Environmental Agency Red-Flags PS5 & Xbox Series X Power Consumption

An environmental agency in the U.S. is warning that the recent release of Sony's PlayStation 5 and Microsoft's Xbox Series X will yield massive increases in power consumption and, in turn, higher energy costs. In turn, the next-gen video game consoles could have a sizable negative impact on the environment over the next several years.

That determination comes as a result of testing performed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

In a blog penned by Noah Horowitz, Director of NRDC's Center for Energy Efficiency Standards, it was revealed that the organization measured the consoles' power consumption in a number of situations, including playing games and streaming video, as well as when they weren't being actively used. Those tests revealed that both the PS5 and Series X use energy at rates well in advance of that of their predecessors.

When actively playing new games, the systems drew between 160 and 200-plus watts of electricity. By comparison, that's more electricity than is typically used by a 60-inch television. It was noted that their consumption was significantly lower when playing older titles on the backward-compatible consoles. As reported by The Inquisitr, approximately "99 percent" of PS4 titles are playable on the PS5.

Horowitz did note that the scaled-down Xbox Series S drew somewhat less power than its counterparts.

On the other hand, the Microsoft machines' "instant-on" feature, which only saves users five to 10 seconds when restarting, could be especially taxing. Per NRDC modeling, the decision to make this the default setting -- as opposed to defaulting to energy-saving mode -- could result in annual electricity generation equal to that of one large (500 MW) coal-burning power plant over the next five years.

That alone would cost new U.S. Xbox owners approximately $1 billion on their bills.

Horowitz was particularly hard on Xbox for this decision, noting that it was surprising given that Microsoft had previously announced its intention to be carbon negative by 2030 while instituting programs to help consumers to reduce their own output.

The Sony booth at the 2018 Tokyo Game Show.
Getty Images | Tomohiro Ohsumi

Where streaming is concerned, next-gen machines make it easier than ever before for users to switch from gaming to watching their favorite shows in a matter of seconds with just a few button presses. However, testing showed that they'll also consume 10 to 25 times more power (or between 30 and 70 watts) than standard streamers, i.e. Apple TV, Roku or Amazon Fire Sticks, to accomplish the same feat.

The PS5 was the biggest offender here, using 68 to 70 watts for shows streaming via Amazon Prime and Netflix.