A report from the environmental organization Natural Resources Defence Council showed that when playing games designed for new consoles, both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S consume significantly more power than their predecessors. However, NRDC found that when playing backward compatible games and using streaming video applications, the power consumption of the new game console is lower than the previous generation system.
NRDC’s analysis (which was also analyzed when Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were launched in 2013) praised the low-power modes offered by both Sony and Microsoft̵
NRDC said that the “instant on” mode of the new Xbox Xbox can still consume 10 watts of standby power. The report extrapolates to use additional energy by 2025 and calculates that a total of 4 billion kilowatt-hours of energy can be added, which is equivalent to the annual power generation of a single large coal-fired power plant.
NRDC’s analysis uses PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S, which have less processing power than Xbox Series X and do not have an optical disc drive. The organization stated that it could not get the X-series for full testing, but expects a more powerful console to consume more energy than the S-series. Microsoft has not yet provided official power consumption figures for any console. The hardware specifications listed by Sony say that the standard PS5 has a rated power of 350 watts, while the PS5 digital version has a power of 340 watts, which is slightly lower.
Sony’s new game console is praised by NRDC for its standby mode, which consumes only 1 watt or less in standby mode and can be activated in 10 to 15 seconds. It did consume “a few watts” of power during the first three hours of standby to charge the device through the USB port. But the PS5’s rechargeable DualSense controller is an environmentally friendly choice for NRDC, not the new Xbox Xbox gamepad, which comes with a disposable battery. (The rechargeable power supply for the controller is sold separately.)
The standard power setting of the PS5 is to turn off the console after one hour of idle gaming and four hours of streaming content (both settings can be changed by the user). This means that if the user still turns it on after watching Netflix and other programs, the PlayStation 5 will continue to consume about 70 watts of power.
Even so, the power consumption of the PS5 and Xbox Series S when using streaming media applications is lower than their predecessors-although NRDC said that dedicated streaming media devices use lower power consumption when performing the same task. According to NRDC’s 2013 analysis, PS4 uses 90 watts while streaming Netflix to Xbox One’s 74 watts. Series S consumes 31 watts for streaming Netflix (for Amazon Video, this is inexplicably 41 watts), while PS5 consumes 68-70 watts for streaming two services.
NRDC said that overall, the expected power consumption of playing PS5 games or games optimized for the Xbox X series is 160-200 watts, which is more power than a 60-inch TV.
NRDC warned in 2013 that the energy consumption of PS4 and Xbox One could be three times that of the previous generation PS3 and Xbox 360. The organization said that in 2015, Xbox One may add up to $250 million in additional electricity bills for American households each year. NRDC’s latest analysis warns that in the next five years, American users of Xbox Series S or Series X may have to pay up to $1 billion to make these consoles in “instant start” mode and “energy saving” mode.
In 2015, after NRDC severely criticized Xbox One’s power usage issues, Microsoft added an energy-saving mode when new Xbox One users set up their consoles for the first time. Microsoft said at the time that the difference in power consumption between the two modes would save customers between $6 and $15 per year in electricity bills. And the company released a software update in late November, which reportedly reduced the power consumption of the Xbox Series X’s Instant-on mode by 61%.
Polygon has contacted representatives of Microsoft and Sony for additional comments.