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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  • 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
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, November 18, 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.

    According to what I've read, that's support for a Windows Media Center PC attatched to it, not the ability to run Windows Media Center.. That's not really what I want. I want to be able to hook the thing up to a TV, insert a CD or DVD with DivX content on it, and just play back that way. Still not clear if I can do that.
  • Ecmaster76 - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    I demand further disassemblage of the DVD!

    Check and see if it is a single chip SATA logic or a bridged soulution please. If its the former, I predict a surge in availability of cheap, (oem?) SATA DVD-ROMs.

    Which is good news for people who like cable management or own a newer Intel mothernoard.
  • Xenoterranos - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    I was dissapointed in the RAM being soldered to the board. I was looing forward to ramming a couple gig-sticks in there. Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    Open case - ramm a couple sticks in - close case - shake it - done. Reply
  • Googer - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    I went to my local Worst Buy and played call of duity 2. The graphics were cr*p with no anti-aliasing. If this is any indication of what to expect from this console then PC games and their players should have little to worry about. Reply
  • dj 315 - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Still it seems most have been set up incorrectly Reply
  • nyquistcapital - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the close up shot of the South Bridge device. Can you provide more close ups of the 208PQFP directly above the GPU, and the other component to the left of the GPU, past the 2x DDR.

    Really cool stuff guys!
  • lymz - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    The capacitors in the pictures look an awful lot like the ones that Dell and Apple are having problems with. Perhaps something worth investigating... Reply
  • kilkennycat - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Seems as if a fan failure (or blockage of the inlet air passage) could potentially cause catastrophic failure of the critical silicon without effective thermal protection.

    Anand, Kris, Tuan:-

    Any idea of the nature and effectiveness of the thermal protection -- or wanna carry out a potentially destructive test by blocking up the inlet air on your presumably-rare Xbox360? An important issue for the TYPICAL technically-naive purchaser of the Xbox360, who is likely to be very careless about the Xbox360 ventilation and certainly will forget to regularly clear the inlet air-holes of sticky crud and junk. And what about the close-packed-finned heat-sink on the CPU? Such heat sinks on PC CPUs fill up completely with lint after about 6-9 months in a typical home environment. The Xbox360 is DELIBERATELY built to be non-user accessible for cleaning or any other purpose. A very big mistake. The internal air-duct should have been built on to a user-removable cover to expose the heat-sinks and fans for routine cleaning. I have had my share of cleaning out PCs that have become completely blocked up with crud, the first obvious symptom being erratic shut-down of the CPU by the motherboard thermal protection. The Xbox360 dissipates a lot of power in the core silicon --- much more than the old Xbox.

    At present, I highly recommend taking a 2-year extended replacement warranty on the Xbox360, so that WHEN ( not IF) the heat-sinks fill up with junk (or the fans fail) and the box begins to function erratically, the owner can get a brand-new one :-) :-) :-)

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