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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  • jkostans - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Well if a 700MHz P3 with 64mb ram and a geforce 4 can run doom 3 then imagine what you can do with mid-range hardware today. There is a lot of processing power in that box, especially for the price. I mean yeah a high-end PC is more powerful, but that's the way it's always been. I'm not a console person, mostly because I like shooters and a mouse/keyboard is completely necessary. Did microsoft change their policy towards keyboards and mice? I would love to lay the smack down on my friends in halo, but gamepads suck! Also whatever happened to the console being able to play with a pc over the internet? Didn't dreamcast have something like that? Reply
  • coldpower27 - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Heh, they should say that if the computational power of each pipeline is inferior to the dedicated Pixel/Vertex Pipes used in the R520. They are more versatile in the fact that they can execute both pixel/vertex shaders, but in exchange for that versatility each pipe is made more simple, and there are more of them over conventional GPU's.

    Reply
  • CZroe - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Why didn't they take apart the HDD unit's enclosure? Wouldn't be any less interesting. I'd sure like to know what brand, size and interface it uses. True capacity? Reply
  • DRavisher - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Have I understood correctly that the GPU and CPU share a 22.4GB/s 512MiB memory? Isn't that kind of low compared to PC graphics? Reply
  • Pythias - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Have I understood correctly that the GPU and CPU share a 22.4GB/s 512MiB memory? Isn't that kind of low compared to PC graphics?


    Nope. Its on par with low/midrange. But they be making games with it for years to come. Unlike the current flavor of the month gpu.
    Reply
  • Slaimus - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    The article says the chip has the processing power of a 24-pipeline R420, but only about 1/3 of its memory bandwith. Although you do have to keep in mind the bandwith that does not get wasted on AA thanks to the daughter chip. Reply
  • lexmark - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    with the tedious security features, i wonder how many people will bother modding with the new $399 version... Reply
  • BigandSlimey - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Looking at the internal shots it highlights the huge area taken up by the DVD drive, I wonder if they used laptop DVD drive tech, they could've made the console much smaller. Reply
  • tuteja1986 - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    yeah... but then we would get a crappy laser that would die ! Reply
  • apriest - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    HD gaming, but no DVI or HDMI?!! Shame, shame Microsoft... Reply

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