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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  • 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)
  • Face27 - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Is it my connection or is anandtech being really slow, its not loading any of the pictures which is what I wanna look at. I'm guessing this is quite a popular article.
  • zech - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    The article was slashdotted:

    Anandtech's servers aren't handling this /. very well. But this is one of the first Xbox360 interal reviews (in a PC-hardware sort of fashion), so I'm sure every Xbox360 forum out there is posting links to it.
  • ItsOnlyMonday - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Yes, these pictures are on multiple forums, somee even lack proper credits.. :-\
  • gamigin - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

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

    Prominent game developers disagree

    From "http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=56...">http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=56.... Note that this interview was before the next gen console debate in 2004.
    The danger is currently the storage medium (DVD), and one we thing we’re all praying for in the next round of hardware is that they don’t just go, ‘It’s DVD again’. We’ve done some clever stuff with compressing it, but we were virtually full on the disc with Vice City – this time we’re overfilling the disc to the max.”
  • quanta - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    If the developers worry about that much on not enough space to store sound samples, they should have invested on text to speech technology a long time ago, instead of relying on prerecorded sample. Unlike the cheesy Macintalk TTS in the 1980s, modern TTS can accurately simulate human speeches, even the emotional tones. Hey, Ananova uses it, does it not? That way the developers don't even have to worry about rehiring dead/retired/on-strike workers doing voices for games based on century-old movies!
  • gamigin - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Voice synthesis is great but it's really not at the point of replacing voice actors for dramatic games. Can you imagine watching a movie with the voices of your favorite actor dubbed in by a computer? Not quite the same.

    Also, it's more than just voice overs; a lot of space is used for graphics, models, textures, landscapes, animation data, sound effects, and music.

    Most current games don't need more capacity than standard DVD at the moment but some definitely do and others could at least take advantage of it.
  • quanta - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    Actually, the emotionalal aspect of TTS is already been done by http://www.computing.dundee.ac.uk/staff/irmurray/s...">various people. In fact, many commercial grade TTS software that supports http://www.w3.org/TR/speech-synthesis/">SSML already able generate emotionally sounding voices. It's not Microsoft's fault that game developers don't try to use/refine the existing TTS engines to make them usable for voice acting applications.
  • Xenoterranos - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    Ywah, sure, but can you get a computer to do a dead-on Ray Liotta? I think not my friends, I think not!
  • quanta - Tuesday, December 6, 2005 - link

    Why don't you try it first before commenting? You can find some demos on http://www.nuance.com/realspeak/rvoice/english.asp">Nuance rVoice's site. Depending on the title, the TTS voices sound better than the real live voices in some games.

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