RAMSource: Windows Central

Black Friday is a great time to upgrade your PC or get cracking with a new build thanks to there being no shortage of discounts on components. It's a particularly good time to keep an eye out for RAM, since prices have had a habit of fluctuating quite a lot in recent years.

I'll, once again, be shopping for RAM this year for various projects, but as attractive as some of the discounts may be, there are some things I'll be doing to make sure that what looks like a good deal, is actually a good deal.

Amazon's 12 Days of Deals is here with big discounts for all

Here's how you can help yourself get a great deal this Black Friday.

Only buy the amount you need

This is a big one because it's probably the single biggest pitfall to spending more money than you really should. Know exactly how much you need, be that 4GB or 32GB. The easiest way to get a bad deal is to think you're getting a good deal on more RAM than you need for your system.

That's never the case. If that 32GB kit has a super discount but still costs $50 more than the 16GB you actually need, it's a bad deal because you don't need it.

Black Friday may well be full of hot discounts, but retailers are there to make money and to try and get you to spend as much as possible. Generally, their job is less about getting you the right deal. So stay strong!

Set a budget

RAMSource: Windows Central

This one's important because if you're like me, you're like a kid in a candy store when you're buying PC components and happy to just spend all of the money.

Have a look around before Black Friday at prices for RAM kits that would fit your needs, and set yourself a budget. Without knowing the deals ahead of time, it's hard to be precise, but set a ballpark figure you want to stick to, and maybe a secondary figure you'd go to if absolutely necessary.

A deal is only a deal if it's at a price you're willing to spend.

Use the tools at your disposal

It's hard to spot whether a deal on something like RAM is actually a good deal, but there are two excellent tools you can make use of to help you out.

The first, if you're shopping on Amazon, is CamelCamelCamel, a fantastic price tracker. Amazon prices go up and down all the time, and this site will help you keep tabs on how low it has gone recently. This can give you a little perspective in deciding whether that hot deal really is a hot deal, or whether Amazon is just saying it is.

The other tool I recommend is PCPartPicker. This is a resource that all PC builders should use, but specifically to Black Friday, it has two convenient pages. One tracks price trends of PC components, so you can get some idea of what you should normally be paying.

The other is their price drops page, which covers a range of retailers and surfaces the better discounts to the top of the pile.

Don't get sucked in by 'features.'

That RGB RAM looks fantastic, doesn't it, but it'll also cost you more. Do you really need it? Likewise, if you like the sound of that 4000 MHz RAM kit, it must be awesome. And it probably is, but again, do you really need it?

RGB RAMSource: GSkill

You actually might, with the examples above, perhaps you're putting together a brand new Ryzen 3000 based PC that will thrive on fast RAM, or you're looking for the finishing touches to your RGB wonderland.

But just as when considering the price and how much RAM you actually need to get, avoid getting sucked in by flashing lights or promises of super speed if you just don't need it. If you're updating an older PC, there's no way you're going to get the best from an expensive, super-fast RAM kit. So don't buy it.

Shop smart and build clever

Building or upgrading a PC is a lot of fun and something to get excited about. Deals on parts make the process that much sweeter, but only if you're smart about it. Make sure you stay in budget and get what you actually need, and savor the improvements to your rig.

Cyber Monday!