PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S both use significantly more power than their predecessors when playing games designed for the new consoles, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental organization. However, the NRDC found that the new consoles draw less power than previous generation systems when playing backward compatible games and while using streaming video apps.
NRDC’s analysis – which it also performed in 2013 with the launch of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 – praises the low power modes offered by both Sony and Microsoft̵
The new Xbox’s “Instant-on” mode still draws 10 watts on standby, NRDC said. The report extrapolated the extra use through 2025, and estimated that it could amount to 4 billion extra kilowatt-hours of energy – equivalent to a large, coal-fired power plant annual power 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 obtain a Series X for full testing, but expect the cooler console to use more energy than a Series S. Microsoft has not released official power consumption figures for both consoles; Sony’s listed hardware specifications say that the standard PS5 is rated at a power output of 350 watts, while the PS5 Digital Edition is slightly lower at 340 watts.
Sony’s new console won acclaim from the NRDC for standby mode, which consumed 1 watt or less and allowed startup within 10 to 15 seconds. It pulled “a few extra watts” of power during the first three hours of standby to charge devices with the USB ports. But the PS5’s rechargeable DualSense controllers were an environmentally preferred choice for NRDC over the new Xbox gamepad, which comes with disposable batteries. (A rechargeable power supply for the controller is sold separately.)
The PS5’s default power settings have the console turned off after one hour of inactivity for games, and after four hours of streaming content (both settings can be changed by users). This means that the PlayStation 5 will continue to draw around 70 watts of power if a user leaves it on, for example watching Netflix.
Still, power consumption while using streaming apps, for both the PS5 and Xbox Series S, is lower than its predecessors – although NRDC said that dedicated streaming devices use even less power for the same task. The PS4, according to NRDC’s 2013 analysis, used 90 watts while streaming Netflix to Xbox One’s 74 watts. Series S consumed 31 watts to stream Netflix (and inexplicably 41 watts for Amazon Video), while the PS5 drew 68-70 watts to stream from both services.
Overall, the expected pull of 160-200 watts to play PS5 titles, or games optimized for the Xbox Series X, is more power than a 60-inch TV consumes, 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 Xbox One could be responsible for up to $ 250 million in additional annual electricity expenses 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 in total over the next five years for the extra power the consoles use in “Instant-on” mode versus “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 the 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 contacted representatives of Microsoft and Sony for further comments.