Like big screen TVs and graphics cards, laptops and desktop PCs are another classic Black Friday and Cyber Monday essential - relatively expensive hunks of technology that are improved upon quickly, so retailers can offer months-old units at bargain basement prices. In this article, you'll find all of Digital Foundry's recommendations for the best Black Friday laptop deals, including gaming laptops, ultraportable work laptops and desktop machines of all shapes and sizes.
We'll keep this page updated throughout the Black Friday shopping season, which seemingly begins on November 1st and concludes on Black Friday and Cyber Monday towards the end of the month; this year these events fall on November 23rd and November 26th. We'll include deals for both UK and US readers, so take a look at what we've found and check back later for the latest additions!
Looking for more than just laptops and desktop PCs? See all of our Black Friday 2018 tech deals, including TVs, monitors, PC hardware and peripherals.
USA Black Friday 2018 laptop and desktop PC deals
Razer Blade Pro gaming laptop for $1799 (was $2299)
The Razer Blade Pro is a tremendous laptop for gaming or productivity, and all models have been discounted by $500 for Cyber Monday. The laptop includes a Core i7 processor, backed with 16GB of RAM and up to a 2TB SSD. Choose between a 4K IZO touchscreen display with a GTX 1080 and a 1080p 120Hz non-touch display with a GTX 1060 - we'd suggest the former for creatives and the latter for gamers.
Razer Blade 15 gaming laptop for $1599 (was $1799)
The Razer Blade 15 provides an excellent balance of speed, style and size. The entry-level model comes with a GTX 1060 GPU and 60Hz screen, with options to upgrade to a 144Hz panel, 4K screen and/or GTX 1070 graphics card. There are different storage options as well, starting at a 128GB SSD and 1TB HDD, and going all the way up to a 512GB SSD, depending on configuration. Each model is discounted by $200 for Cyber Monday.
Acer Aspire 7 gaming laptop for $950 - was $1199
The Aspire 7 is a sleek 17-inch gaming laptop with mid-range specs: a 1080p IPS display, a GTX 1060 6GB graphics card, Core i7-8750H processor, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. That should result in strong gaming performance at 1080p, with slower-paced games and films certainly benefitting from the large IPS screen. It's currently $250 off, or around 21 per cent, so grab it at a discounted price while you can.
MSI GT75 Titan for $1899 - was $2799
The MSI Titan lives up to its name with a 17.3-inch 120Hz 1080p screen, a Core i7 8750H processor and - best of all - a GTX 1080 graphics card. That provides enough power to run games at 1080p and high refresh rates, or to drive a 1440p or even 4K monitor while you're at home. With $900 off in total after using a $300 rebate card, this is the best US gaming laptop deal we've found so far!
Asus TUF FX504GE for $690 - was $899
This Asus laptop is a great budget option, thanks to a Core i5 8300H processor, eight gigs of RAM and a GTX 1050 Ti graphics card that should be able to handle most games at the laptops' 1080p. There's also room for an SSD to be fitted here, which you can do yourself to save a bundle. Speaking of saving, the laptop also comes with two free Microsoft games: Gears of War 4 and Age of Empires Definitive Edition. You can also get $10 off if you check out using Newegg's mobile app using code MBLB112618J.
Asus ROG Strix Scar Edition for $1229 - was $1499
This beefier Asus laptop offers a more advanced design and improved performance, courtesy of a GTX 1060 6GB graphics card and Core i7 8750H processor. I particularly like the 120Hz screen too, which makes games feel much more fluid and responsive. This is backed with 16GB of RAM, a 128GB NVMe SSD for Windows and a 1TB hybrid drive for your game storage needs.
MSI GP63 Leopard for $1379 - was $1699
The MSI Leopard is another excellent gaming PC, but this one offers an even faster graphics card: The GTX 1070. You get the same Core i7 8750H, 16GB RAM and 120Hz screen as on the Asus laptop above, although the storage situation is a little different - this one has a 128GB SSD and 1TB HDD. Given the gap in performance between the GTX 1060 and GTX 1070, I'd say this one is worth the extra $150 for most people.
