below your predetermined thresholds.

Happy Building!

Comments
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fsbrain [1 Build] 24 points 23 months ago

How about GPUs?

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 20 points 23 months ago

I'll take a quick look - one sec. :)

 
 
fsbrain [1 Build] 8 points 23 months ago

Great! Thank you for the wonderful site!

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 8 points 23 months ago

Ok - updated with GPU info now. (glad you like the site!)

 
 
woo 9 points 23 months ago

Would it be possible in the future to see customizable price-drop email summaries? Like something that would combine the daily emails with individual alerts? As an example, I'm shopping for a 7870, but don't have a specific model in mind. It would be awesome if all items that fell under that category with price-drops were emailed out daily instead of needing to set a price alert and coming up with a price for every individual 7870 card. If that's not practical or unfeasible, I understand.

Thanks for all you do.

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 16 points 23 months ago

I think that might be possible - I'll look into it.

 
 
woo 8 points 23 months ago

You're incredible, dude.

 
 
none1980 1 point 23 months ago

I second this. It would be very helpful when you haven't quite decided on a brand. It would be helpful for other parts, too, HDDs, RAM, MBs and even CPUs could benefit I think.

 
 
vidar [1 Build] 1 point 23 months ago

I third this, customized summaries is the one thing I look forward too from an otherwise perfect site!

 
 
jonjonjon [1 Build] 1 point 23 months ago

i was just thinking this. for example if a 240/256GB ssd went under $125 it would alert you. the only problem is you lump 180GB ssds in with the 240/256GB. i think 180GB ssd drives should be in their own category.

 
 
Gramis 4 points 23 months ago

Wish you could have put up Power supplies. Looking to get a new one soon.

 
 
Goreface69 0 points 23 months ago

I second that comment!

 
 
Orochikaku 3 points 23 months ago

Hey philip is it just me or do your comments VERY strongly remind me of Reddit?

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 7 points 23 months ago

Much of the current commenting design is influenced by Reddit. Before I added comments to the site, I took a close look at a lot of the popular methods - flat/bbcode style, Reddit, Disqus, etc. I strongly prefer the nested comments, ala Reddit, Disqus, and Hacker News (among others). I feel markdown is a more expressive markup language thank bbcode, and didn't want to go invent another one. I also like the voting capabilities on many, and while I liked the voting on Hacker News better (where downvoting is only available if you have X karma), I saw it was a consistent point of confusion. A good bit of traffic here comes from Reddit, so it also provides something familiar. Comments will get some attention again here before too long - expect them to get further integrated into the site (like you see with a users's # of builds linked by their username), as well as some stylistic changes. My goal though is to have similar (and familiar) mechanics, but eventually a design/style that more closely meshes with this site.

[comment deleted]
 
 
somehobo147 2 points 23 months ago

Philip you are amazing, I love this site.

 
 
Estbarul 2 points 23 months ago

yeah, that's a nice analysis

 
 
scotteys123 2 points 23 months ago

Hey Philip, would you mind adding the HAF XB to the case list? I know it's just a case but i'm making a new build and I would really like to see it on the site soon. Thanks for all that you've done here, the site is very useful :)

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 1 point 23 months ago
 
 
TripKnot 1 point 23 months ago

Very interesting. It looks like the price distributions are highly skewed for most parts. Does the median price track better with the blue dense areas?

 
 
Zakpearle 1 point 23 months ago

This is why we love you. <3

 
 
Bseagull 1 point 23 months ago

Awesome!

 
 
danielhep 1 point 23 months ago

Okay, I'm stupid. How do I know where Cyber Monday is?

[comment deleted]
 
 
danielhep 2 points 22 months ago

I meant how do I locate it on the graphs? Too late, anyway, not important.

[comment deleted]
 
 
jonhud2002 [1 Build] 1 point 23 months ago

Philip, I didn't know where else to put in suggestions to the site so I'll put it here. Would it be possible to add CFM to the cpu coolers picker? This may be unimportant to some but thought it might be helpful to others. It would be nice to know what each cooler's cfm is rated at.

 
 
jjang1 1 point 23 months ago

EDIT: Working now! Thanks! Also don't know where to put this, but it seems Tigerdirect/CompUSA links are down. Prices don't reflect them as retailers.

