What Tom's Hardware Is Shopping for This Black Friday

Black Friday isn’t just a day; it’s an entire season. And while gift giving is the purported reason for all of the ridiculous sales, most of us are also shopping for ourselves. This is a great time to buy those last few components you need to complete your system, to splurge on a brand new laptop or to just stock up on cable, adapters and memory cards.

Credit: Nevada31 / ShutterstockCredit: Nevada31 / Shutterstock

At Tom’s Hardware, the staff is hard at work finding the best Black Friday tech deals overall, the best SSD deals and even the top GPU deals. While we’re at it, we’re also keeping an eye out for the products on our own shopping lists. Here’s what each of us is looking for this holiday season.

Avram Piltch, Editor-in-Chief

My biggest purchase this year came in September when I bought a ThinkPad X1 Carbon to use as my everyday laptop. I needed it then, but, if I had waited, I could have gotten one a bit cheaper, as this week Lenovo.com is selling this 2.5-pound ultrabook for as little as $987 (coupon code: THINKBLCKFRI).

This season, I have my eyes peeled for a few less-expensive product types:

  • A new laptop bag. My current backpack feels a bit cramped and, in bad rain, it can sometimes get damp on the inside. I’m envious of Managing Editor Matt Safford's eBags Professional Slim Laptop Bag and am waiting to see if the price drops.

  • microSD cards. You can never have too many of these, and that goes quadruple for me. I’m doing a lot of Raspberry Pi projects lately and I want a different card for each one. The cards don’t have to be high-capacity, so I’m hoping to find a killer deal on a pack of 16GB cards.
  • A new soldering iron and fume extractor. I’ve only recently started doing a lot of soldering and discovered that the $15 soldering iron I have now sucks, as do the fumes soldering causes. The best soldering iron around is probably the Hakko FX-888D, but it’s a pricey $96. Hakko also makes the leading fume extractor and I’m considering that too.
  • Robot kits. My six-year-old son and I are all about building robots together. So, if I see any great deals on Arduino or Raspberry Pi-powered robot sets, I’m there.

Matt Safford, Managing Editor

I’m looking for a low-priced 2TB SSD because I need to banish hard drives from my computing life forever. Why, you ask? In short, they’re too slow and I’ve had bad luck with them breaking. For the full details, you can read my editorial, Why I Will Never Buy a Hard Drive Again. Not long after I wrote that story this past summer, I had another drive (a 4TB model) self-destruct on me without warning.

So yeah, HDDs are officially dead to me, and I’m looking for a roomy, low-cost (or at least low-cost-per-gigabyte) SSD. I almost clicked the buy button a couple weeks back when the Micron 1100 was briefly selling for $250 on Newegg. But it was a third-party seller, and there were valid concerns about warranty coverage.

So I decided to wait and I’m glad I did. Because for the same $250 I was willing to pay before for 2TB of SATA-based SSD storage, Newegg (according to its Black Friday Ad, see page 12) will be selling a 2TB Intel 660p NVMe SSD on Thursday, November 22. That drive has sequential read/write speeds that are over three times the maximum throughput of SATA. It’s also $130 off the $380 asking price price of the drive when I wrote this, effectively bargain-basement SATA pricing for NVMe speed. Now I just need a motherboard with two NVMe M.2 slots so I don’t have to ditch my old 500GB Samsung SSD 960 EVO boot drive.

Anj Bryant, Assistant Managing Editor

My girls are growing fast and with one now in middle school, our household tech demands are on a whole new level. We have a few dead zones in our place, so I am looking for a good Wi-Fi range extender to improve our wireless coverage around the house. It's bad enough having my kids whining about disruptions from their homework, programs or games, but even worse is losing connectivity myself when I'm on a work deadline.

I’ve also been having issues with my headset lately, so I am hoping to find something more reliable and that I can use for both work and play. I'd love to pick up the Bose QuietControl 30 Wireless Headphones, but they're just too expensive. So my hunt continues for the best wireless noise-canceling headset that is also reasonably priced. Fingers crossed that the Bose pops up on sale though.

Last but not least, I’m also looking to score a new 2-in-1 for family use. But which is the better 2-in-1 for us, the iPad Pro or the Surface Pro? Both annoyingly sell their keyboards separately, which pushes prices higher. It will all depend on where I can find the best deal. Luckily, it looks like both iPad and Surface are going to be popular sale items this year, so I’m betting on finding lots of competitive prices.