Acer Predator Helios 500 for $1749 - was $1999
The Predator Helios 500 is an incredibly powerful gaming laptop, with a Vega 56 8GB graphics card and an overclockable Ryzen 7 2700 processor. That's an incredible amount of horsepower in a relatively compact gaming laptop, which should allow you to drive the 17.3-inch 1080p 144Hz screen at its maximum refresh rate - and if not, then there's FreeSync support to smooth things out. You can also plug this laptop into up to three monitors for an even better gaming experience at home. Truly an awesome machine, and at $250 off it's a great deal.
UK Black Friday 2018 laptop deals
Asus TUF FX504GM for £1000 - was £1200
This Asus laptop is a strong mid-range gaming laptop that's been reduced by £200. You get a Core i7 8750H, a Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB graphics card and 8GB of DDR4 RAM, so you can expect excellent 1080p performance. In terms of storage, you've got a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD. The screen is also worth mentioning - it's a 15.6" 120Hz display that should perform excellently in fast-paced games. As well as the laptop itself, this deal includes a backpack, Asus mouse and the Intel Starter Pack - which includes Call of Duty Black Ops 4, Killing Floor 2 and Evasion, the last of which I've never heard of.
Gigabyte Aero 15X for £1780 - was £2200
The Aero 15X has been reduced by £400 in Amazon's Black Friday sales, giving you access to one of the slimmest high-end gaming laptops at a rather good price. This configuration comes with a slim-bezelled 15.6-inch 144Hz 1080p screen, a Core i7 8750H processor and a GTX 1070 graphics card - all pretty impressive and more than capable of churning out enough frames at 1080p to ensure smooth performance. This is backed with 16GB of RAM and a mighty 512GB SSD, so you'll have plenty of game storage too. If you want a single laptop that game like a champ while remaining super slim, this is an awesome choice.
Asus FX504GM gaming laptop for £990 - was £1300
If you'd prefer to spend your £1000 on a strong gaming laptop, then this Asus model should be right up your alley. It's got a powerful Core i7 8750H processor and a GTX 1060 6GB graphics card, backed with 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB HDD. That combination is perfect for its high refresh rate 120Hz 1080p screen, which it should be able to drive in even modern games without too much settings tweakery. All in all, a solid gaming laptop at any price, but a particularly fetching deal at £300 off!
Dell Inspiron G5 15 for £900 - was £1000
The Dell G5 is another solid gaming laptop available at under £1000. It comes with the same GTX 1060 6GB graphics card, but swaps in a slightly slower Core i5 8300H processor and a smaller 128GB SSD. However, you still get a 15.6-inch screen, this time an IPS model with G-Sync which should offer a better look than the TN panel in the Asus machine above. It's a sensible set of reductions to hit that £900 price point, which is £100 off its usual price.
Acer Nitro 5 for £600 - was £750
Our cheapest Black Friday gaming laptop is this Acer Nitro 5 model over on Currys. It's been reduced from £750 to just £600 and is powered by strong mid-range AMD hardware: a Ryzen 5 2500U processor and a Radeon RX560X 4GB graphics card. That should provide good 1080p gaming performance in most games, although you may have to turn down some settings in the most recent and demanding titles. The laptop also includes a 128GB SSD, a 1TB HDD and 8GB of RAM, all of which sounds pretty reasonable to my ears for £600.
HP Stream 14 for £199 - was £329
This cut-price budget laptop is offered at a rather incredible £200, which gives you a full 14-inch laptop with Windows 10. The specifications aren't wonderful - an Intel Celeron N4000 processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of flash storage - but they're more than enough for basic computing tasks like web browsing, listening to music or watching videos. Battery life is impressive at up to 12.5 hours and you get a one year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 as well. This is a great choice for a student that wants to be running Windows instead of Chrome OS, and a great deal at £130 off.
Black Friday laptop PC buying guide
When buying a computer, the most important specifications to check are the processor (CPU) and the graphics card (GPU). That's because these elements have the greatest impact on performance and are often impossible to upgrade on a laptop. RAM (memory) and storage (SSDs and HDDs) are important too, but these items are usually possible to upgrade after the fact on most laptops and desktops.
For processors, the newest models aren't always the best. Intel's processors only gain a few percent points of performance each year, so the most important thing is choosing a model with at least an i3 processor - this should give you a good level of performance for web browsing and light creative tasks, like editing photos. An i5 processor is recommended for tougher tasks, like gaming, and an i7 or i9 processor should give you leading performance. Intel is on their 9th generation at the moment, so an seventh-generation or later processor should provide slightly better performance features. AMD also produce processors, and desktops with almost all of their Ryzen and Threadripper CPUs are worth considering - but I wouldn't bother with AMD's older Athlon or FX processors.
