While desktop machines rule the roost in the PC gaming world, gaming laptops are proving to be a viable option for gamers who prize portability. Improved performance, especially on the display front, and sleek design cues are the way of the future for these compact gaming machines.
Today’s gaming laptops even feature some of the most impressive processors on the market, like the Asus ROG Flow X13 and its incredibly powerful Nvidia Geforce RTX 30-series GPU, but a machine like that will cost you a pretty penny.
If you balk at that Asus’s price point, you’re not alone. Laptop gaming is supposed to represent a way to break into the world of PC gaming without investing a large chunk of change in a dedicated gaming rig, but getting a gaming laptop on a budget is an exercise in patience.
To get the most bang for your buck when you’re shopping for a new gaming laptop, you’ll have to monitor sales, read specification sheets, and do your own research. Understanding what you need from your machine makes the process easier and can save you a lot of money in the long run, especially if you’re comfortable buying a laptop from the last generation.
When do laptops go on sale?
Like most electronics, laptops follow a revolving cycle of sales throughout the year. Snapping up a gaming laptop during one of those sales is your best bet at finding a quality machine at a palatable price. Many of these sales are spread throughout the year, so don’t despair if you’re not quite ready to pull the trigger. After all, laptops are a considerable investment for most.
Manufacturers often launch new machines in the early spring, and they typically look to do a little spring cleaning by discounting older generations of laptops. If you’re not looking for a brand-new computer, you can get excellent laptop deals on last generation’s models at this time of the year.
In an effort to drive hype behind their new releases, companies also look to offer promotional discounts on their brand-new PCs. This is the perfect opportunity to get your hands on the newest hardware if you expect supply shortages to make it difficult.
Consumer Reports, an organization that monitors consumer practices, suggests this is the best time of year to buy a gaming laptop. You’ll be able to take advantage of manufacturer discounts that aren’t offered any other time of the year.
Amazon Prime members enjoy massive discounts on electronics during Amazon Prime Day. While it doesn’t have an official date, it typically occurs in mid-July, so be sure to follow any announcements regarding it if you plan to grab your gaming laptop during Amazon’s site-wide sale. You’ll need a Prime Membership to make the most of this opportunity.
Laptops are typically heavily discounted during the back-to-school season, which occurs at the end of August. Most students aren’t looking for the top-of-the-line specs you want in your gaming laptop, so there should be a readily available supply of powerful machines for you to pick and choose. Most brick-and-mortar stores and their websites feature back-to-school sales, as well as Amazon. In some rarer cases, the most powerful gaming laptops are excluded from these back-to-school sales, but those hunting for a gaming laptop at a bargain price are doing themselves a disservice if they don’t check on them.
When is the best time to buy a gaming laptop?
While all of these sales represent good ways to get ahold of a gaming laptop at a reasonable price, you want to know when the absolute best time to buy is. After all, you’re a PC gamer, and optimization is in your blood.
That time of the year is Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the infamous beginning of the holiday shopping season. Black Friday earned its reputation with heavily discounted electronics, and that still holds true today. As online shopping continues to encroach upon brick-and-mortar sellers, many of the best deals begin on Friday and last through the following week.
Expect to find bargains on all sorts of gaming laptops, even the top-of-the-line machines. In 2020, the powerful Alienware Area-51m R2 saw an incredible $1000 discount on Black Friday. While most laptop deals aren’t this good, they can still knock hundreds of dollars off the usual retail price. Black Friday and Cyber Monday almost always see the steepest discounts on electronics, so it’s the ideal time to grab your new gaming laptop.
Of course, the common refrain is to simply get a new laptop when you need one. A working laptop today is a better value than waiting months for a sale. If you have the resources and need the laptop today, you might as well just buy it. However, those who can afford to wait until Black Friday absolutely should. There’s no need to junk your current laptop and run out and buy a new one.
When Should You Hold Off on Buying a New Gaming Laptop?
While there are ample opportunities to pick up a new gaming laptop on sale throughout the year, you’ll obviously need to wait to make your purchase if you aren’t looking to pay full price for your new machine. Additionally, there are a few other instances where it makes sense to hold off and wait.
