What's in the Box, in the Box? (Taking it Apart)

Microsoft has shown the world that it's very swift when it comes to recovering from errors that it has made. With the original Xbox design, Microsoft was definitely testing new ground and thus had little experience when it came to protecting its intellectual property and hardware. The original Xbox was largely easy to open by most people with the most common of tools and was quickly adopted by the modding community as the ultimate "utility" console.

In an attempt to circumvent those with modified Xboxes, Microsoft added security and authentication features to its Xbox Live service that would detect whether an Xbox was in its original form or not. But the mod community did not sit idle and not long after, mod chips were introduced that were able to switch on and off between original BIOS mode and "modified" BIOS mode.

Microsoft has clearly announced to the public that it has designed the Xbox 360 from the ground up to thwart those who want to crack open the case -- even simply for a look inside. They have stated that the unit will be screwless (partially true) and be extremely difficult to disassemble -- unfortunately only partially true.

With a few simple tools we were able to disassemble the entire unit, removing every component from the system without any damage. If you plan to take apart your Xbox 360 -- and we must warn that doing so will void your warranty immediately -- the following tools are needed:

  • Three torx screw drivers in the following sizes: T6, T7 and T12
  • One small flat head screw driver or small and thin wedge
  • A 2 inch long and thin (roughly 1.5mm thick) metal stick
  • A 2 inch long and flat (less than 1mm thick) plastic or metal stick
  • A pair of thin pliers

With those tools in hand, we're ready to disassemble the Xbox 360.

Index Removing the Outer Shell


View All Comments

  • 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 :-) :-) :-)
  • fuzzynavel - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Thanks for the article....shame slash-dot has killed your bandwidth!!

    Seems like a good point about overheating...maybe worth waiting till 65nm chips start showing up...won't get one in the UK till way after christmas anyway!!(haven't pre-ordered)

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