Power Consumption: 50% of the Original Xbox 360, and Quieter

Moore’s Law is good for any of three things: 1) increasing performance, 2) adding features, 3) reducing power. Consoles have the benefit of not having to worry about improving performance or adding features over time. There are no changing API specs and games are always designed to the same hardware performance level. This leaves us with improvements in power consumption (and Microsoft’s profitability).


The new Xbox 360 power connector (right). It's slim.

The new power brick isn’t compatible with the old Xbox 360s. At 135W it isn’t enough to power even the Jasper Xbox 360 and thus you get a new power connector. It’s much lighter than the old unit and a bit smaller, but still larger than anything you’d get with a notebook for obvious reasons.


New power brick (left) vs Old power brick (right)

Given my plethora of Xbox 360s I happen to have a good amount of historical data on power consumption for all of the major revisions, I’ve added the relevant Valhalla numbers below.

Power Consumption Comparison
Xbox 360 Revision System Off Idle Halo 3 Rockband 2 Gears of War 2 Red Dead Redemption
Xbox 360 Slim (Valhalla) 0.6W 70.4W 87.0W 82.7W 88.0W 90.4W
Xbox 360 Late 2008 - 2010 (Jasper) 2.0W 93.7W 105.9W 101.0W 105.9W 109.3W
Xbox 360 Late 2007 - 2008 (Falcon) 2.8W 101.4W 121.2W 112.8W 121.5W  
Xbox 360 2005 - 2007 (Xenon) 2.3W 155.7W 177.8W 167.7W 177.1W  

The biggest improvement is actually when the system is totally off. The new Xbox 360 slim pulled 0.6W compared to over 2W for the older 360s while doing nothing more than being plugged in. Idle power is roughly 75% of what it was with the Jasper Xbox 360 and load power is around 80 - 83% of what we saw with the previous generation. Note that the new Xbox 360 consumes less than half the power of the original 360!

Idle power consumption is actually not very impressive for a 40nm Xbox 360 if that's indeed what we're looking at. A modern day Core i5 system with an efficient power supply will idle at under 70W with a beefy discrete graphics card. While this is a significant drop compared to previous Xbox iterations, it's not impressive as a computing device.

The savings are tangible however and also result in a cooler, quieter system. The CPU and GPU are now cooled by a single, larger fan that keeps idle noise down to a minimum. I measured noise levels between Valhalla and Jasper at 2” away from the chassis and came up with the numbers below:

Sound Comparison
  Xbox 360 Slim (Valhalla) Xbox 360 Late 2008 - 2010 (Jasper)
Idle 45 dB(A) 50 dB(A)
Load (Spinning Disc) 51 dB(A) 54 dB(A)

The measurements were taken in my office with a noise floor of around 37 dB(A). At idle the new Xbox 360 slim is noticeably quieter, but still audible. The drop in idle noise is perfect for those of you who use the Xbox 360 as a HTPC of sorts. You can still get quieter out of a well designed HTPC however.

While spinning a disc the old Jasper was absurdly loud it is more bearable on the new 360. It’s still not silent (nor can it be while quickly spinning a disc) and you’ll still scratch discs if you move the Xbox 360 while a disc is spinning, but it’s an improvement.

Much Prettier than the Original Getting Inside the new Xbox 360
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  • CityZ - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    I see a potential problem with the power plug waiting to happen. It appears as if the prongs on the power plug are symmetric, though one delivers +12V and the other +5V. The plastic on the case and the plug makes a D-shape that only allows the plug to go in one way. However, someone who's taken their case apart won't have this protection. They might plug it in the wrong way and zap their MB/PS. Reply
  • adam92682 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    One of the many reasons you aren't supposed to open the system. Reply
  • casteve - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Only 17.6W difference between idle and load power for Valhalla? While the idle power is better w/ ea generation, it seems they dropped the ball on this gen. An i5 661 + HD5870 based PC only draws 67-70W AC at idle. Reply
  • logikil1 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    I haven't been able to locate what revision of HDMI the new 360 uses. I believe the original used 1.2 and was curious if MS went to 1.3 or 1.4 with this system. Reply
  • aforty - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    I'd really loved to have seen some noise level comparisons between the new Slim and the first generation Xbox 360. I have a first-gen and the noise is pretty much why I now prefer my PS3. However I'm thinking about upgrading and would love to see how the new Slim stacks up against what I currently have in the noise department. The power consumption already looks really good compared to what this thing sucks down.

    Thanks for the breakdown!
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Unfortunately my first gen 360 is now dead otherwise I could've provided more data :-P

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Pirks - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Anand please tell us, I saw a youtube video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwINtoQpyNc ) where Xbox Slim does scratch DVD when you move it a little while PS3 doesn't. What's your personal take on that? Does Slim manual say something about danger of DVD scratching? Any warning labels on the Slim itself? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    There's a warning sticker on the DVD drive telling you not to move the console while a disc is in there. I meant to take a picture of it but forgot once I got into the teardown phase.

    As long as you're mindful of it it's a non-issue, however I have come very close to accidentally ruining a game or two when I wasn't paying attention. It is silly and MS could easily fix it, but the 360 isn't about high quality hardware, it's about profitability.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Pirks - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Fuck Ballmer. Reply
  • Rob100 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Why oh why have they made it a nasty gloss black finish

    If it was available in a matt "no scratch, no finger print, no dust" black finish I'd buy one, but from the pics I've seen it just looks cheap and nasty

    I will be sticking with my Elite thanks which if you ask me looks 10 times better than this - what were they thinking...

    If I wanted a quieter 360 then I would of bought an "arcade" and stuck it in a Lian Li XB-01B
    Reply

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