Okay, we’ve got the last in the next-gen power figures. For those who haven’t been playing along at home, the power-usage controversy started when it was reported that the PS3 would utilize 380 watts of power while gaming. We can now say that is not true, but the fact is it’s still sucking down far more than the competition.
First, the good news, power usage when “off.” All of the next-gen consoles utilize some amount of power even when turned off to look for signals from remotes or, in the Wii’s case, to auto-download updates. This ranges from the roughly 2 watts used by the PS2 and Xbox 360 according to this very comprehensive DX Gaming article to the rather less frugal 8 used by the Wii. The PS3, impressively, uses barely anything when off; the Watt display on the Kill-A-Watt metering device showing between 0 and 1 watts.
So, the console’s “phantom drain” is more or less negligible. However, the power used for gaming itself is not nearly so. When sitting idle at the crossbar navigation system, the equivalent to the Xbox 360 dashboard or the Wii’s home menu, the PS3 used anywhere from 185 to 205 watts. When doing similar work the Xbox 360 uses 145 watts and the Wii just 15-20.
Now, for the gaming. We tested with three games and found consumption to be lowest when playing Tiger Woods 07, registering at 185-190 watts, and highest when playing Formula One Championship Edition, which demanded a rather more disconcerting 217 watts on average. By comparison the Xbox 360 comes in at 165 watts during gameplay with the Wii using only around 17-20. Finally, during Blu-ray playback the PS3 continued to draw a surprising 205 watts, just to spew the rather craptacular Ricky Bobby to my HDTV.
So, we can say conclusively that the PS3 is the most greedy console of the bunch, though the Xbox 360 isn’t that far behind when playing games. Certainly the graphics power of the next-gen consoles is awesome to behold, but when we look back to the humble Playstation and its minuscule 6 watts of power consumption during gaming, you have to wonder: are we seeing comparable increases in graphics performance to match up with 35-fold increase in power consumption? And, perhaps more importantly, are games 35 times more fun to play? The answer to that last one, at least, is obvious enough.
UPDATE: Fixed Wii consumption figures