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Should You Buy a PS5 or Xbox on Prime Day?

It's not as silly a question as you might think.

Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 with controllers
Sony, Microsoft

This story is part of Amazon Prime Day, CNET's guide to everything you need to know and how to find the best deals.

Given that we've been experiencing a supply drought for the latest PlayStation and Xbox consoles since day one, the PS5 and Xbox Series X (and the Series S, to a lesser extent), it seems odd to ask the question posed in the headline. But if you frame it as "Should I buy one on Prime Day or wait for a better price?" it starts to make a little more sense. Because then the answer becomes "Maybe." It all hinges on remaining shortages (the PS5 remains tough to find) and the possibility of seeing discounts on the Xbox models in the near future.

Sony

PS5

Still playing hard to get

It means for the PS5, the answer remains the same as it's been for two years: If you want it, see it, can get it and can afford it, then go for it. We may see some restocks at retailers like Amazon and Best Buy timed for Prime Day, so it's definitely worth paying attention.

Higher-priced bundles with the PS5 will also surface if there's a drop, which can be a fine way to get it, but don't let yourself be swayed into paying for a lot of stuff you don't want just to get the PS5. If you were planning to buy two DualSense controllers, a charging station, a Pulse 3D headset and Horizon Forbidden West, that's one thing; if you only wanted the console and controller, it's a lot of extra cash to lay down, especially if you've waited this long.

But even if PS5 models become more widely available this year, the chances of finding any discounts will be slim to none. In that case, there's probably no benefit to waiting, at least for the rest of 2022. I can't guarantee that a torrent won't rain down on us the week before Black Friday, but it's unlikely.

See our PS5 Stock Tracker.

 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The Xbox Series X is tad easier to find, or at least easier to get without jumping through hoops. For example, Microsoft and Best Buy have them at the moment and you can simply sign up for an invitation on Amazon (no commitment necessary). And there's stock available from third-party sellers if you're willing to pay a bit higher than list price for it.

But discounts are thin or illusory. Walmart's got a model for $460, $40 less than the standard $500 -- shipping will cost you $160 for that particular third-party offer, so it's not recommended. That's more than it costs to ship a 16-by-16-inch 55-pound box.

We probably won't see discounts this year for the Xbox Series X either, but I can imagine circumstances where we might, or at least might see moderate bundle discounts -- say, if availability of both PS5 and Xbox Series X loosens and Xbox decides to compete more actively against Sony. Still, Magic Eight Ball says "Outlook not so good."

However, if you really want an X, can't afford to pay the $500 upfront and have reasonable credit, you have the option of getting it through Xbox All Access for $35 per month (24 months). The catch is it includes two years of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, making the total well over what you'd pay for the console alone, which includes only three months of XGPU. But XGPU really is worth subscribing to, and while you don't save a lot through All Access, you don't pay more than you would otherwise.

Xbox Series X review.

 

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Microsoft

Not only is the Series S widely available, it's already selling at a slightly lower price than it did at launch; Microsoft now offers it for $290 rather than $300, and some (though not all) retailers have followed suit. I think the S is underappreciated. It's a good size for small spaces, perfect for first-time console players who don't want to spend as much. It's also a good match for popular budget TVs that can't necessarily support 4K at 120Hz refresh -- including some you may find on sale for Prime Day.

We don't really expect great deals on the S for Prime Day, and I think we might see some better prices on the S for the holidays, albeit not huge cuts. So buying now might be a decent option.

Read our Microsoft Xbox Series X|S review.

 

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