The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has done some energy efficiency homework for us and tested the power usage of the popular new video game consoles, the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4). The findings should be pretty interesting to gamers and those who love them. It turns out that even with notable energy efficiency upgrades in both models, the two consoles use significantly more energy annually -- three times more -- than their predecessors.
That uptick in power usage is thanks to higher performance and new features that turn the consoles into power hogs.
The NRDC says, "That adds up to a lot of energy every year. In fact, even if these new video game consoles became 25 percent more energy efficient on average over time – which we believe is possible – they would still use between 10 and 11 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually once the new consoles have replaced the more than 100 million units currently in use.
This translates to four large power plants and over $1 billion in annual electricity bills. To put this into further perspective, video game consoles in the United States are projected to use more electricity annually than all the households in Houston, America’s fourth-largest city."
The consoles both come with efficiency measures like very efficient power supplies, advanced multi-core chips that can decrease power use when full power isn't needed, and more responsive “auto power down” software that kicks in after periods of inactivity.
Unfortunately those efficiency gains are up against some pretty big power use increases. The Xbox One uses about 40 percent more power to play a game than the Xbox 360, and the PS4 uses almost twice as much as the PS3. While the PS4 uses more energy to do many of the same actions as the Xbox One, the Xbox One actually uses more energy annually because of its "connected standby mode," which seems like a sleep mode, but the box is actually "listening" for users to give it voice commands. According to the NRDC, this mode is responsible for "almost half of the Xbox One’s annual energy use and consumes more electricity annually than the 50-inch TV to which it might be connected."
The NRDC has a few suggestions for reeling in the energy consumption of these gaming systems: reduce the active mode power usage for the PS4 and the standby power usage for the Xbox One, bring down the power use for standby mode USB charging and also for media streaming -- the Apple TV uses less than 5 watts for this while both consoles use close to 75 watts.