If you plan on gaming on your new computer, then choosing a model with a good graphics card is essential. Nvidia is the leader in this area, but AMD also produces some good options. For 1080p gaming, we'd recommend Intel's GTX 1050 3GB graphics card or above, such as the GTX 1050 Ti and the GTX 1060 6GB. On the AMD side of things, the RX 580 and RX 590 are good choices (if a little pricey, for the latter. For 1440p gaming, we recommend the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or above, or AMD's Vega 56. Finally, for 4K gaming or lower-resolution gaming at high refresh rates, a GTX 1080 or above will work well - including the GTX 1080 Ti, RTX 2070, RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti. This last one is the very best graphics card on the market, but only makes sense for the most deep-pocketed gamers. There are laptop versions of many of these cards, which normally see a decent downgrade in performance compared to the desktop version. For exact frame-rates, you could try searching online for the name of your graphics card or laptop and the game you wanted to play and the word "fps", e.g. "Fortnite GTX 1070 Max-Q fps".
We mentioned RAM and storage earlier, and it's worth coming back to that now. We recommend at least 8GB of RAM for basically all PCs, with 16GB being preferred. Higher RAM counts than 16GB isn't necessary for most applications. There are also different kinds of RAM, with DDR4 being faster than DDR3, but you'll need to choose whichever is supported by your motherboard or laptop. Corsair and HyperX are two popular RAM manufacturers for gamers, but many other good options exist.
In terms of storage, we recommend an SSD of some kind to install Windows on - and maybe a few of your most-played games too. SATA SSDs provide much faster game load speeds than mechanical HDDs, while NVMe SSDs provide even faster speeds. Generally, SATA drives are fine for most people, with NVMe coming in handy mostly for creatives or other people that need to work with large files in a time-sensitive environment. If a drive doesn't specify whether it is NVMe or SATA, it is probably SATA. Popular SSD makers include Samsung, Crucial,Intel and SanDisk. (For SSDs that could fit in a new laptop or desktop, check our Black Friday SSD deals here!)
As well as an SSD, you may find it useful to have a mechanical HDD, which is slower to use but much cheaper per gigabyte. That makes it a good place to store downloads, videos, music and photos, where access speed isn't so important. A 1TB or 2TB drive is a good place to start, with 3TB, 4TB and larger drives also being reasonable options. Here, popular manufacturers include WD, Toshiba and Seagate.
Black Friday 2018 laptop buying guide
With a laptop, there are a few other things to keep in mind. First up is the screen. An IPS screen provides better colours and wider viewing angles, a TN screen provides faster response times and a VA panel provides the best contrast with decent colours and viewing angles. Resolution is important too; anything less than 1080p make look grainy while you're sitting close. Higher resolutions will look better but place higher demands on your processor and graphics card for gaming, so 4K screens are best used by creatives who can make use of the extra resolution and sharpness. Gaming laptops are also sometimes available with high refresh rate screens, which update faster than the usual 60Hz you get on a standard monitor. 100Hz, 120Hz and 144Hz screens are all possible, and they provide a nice boost in fluidity for fast-paced games.
The keyboard is also important on a laptop. Most laptop keyboards use flat scissor switches, which provide a bit of tactile feedback while using the minimal amount of space. The more travel each key has - i.e. the further it moves when you press it down - the better it will generally feel. It's worth trying a laptop in person or looking for reviews online to see how good the keyboard is, as you will be potentially using it a lot and you can't replace it with a different one - although of course you can plug in a USB keyboard for gaming if you like. Similarly, touchpads ought to be wide and responsive, so go hands-on or research people's impressions online.
Finally we have battery life. Generally, the more powerful a laptop is, the worse its battery life will be. A faster processor, faster graphics card and higher-resolution screen will all draw more power. With the current trend for super-slim laptops, gaming-focused models may only last two to three hours. Therefore, if longevity is important to you, then go for a thicker laptop with a bigger battery, or choose a laptop with a more efficient processor, integrated graphics and/or a lower resolution display.
That's all we have on laptops and prebuilt PCs for now! Remember to check out our other Black Friday 2018 tech deals and stay tuned for the latest deals as they drop!