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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  • Snuffles - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    From the article:

    quote:

    Unfortunately, we have yet to hear from Microsoft if this means that all games must be internally rendered at 1280 x 720 or if they can be rendered at a lower resolution and upscaled later on. There have been discussions involving at least one Xbox 360 game (Project Gotham Racing 3), rendering internally at a lower resolution and having the Xbox 360's TV encoder upscale it to 720p.



    The reason for this can be found on Bizarre's Forums:

    quote:

    For those wondering why this information would be true, here's the technical reason for why the game would probably be running at 1024x600 interally. On the Xbox 360, there is a thing called DRAM which serves as the framebuffer for the image. It has 10MB of DRAM, which means it can store a 10MB image, and the advantage is that it can render that image very fast (this is what gives the Xbox 360 it's "free" AA capability). Now the thing is, that 10MB can only store a full HD image (1280x720 and above) WITHOUT Anti-aliasing. So, they have a system where games can split a frame into seperate sections called tiles so that each tile would fit into that 10MB of DRAM. However, tiling is something that may have to be planned for early in the game's development, and the final Xbox 360 development kits (which were the only ones to include the DRAM) were only made availible a few months ago. In turn, Bizarre may not have had time to build tiling into the game, and therefor wouldn't have been able to enable anti-aliasing when it's running at HD. So instead, what they've likely done is lowered the resolution to 1024x600 and enabled 2xAA (which coincidentally fits into the 10MB DRAM buffer perfectly), which allows them to use anti-aliasing without adding tiling into the game.



    http://www.bizarreonline.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t...">Link

    This essentially means that all later games which are built from ground up to include tiling, will feature free AA and a native 720p resolution. PGR3 had to go this route, because of lack of time with the final devkit and time restraints in order to make launch.
    Reply
  • Questar - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    " We roughly estimated the power of the Xbox 360 GPU to be similar to that of a 24-pipeline ATI R420 GPU."

    What do you base this on?
    Reply
  • Questar - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    " We roughly estimated the power of the Xbox 360 GPU to be similar to that of a 24-pipeline ATI R420 GPU."

    What do you base this on?
    Reply
  • nourdmrolNMT1 - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    these screws are NOT torx screws. these are Hex Heads.

    you aint gunna be using a torx driver to remove them. there is a difference, and the T7, T8 are what comfirm this. Torx have 5 points, these have 6, and are deffinately completely different from torx as they are much harder to strip out.

    no, its Dice as proven above.
    Reply
  • bldckstark - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    From wikipedia.com search for torx -->

    quote:

    Torx is the trademark for a type of screw head characterized by a 6-point star-shaped pattern (in the same way that flatheads, Phillips, Allen, and Robertson have flat, ×-shaped, hexagonal, and square tips, respectively). People unfamiliar with the trademark generally use the term star, as in "star screwdriver" or "star bits." The generic name is hexalobular internal driving feature and is standardised by the International Organization for Standardization as ISO 10664.


    A hex head is usually referred to as an Allen bolt or the infamous Allen wrench.

    And as I posted earlier, from dictionary.com, the definition of dice is as follows --> A small cube marked on each side with from one to six dots, usually used in pairs in gambling and in various other games.

    The item referred to in this in plural form is dies.
    Reply
  • Ruark - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    "You can now lift up the motherboard out of the metal chassis."
    Less awkward, "You can now lift the motherboard out of the metal chassis."

    "Three star bit screw drivers in the following sizes: T6, T7 and T12"
    Is a three star ranked a little lower than a four star? ;) At first glance, I thought this was certainly a secure method of attachment if a screw driver with a three pointed star tip was needed. Torx, torx, torx!

    "After two corners have been lifted, the rest of the clamp springs loose and can easily be removed by hand."

    As these are not the small cubes used for gaming, the plural should be dies.
    Reply
  • Ruark - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    "Using your start bit screw drivers, remove the silver screws. . ." Reply
  • PhoneZ - Thursday, November 17, 2005 - link

    "..START bit screwdriver.."? Or is that supposed to be star? Since we feel the need to correct people. Reply
  • Live - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    So how do we overclock it? Reply
  • DrZoidberg - Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - link

    quote:

    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?
    Reply

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