Back in December 2019, when Microsoft revealed its Xbox Series X games console for the first time, it inspired memes. A lot of memes.
The console was designed to stand vertically instead of horizontally. That was unique, but it meant the Xbox Series X looked a lot like a fridge. Hence the memes.
Microsoft (in a very "how do you do fellow kids" move) tried to join in on the joke, partnering with merchandise company Ukonic to create the Xbox Mini Fridge – an actual, real-life 'fridge' that looked exactly like the Xbox Series X console everyone was making fun of.
See! You're not laughing at us! You're laughing with us.
Any product that uses a lot of power and utterly fails to perform its core task is a shoo-in for a Shonky Award
But unfortunately, four years later no-one is laughing. The end result of this cursed collaboration: a mini fridge that doesn't actually make things cold, while guzzling as much energy as a full-sized fridge.
Any product that uses a lot of power and utterly fails to perform its core task is a shoo-in for a Shonky Award in our books.
Spot the difference? One is a games console and won’t keep your drinks cold. The other is a ‘fridge’ and... won’t keep your drinks cold.
Xbox has no chill
To begin with, it's worth noting that despite being called a fridge, the Xbox Mini Fridge isn't technically a fridge at all. It's a thermoelectric cooler with ten litres of storage, designed to chill around 12 cans.
Therein lies the first issue.
Because the fridge was designed for US-sized cans, it's completely inefficient at holding the slightly bigger cans we have here in Australia. So instead of 12 cans stacked vertically, the fridge just manages to hold eight if you awkwardly stuff the cans in on their side. Not ideal.
It took around 24 hours to take eight cans to a not-that-cold-actually 21°C. For context, that's warmer than water from the tap
But that's the least of the Xbox Mini Fridge's problems. The primary issue? It doesn't actually make things cool!
In our 32°C test chamber, it took around 24 hours to take eight cans to a not-that-cold-actually 21°C. For context, that's warmer than water from the tap.
Thermoelectric coolers work differently from traditional fridges: they have fewer moving parts and chill using different principles. In the case of the Xbox Mini Fridge, you're not actually supposed to run the fridge for more than a day or two. Considering it takes a full day to get drinks close to tap water temperature, that's far from ideal.
After a full day of cooling, the cans in the Xbox Mini Fridge were still warmer than tap water.
Then there's the moisture issue. During our testing, the Xbox Mini Fridge almost immediately started to pool an alarming amount of moisture. This doesn't just make it problematic to store anything that isn't exceptionally well-sealed, it could also cause mould issues down the track.
Others have reported in online forums that the moisture also makes it much easier for the vents to ice over. Again, not ideal.
Besides not actually making things cold and the pooling of moisture, the Xbox Mini Fridge has an energy consumption issue.
In order for it to be useful, you'll need to cool your drinks in a regular fridge first
Our testing found that if you ran the Xbox Mini Fridge 24 hours a day, it would pull down a ludicrous 376kWh a year at an ambient temperature of 32°C. For context, that's roughly equivalent to the energy use of a 500-litre compressor fridge in your kitchen – a device that is actually capable of cooling its contents.
With its puny 10 litres of storage capacity, the Xbox Mini Fridge holds nowhere near that much. It technically isn't a real fridge, and it doesn't perform like one either. In fact, in order for it to be useful, you'll need to cool your drinks in a regular fridge first. Which makes us wonder why anyone would ever want, let alone need, this lemon of a product.
E-waste straight out of the box
"The Xbox Mini Fridge is essentially e-waste straight out of the box," says CHOICE fridge expert Ashley Iredale.
"This questionable addition to your gaming rig isn't powerful enough to cool your drinks – you need to chill them in a real fridge first – which is disappointing because it sure draws a whole lot of power, using as much electricity as the full-sized fridge in our kitchen."
It sure draws a whole lot of power, using as much electricity as the full-sized fridge in our kitchenCHOICE fridge expert Ashley Iredale
All this is particularly disappointing in the wake of Microsoft's good-faith attempts to help in the fight against climate change. Of all the major console platform holders, Microsoft has been the most vocal about its attempts to curb power use.
With "carbon aware" software updates and a number of options to make your console gaming more energy-efficient, Microsoft has been at the forefront of a number of initiatives designed to lower the carbon footprint of video games.
Which makes it all the more ironic that a 'fridge', designed to look like its video game console, is so energy-hungry.
Pretty shonky if you ask us.