Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fight Climate Change: Buy a Famicom

I really don't want this blog to turn into some preachy pile of political BS, but today I read something that made me mad.

How mad? This mad:

Hardcore, man. Hardcore.

Anyway, as is so often the case, now that I am mad about something, I want to make all of you mad about it too.

Don't let all these negative vibes turn you off though. I think I have an important point to make here and you will be quite surprised by what I have to show you. So please, read on.

What made me mad was discovering how much power the PlayStation 3 consumes: 150 watts (article).

That number might not mean anything to you, as it is just a number. So I thought I'd show you in photos of my retro console collection just how much that is.

Basically my mission was to see how many of my old consoles I would need to plug in and turn on to match the amount of power that just a single one of these things uses:

Lets start with the Famicoms.

The Famicom uses 4 watts of power:
So lets see here, I'll just get all eleven of my red and white Famicoms out:
Don't ask me why I have eleven of these things just lying around. Trust me, you don't want to know. What is important here is the fact that if I were to plug all of these in and turn them on, they would only use 44 watts of power, less than a third of what a single Playstation 3 uses.

We are nowhere near our goal yet so I'll have to keep looking. Next, I'll toss my four AV Famicoms into the mix. They also use 4 watts of power each:
OK, that brings us up to.....60 watts. Still not even half way there yet.

What else do I have? Oh here we go. Lets add my two PC Engines (4 watts each) to the pile:
That brings us to 68 watts, almost half way to equaling a single Playstation 3.

Guess I'll have to go to the next generation of consoles. My Superfamicom is a relative energy hog, consuming double what a Famicom uses:
Well, that brings us up to about half of a single Playstation 3.

What else do I have lying around here? Oh, my two Mega Drives. They use an absolutely massive amount of power - 13 watts each. Lets see how far they get us:
Well, that puts us over 100 watts, but we've still got a way to go.

Guess I'll have to go to yet another generation and toss my Nintendo 64 into the mix. At 19 watts that thing uses almost 5 times more than a Famicom, surely that'll get us up to the Playstation 3 level:
121 watts. Nope, not quite there yet.

Hmm.....well, lets toss my two Famicom Disk Systems on. At 3.6 watts each they aren't much but I'm running short on stuff to add to the pile here and every bit counts:
Nope, still not there yet. Well, that just leaves me with my three Twin Famicoms (6 watts each):
That brings us to 146.2 watts. Still less than a Playstation 3.

And you know what? I am out of consoles!!!!! Holy crap!!!!! My entire retro console collection combined - massive as it is - cannot equal the energy consumption of a single Playstation 3!

In short, turning this thing here on:
actually uses more energy than if you were to plug in and turn on all of this:
That is:

11 Red and White Famicoms
4 AV Famicoms
2 PC Engines
1 Super Famicom
2 Mega Drives
1 Nintendo 64
2 Famicom Disk Systems
3 Twin Famicoms

26 retro consoles COMBINED do not even match the energy sucking PS3.

I am tempted to end this post shouting out the blatantly obvious. Something like:

"The Playstation 3 is an Earth-destroying, planet melting piece of crap that should never have been made and everyone associated with designing this travesty will rot in hell for all eterni...."

Um, no wait. I won't say that. There isn't really much to be gained from saying anything, really. The above photos speak for themselves. I will just ask that the next time you see someone spouting BS like "Sony Playstation 3 is Green for the Environment.", please refer them to this post.


A few irate PS3 owners (I assume) have taken issue with some points in this post. For clarification:

The 150 watts the PS3 uses is its average use when in active mode (see the source I referenced in the post). The actual consumption varies (a quote of between 135 and 180 watts was given by a poster here).

The PS3 Slim, it was also pointed out, uses less than the regular PS3 (60 watts). So I give Sony some credit for that reduction.

Related Posts:
- Why the Famicom Has Aged Well Part 2: No Planned Obsolescence
- The Unsentimental Famicom Collector
- Famicom Cart Condition: Why Good is Bad and I'll Never Buy Sealed Stuff


  1. A very amusing/depressing post, and also rather eye-opening. Nice one as always! :)

  2. Like RetroKingSimon said, that's definitely an eye-opening post. Now, of course, I'm going to have to (try to) find out how much power is consumed by the Xbox 360 and Wii -- and maybe some other past consoles, too (Saturn, PS1, PS2). I'm guessing every gen consumes more power than the last?

  3. Thanks Simon and Bryan!

    My research into this indicates that you are correct, Bryan. As a general rule, each generation of console uses more than the previous (with a few exceptions).

    About the other current consoles, The Wii is actually quite energy efficient relative to the PS3, it uses only 16 watts of energy (the PS3 uses about 9 times that much). So I would say that is a relatively "green" purchase, even though it still uses 4 times more than the Famicom.

    The XBox 360 is almost as bad as the PS3 though, I think it uses something like 120 watts. That would be equal to all of my retro consoles except for the Famicom Disk Systems and Twin Famicoms.

    These stats, I should note, actually disguise something that makes current Gen consoles much MUCH bigger energy hogs than retro consoles.

