Yes, it is only November, but Christmas is not that far away. Video cards are still pricey, as is RAM, but SSDs have recently dropped in price and mechanical hard drives are pretty much stable.
For a good, all-round desktop or tower PC in the $1,500 range, a system based on the AMD Ryzen 2600X should have about a 20% overall performance advantage for most applications. The comparable Intel CPU, the Core i5-8500, is slightly faster by about 13% for single core performance. There is not much of a cost savings in selecting AMD, but you should get more performance for the price. With more programs taking advantage of multi-threading, an AMD based computer is a good choice.
Due to recent price decreases, solid state drives are a very attractive and inexpensive upgrade. My five-year-old system is performing a lot better now that I have upgraded to a 500 GB SSD. An upgraded video card can also help improve gaming performance, but be sure to check that the computer’s power supply is appropriate for the new video card. An increase in RAM can help improve performance in some circumstances but make sure the RAM is compatible with your motherboard.
Refurbished commercial computers are also a great way to purchase a system on a tight budget. Many of these computers are only 3 to 4 years old and are perfectly useful for most people. Adding a SSD and perhaps some RAM can really boost the performance of these older computers. For that matter, if you know of someone or perhaps a family that needs a computer, a factory reconditioned system can be a great way to give something that is needed without breaking the bank.
If you do purchase a computer with Windows 7 installed, extended support for the operating system will end in January 2020. If the computer is intended to last more than two years, make sure it has Windows 10 installed.