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Should you buy Xbox One S or X during this year's Black Friday event?

(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you’re in the market for an Xbox console, and you’re planning to wait until November to buy one, the question then becomes: should you buy Xbox One X or S during Black Friday? Both are popular consoles, although hardware sales are slowing as the generation comes to an end and rumours persist over what shape the next generation of consoles will take.

First, what’s the difference? The S is a slimmed-down re-release of the original Xbox One console from 2013, and comes in versions with and without (the All-Digital Edition) a Blu-ray drive. It’s capable of playing every Xbox One game ever released, and thanks to backwards compatibility and a thriving online store, many others as well. The console, in all its iterations, has sold something like 41 million units since launch, according to figures from analysts Niko Partners. That’s a lot, and the One is home to some of the finest games you’ll find on console today. What’s more, both will be discounted heavily in almost all Black Friday Xbox One X and S deals next month.

(Image credit: Microsoft)
Get prepped

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Here's a look ahead to all the Black Friday game deals (opens in new tab) in 2019

The X is an upgraded model, its massive new GPU completely capable of rendering 4K HDR games (both consoles can output 4K HDR from streaming services such as Netflix), and it upgrades every game you play on it compared to the base model. This manifests itself as higher resolutions in some games, higher framerates in others, but there’s usually something extra the X can squeeze out of a game that the S can’t.

The payoff for this is that the X is more expensive. While the S goes for as little as $200 in its discless All-Digital Edition with three games, you can expect to pay $200 more for an X with no games. And that’s before you start bundling accessories. A 1TB X console bundled with a game is around $430 right now, but these are becoming harder to find. During Amazon Prime Day and E3 this summer, the X dropped to $399, so the appetite for price cuts is there.

What this means for Black Friday is that prices should drop by at least the same $100 or so they did last year. Back then an Xbox One X game bundle went for $499, dropping to around $400. With this year’s lower starting prices, and the fact that we’re at the end of a generation, we should be seeing at least $350 with a game or two. Maybe some accessories like extra controllers too, but let’s not get carried away.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

You also need to think about the screen you’re using to play your Xbox One X games. To make the most of its 4K resolution and HDR colors, you need a TV that can display them. Otherwise, on a 1080p TV bought in the last ten years, you’ll benefit from improved framerates and nothing more. Hook it up to a shiny new TV that supports the latest standards, however (or if you plan to upgrade to one in the near future) and you’ll get some of the best visuals possible from a console in 2019. Enhanced games include Forza Motorsport 7, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Gears 5, Halo 5, and Final Fantasy 15. November is a great time to go 4K, as you’ll see loads of Black Friday TV deals appearing.

The S should see bigger drops, as it’s older technology now pitching for the position of second console, perhaps in a child’s bedroom. The All-Digital Edition has seen prices drop, but games can be enormous to download, so you need to pair it with a fast, uncapped, internet connection.

Even if you’re prepared to buy your games on disks, a fat data pipe is a good thing to have, as games and the console itself frequently download updates and security patches. And then there’s Xbox Live.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

An Xbox One S With two controllers but no games will currently lift $273 from your wallet. Change that to Battlefield 5 and a single controller, and you’re looking at $234 - both of these should drop to nearer $200, as the Battlefield 5 pack is already looking a little old. As mentioned, the All-Digital Edition is $200 right now with three games but one controller. This could go as low as $150, but it’s a relatively new edition so may not attract the same discounting as older models. However, it isn’t proving too popular at retail, so that drop may still happen. Look for deals on extra controllers too, as playing splitscreen Gears 5 with a friend never gets old.

Finally, the Xbox One S Starter Bundle, which comes with one controller, is being phased out in favor of the All Digital Edition. This means it’s ripe for big discounts. It’s currently $270 online, which is overpriced, so expect that to fall to perhaps $170. It comes with three months of access to both Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass, but look for deals that extend these, and of course extra controllers and bundled games too. Grand Theft Auto 5, which did very well when it was reviewed, is often available for $20 now, and would make a great first game to play on your new console if you haven’t already tried it.

Xbox One X deals

Xbox One S deals

Xbox One All-Digital deals

Ian Evenden

Ian Evenden is an experienced freelance writer whose words can be found everywhere from GamesRadar and PC Gamer to T3 and Tom's Hardware. Ian spent years as the Production Editor for Edge magazine, and has gone on to contribute to a wide variety of gaming, computing, science, and technology publications for well over a decade. Legend has it that Ian disapproves of Oxford commas… sorry Ian, but there's no stopping us now.