    That is the fact that the design of the current gen encourages people to leave them on even when they aren't playing. Because they don't want to lose their place in the game (and I'm guessing because of the pain in the ass start-up times of disc based systems) people seem to have gotten into the habit of leaving these things on around the clock (see NY Times article I linked to). And because of the poor design of them, they use almost the same amount of energy when they are just sitting there as they do when someone is playing them.

    People never did that with cart based systems of course because there wasn't much to save and there were no pain-in the ass start up times to wait through.

    A study by the Natural Resource Defence Council indicates that today's game systems in the United States alone consume more energy than the entire city of San Diego. Millions of tons of CO2 produced and billions of kilo watt hours being consumed.

    It is definitely the dark side of the modern gaming industry. Well, "One" of the dark sides of the modern gaming industry.

    I have to be careful though, I'm noticing my posts are increasingly becoming "anti-PS3" rants. My basic point though (as in my previous post) is that retro gaming consoles are insanely energy efficient and good for the environment.

  4. Just had to put this out there. I love your blog!

    Been reading it regularly since I found it through Famicomworld. Keep up the good work!

    - Kiddo

  5. Hi, Kiddo. Thanks a lot for the nice comment and thanks for reading!

  6. Sean, fantastic work on the blog and a great entry in general. Found out about this from the Famicom World forums as well. Keep up the good work!

  7. Hey Zach, thanks for the comment! And nice profile pic!

  8. Counterpoint, just because something uses lots of power does not make it evil. PS3s have build in support for Folding@home, which in case you didn't know does a lot of really good things:

    Your entire collection of retro consoles will never help to save a life (not that they aren't cool...just saying).

    Maybe more to the point though, a PS3 does a LOT of things. I'm not just talking about high powered games. It plays movies off my network, does Netflix, is my DVD player, my Blu-ray player, and also my music player. In other words, this one device IS my home entertainment center.

    I try to live pretty green. I walk everywhere. I recycle. I turn the lights off and don't use old-fashioned light bulbs, etc. But I love video games and I think they have a value and that includes PS3 games.

    I'm not saying console developers shouldn't strive to improve efficiency. I am saying that maybe you should back off a little. These machines do a TON of stuff compared to what a famicom is doing. And the more things a device does, the more calculations it runs, the more power it will use. You don't get something from nothing.

    PS I love retro games. Honestly though, I just plain love games of every kind so please don't take this as a PS3 fanboy rant.

  9. Fair enough points, Ax. I was a bit over-the-top in my harshness towards the end of this post, and I do thank you for bringing a bit of balance to this discussion.

    And you are correct, the fact that the PS3 does more things in addition to just being a console should be factored in.

    In response to what you've said, I would counter that another criticism I have read is that even in doing those other things, the PS3 is a massive energy hog. Playing a Blu-ray DVD on a PS3 for example uses something like 5 or 6 times more energy than what a regular Blu-ray DVD player uses (and 24 times what a standard DVD player uses). These figures are for the early model PS3s, I'm not sure about the PS3 slim, which I understand is more energy efficient and probably not as bad in that regard.

    As I understand it, the problem is that when you turn the PS3 on, you turn all of these other things it can do on as well. This might be an oversimplification (I'm not a technical expert) but when you use it to play games the parts of it that runs DVDs, etc are also on and using energy, even though they serve no purpose.

    One of the suggestions made by the National Resources Defence Council in its report was that future consoles be designed to differentiate between functions, so that when you play video games only the parts of the machine which are necessary to play video games are turned on, thus saving a lot of energy.

    Another criticism which I didn't get into in the post is that systems like the PS3 have some quirks in their design that (unintentionally) encourage users to leave them on even when they aren't using them. This seems to relate to the inability in some games to save progress, which encourages people to just leave the thing on so as to allow them to resume play later (maybe the next day). This wasn't such an issue with cart based consoles, where games weren't as often designed as long, drawn out story lines and, even where they were, leaving the thing on for a few hours at 4 watts of energy consumption wasn't really a big deal.

    Anyway, the bottom line is that I don't want anything I've written to be taken as an attack on people who enjoy PS3s. I did, however, think that this was a subject worth bringing people's attention to. On balance, I don't think that even with all the additional features and functions that distinguish a PS3 from earlier gen consoles one can justify the massive discrepancy in energy consumption displayed in the above photos.

    PS - interesting link to that Folding Home page. Kudos to PS3 for offering support to that research. It is a bit of a stretch to credit the PS3 for "saving lives" just because of that, but I do acknowledge that it is a valid point in its favor.

    National Defence Council Report:


  10. What a cool project. It's unbelievable how much that monster of a power sucking game machine the PS3 is...

  11. Thanks, Michael. It really is unbelievable, isn't it?

  12. Interesting. I wonder how the American versions of those systems stand up by comparison.

  13. Thanks, Turkish Proverb. I`m not sure, I think the NES, SNES, Genesis and N64 probably uses about the same in North America as the Japanese versions.

  14. To help you save energy, I recommend selling some of these consoles to me.

  15. Thanks, anonymous. Unfortuantely I sold almost everything in these photos a few months ago, leaving me with just the one copy of each console for personal use!