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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  • ajp_anton - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Any reason not to use a slim DVD drive? Reply
  • jeremyshaw - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    For your sound comparison, you listed crysis warhead!! Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    ha! that's funny. That's what I get for not paying attention to what I was copying, the load tests were done with a spinning disc in the drive (Halo 3).

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

    Honestly, the drive noise on my Jasper isn't an issue for me, as I install my games to the HDD. It's a feature I love because it kills most of the noise, AND it boosts load times significantly. Really, putting the game data on the HDD is the only way I could fill up the drive--I don't use that space for anything else except a demo or two and the game saves.

    I do wish the fans were better though. I don't mind the noise; it's the pitch that gets me.
    Reply
  • quiksilvr - Friday, July 02, 2010 - link

    Doesn't that seem a bit sad, though? They couldn't even utilize a proper DVD drive so they just make users dump the game onto their HDDs?

    This is why they should have gone with Blu rays.. The higher density of the discs would:
    1) Decrease load times
    2) Decrease the spin speed of the drive, which would in turn
    3) Decrease noise

    And thanks to the epic coating on Bu Rays, would make the games discs a hellova lot longer without having to resort to d skins.
    Reply
  • ck1984 - Monday, July 05, 2010 - link

    Dumb comment because you didn't check FACTS and you contradicted yourself for a start the facts are blu ray is SLOWER than dvd at load times because it spins the disk slower than dvd's e.g all blu rays spin at 2x speed dvd's go up to 24x i think. This is the reason PS3 has to install parts of all games to hard drive to decrease load times. You contradicted yourself when you said 1) decrease load times then said for your 2nd point decreased spin speed also, as mentioned before decreased spin speed means decreased load times as it doesn't read the data off the disk as fast. The only advantages it has is storage space (on that point hard drives are quickly becoming the future with online downloads as the the HDD is faster and holds enormous amounts of data way faster than blu ray and holds more data) and decreased noise thats it blu ray isnt the future for gaming its way too slow a very good example of how slow it is is to time how long it takes to put a small amount of game data to hard drive on the ps3, the load times you talk about are the ps3's hard drive running partially installed parts of the game compare the install time of the ps3 which only installs parts of a game, compare that to the 360 when you dump the ENTIRE dvd to the hard drive. Reply
  • Xentropy - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    You seem to be forgetting that increased density counters the slower spin speed in this regard. Just because a smaller arc of the disk is read in the same period of time doesn't mean more bits aren't in that smaller arc than in the larger arc of a DVD.

    To answer in more detail, 1X on a DVD refers to 1.32MB/s. Equivalent to a 9X CD speed. 1X Blu-Ray refers to 36MB/s. So about the same as a 27x DVD drive. Yes, despite slower rotational speed, a 1x Blu-Ray drive (and most are 2x since at least 1.5x is required to play a movie at Blu-Ray quality) reads data at a far faster rate than even a 16x DVD drive.

    The reason the entire Blu-Ray isn't installed to the hard drive in the PS3's case is the sheer amount of data involved. Two games would completely fill a drive.
    Reply
  • Xentropy - Tuesday, July 06, 2010 - link

    Meh, to correct myself, my sources mixed up bytes and bits. A 2X Blu-Ray drive is about as fast as 7X DVD, at least at the outer edges of the DVD. DVD's read inside-out, though, and the Blu-Ray is actually faster than the first half or so of a 12X DVD drive's first layer of data, but slower than the last half. Functionally, the difference is small in the overall bits read per time between the two formats at 2X BR vs 12X DVD. Reply
  • CrimsonFury - Saturday, July 31, 2010 - link

    The speeds you quoted are not in the same format. The Blu Ray speed you quoted is in megabits while the DVD speed you quoted is in megabytes (also 1x DVD speed is 1.38MB not 1.32MB)

    To convert from megabits to megabytes you divide by 8. So 1x BluRay = 4.5MB (Megabytes).

    So a 2x BD drive like the one in the PS3 has a speed of 9MB.

    A 12x DVD drive like the one in the Xbox 360 has a speed of 16.5MB, almost twice the speed of the PS3s drive.
    Reply
  • pieterjan - Friday, June 18, 2010 - link

    Excactly! Takes less space, makes less noise, leaves more space for a bigger heatsink and fan, which make even less noise. Reply

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