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
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  • DrZoidberg - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link


    There are 48 shader units in the Xbox 360 GPU, but given that we're dealing with a unified shader architecture, you can't compare that number directly to the 24 shader pipelines of the GeForce 7800 GTX for example. We roughly estimated the power of the Xbox 360 GPU to be similar to that of a 24-pipeline ATI R420 GPU.

    Aww.. u guys shouldnt say that. Now it doesnt sound that amazing anymore.
    24 pipe x800 doesnt sound as good as 48 pipe x1800xt.

    Still great work disassembling console. It looks like it takes a while to disassemble it. Would this mean it would be hard to mod xbox360?
  • 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?
  • 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.

  • 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?
  • 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?
  • Pythias - 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?

    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.
  • 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.
  • lexmark - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    with the tedious security features, i wonder how many people will bother modding with the new $399 version...
  • 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.
  • tuteja1986 - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    yeah... but then we would get a crappy laser that would die !

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