Update: If you're looking for instructions on how to disassemble the new slim Xbox 360 read our updated guide here!

Microsoft's first try at a gaming console amounted to essentially a very affordable PC.  It used standard PC components, including a mobile Intel processor (a hybrid Pentium 3/Celeron), a desktop NVIDIA chipset, a Western Digital hard drive and relatively standard PC DVD-ROM.  The original Xbox was such a PC in fact that there were quite a few users that wanted to mod it simply to have a cheap PC, not even for gaming - including ourselves.  

Before the Xbox was launched, Microsoft was very concerned with users thinking of the Xbox as nothing more than a PC branded as a gaming console, so it went to great lengths to reduce the association.  For example, the strict ban on keyboard and mouse support, despite the fact that the console implemented the standard USB interface.  

With the Xbox 360, Microsoft gained some benefits of the original Xbox success.  Xbox didn't win the sales battle against Sony's PlayStation 2, but the first Xbox was strong enough to cement Microsoft's name in the world of console gaming manufacturers.  For their second time around, there is less worry of the Xbox 360 being viewed as a just a PC, so Microsoft took a bolder approach.  

Honestly, with the Xbox 360, Microsoft could have put forth another PC in a black box and it probably would have done fine.  But with their second gaming console, the target was growth -- and Sony.  With an established name and fanbase, it was time to take the market seriously and start to exert some dominance and thus the Xbox went from being a clunky black box of a PC, to a stylish consumer electronics device.

The Xbox 360 is smaller than the original Xbox, and its wireless nature makes it a natural fit in the living room - marking a thankful change from standard gaming consoles of the past.  Despite looking like the offspring of an iPod and a DVD player, the Xbox 360 is still very much a PC on the inside.  As such, it's got all of the components we're used to.

With less than a week to go before the retail availability of Xbox 360 consoles, we got our hands on one to give it the usual AnandTech once-over.  And take it apart of course.  

What's in the Box?

Our Xbox 360 system was the $399 unit, which comes with the following:

- Xbox 360 console
- 20GB Removable Hard Drive
- Wireless Controller
- Headset
- DVD Remote
- Ethernet Cable
- Component AV Cables
- External Power Supply

 

The $299 core system gives you the same console (with a white DVD tray cover), a wired controller, and standard composite AV cables; there's no hard drive, headset or remote.

By now you have undoubtedly heard about the massive external power supply that comes with the Xbox 360 and you can see it in the lower left hand corner of the picture above. Remember that in the original Xbox, the power supply was internal.  But with the power requirements of the Xbox 360 being significantly higher than its predecessor, while featuring a noticeably smaller case, the only solution was to take the power supply out of the Xbox 360. 

What's in the Box, in the Box? (Taking it Apart)
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    According to Microsoft and Intel, the plural of 'die' when referring to a CPU die, is 'dice'.

    Microsoft's internal documentation talking about the Xbox 360 also refers to the ATI Xenos GPU as having two dice.

    I am waiting for responses on other chip makers to make sure that the correct form of the word is dice.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • gamigin - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    Anand,

    Do you have any evidence to back up the following quote in spite of game developers claiming otherwise?

    "game developers shouldn't run into capacity limitations on Xbox 360 discs anytime soon"



    BTW, the plural of a manufacturing die is dies. If Microsoft or Intel said dice, then they are just wrong.
    Reply
  • Phantronius - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    Who are you, my fucking English teacher? Reply
  • yacoub - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    Very interesting! Thanks for taking the time to respond, Anand.

    I wouldn't be surprised if it simply slipped through marketing department editing, considering dictionary.com is saying it should be "dies". "Dice" is normally only ever for the six-sided tools of chance/gambling.

    If they're creating a new use for the term, that in itself would be pretty noteworthy as well.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    Well the term dice is what the CPU architects use, so I don't think it's a marketing/PR mishap.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • gamigin - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    Most CPU architects certainly do not use the term "dice" as the plural to a manufacturing die.

    It's probably the same Microsoft guys who standardized the non-word "canonicalize"
    Reply
  • Kilim - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    Ah dude, are you saying that "normal" dice are only for six sided dice? Ohhhh, someone is trying to get the D&D guys to start flaming him, lol. =p. Reply
  • linuxOwnzIfUrLeet - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    I lost the link to the mod chip can someone post?
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    1) If I buy the cheaper XBox360, how easy is it to add my own notebook hard disk later if I want it? Would have been very useful to know, and wasn't made clear.
    2) Media playback compatibility info --I'm sure the unit can play DVD's, and probably MP3's, but can it play DivX content? Xvid? MPEG-4 or HD WMV? These would be good things to know. A video game console has moderate usefulness to me; a video game console with broad media playback capabilities far more so.

    Finally, a comment to Microsoft: If the Xbox360 had Media Center compatibility (read: PVR), I'd have bought it in a heartbeat without having to think about it. It would be the perfect home theater convergence device. It's really too bad this wasn't an option.
    Reply
  • Penth - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    In response to your second point, the XBox360 does include support for Windows Media center. That is my main point of interest as well. The latest update rollup for windows media center 2005 (was released just over a month ago) adds support for the xbox360. Notice in the picture of the remote it also has the green button. Reply

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