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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  • Huggy_Bear - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    I cannot believe nobody has talked about this yet!?
    Blu-ray drive anyone?
    Is the DVD drive plain old SATA/standard form factor? In which case one could theoretically replace it w/ an off-the-shelf SATA blu-ray drive?? Now, OS support and blu-ray playback might be the main issue here...
    Reply
  • tipoo - Sunday, June 20, 2010 - link

    You answered your own question there, even if it uses standard connecters the OS probably would not recognize the new drive. Reply
  • Gamerguy1020 - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Does anyone know if this new 360 has gigabit ethernet, as opposed to the 10/100 on older xboxes? Reply
  • Finally - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    If Valhalla is the place where Vikings get to when they die,
    does that mean that this new XBOX will die once it gets to you?
    Reply
  • Finally - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Or does it mean that this new XBOX represents Valhalla and YOU have to die to get one? Reply
  • Finally - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    As it seems, all of the above is inccorect as only certain body parts of yours have to die in order for Valhalla to enter your house:

    Needless to say, I wasn’t terribly happy about purchasing a sixth Xbox 360


    If I had to imagine a picture that shows over-exaggerated self pity plus stupidity all at once I would make a video with some fat nerd uttering this statement. Seriously...
    Reply
  • Ninjahedge - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    It is nice to have a smaller form factor, but being one of those people that actually has the money for a stereo w/surround and optical input attached to my HDTV, it would be nice if they considered ME in their form factor.

    I HAVE an AV cabinet! I would LIKE a box to be a nicely sized component I can stack in there, complete with internal BR and PS. It could even be slightly LARGER than that original (the horizontal footprint would have to be) so long as I had something that would look like a wicked system component capable of/posessing:

    Gaming (duh)
    Internet Access (limited) and Video
    Net/Internet Streaming and Custom Codec installation
    Blue Ray/DVD playback
    Unlimited USB connectivity
    Limited video RECORDING (C'mahn! TiVo should not be the only one!)
    Front LED display

    I would like a combo Gamer/Vid/Media center. They could get away with charging slightly more for something that would only cost $400 but take the place of an UNLICENSED HTPC + Proprietary gaming system.

    But no. We all know adults do not play games.
    Reply
  • jeremyshaw - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Just a note, it's also likely MS used Global Foundries (since they bought off Chartered, the IBM Xenon CPU fab location MS chose), if the CPU and GPU have indeed been unified into a monolithic IC. Reply
  • ajlueke - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    With what is shown here, I would consider getting one of these to replace the Xenon based 360 I purchased in December of '05. Yes, I purchased and original run 360 and it has not to this day RRoD on me.
    However, it still has only the 20Gb HDD and a lack of HDMI, as well as the external 802.11g wireless adapter a purchased years ago. Not to mention over twice the power consumption of the new model. May be time to upgrade.
    Reply
  • Krakn3Dfx - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    "some exciting titles due out later this year and next"

    Besides Halo Reach, Gears 3, and an unnamed Crytek exclusive, their E3 showing seemed to be a lot of Kinect casual stuff. If I didn't know better, I would say Microsoft is dialing down on hardcore exclusive titles in favor of multiplat titles and banking a lot of their money on Kinect's ability to take a significant portion of the Wii's marketshare.
    Reply

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