Report on game console energy consumption dings Microsoft for failure to tweak power-saving settings

(Xbox photo)

The energy consumption of the new Xbox game console could cost new owners of the Microsoft device more than $ 500 million in electricity bills over the next five years, according to a new report from the National Resources Defense Council.

The NRDC advises that the Xbox Series X / S can use less than 1 watt with the Energy Conservation setting selected. However, the devices are delivered with the older setting “Immediately on”. This distinction saves a user only five to 10 seconds when restarting a console. However, if the NRDC continues to drive home, it could result in annual electricity generation from a large coal-fired power station (500 MW).

NRDC measured the power consumption of the Xbox Series S and the new PlayStation 5 while playing a game, streaming video, and not actively using it. While user setup and operation are critical, NRDC’s Noah Horowitz applauded Microsoft and Sony for improving the efficiency of the new models.

“To their credit, both the S / X and PS5 Xbox series consoles were designed to use very little power when not in use (known as standby or hibernation). That wasn’t always the case,” Horowitz wrote . “In addition, both families of consoles have standby power levels of 1 watt or less, with the ability to quickly reboot and return to their place in a game or movie.”

In the report, both companies were told about energy consumption when using consoles to stream television and movies. This can be done seamlessly by switching from a video game to a built-in app like Netflix or Amazon Prime. While it saves a few seconds, the console consumes between 30 and 70 watts – about 10 to 25 times more power than a streaming device like Apple TV, Roku Box or Amazon Fire Stick to watch the same show.

NRDC said it has “repeatedly urged Sony and Microsoft to include a dedicated low-power chip in their consoles for video playback,” and that the request is even more important at a time when so many people are looking over the console.

Microsoft’s very public commitment to be carbon negative by 2030 is highlighted in the report in terms of console power results. Since July, the company has been applying an internal carbon tax on emissions caused by its suppliers and the use of its products by its customers. Those who measure the CO2 balance refer to these as “Scope 3 emissions”. Microsoft has already calculated itself for Area 1 and Area 2 emissions associated with its own business operations, including travel and electricity. The taxes contribute to the payment of the sustainability programs.

A Microsoft spokesperson told GeekWire on Friday that when setting up the console, users can choose between two power modes: energy saving and instant power on. To ensure that players can choose whichever option they prefer, by default they are not enabled for either of the two power modes.

Horowitz of the NRDC argued that removing Instant On as an option “could be done almost overnight with just a few lines of new code”.

“At Microsoft, we are committed to sustainability. At the dawn of a new generation of games with Xbox Series X / S, we’re continuing to explore how we can reduce our environmental footprint throughout the product lifecycle – from conception to design to production and packaging, what happens when our consoles are in your hands are the consumer and at the end of their life, “said the company spokesman. “As part of this commitment, we are evaluating additional methods to highlight the benefits of energy-saving mode, but we currently have nothing more to share.”

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