EPRI Analysis Reveals That Video Game Consoles Differ in Energy Consumption

December 16, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

Buyers of video game hardware who like to compare costs and features may want to consider the various systems’ energy consumption after the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) tested three top-selling systems and found that a Nintendo Wii™ system uses six times less power than a Sony PlayStation® 3 or Microsoft® Xbox 360 in active mode.

"We included only a small sample of the many gaming systems available, but it reveals that the differences in energy use can be significant," said Mark McGranaghan, Vice President of Power Delivery & Utilization for EPRI. "With the holiday shopping season in full swing, now is a good time to consider this factor."

EPRI tested each system for one hour of active play using EA Sports’ Madden 2011 football game, which is widely played on all three game consoles. EPRI found that the Nintendo Wii system used an average of 13.7 watts, the Sony PlayStation 3 used an average of 84.8 watts, and the Microsoft Xbox 360 used an average of 87.9W.

"Obviously there are many considerations when looking at a gaming system and we’re only talking about energy use," said McGranaghan. "There are also tradeoffs associated with graphics and speed that drive higher energy use and consumers will need to factor those elements in as well. The more graphically intensive systems will, by design, require more energy."

According to Nielsen Company findings in 2006, the heaviest console users account for approximately 75 percent of all console use and average 5 hours and 45 minutes of use per day. Based on this data for heavy use, over the course of a year a Wii system would consume 29 kilowatt hours, which is comparable to the power consumed by a linear fluorescent light, often found in office buildings. The PlayStation 3 system would consume 178 kilowatt hours of energy and the Microsoft Xbox 360 would consume 184 kilowatt hours, considerably more than the Wii, but less than a plasma television, which consumes an average of 242 kilowatt hours of energy a year.

The EPRI tests also found that all the three systems consume less power than their earlier versions. The 2006 Nintendo Wii consumed an average of 16.4 watts while the 2007 Sony PlayStation 3 consumed 150.1W and the 2007 Microsoft Xbox consumed 118.8W.

EPRI also looked at the efficiency of each system’s power supply. The Wii and Xbox systems use external power supplies with measured efficiencies exceeding 80 percent, which is considered "highly efficient" within the electronics industry. The PlayStation 3 has an internal power supply integrated in the circuit board, which could not be removed from the console for testing.

"Consumers have become increasingly aware of how much electricity their household electronics consume, whether in active use or when the hardware is in standby mode. While the overall trend is toward more efficient electronics, these tests clearly show that if you’re a power-conscious consumer you may want to ask questions or check more closely," said McGranaghan.