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Xbox Series X ‘Instant-on’ mode is a massive, wasteful power hog – study

Sustainability will be a huge issue in tech in 2021 as companies set ambitious goals to go carbon neutral, to reduce electronic waste and place greater focus on using recycled materials.

However, when it comes to the new Xbox Series X/S consoles, one power setting could be a huge energy drain, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in the US.

The Instant-on mode enables gamers to start-up faster, wake their console with their voice and turn on their TV with the console. This is the default mode the console ships with, rather than the more environmentally-friendly ‘energy-saving’ mode.

This is problematic, according to the NRDC’s new report on the latest generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles. The report points out that Instant-on mode only saves gamers around 10 seconds, but there’s a whopping environmental and financial toll.

Related: Xbox Series X vs Xbox Series S

The report says: “While Microsoft’s new Xbox is capable of drawing less than 1 watt with its “energy saving” setting selected, they ship their units with “instant on” enabled instead. (Note this only saves the user 5 to 10 seconds when they restart their console.)

“Based on modeling NRDC performed through 2025, this one seemingly inconsequential decision by Microsoft could result in the equivalent of one large (500 MW) coal-burning power plant’s worth of annual electricity generation and cost new U.S. Xbox owners roughly $1 billion on their electricity bills.”

If accurate, that’s an absolutely staggering amount of waste over the next five years, compared to the energy saving mode, which means the console takes 45-seconds to start-up. So, we’d suggest you change the setting for your own good and the good of the environment. Hit the Xbox button, select Profile & system > Settings > General > Power mode & startup.

Elsewhere the report says that, such is the energy draw of these consoles, even streaming from Netflix on your next-gen console uses “10 to 25 times more electricity” than a standard streaming box or stick. The PS5 was a particular offender here, drawing between 68 and 70 watts for Netflix and Amazon Prime shows.