Nintendo Switch is the most eco-friendly console of this generation

Holding Nintendo Switch Lite
Holding Nintendo Switch Lite (Image credit: Nintendo)

What you need to know

  • NerdWallet conducted a study last month to determine the energy and lifetime costs of the last three generations of consoles.
  • The Nintendo Switch was revealed to be the most eco-friendly and cost-effective console of the current generation.
  • The Nintendo Wii U ended up being the most energy-effective, and the Nintendo Wii was the most cost-effective console.

In a study conducted by NerdWallet, it seems that those who seek to save money on both consoles and the energy they should produce should look for a Nintendo Switch this generation. NerdWallet's study ran from December 2020 to January 2021, and sought to determine the economic and ecological impact of consoles from the top three manufacturers — Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. Using various sources, they determined the average number of games purchased, the average cost of peripherals and memberships, and how much power each console required while active and in standby mode. The combination of these statistical data points determined the "Lifetime Cost" of each console studied. In this study, a console's "lifetime" was calculated as the average time a consumer actively used their console, provided that said consumer purchased their console one year after its release.

The study examined the lifetime energy costs of each Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft console across the last three console generations.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ConsoleManufacturerLifetime Energy Cost (USD)Header Cell - Column 3
Xbox 360Microsoft$257.08Row 0 - Cell 3
Playstation 3Sony$228.42Row 1 - Cell 3
Nintendo WiiNintendo$117.32Row 2 - Cell 3
Row 3 - Cell 3
Xbox OneMicrosoft$362.02Row 4 - Cell 3
Playstation 4Sony$291.35Row 5 - Cell 3
Nintendo Wii UNintendo$40.48Row 6 - Cell 3
Row 7 - Cell 3
Xbox Series S/XMicrosoft$281.94Row 8 - Cell 3
Playstation 5Sony$233.41Row 9 - Cell 3
Nintendo SwitchNintendo$142.81Row 10 - Cell 3

The table shows that Microsoft's consoles consume the most energy across the console's lifetime, while Nintendo's consoles consume the least amount of energy. This makes the Nintendo Switch a particularly good choice for consumers who wish to reduce their energy consumption in 2021. For those looking to play retro games, the Wii U would also be a great choice, with an astoundingly low energy footprint.

As for total costs across a console's lifetime, the Nintendo Switch still costs a lot less than the current market competition. The study ranked consoles from the last three generations, from most to least expensive.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
RankConsoleManufacturerLifetime Cost (USD)Header Cell - Column 4
1Playstation 5 (Disc)Sony$2,419.42Row 0 - Cell 4
2Xbox Series XMicrosoft$2,317.46Row 1 - Cell 4
3Playstation 5 (Digital)Sony$2,292.67Row 2 - Cell 4
4Xbox OneMicrosoft$2,103.46Row 3 - Cell 4
5Xbox Series SMicrosoft$2,035.90Row 4 - Cell 4
6Playstation 4Sony$1,935.84Row 5 - Cell 4
7Playstation 3Sony$1,772.56Row 6 - Cell 4
8Xbox 360Microsoft$1,715.82Row 7 - Cell 4
9Nintendo SwitchNintendo$1,239.47Row 8 - Cell 4
10Nintendo Wii UNintendo$1,014.57Row 9 - Cell 4
11Nintendo WiiNintendo$910.26Row 10 - Cell 4

Within the current generation, the Nintendo Switch comes out on top again as most cost-effective in terms of lifetime costs. The console, despite its heavy-hitting competition, has been selling extremely well, no doubt due to its great selection of games.

Nadine Dornieden

Nadine is a freelance writer for iMore with a specialty in all things Nintendo, often working on news, guides, reviews, and editorials. She's been a huge Nintendo fan ever since she got to pet her very own Nintendog, and enjoys looking at Nintendo's place in the video game industry. Writing is her passion, but she mostly does it so that she can pay off her ever-growing debt to Tom Nook. Her favorite genres are simulation games, rhythm games, visual novels, and platformers. You can find her at @stopthenadness on Twitter, where she'll more than likely be reposting cute Animal Crossing content.