 
 
Mellorine 1 point 23 months ago

Now the remaining question is, does Black Friday or Cyber Monday have better prices?

 
 
vidar [1 Build] 1 point 23 months ago

How often does this site check for prices? I am just wondering if it can keep up with all the lighting deals that are so annoyingly prevalent these days.

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 2 points 23 months ago

It varies by merchant - in many cases, hourly. Though in some situations there may be a bit of a lag before the update (up to an hour or two). In the next few days I hope to roll out some changes that will reduce the price lag on some of the more prominent merchants to < 15 minutes.

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 1 point 23 months ago

It varies by merchant - in many cases, hourly. Though in some situations there may be a bit of a lag before the update (up to an hour or two). In the next few days I hope to roll out some changes that will reduce the price lag on some of the more prominent merchants to < 15 minutes.

 
 
mxxcon 1 point 23 months ago

I think monitor prices are increasing because more and more consumers and manufacturers are switching to IPS panels from (horrible and ridiculously cheap) TN panels. Manufacturers like it because they can charge more, consumers like it because IPS panels are of better quality.

Would still be good to see price history for geforce6xx and radeon7[7/8]xx.

 
 
madwolfa 1 point 23 months ago

Hi, thanks for useful website! But will you add the popularity sorting in completed builds section?

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 1 point 23 months ago

I hope to do so soon.

 
 
Daanyal 1 point 23 months ago

Could you please update the parts list with the Corsair H100i, Corsair H80i, Corsair H55 and updated H60 please?

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 1 point 23 months ago

Will do. (should be able to get them in later today.)

 
 
soundbloke 1 point 23 months ago

Would like to submit a request for adding the Corsair AX860i & AX760i to the PSU list (currently available at NCIX, Amazon & TigerDirect, but not yet at Newegg).

Also, don't know if the "ASUS Sonar Essence One" counts as a soundcard as it's more of a "USB DAC converter", but if eligible, would love to see it included along with the forthcoming "Plus" & "MUSES" edition of this model.

Thanks for all your fab work!

 
 
soundbloke 1 point 22 months ago

Just an fyi that the Corsair AX860i & AX760i are now listed on Newegg, I've ordered mine! :)

 
 
maximiza 1 point 23 months ago

Dynomite!!!!!

 
 
rankupgamers [1 Build] 1 point 23 months ago

Philip, Would it be possible for you to make a way to select what inputs a monitor has... The current one just shows you one with SOME of your selections.

 
 
Oliver [4 Builds] 1 point 23 months ago

Hey Phillip, question about the website, when I'm on this website logged in, up in the top right where it says your username, my name has a number in parentheses next to it, what is that number?

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 1 point 23 months ago

That's effectively your total comment score (aka karma).

 
 
superaman 1 point 23 months ago

I remember when I was starting high school how GTS 9xxx series nvidia cards were like $300+ dollars, now you can get them for the same price as call of duty, shows how quickly video card's are advancing compared to processors, which are stagnant because they are ahead of the video card right now in terms of bottlenecking.

[comment deleted by staff]
 
 
Oliver [4 Builds] 1 point 22 months ago

Hey Phillip, do you mind adding the Gigabyte GA - Z77X UP7 1155 Motherboard ? Thanks alot and by the way, I love this site!

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 1 point 22 months ago

Certainly - you can now find it here.

 
 
EgaoNoGenki 1 point 22 months ago

Hi. WOW! NO NEW UPDATES IN OVER A MONTH!

How's the mobile site coming along? And the expansion of the goods in your store?

 
 
philip [Staff,Submitter] [9 Builds] 1 point 22 months ago

Been super busy - there's a lot going on behind the scenes. There's new stuff on the way - just getting it all ready. Mobile is still a ways off unfortunately, and I'm rethinking the store strategy. I may offer other goods, but not sure yet.

 
 
Raven210 1 point 22 months ago

great information!!!!

 
 
Javanode [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

this website is priceless !

 
 
planetregin [1 Build] 1 point 21 months ago

Second that!

 
 
taka20 1 point 4 months ago

Will pc parts reduce (price) after 5-10 years time?

 
 
ownerbeast 1 point 2 months ago

So how many dollars off would they be?

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