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Xbox Series X finally picked up a useful PS5 feature

xbox series x
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Generally speaking, the Xbox Series X and the PS5 have more similarities than differences. They play mostly the same games, at mostly the same resolution and frame rate, with mostly the same interface options. Up until now, though, the PS5 has had one sizable advantage over its competitor: a robust Rest mode. That’s finally changed, thanks to a new sustainability effort from Microsoft.

Dave McCarthy, corporate vice president of Xbox operations, outlined the initiative in an Xbox Wire blog post. For the most part, McCarthy discusses how Microsoft’s Xbox division aims to be more eco-friendly, from using recyclable packaging to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. However, there’s one interesting tidbit for end-users as well:

“Last year, we made improvements to the [Xbox’s] Energy Saver sleep mode,” said McCarthy. “Energy Saver mode consumes about 20 times less power than Standby mode when the console is not being used or receiving updates. Now, system and game updates can be downloaded during Energy Saver mode, further saving energy.”

This may sound like a small interface option, but it has big ramifications for the Xbox Series X. Up until now, Xbox gamers had two power mode options: Instant On or Energy Saver. The former let you put your Xbox in Standby mode rather than turn it off completely. In Standby, the Xbox could download games and updates, and turn on almost instantly rather than having to go through a whole startup process. The flip side, though, is that it consumed a lot of power, even when players weren’t actively using the console.

Energy Saver, on the other hand, was the more eco-friendly option, but came with its own set of inconveniences. Powering down the console turned it off completely — even if you were in the middle of downloading games, apps or updates. Compare and contrast to the PS5’s Rest mode, which doesn’t use much power, but can still download big files while players are off doing other things.

Microsoft recommends that existing players switch over to Energy Saver mode — which, incidentally, could save them some money on their power bills each month. New Xbox owners, however, won’t have to manually switch over, as Energy Saver will be the default option on Xbox consoles going forward. Those who prefer Instant On will still have the option to switch over, however.

Modern consoles consume a lot of power, and there’s not a ton that companies or end-users can do to address that at the moment. However, letting users download files in Rest and Energy Saver modes seems like a good middle ground, preserving convenience while minimizing power draw. Who knows: Maybe over the course of a year, you’ll save enough money to buy another game or two.  

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.