PALO ALTO, CA — When it comes to buying a game console, energy efficiency is certain to be about at the bottom of a shopper's list of priorities.
But a new study from the Electric Power Research Institute shows that there is a difference -- and sometimes a huge difference -- in the amount of energy game systems use.
Testing how much power each of the three most popular game platforms use during one hour of play on EA Sports' Madden 360, EPRI found that the Nintendo Wii is the most energy efficient console, using just one-sixth the power of the Sony Playstation 3 or the Microsoft Xbox 360.
“Obviously there are many considerations when looking at a gaming system and we’re only talking about energy use,” Mark McGranaghan, vice president of Power Delivery & Utilization for EPRI, said in a statement. “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.”
The numbers breakdown is as follows: The Wii used an average of 13.7 watts, the PlayStation 3 an average of 84.8 watts, and the Xbox 360 an average of 87.9 watts.
While these numbers show a big spread of overall energy impacts, they all pale in comparison to some of the appliances plugged in to those systems. Even under what surveys found was heavy gaming levels -- 5 hours and 45 minutes per day -- none of these systems would use as much energy as a plasma television plugged in for the same amount of time.
But the EPRI story also finds some promising progress; even though all three systems are more graphically intensive, and the quality of the graphics has improved generation over generation, each of the systems uses less power than previous models.
Sony has cut the energy consumed by the Playstation 3 nearly in half since the 2007 model year, down from 150.1 watts. The 2007 Xbox used 118.8 watts, and the 2006 Wii used 16.4 watts.
The findings in the EPRI study are somewhat surprising, at least in light of the fact that Nintendo regularly holds down last place in the Greenpeace green IT rankings.
Photo CC-licensed by Catatronic.