One of the best things about Amazon Prime Day in the past has been the ability to build a cheap gaming rig. Sure, you were never going to see the top-end flagship graphics card on a deep discount, but you could save on RAM and SSDs and other such components to kind of subsidize the cost of the GPU of your dreams.
That wasn't exactly possible this year.
Not that I was surprised. It doesn't exactly require a constant vigil over the graphics card market to see that prices are still incredibly inflated and availability isn't going to be fixed any time soon – even if we've heard some rumors that suggest some relief may be coming. I'll believe it when I see it at this point.
But while I wasn't expecting gamers to be able to buy an RTX 3080, it seemed like an easy choice to me for PC manufacturers to throw some of their best gaming PCs on sale. And, we did see some of that – the Alienware Aurora R12, strapped with an RTX 3080, saw a pretty deep discount, but that wasn't even on Amazon.
Alienware Aurora R12 | Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, RTX 3080 |
$2,489 $2,199 at Dell
The Alienware Aurora R12 is a luxurious gaming PC that will deliver excellent performance, and has an easy-to-open chassis that makes it simple to upgrade it later. And, on Prime Day, you can save $290 on this epic gaming rig.
See what I mean?
Shoveling out the worst gaming PCs on the market
On the first day of Amazon Prime Day, my first goal was to find gaming PCs on sale. Mostly because that's, like, my job, but also because I have friends who have been on the market for a new gaming rig for months, and they need something. And, wow was Prime Day a disappointment for that.
In the US at least, there weren't any gaming PCs on sale at Amazon, and the only ones I could find at a major retailer were at Best Buy, and those were so bad. One of the top deals at Best Buy was this iBuyPower Arc gaming PC (it's not on sale any more). Best Buy cut the price down to about $500, but it's equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GT 710.
That graphics card was trash when it came out in 2014, and by today's standards, the integrated graphics in most processors are actually better. But, because it's paired with the Intel Core i3-10105F, you can't just pull that graphics card out and throw it in the dumpster where it belongs.
It wasn't really until I looked at Dell's website and saw the excellent Aurora R12 with a $290 discount that I found something I could easily recommend to friends on the market for a new gaming PC. And even then, that's not a PC I would recommend to an enthusiast, as it's not the easiest to tear down and scavenge for parts if you want to build something on your own.
Gaming RDY LCMBG205 Gaming PC: $
3,799.99 $3,599.99 at iBuyPower
Save $200 - If you're looking for a PC that has the GeForce 3080Ti pre-installed to save you searching for one, this is a PC that can help you future-proof your games for the next few years. Featuring a 1TB M.2 SSD alongside 32GB DDR4 memory, with an Intel Core i9 at i9-11900KF Processor (8X 3.50GHz) to boot, this is a PC definitely able to run current games at Ultra settings for a long while.
AMD Ryzen 9 RTX Gaming PC: $
3,569.99 $3,369.99 at iBuyPower
Save $200 - A PC with a Ryzen 7 CPU instead, the 5800X is built for gaming, with eight cores and speeds of up to 4.7Ghz. The PC also features a 500GB M.2 SSD with 16GB DDR4 memory. This is a PC that's ready to run current games on Steam, Game Pass and more at Ultra settings for a long while.
Intel Z590 Gaming Evo RTX II:
$4,029.99 $3,729.99 at iBuyPower
Save $300 - Featuring a 1TB M.2 SSD alongside 32GB DDR4 memory, with an Intel Core i9 at i9-11900KF Processor (8X 3.50GHz) to boot, this is a PC that can run the upcoming Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite at their best settings, as long as you have a great monitor to boot.
Time to get a gaming laptop, I guess
However, while you were probably left disappointed if you were on the market for a gaming PC, there were actually a pretty good amount of gaming laptop Prime Day deals out there. A lot of these seemed to be the gaming laptops equipped with last-generation Nvidia Turing graphics like the RTX 2070 and RTX 2080, but those GPUs are still more than good enough to power through most modern games.
There were even a pretty good amount of gaming laptops out there with current-generation RTX 3000 series GPUs, which is what I would go with if I had to settle for a gaming laptop right now.
And hey, maybe a gaming laptop is your preferred way to do some PC gaming, in which case this Prime Day offered, and is still offering a pretty good choice of gaming laptops on sale. Though, it seems like the best ones, like the Razer Blade 15 and the Alienware m15 are starting to sell out, and that really just makes sense.
Dell G3 15 gaming laptop:
$888.99 $649.99 at Dell
Save $210 - A huge price cut makes this Dell G3 15 a great buy if you're a gamer on a budget. This particular spec features an Intel Core i5-10300H processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and most importantly - a GTX 1650 Ti graphics card. This GPU is definitely still a fairly modest card, but it's a step above the usual GTX 1650's you see in this price range.
ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15, Intel Core i7, RTX 2070 Super, 16GB
$2,199 $1,719.99 at Newegg
Save $480 - The Asus ROG Strix Scar 15 might not have the latest RTX 30-series graphics, but the RTX 2070 Super is no slouch when it comes to gaming, and on Prime Day, you can get this excellent gaming laptop with an Intel Core i7-10875H CPU, RTX 2070 Super graphics, 16GB RAM, 1TB PCIe SSD, and a 15.6-inch, 240Hz, full HD display for 22% off.
Gigabyte Aorus 15G YC, Intel Core i7, RTX 3080, 32GB
$2,299 $1,949.99 at Newegg
Save $150 + $200 rebate - It's impossible to get an RTX 3080 GPU at the moment, but this excellent laptop has the mobile version, which is still a formidable performer, and it's $350 off during Prime Day. You also get Death Stranding and a GeForce Now membership thrown in.
Finishing up your gaming setup
If you're one of the lucky few that's just totally happy with their existing gaming PC itself, then there are still quite a few peripheral deals out there that are pretty great. Corsair, Razer and other manufacturers put a ton of gaming mice, headsets and keyboards on sale, so if your setup is getting a little stale, or if you want to graduate to a mechanical keyboard – and you totally should – you can still do that.
Even if you were just looking for a cheap mouse and keyboard that'll just let you play games, there were a lot of savings to be had. The Razer Deathadder Essential, for instance, got its price cut all the way down to $19 at Amazon, and that's an excellent little mouse.
So, if you just needed to upgrade your peripheral game, there were some pretty good deals out there.
Logitech G502 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse:
$149.99 $94.99 on Amazon
The Logitech G502 Lightspeed typically tops lists as one of the best gaming mice in the world, making this a great choice for gamers who don’t want to compromise on anything. With $50 off, you're getting customizable weights, an intuitive scroll wheel and responsive clicks for an absolute steal.
Razer Naga Pro Wireless Gaming Mouse:
$149.99 $99.99 on Amazon
A fully customizable powerhouse, the Razer Naga Pro Wireless Gaming Mouse has three different side plates to chose from to help you optimize your gameplay to every genre, rather than buying three dedicated mice. With 20K DPI, you're sure to enjoy the low latency and flexibility.
Razer Huntsman Mini 60% Gaming Keyboard (Mercury):
$119.99 $99.99 on Amazon
This Mercury white version of the beloved Razer Huntsman Mini 60% Gaming Keyboard stands out against the usual sea of black or grey peripherals, with the same PBT keycaps and customizable RGB lighting you know and love.
Razer Kraken Kitty Gaming Headset:
$149.99 $119.99 on Amazon
The Kraken Kitty edition gaming headset from Razer is now famous for being a must-have accessory for gamers and streamers alike. With customizable RGB lighting and built-in cat ears, you'll look incredible regardless of what you're playing.
Razer Basilisk V2 Gaming Mouse:
£79.99 £36.99 on Amazon
The Razer Basilisk V2 Gaming Mouse offers manual optimization to give you the edge over your opponents, with 20 K optical sensor, 11 programmable buttons and a customizable scroll wheel, your mouse is exactly what you make it and tailored to your gameplay.
The new normal?
Until the global silicon shortage ends, it's unlikely that big sales like Amazon Prime Day are going to be fruitful for PC gamers looking to build their next best gaming PC. And with the way Prime Day went this year, I'm not really expecting Black Friday to be much different.
Things could change, of course. Prices for the best graphics cards have started to come down, but they're still nowhere near their actual launch prices. It's still an awful time to build a new gaming PC, and it doesn't look like it's going to change any time soon. Sorry, gamers.
More Amazon Prime Day deals in the US
- Amazon devices: early Prime offers from $14.99
- Amazon Echo Dot: 2 for $49.98 with code PDDOT2PACK
- Amazon Echo: 2 for $119.98 with code ECHOPRIME
- Audible Premium Plus: save 53% on your first 4 months
- Apple Watch Series 6 (40mm, GPS): $399 $279 at Amazon
- Deals under $25: save on games, smart home, fashion and more
- Fashion: men's and women's fashion from $14
- Headphones: save on Sony, Beats, Bose and more
- iPad (8th generation): was $329 now $299
- Kitchen: save up to 42% on Cusimax, Cosori, Instant Pot and more
- Laptops: Chromebooks, MacBooks and gaming laptops discounted
- Nike: save on NBA jerseys, sneakers, and more
- Nintendo Switch: big titles now $10 off
- PS5: now starting at $29.88
- Smartwatches: save up to 35% on Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
- Subscription boxes: 50% off for Prime members
- TVs: Fire-enabled smart TVs starting at just $99.99
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Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.