Right Before New Tech Launches
If a company has new technology slated for release in the near future, you’ll probably want to wait to get your new gaming laptop. If you buy now, you’ll pay full-price for something that will soon be outdated when you could have gotten something brand-new for the same money. Waiting also lets you score a discount when manufacturers offer deals on previous generation’s tech.
During Product Shortages
The Covid-19 pandemic halted the manufacturing of semiconductor microchips, leading to a worldwide shortage. A huge number of industries were impacted, but it especially affected the consumer electronics industry. During this shortage, prices for PCs and PC components have reached incredible highs, leading some to consider it the worst time in recent history to be shopping for a new computer.
Should You Wait for New Hardware?
It makes a lot of sense to wait for new hardware, but new changes to laptop release schedules are making that a thing of the past. Most manufacturers now release their new machines at around the same time of the year to ensure all components are of the current generation. For instance, they don’t want to release a laptop with an updated display only to turn around and release a new processor a few months later, rendering their old laptop offering outdated.
Use this knowledge to inform your purchasing behavior and buy the newest products confidently at launch, knowing you’ll get the full life-cycle. You no longer have to put off your purchase in fear of being left behind shortly after buying.
Besides, given a long enough timeline, you could always make the argument that it’s optimal to just wait. The gaming laptop market moves quickly, and there’s seemingly always new technology waiting just around the corner. Those who get stuck in this mindset are still making excuses for why they’ve held onto their first-gen Razer Blade.
Do You Really Need the Current-gen Machine?
As you’ll notice, shopping sales and hunting for the best deals often lead to buying last-generation technology. Bargain hunters need to make peace with this fact, but the truth is you’re really not sacrificing much in the way of performance. Laptops just don’t make appreciable performance gains in a single upgrade cycle.
The only way to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money is to do your own research and really consider the kind of performance you need. You can’t just cross-compare spec sheets and pick the best-looking one on paper.
Buying last-gen is the best way to save money when you’re shopping for a new gaming laptop. Even if it’s not as fancy as the newest models, you’ll have comparable technical specifications and performance. Also, it’s highly unlikely that the games you’re looking to play are optimized for the newest machines. Many of the most popular games aren’t looking to push the technical side of things too far, as it risks alienating a good portion of their player base.
In summary, Black Friday is objectively the best time of year to buy a gaming laptop. You’ll save the most money enjoying those steep discounts, so anyone planning on buying a gaming laptop should hold off until then. However, there are plenty of other sales during the year that you can take advantage of and get your new gaming machine at a handsome price. Of course, those truly in need shouldn’t hesitate at all to scoop up their gaming laptop.
The old Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second-best time is now.” That just about holds true for the purposes of buying a gaming laptop, where the best time to buy one is Black Friday, and the second-best time is now.
For those of you who are still unsure a gaming laptop is the right choice, make sure to read more about the advantages and disadvantages of gaming laptops. If you’re ready to start looking for a good budget gaming laptop, make sure to have a look at our guide to the best gaming notebooks for under 500 dollars.
Are gaming laptops worth it in 2021?
Portability and versatility make gaming laptops a worthy investment in 2021. With all the power of a game console and all the functionality of a laptop, gaming laptops are perfect for someone looking for a multi-purpose machine that doesn’t care about upgrade potential and can afford the higher price point.
Are gaming laptops future-proof?
No, gaming laptops are not future-proof. While their components may physically last up to a decade, laptop GPUs aren’t upgradable. Modern games are always pushing the envelope when it comes to graphics and quickly leaves behind older GPUs.
Should I wait to buy a gaming laptop in 2021?
You should buy a gaming laptop in 2021. Intel’s i11 processor was released in April, bringing improved gaming performance to Intel-powered gaming laptops, and there are several incredible gaming laptops on the market like the Razer Blade 15 and the Asus ROG series.
What should you think of before getting a laptop on sale?
When looking for the best deals make sure the laptop has better hardware and battery life than similarly well-priced laptops. If the laptop has just a slight discount and you can get better performance for the same price point, it might be worth considering more than laptop pricing.
When is the best time of year to buy a gaming laptop?
The holiday shopping season is the best time of year to buy a gaming laptop. Cut into your holiday budget, and you’ll be able to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, often saving hundreds of dollars.
What is the best month to buy a gaming laptop?
November is the best month to purchase a gaming laptop. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are in full swing and represent an opportunity to save hundreds of dollars. You’ll find many sales online and in-store.