Swoosh. The door at Walmart opens to a somewhat scruffy looking young man in his late teens/early twenties. A set of peering eyes look out from under a dark colored hood and quickly scans the deserted aisles, then looks past the wax machine quietly removing any history of the previous days activities, and over to the electronics section. "It’s gonna be a long day..." sighed the young man checking the clock on the wall that reads 3:30am. But with a quiet determination, he is ready to face the challenge. To him there is no other place he would rather be... assuming the payoff is the latest entertainment system from Microsoft: the Xbox 360. With a bag full of munchies and a bottle of water, he is ready to do what must be done... wait in line.
For many hardcore gamers around the US, this story was repeated over and over. Currently, as I write this, there are people lined up outside the local Circuit City, Kmart, Walmart, and most any other store that will carry the Xbox. Unfortunately for them, only the first few in line will get a chance to take home the prized possession. With a major shortage in systems (my Walmart only had 18 total), this console is bound to drive up Ebay prices. Thankfully I was able to get my hands on one. For this I have to thank my brother, father, co-worker, and employer for being flexible and standing in line for me as I took care of business elsewhere. I hereby give them a public and loud THANKS! However, you probably couldn't care less about my experience... so on with the disassembly.
The Xbox 360 is a powerful entertainment center. It hosts a processor that supports six threads, runs graphics at 500MHz, can handle 9 billion dot product operations per second, hosts three USB ports, has an internal 2.4GHz radio for wireless controllers, and contains a plethora of other features that allow this system to take on the role of household entertainment center. Simply put, this system is supposed to rock for years to come.
Well, as it is in my nature, I wanted to see what this compact device hosted under its cover. Of interest, Microsoft gave the public the impression that they were taking extreme measures to keep people out of their hardware. Due to rampant Xbox modifications, some of which allow piracy and various other things Microsoft would like to see go away, they took the design of this system very seriously. However, this type of talk generally has one result: a complete and utter attack to see how the hype holds up. Unfortunately, I have to say that I can take an Xbox apart from top to bottom in 5 minutes flat... and yes, it still works after I put it back together again. I do recognize a difference between this new version and the older one, but I hope MS put more effort into securing the software than they did the hardware!
This guide will show you how to take apart your own Xbox 360 in five minutes, from top to bottom, case to processor. In addition, we also recorded most of the processor specs for your enjoyment and also took apart a wireless controller so you can see how it looks from the inside. Finally, we did a little wireless analysis on the 2.4GHz range to see just how well MS handled their frequency use.