RSS Feed

HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

By: Carl Nelson [02.21.07]


Power Usage in Movies

If you plan to spend a lot of time watching movies with your shiny new console, you may want to check out these results. Each console (with the exception of the Wii) is capable of playing DVD video from discs, and HD content by various means. The PS3 supports Blu-Ray Discs natively, and the XBOX 360 supports HD-DVD with the addition of an HD-DVD reader (about $200).

The PS3 can also play HD content from other media such as its hard drive or flash media. It can play MPEG-1, MPEG-2 (PS, TS), MPEG-4 SP, and MPEG-4 AVC (h.264). The method of playing these files is a bit wacky at the moment.. It's not like you can just copy a file over to the hard drive and play it. The video must be a certain resolution and framerate, and has to be in a properly named directory on a flash drive, etc. It is recommended to use an automated video converter, at least until PS3 properly supports network streaming, etc.

The XBOX 360 can play WMV and WMV-HD. When using Windows Media Player 11, the XBOX 360 can stream these videos from any Windows PC, which is quite handy.

For these tests, we played 3 chapters from the DVD Pulp Fiction.

The PS3 uses an incredible 173 watts to play a non-upsampled DVD output to 480p. The XBOX 360 and PC don't fare much better, using up 125 and 140 Watts respectively. As you can see, a proper DVD player uses a lot less power than any of these solutions.

The most discouraging aspect of these results is how absolutely noisy the XBOX 360 is, even though it uses 50W less power than the PS3 to play a DVD. Together with incredibly poor deinterlacing, the 360 does not make a very good DVD player at all.

HD Playback

Unfortunately, I do not have the HD-DVD addon for XBOX 360, so we couldn't include HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray playback comparison. However, I tested power consumption of the PS3 under Blu-Ray playback, and the XBOX 360 playing a 720p WMV-HD video downloaded from the XBOX Live Marketplace. Not exactly the best indicator of performance, since HD-DVD will be using a different codec. But this is the best I can do for now.

Again, not the most important results, but it's interesting to note that the PS3 uses almost as much power to play a Blu-Ray movie as it does to play a HD video game. The XBOX 360 also uses a bit more power playing WMV-HD compared to playing a DVD.

The big peak at the end is from stopping the movie and going back into the console. This makes for a good segue way!

Next Page: (Standby & Idle Console)