Many of us remember when you could get a brand-new console release for $300, but those days are sadly gone. The latest flagship consoles from Microsoft and Sony both sport retail price tags of $500-$600, which is enough to cause sticker shock to many shoppers. These brands obviously foresaw this, however, and released “digital edition” variants of their next-gen consoles which lacked disc drives but were a bit cheaper, and now, the Xbox Series S can be yours for as low as $230 after a $50 discount on both new and refurbished units from GameStop (the brand-new one clocks in at $250, which is still a great deal). This is the same low price we saw during Black Friday, so if you’re after a next-gen console that’s actually affordable, read on to see why we love this Xbox Series S deal so much.
The Xbox Series S is Microsoft’s digital-only version of its next-gen consoles, which were released in 2020. In contrast to the Xbox Series X, the Series S features some pared-down hardware specs and, most notably, lacks a disc drive. The lack of a disc drive precludes the use of physical media, meaning that the Xbox Series S can only play games via downloading or cloud gaming services (namely Xbox Game Pass, in this case), and the console can’t function as a 4K Blu-Ray player like the Series X can. However, you can still watch entertainment via streaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and so on, which the Xbox consoles support.
These “digital edition” consoles obviously cut some corners, but the trade-off is that you get a drastically reduced price — especially when it’s on sale. At this sale price of $250 (or $230 if you’re willing to go the refurbished route), the Xbox Series S is half the price of Microsoft’s pricier Series X flagship, and it’s even cheaper than the Nintendo Switch. And while it’s half the price of its bigger brother, the Xbox Series S boasts more than half the capabilities of the Series X: This digital console delivers a video output of 1440p at up to 120 frames per second, with support for 4K upscaling at up to 60 fps. A few games offer native 4K output on the Series S as well.
Another noteworthy aspect of the Xbox Series S is its compact, backpack-friendly size. Microsoft intended the Series S to be a gaming system that you could toss in your backpack and take to a friend’s house or on your next vacation. This causes the “digital only” aspect of the console to make even more sense, as you don’t have to worry about taking physical games with you — they’re all played via digital download or cloud streaming. When the Black Friday 2022 Xbox Series S deal dropped at the same price last month, our gaming editor noted that this was the perfect travel console, and that for this purpose, it’s justified at half the price of the much larger Xbox Series X.
The Xbox Series S has a 512GB solid-state drive for internal storage, which can get filled up quickly given the size of today’s triple-A games. To get the most out of this all-digital console, we do recommend springing for an Xbox Game Pass subscription, which gives you on-demand access to hundreds of games. The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate plan includes Xbox Live Gold and unlocks all of the Game Pass features, including cloud gaming that can help to offset the system’s storage limitations (although if you’re the type to only have a few games installed at a time, this might not be a big deal for you). The Series S offers backwards compatibility, too, allowing you to download and enjoy many of your old favorites and explore classics from previous console generations that you may have missed.
Whether you’re in the market for a next-gen console but want a cheaper alternative to the Series X, or you already own the Series X and want a smaller “travel console” that works with Microsoft’s Xbox gaming ecosystem, you can’t really go wrong with this Xbox Series S deal. GameStop currently has professionally refurbished models on sale for $230, or you can spring for a brand-new one for just $250 (a $50 discount in both cases).