A team of researchers at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) had a ton of fun with their most recent study — they tested the energy usage of the Sony PlayStation 3, the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii to see which unit creates the smallest drain to the power grid. It turns out that the Wii blows the other two best-selling gaming systems out of the race by being six times more efficient while playing the same game – EA Sports’ Madden 2011.

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EPRI discovered that when the consoles were used for playing the same game for one hour of activity the PlayStation 3 used an average 84.8 watts, the Xbox 360 used an average of 87.9 watts and the Wii used an average of 13.7 watts. Mark McGranaghan, the Vice President of Power Delivery & Utilization for EPRI noted that the energy usage is probably directly related to the consoles’ graphic quality. The Xbox and PlayStation have more powerful graphics processors than the Wii and therefore take much more computing power. He also noted that each of these consoles uses far less power than their older counterparts — hopefully this means the whole gaming world is moving in an energy-efficient direction.

EPRI took the energy data further, noting the Nielson Company’s estimate that the heaviest gamers use their consoles for 5 hours and 45 minutes today. When added up, that makes the energy usage of the Xbox and PlayStation — 184 kilowatt hours and 178 kilowatt hours respectively — close to that of a washing machine, and the Wii’s consumption — 29 kilowatt hours — close to that of a linear fluorescent light, like those in office buildings. The EPRI research does not include the televisions or other equipment that are often run at the same time as gaming systems. “We included only a small sample of the many gaming systems available, but it reveals that the differences in energy use can be significant,” noted McGranaghan. He added that they hoped people would take this into account when shopping this holiday season.


Via The New York Times