GamePro tests the wireless stamina of Xbox 360, Wii, and PS3 controllers in comparison. May the best controller win!
Ever wonder which controller has the best battery life? If so, you're in the right place. Over the last month, we juxtaposed Xbox 360, Wii, and PS3 controllers at GamePro Towers to find out which ones go the distance. Though our research is far from scientific, we isolated all obvious variables, rigorously documented our findings, and worked in an uncontaminated testing environment for optimal significance.
For our tests, we cleaved to the following criteria: We only used out-of-the box hardware - that means no charger packs for 360 and Wii, which must be purchased separately. We played a wide variety of games on each console, including lengthy single-player adventures and shallow downloadable games, both online and off. We played for varying time intervals, from fifteen minutes to upwards of eight hours (Hello weekends!). We used Duracell CopperTops for 360 and Wii testing. And we deemed all battery(s) dead after attempting to reconnect the controller for a third consecutive time. Behold, the results:
Sony's Sixaxis is light in both weight and battery performance. If it weren't for its ability to recharge via USB, we'd call it a show-stopper. But its internal battery does recharge, which is more than either the Xbox 360 or the Wii controllers are capable of, resulting in big savings over the life of the console. Like any good Blu-ray player, our PS3 was used to watch a handful of high-definition movies in addition to games. But due to the lack of an auto-off feature like the Wii and 360, Sixaxis lasted a meager 18 hours and 41 minutes; the first controller to die on us. ProTip: Get in the habit of turning your controller off when not in use (via the PlayStation button menu), or invest $20 bucks in the lovely Bluetooth remote.
The Wii Remote and Nunchuck are the most technologically advanced controllers on the market. Given that the pair include speakers, gyroscopes, and other motion-sensing doohickery, we assumed the waggle pads would be the first to cave when it came to battery performance. Surprisingly, Wii controllers lasted almost 20 hours longer than the PS3 controller when playing games, watching YouTube videos, or admiring handsome Miis. At the end of the day, the Wii CopperTops tarried for a solid 36 hours and 43 minutes on default controller settings. It should be noted, however, that battery results may vary on Wii, for better or for worse. Given the level of customization, players can forgo both rumble and remote audio for improved battery life, or rely heavily on them for a quicker death. ProTip: Consider a reusable third-party battery pack, though it likely won't last as long.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 controllers are the most weighted when compared to either Wii or PS3 - by far. They also pack the most rumble punch, shaking profusely during intense gaming moments. So it would make sense to think the added density and tactile feedback would drain batteries with haste, but our lab results proved quite the contrary. The Xbox 360 controller endured an impressive 56 hours and 56 minutes, the most of any wireless controller we tested. Fittingly, our second to last play session went 360 minutes on the dot. The dashboard battery meter isn't as accurate as PS3 or Wii, but for maximum gaming on a single battery charge, the Xbox 360 can't be beat. ProTip: Consider an Xbox 360 Quick Charge Kit or alternative to avoid disposable batteries, though you'll get a bit less mileage between charges.
So which battery setup works best? That, like the consoles themselves, is entirely subjective. The PS3 controller is rechargeable, the Wii Remote customizable, and the Xbox 360 long-lasting. Now that's playing with power.