The Natural Resources Defense Council offered kudos to Sony and Microsoft last week for what the organization sees as a significant improvement to their gaming consoles: reduced energy consumption.
A 2010 Sony PS3 and 2010 Xbox 360 each consumes approximately 90 Watts of power during gameplay. That represents a 50 percent energy reduction compared to the 180 Watts the 2006 models consumed during gameplay, according to the results of a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental advocacy group.
However, gaming consoles still suck down 80 percent of their full power level when they are in menu modes. Today's consoles do have great power-down options, but they have to be activate by users, according to the NRDC.
"While today's Xbox 360 and PS3 now ship with software that causes the device to consume very low levels of power when not in use (approximately 1 Watt), Sony and Microsoft both ship their devices with this feature disabled. Users need to know about this option and physically go into the menu and turn this feature on," Noah Horowitz, senior scientist at the NRDC, said in a blog post.
Nintendo's Wii, meanwhile, has always been a "relative energy sipper" using fewer than 25 Watts of power during gameplay, according to the NRDC.
Of course, CNET has not always agreed with the NRDC's findings when it comes to gaming consoles.
In 2008, the advocacy group estimated that gamers likely wasted $1 billion in electricity per year by leaving gaming consoles on when not in play, a figure CNET criticized based on its own analysis of the data.