Should you buy a laptop before Black Friday?

With so many early Black Friday laptop deals landing on the shelves, it can be difficult to work out which offers are worth taking an early look at. Whether you’re being tempted by some record low prices, or you’re concerned about shipping delays when official offers land, we’re here to help you work out whether you really should buy a laptop before Black Friday. 

Best Buy, Walmart, Amazon, and Dell have all launched early discounts in the US, and the UK can’t be too far behind. That means we’re already seeing some of the year’s lowest prices on everything from super cheap Chromebooks to high-end ultrabooks. However, whether or not you buy a laptop before Black Friday itself comes down to a few simple questions:

  • What do you need the laptop for?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • Where are you buying it from?
  • When do you need it by?
  • Do you want to fight for a better price on Black Friday?

Your answers to these questions will determine whether you should be taking advantage of early discounts. Some cases will be best left for the end of November, whereas others should be looking as soon as possible. We’ll help you figure out which camp you fall into right here. Of course, if you’re after more information on Black Friday gaming laptop deals we’d recommend checking out all our predictions for this year’s sale as well.

When to buy a laptop before Black Friday

Acer Aspire

(Image credit: Acer)

If you need your laptop soon

Obviously, if you need a laptop before Black Friday actually rolls around you’ll be browsing the latest sales. However, even if you only need it in your hands during early December, we actually still wouldn’t dismiss earlier sales. We don’t know what stock will look like over the official sales, and we regularly see shipping times extending for weeks when the shelves start to run dry. Couple that with supply issues over the last few months, and those who absolutely need their machine soon should consider getting ahead of the crowd. 

If you’re a My Best Buy Rewards member

Best Buy is one of the biggest players in the game of laptop deals, and Black Friday is their Super Bowl. We see some of the highest quality discounts of the year at this retailer and 2021 is already off to a stellar start. Back in October, Best Buy launched its early offers with one crucial difference that is setting it apart from other stores at this point in the race. 

My Best Buy members can register the products they buy before Black Friday and if the retailer drops the price again during the official sales, they’ll receive a refund of the difference. That means no concerns about finding a better deal on the day, especially if you plan on shopping here anyway. This doesn’t protect you against additional price drops at other retailers, though. 

If the value matches (or beats) previous Black Friday offers

The value of laptop specs change from year to year, but after covering several Black Fridays worth of offers, we can spot a trend when we see one. Having said that, it is difficult to quantify the value of a laptop deal, especially when there are so many factors to consider. Are you picking up a cheap 11-inch machine or a premium 2-in-1 convertible design, which generation processor are you buying, is the brand and model itself an expensive choice? These things can dramatically change the price of a laptop running exactly the same internal specs, so it’s worth making sure you know the rough prices you can expect to see at the end of the month for certain configurations. 

For example, a basic budget laptop will usually sit at the following prices during the highest value Black Friday flash sales. These are machines like the HP 15, HP Pavilion, Lenovo IdeaPad 3, Asus Vivobook, Acer Swift, and Dell Inspiron 15 3000. 

  • Intel i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB: $229-$279 / £249-£279
  • Intel i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB: $279-$399 / £299-£399
  • Intel i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 512GB: $399-$499 / £399-£499

A more mid-range machine like the Dell Inspiron 5000 or 7000 series, HP Envy, or Acer Swift could use the same components but in a more premium chassis, with a better display, keyboard, or 2-in-1 folding design. These will be priced between $500 and $700 (£500-£700) over Black Friday. If you’re after a luxury ultrabook like the Dell XPS 13, Surface Laptop 4, MacBook, or HP Spectre, prices can still easily sit over $1,000 / £1,000 – but you’ll likely find larger discounts reserved for the holiday sales as well. 

If you’re looking at any of these more expensive models, we would highly recommend waiting for the official discounts. If you spot a machine you like, offering the right specs for the right $200-$700 (£200-£700) price tag, however, it may well be worth a look ahead of the annual sales.

You don’t want to fight over Black Friday

The best laptop deals we see over Black Friday come in the form of flash sales. That means you’ll often find some particularly strong prices up for grabs, but you really do have to be in the right place at the right time. The highest value offers can sell out in minutes, with limited quantities reserved for the sales price by the retailer. That means those after the absolute best price of the year will likely find it at the end of November but will be fighting for it. 

If you don’t want to be at the beck and call of your computer over the Black Friday weekend, then, it’s worth taking a look at the offers available over the next couple of weeks, and particularly over Thanksgiving week as well. 

When to wait for Black Friday laptop deals

Dell XPS

(Image credit: Dell)

You’re not concerned about shipping times

The best laptop deals of the year may land on the big day itself, but if you need a machine sooner that’s not going to matter. However, if you can sit it out a little longer, we’d generally recommend waiting. Odds are that prices, overall, are going to be better during official Black Friday sales which means there’s no harm in holding off if you don’t mind receiving your new machine later on. 

You’re spending over $700 / £700

It’s not a hard or tight rule, but in general, ultrabooks and high-end machines start at the $700 / £700 price point. These machines also take some of the more blockbuster discounts over the Black Friday period, by virtue of simply having more money to play with in their savings. Retailers will want to make a splash with these high-profile offers, though, so will likely be reserving the best discounts for the big day itself. 

You want the absolute lowest price possible

As mentioned above, early Black Friday deals can offer up some valuable discounts, but the best prices will still be reserved for the main event. We sometimes see some excellent laptop deals during these annual sales, with some of the absolute best prices of the year. If you’re chasing the glory of a steal, we wouldn’t shop this side of November 26 – just be prepared to make some decisions quickly as flash sales don’t last too long this time of year.

You’re buying a Dell XPS or MacBook

Dell XPS laptops and Apple MacBooks are some of the best ultrabooks on the market, and the most popular. That means retailers tend to keep their best prices on these machines back for the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Those spending big on these premium machines, then, would do well to wait until the likely record lows of late November. 

Today’s best deals

If you are looking to get ahead of the competition, you’ll find all the lowest prices on all the laptops mentioned here just below.

If you’re looking for a whole new setup, we’d recommend checking out our guides to Black Friday gaming monitor deals and Black Friday gaming keyboard deals as well. We’d also recommend keeping a close eye on Black Friday iPad deals if you’re after something even more portable. However, we’re also rounding up everything we know so far about Black Friday gaming PC deals as well.

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