PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S both use significantly more electricity than their predecessors when playing games designed for the new consoles, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. However, the NRDC found that the new consoles draw less power than previous generation systems when playing backwards compatible games and while using streaming video apps.
NRDC’s analysis – which it also conducted in 2013 with the launch of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – praises the power-saving modes offered by both Sony and Microsoft̵
The new Xbox’s “Instant-on” mode still draws 10 watts in standby, the NRDC said. The report extrapolated the extra consumption through 2025 and calculated that it could amount to a total of 4 billion extra kilowatt-hours of energy – equivalent to a single large, coal-fired power plant’s annual electricity production.
NRDC’s analysis used a PlayStation 5 and an Xbox Series S, which have less processing power than an Xbox Series X, and which also do not have an optical disk drive. The group said they were unable to get a Series X for full testing, but expect the steaks console would use more energy than a Series S. Microsoft has not provided official power consumption figures for both consoles; Sony’s stated hardware specifications say that the standard PS5 is rated for a power consumption of 350 watts, while the PS5 Digital Edition is slightly lower at 340 watts.
Sony’s new console won greetings from NRDC for its standby mode, which consumed 1 watt or less and allowed startup within 10 to 15 seconds. It drew “a few extra watts” of power during the first three hours of standby to charge devices with its USB ports. But the PS5’s rechargeable DualSense controller was an environmentally preferred choice for NRDC over the new Xbox gamepad that comes with disposable batteries. (A rechargeable power supply for the controller is sold separately.)
The PS5’s default power settings have the console closed after one hour of inactivity for games and after four hours of streaming content (both settings can be changed by users). This means that PlayStation 5 continues to pull approx. 70 watts if a user leaves it on after watching something like Netflix, for example.
Still, power consumption when using streaming apps for both PS5 and Xbox Series S is lower than for their predecessors – though NRDC said dedicated streaming devices use even less power for the same task. According to NRDC’s 2013 analysis, the PS4 used 90 watts while streaming Netflix to the Xbox One’s 74 watts. Series S consumed 31 watts to stream Netflix (and inexplicably 41 watts to Amazon Video), while PS5 drew 68-70 watts to stream from both services.
Overall, however, the expected pull of 160-200 watts for playing PS5 titles or games optimized for the Xbox Series X is more power than a 60-inch television consumer, the NRDC said.
In 2013, the NRDC warned that the PS4 and Xbox One could be responsible for as much as three times more power consumption than the previous PS3 and Xbox 360 generation. In 2015, the organization said the Xbox One could be responsible for up to $ 250 million in additional annual electricity costs for U.S. households. NRDC’s latest analysis warns that Xbox Series S or Series X owners in the US could pay as much as $ 1 billion. Dollars in total over the next five years for the extra power that consoles use in their “Instant-on” mode compared to “Energy-saving” mode.
In 2015, after the NRDC sharply criticized the launch of the Xbox One’s power consumption, Microsoft added an energy-saving mode as an option when new Xbox One users first set up their consoles. At the time, Microsoft said the difference in power consumption between these two modes would save customers between $ 6 and $ 15 on their annual electricity bill. And the company released a software update in late November that reportedly reduced Instant-on mode power consumption by as much as 61% for the Xbox Series X.
Polygon has reached out to representatives of Microsoft and Sony for further comments.