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By: Carl Nelson [02.21.07]


Power Consumption

The war between the three major consoles continues on. So far this year, Wii is winning the sales war, followed by XBOX 360, with PS3 trailing not far behind. We have already compared the PS3 and XBOX 360 from a game developer's point of view, and he favoured the XBOX 360 as well.

The most simple answer to the question is likely; "whose first-party titles do you like best?". If you're a huge Halo fan, you'll want a 360. If you can't live without Gran Turismo, the PS3 is for you. And for us Mario fans, the Wii is a must-have.

However, there are a few other ways to compare these consoles. We'll be looking at various aspects throughout the coming weeks. Today, we're looking at power consumption levels of each console. Are any of these consoles power-hogs? Is the tiny Wii really that much more efficient than the big boys? Most likely the results of these tests won't sway your judgement, but they still may be interesting to look at.

The Test

For all power consumption tests, we used the Watts Up? PRO power meter. The new PRO model supports logging of over 2000 records, and can log as many or as few stats as you like. For instance, for these tests we logged the watt level every 10 seconds. This gives us 4 days worth of records. You can also log RMS voltage and current, Power Factor, and much more. The Watts Up? PRO has a USB connection and comes with software that will automatically make graphs, or can save tab delimited text files for use in spreadsheet programs.

Testing Methods

I wanted to test various aspects of each console - consoles aren't just about video games anymore. Now, you can watch movies, browse the web, and even have it download news when it is turned off. The following aspects were tested:

  • Power consumption during video game playback - several games were played, and a sampling of 30 minutes of pure gameplay was used to determine the average, peak, and minimum power usage of each console.
  • Power consumption during movie playback - The same 3 chapters of the DVD Pulp Fiction were played on each console. The data sample is taken from approximately the middle 30 minutes of that.
  • Power consumption in the console - To test how much power these consoles use when at idle, each machine was left in its console mode, with no games or videos being played.
  • Power consumption during standby - The consoles were left off, and power consumption was tested. The Wii was tested with Wii Connect24 both on and off.

To add more data, I also tested my personal PC in many of the tests, and added the Oppo DV-981HD for the DVD playback tests. The DV-981HD is a DVD player that upscales movies to 1080p, and we'll be reviewing it shortly.

The specs of the PC are:

CPU: Intel Core 2 X6800 (Reviewed Here)
Video Card: Foxconn GeForce 7950GT (Reviewed Here)
Motherboard: Intel DX975XBX
Audio: Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty (Reviewed Here)
Memory: 4GB DDR2 6400

So it's not the most insane high-end gaming rig, but pretty capable of playing anything currently out there for the PS3 and XBOX 360.

As a side note, all tests were done at 220V, 50 Hz power, with the exception of the Wii which is connected to a step-down converter. When the step-down converter was used, the power meter was plugged into the converer, and the Wii into the power meter. This eliminates any extra wattage the converter uses from being a factor in these tests.

Next Page: (Power Consumption in Games)