Every year clients ask us what they should be watching for on Black Friday and lately, Cyber Monday as a possible replacement for their aging desktop or laptop. As online shopping has steadily stomped out brick-and-mortar outlets in the electronics and technology market, finding a good deal is a combination of vigilance, internet savvy and luck as well as a willingness to push that “buy” button knowing that a better deal is always around the corner. With that caveat, here are some deals I can spot right now on November 24. Prices may change as you read this, or may not be in effect until Black Friday/Cyber Monday, but you can also use these as a guideline when evaluating similar deals.
- Dell Inspiron Desktop, Intel Core i3-8100, Intel UHD 630, 1TB HDD Storage, 8GB RAM for $329 – This is a fantastic deal if you are looking to replace your old desktop tower PC. The only real downside is the hard drive is a standard spinning device (not solid state) and the OS is Windows 10 Home, which would need to be upgraded to Pro for proper use in an office. That upgrade is $99 and can be done later, so altogether, still a great deal.
- Inspiron 15.6″ Touch-Screen Laptop for $349 – Actually an outstanding deal if you can get it, as it’s a “Doorbuster” at Best Buy. This can easily function as a work laptop once you upgrade it to the Pro version of the operating system ($99). Only downside is the weight, which is a hefty 4.4 lbs and that it arrives in “S-mode” which is Microsoft’s locked-down (for security) version of Windows 10. You can switch out of S-mode, but it’s a one-way change.
- HP 14 Laptop, Intel 10th Gen Core™ i5 for $399 – Another outstanding deal on a mid-range laptop, this time from Walmart as a pre-Black Friday sale. It’s a little chunky in design, weighs in at 3.2 lbs, and a bit light on storage with only 256GB SSD drive, but otherwise has rock-solid technical specs. Looks like it’s available online, so it may go quick.
- HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop Tower for $579 – If you have an aspiring e-sports athlete or streamer in the family this might be a nice upgrade. It can also serve well as a business machine, though the hard drive is a little small. Fortunately, the case has plenty of room for expansion, and the beefy graphics card will be good for video and photo editing. Downside – it’s a Walmart Doorbuster – good luck!
- ASUS – VivoBook 15 15.6″ Laptop for $499 – This is a great deal on a solid office laptop. Excellent technical specs are only held back slightly by a smallish (265GB) SSD storage and Windows 10 Home, but it’s lighter than the Inspiron above at 3.75 lbs.
- ENVY x360 2-in-1 15.6″ Touch-Screen Laptop for $749 – If you need power and don’t mind the extra weight (4.5lbs), this laptop is very well priced for what it offers – 10th gen i7 CPU, 12GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. Touchscreen, convertible, thin and loaded with premium features. Ships with 10 Home, so using it in an office may require an upgrade to 10 Pro ($99).
- ASUS ZenBook S UX391UA-XB71-R Ultra-thin and light 13.3-inch Full HD Laptop for $789 – If you are looking for a very portable (2.3 lbs) but powerful laptop, this Asus ZenBook well priced against the competition. Be aware that the ultralight form factor and cost comes at the cost of durability, limited ports, and a relatively petite (256GB) SSD hard drive.
General Advice and Cautionary Tips:
- All of the computers listed above come with Windows 10 Home, which can be upgraded to Pro for $99. You need the Pro version for hard drive encryption (important for laptops), connecting to your work’s domain (if you have one), and if you want to remote into your PC using Microsoft’s built-in RDP software. Otherwise, the Home version of Windows 10 is perfect for home office and family use. You can still use LogMeIn, TeamViewer or RemotePC as alternatives to RDP, but business use of those services require a subscription.
- If the deal seems too good to be true – check the fine print. Doorbusters have the obvious downsides, and are sometimes deceptively attractive and scarce to get you to the store.
- Watch out for refurbs and open-box deals. They may be fine functionally, but make sure you are getting some form of full warranty from the manufacturer or return guarantee from the seller.
- There is a reason Chromebooks are so cheap: they can’t run desktop versions of Microsoft Office and should only be considered for specific office tasks like email and cloud-based applications.
- Avoid AMD-powered computers if you are intending to use it for business. While their latest generation CPUs can definitely stand toe-to-toe with Intel, many holiday sales take advantage of less tech-savvy buyers to dump older, poorer-performing AMD technology at ridiculously low prices.
- Don’t use Black Friday sales as an excuse to under-spend on business technology. Instead, consider it a fun way to stretch your technology budget a little further. Cheap technology can end up costing you more in the long run.
- If you want to see if the Black Friday price is really a deal, or just a typical discount, you can check price trackers like https://camelcamelcamel.com/.