Vampire Power Check: Comparing the Energy Use of Xbox and Wii

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By Peter Troast - December 29th, 2009

 

Did your entertainment center reproduce over the holidays? Ours did. After years of resistance, Santa shattered the peace. The Energy Circle household, whose gadget love rated New York Times fame, now has a Wii and an Xbox 360. 
 
These are extremely cool game stations, but their electricity use is decidedly not fun.  We wanted to know what impact they'd have on our overall electricity use, and particularly what impact they might have on the shared energy saving program we have with the kids
 
So we pulled out the trusty Kill a Watt and tested them: first, for how much electricity they'd draw in use; secondly, for when the devices were on but idle; and finally, for how much vampire power they draw when they're turned "off," which actually means they're in standby power mode.
 
Here's what we found: 
 
  In use Idle Standby

Wii*
20w 15w 2w

Xbox 360**
189w 155w 3w

Playstation 3*** 
     
193.6w 177.2w 1.9w
 

* Wii tested using Sports Resort Golf game.
** Xbox tested using Skate2, a reasonably graphic intensive game.
*** Playstation data borrowed from this review on Hardwarecore.net.
 
The relatively low energy use of the Nintendo Wii was a pleasant surprise, but given its fairly rudimentary graphics, this makes sense. The Xbox, in contrast, is a graphic powerhouse (that's why we "needed" it) and its energy use corresponds. When pushed hard by the shockingly adept 15 year old thumbs (how did this kid get so good?), the processor races, the heat cranks, and the cooling fan responds.
 
At first glance, the vampire power component doesn't seem all that terrible, but it's critical to remember the 24/7 factor. All those 2 and 3 watt draws add up, and when multiplied by 2080 hours/year, become very, very real. As has been the case with other electric devices, I predict that "idle" is probably our worst enemy -- the human problem, regardless of how conscientious those humans may be, of simply forgetting to turn something off.
 
Once again, the BITS Smart Strip Power Strip proves itself to be a phenomenally low cost, and amazingly convenient little device. We set the TV as the control device, and switch all the other video dependent components to go off automatically when it's turned off (with the exception of the DVR).
 
Here's the plug configuration in our entertainment center:
 
TV -----> Control Plug
DVR -----> Constant Hot Plug (to enable recording at all hours)
DVD -----> Switched Plug (to TV)
Apple TV -----> Switched Plug (to TV)
Wii -----> Switched Plug (to TV)
xBox -----> Switched Plug (to TV)
 
In the end, limiting game playing time is the answer to both challenges: keeping our energy use in check and our children's brains from turning to mush. But a simple smart strip that costs less than $30 once again proves its exceptional value.
 

Comments

So that's why my electric bill went up after Modern Warfare 2 came out Posted by daveconrey on Dec 29, 2009 11:25am
@daveconroy LOL. We're resisting Call of Duty so far, but I can't imagine that will last. IF we get it I'll test again. With those graphics, I'm sure it's pushing the Xbox hard. Then again, limiting to less than 10 hours/day would be a good start... Posted by energycircle on Dec 29, 2009 12:50pm
2080 hours in a year? That's a full-time work year in the US. 40 hr/wk * 52wk/yr. A real year is 24hr/day * 365day/yr = 8760hr/yr. So the cost to leave my 360 'off' would be: 3W*8760hr/1000 = 26.28kWh At my current rate of $0.08693 per kWh it costs $2.2845 per year. So that $30 smart strip will pay for itself in a bit over 13 years given just savings from a 360. Just don't lose or break the smart strip in that time and you're golden. Posted by Dustin on Jan 29, 2010 5:32pm
When I tested things with my Kill-A-Watt, I was surprised at the difference between when I turned my Wii "off" with the Wiimotes and when I turned it off at the console. I'm always turning it off at the console from now on. And, Dustin, simple surge protectors cost at least $10-15. A few extra bucks for a smart strip is totally worth it. Posted by Brenda Pike on Feb 6, 2010 5:18pm
Keep in mind also that the Xbox 360 has three different versions of the PSU... the first one was 203w, the 2nd was 175w, and the newest (Jasper I think) is 150w. I learned this the hard way when I recently ordered a new PSU and it wouldn't fit :) Which version did you use in your tests? Posted by Kevin on Feb 11, 2010 2:01pm

@ Kevin--Good catch. I didn't realize there had been different power supplies. Ours was purchased (er...delivered by Santa) just prior to Christmas and is the 150W version.

Posted by Peter Troast on Feb 11, 2010 3:47pm
Another reason to choose the xbox over the ps3. With the xbox fan running as loudly as it does, there is little chance of accidentally leaving it in idle when not in use. Posted by C K on Mar 16, 2010 8:26am

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Posted by mooduu on Jul 23, 2013 8:33am

Was the Xbox 360 tested with the game running from the disk drive or was it installed to a hard drive first? I wonder if that changes things. Also... Santa delivered an Xbox to my house as well, and as I was reading some of the literature I noted that they conformed to the EU requirements of 1 Watt per hour standby. How long was the Kill A Watt monitoring in standby?

Posted by e3Power on Apr 5, 2012 10:35am

e3--This was several years ago, so my memory may be fuzzy, but I'm certain we tested the Xbox running from the hard drive. Not sure that this would matter much, however, as I would guess that the processor is the larger user, which would have to run in either case. Regarding 1 vs 3 watts at standby, I suppose this could have improved in the 2+ years since we tested, and small numbers like this are also likely with the Kill-a-Watt's margin of error. 

Posted by Peter Troast on Apr 8, 2012 3:00pm

Thanks, Peter! My apologies. I failed to see that the test was so long ago. I'm sure that some improvements were definitely made over the life span of the consoles.

Posted by e3Power on Apr 11, 2012 5:17pm
if go into your wii's settings and turn wii connect 24 OFF. you can save even more power. Posted by Anonymous. posted via ps vita on Apr 11, 2012 5:02pm

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