The Xbox Series X 'Carbon Aware' update is now live for all users and features new power saving modes that can help you save money when the system's not in use.
Originally only exclusively offered to Xbox Insider members last month, now every Xbox Series X owner can benefit from the new "Instant On" feature. What is does is act as a switch that works almost identically to sleep mode while being far more reserved on the power use, and it's all down to scheduling.
Microsoft claims that the new shutdown setting for the system is up to 20X more efficient. This can be evidenced in the power consumption figures, as the new mode draws just 0.5W of power in contrast to the 10-15W power draw of the Xbox Series X in sleep mode.
Through the Instant On mode, you’ll be able to download some of the best Xbox Series X games and install firmware updates just as you would before, so things have become more efficient with the system laying dormant once you put the controller down. If rising energy bills have been a concern to you when playing your Xbox Series X console, this update could help over the coming months.
Microsoft's further sustainability plans for Xbox
It’s all part of Microsoft’s extended plan to “build a more sustainable future of gaming” which has been on the cards for just shy of a year now. The shutdown setting was originally announced back in March 2022, so it’s been a long time coming. It’s far from the only proposed action the hardware manufacturer wants to consider for the system. Microsoft has also experimented with the idea of reducing graphical fidelity and gaming performance to keep costs down. This has yet to materialize, but the polled survey conducted with Xbox Insider members pointed towards this being a feature that some gamers wanted.
The efforts made by Microsoft are ultimately a step in the right direction. When people struggle to keep the lights on and heat their homes, giving gamers finer control over the energy output of their game consoles is appreciated. As it’s also entirely optional, you won’t have to opt-in and can keep things in standby and sleep mode if you’d rather not rely on the auto wake and scheduling mode.
What does 'Carbon Aware' really mean for gamers?
Being carbon aware means that you're conscious of your carbon footprint through emissions made in your day-to-day life. According to Microsoft specifically, this is done on the Xbox Series X by: "Optimizing updates and downloads to run at a time when the console can use the most renewable energy". It's ultimately a small step but one that could have a big impact if it becomes the preferred powering saving mode among the millions of console owners out there in 2023.
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Aleksha McLoughlin is the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming and oversees all hardware coverage for the site. She looks after buying guides, writes hardware reviews, news, and features as well as manages the hardware team. Before joining TRG she was the Hardware Editor for sister publication GamesRadar+ and she has also been PC Guide's Hardware Specialist. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of Trusted Reviews, The Metro, Expert Reviews, and Android Central. When she isn't working, you'll often find her in mosh pits at metal gigs and festivals or listening to whatever new black and death metal has debuted that week.