Paul Alcorn, Senior Editor

I don’t typically use cases for my personal PCs, instead opting for the familiar open-air benches to which I'm accustomed. But this year I’m keeping my eye out for a glass case for a family member’s build.

LED lighting will be an important facet of the build, so I might opt for a case with tinted or smoked glass to take the edge off the light show. Right now, I’m leaning towards the Thermaltake View 31. It’s on sale for $107 on Amazon and Newegg with three LED fans. But they aren’t directly controllable via common software suites, so I might opt for the non-RGB version, which is currently selling for $90.50, with a $30 rebate that knocks it down to a kind-of-amazing $60.50. 
The $139 Corsair Obsidian 500D also has my eye, largely because it comes with smoked tempered glass windows, a USB Type-C port on the top panel and three SSD mounts that don’t consume precious space inside the case.

It’s still early in the shopping season though, so I’m keeping my options open. I’m sure there will be plenty of deals to choose from once the sales are fully underway.  

Scharon Harding, Senior Editor

I’m on the hunt for a cheap webcam with good resolution. I have some trips, like CES, coming up and want to make sure my fellow Tom’s Hardware staff on terra firma have a way to see my cheery (or in the case of CES week, exhausted) face. My Dell XPS 13 9360 has a webcam, but it points up your nose. So really I'm not shopping for a webcam for me, but for everyone else I chat with.

While I’m sprucing up my older, beloved laptop, I’m also hoping to find a good deal on a Thunderbolt hub with HDMI, since the XPS 13 9360 doesn’t have any HDMI ports. A USB 3.1 Gen 2-to-HDMI adapter would be very cheap, but since there will be discounts I might as well spend a little more in the name of Thunderbolt's extra bandwidth.

As an RGB supporter, I’m also searching for four smart bulbs I can control via iOS to bring new colors and ambiance to my living room / winter hibernation cave. I’m not sure if smart bulbs will be something I'll love or use a few times and forget, so Black Friday’s the perfect time to splurge with minimal risk.

Finally, I’m crossing my fingers for deals on two gaming peripherals: an RGB wired mouse (my first) and an Xbox One controller, preferably with unique colors or design, since my original is wearing out. Newegg has the Rosewill Neon M55 on sale for $9.99 ($25 off), plus a Rosewill Pro Gaming mouse pad to go with it for $4.99 ($10 off), while new Xbox controllers--albeit in plain white--are $39.99 ($20 off). So where exactly do I fall on the PC versus console debate? Let’s just say if I find a good PlayStation 4 bundle, I may be crossing both the mouse and Xbox controller off my list.

Thomas Soderstrom, Senior Editor

A winner in our hands-on demo, my Achilles RGB “racing chair” from Gamdias finally “threw a strut” when a bearded old fat guy (whose belly shook like a bowl full of jelly) took a long winter’s nap in it. Unlike racing cars, putting it back together would require either expertise or extreme patience in dealing with the permanently affixed upholstery.

Call me fussy, but a solution that could ruin the upholstery sounds like a new problem. And so I'll be keeping an eye out this holiday season for that mythical furniture combination of comfort, sturdiness and low cost. Hey, it’s no more a stretch than believing in Santa.

Andrew E. Freedman, Editor

I’m most of the way through collecting the parts I need for a PC build, but I may as well wait for Black Friday and the days surrounding it to finish the job. I just bought a Fractal Design Meshify C with light tinted glass for $10 off and free shipping, so the deals started early for me. 

While I’m not expecting any mind-blowing deals on the GPU that I still need, I do know where I’m getting my power supply. According to its Black Friday ad, Newegg will sell the EVGA SuperNova 650 G1+ 650W starting November 23 for just $49.99, and that’s without any mail-in rebates.

Because I live in a cramped New York City apartment, I’d love to see a good deal on a lap board to use on the couch, but those can be hard to find. Also, if anyone sees the Nintendo Switch Pro controller go on sale, tweet at me (@FreedmanAE). I really don’t want to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with my Joy-Cons.

What Are You Looking for?

That's what we're keeping an eye on for ourselves this shopping season. But what products or deals will tempt you away from family and feast over the holiday weekend? Let us know in the comments, and if you're looking for a component to upgrade or finish that new build, be sure to check out our feature, How to Find the Best PC Component Deals This Holiday Season.