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 Post subject: XBox: loud, or quiet.. what's the cooling like?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2004 8:14 am 
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Theoretically it is a PC and prebuilt so I'm posting this in this section..

I've never owned an XBox, nor have I really had a chance to play with one so I have some questions..

How loud is it really? and I'm talking about the SPCR view of quiet, not the average joe's idea of quiet. I've heard it was originally very loud but then it seems newer versions are much quieter - is this true?

I've found this site which helps identify the version of the XBox.. and it looks like the more recent versions have a passively cooled CPU and GPU.

Are there any other fans in the box? Any have any linkage to internal pics?
Is the XBox undervoltable? :twisted:
What HDD does it contain? I'll probably swap it out for a Spinpoint or a flash disk.

Basically I want to run XBoxMediaCenter or XBoxMediaPlayer on it.. I'm not really interested in games.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2004 3:29 pm 
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Several of my friends have them. It produces a high pitched wine which I think is from its fan.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2004 3:44 pm 
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I have a Xbox and would say it's quiet. You can hear it if you mute the sound when playing, but it isn't a whiny sound. You might also hear the DVD-rom spin up a little bit, but it's not annoying. Only time you will hear the drive is if you are playing a game or watching a DVD, in which you will have the sound turned up on your tv anyway. I have played many times with the sound muted and would say it's quieter than an older Dell i have which i think is very quiet.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 3:19 pm 
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I have always thought that my xbox was loud, even before I became interested in silent pcs. :) I think the noise comes from every component. Whenever the optical drive spins up, it adds another layer to the fan noice and the sounds of the hd seek.

I don't know when I bought mine, I'm thinking a couple of years ago but time flies when you get old :? But if the difference between new/old is the fan vs. heatsink then I have the old.

Unless you can get an xbox real cheap, you would be better off building a cheap pc to run media center or other media software on than running it on xbox.

The xbox has:
733 MHz PIII or Celeron not sure which
NVidia NForce derivitave GPU
Audio Processor capable of real time dolby digital encoding
100mbit ethernet
4 usb ports
dvd-rom
20g hd
64 MB DDR Ram
and it runs on a modified 2000/xp kernel

I may be wrong about specific details but that is what I remember from product launch hype/xbox modification sites.

What I want to know is if I can get mine folding so that it can do something more useful than collecting dust. :D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 4:30 pm 
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could the Xbox software or OS be purchased and run off a regular PC?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 4:34 pm 
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No

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 1:54 pm 
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Thanks guys.. it seems that through its various incarnations it has got quieter.. I'm guessing if I buy one today then the chips will prolly be fanless.. but I'm guessing from what I read that there is a case fan. Hopefully I'll be able to mod it.
As to the HDD noise.. might swap it out - like a said, either spinpoint or flash disk.
As to DVD noise.. dunno.. worst case I'll swap it out.
NullObject wrote:
Unless you can get an xbox real cheap, you would be better off building a cheap pc to run media center or other media software on than running it on xbox.
you think I should get a normal PC instead? at amazon.co.uk an XBox is currently 120GBP or something.. which is pretty good I think. If I were to get a similar PC with a good small form factor case then it'll be more expensive I reckon. Buying an XBox gives me a quick off the shelf solution for only a bit more than a standalone DVD player.
NullObject wrote:
What I want to know is if I can get mine folding so that it can do something more useful than collecting dust.
You could smack linux on it (even dual boot) and run F@H.

Thanks guys.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:14 pm 
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I guess you have a different definition of "off the shelf" than I do. Installing the mod chip and delving into cross compiling your own OS and software using underground illegitimate compilers certainly isn't my idea of "off-the-shelf".

Those X-Box media player projects look really exciting, but it's rather daunting that they can't distribute or point you to ISO binaries...or even a suitable compiler for the source code they do distribute...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 9:01 pm 
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I agree with Isaac, but for what you want it for, it sounds like the Xbox might work. I would think that for a reasonable amount more, you would have a much better computer/media player. Also how much media you want to store might be a question. Initially, I thought 160g would be enough. But I decided that I needed all my CDs in both a lossless format, for preservation and listening on the stereo, and in mp3 for my portable player. Ok, I need another 160g for my pvr. And on it went.

But your post did make me realize that I could quiet my XBox down. And I didn't realize that the xbox/linux hack had made it that far.

Good luck with it and tell us how it went.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 2:53 pm 
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NullObject wrote:
I agree with Isaac, but for what you want it for, it sounds like the Xbox might work. I would think that for a reasonable amount more, you would have a much better computer/media player.
I've been looking into this for some time and I reckon the next step would be to have a P4/Athlon box with a digital TV card and a big disk.. but that'll cost much more than 120GBP. A good case alone would cost half the price of the XBox. A really good case is substantially more expensive than an Xbox.
I could prolly get the XBox even cheaper off EBay or some other places.

NullObject wrote:
Also how much media you want to store might be a question. Initially, I thought 160g would be enough. But I decided that I needed all my CDs in both a lossless format, for preservation and listening on the stereo, and in mp3 for my portable player. Ok, I need another 160g for my pvr. And on it went.
I don't actually want to store anything on it - like I said I might even stick a flash disk on it. It'll source stuff from CDs or DVDs and stream off ethernet. Sure I could add functionality to rip on the fly but I just want it for playback.

At the end of the day I like this hack because it'll allow me to play MP3s, stream audio and video and play DVDs. There is no major fiddling with hardware (mods are trivial, Isaac I think you are exaggerating), acceptable TV out in a average looking box (actually, I think it's butt ugly, but it's better than a beige desktop case) which isn't too big.

Guys, I appreciate the advice but the question is really just how loud/quiet it is.. I've investigated the ins and outs of HTPCs and considered the functionality I need and this is just a quick and happy hack.. when I have time I'll just buy one and play it by ear. I'm just asking about the noise because I've never seen/heard one.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 3:25 pm 
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The hardware mod is not what I'd be worried about the most--but that alone already disqualifies it from "off-the-shelf" status.

What worries me more is the lack of ISO images, or even a publically available compiler to work with. This is way beyond just trolling around for WAREZ, because you're cross compiling from source on a warez compiler. Like I said, it's not "off-the-shelf" by any stretch of the imagination.

My take on computer cases is that I'll likely never buy another case after acheiving better results with a homebrew case using minimal tools and a shoestring budget.

Not including the DVD burner, my new system cost about the same as an X-Box--except it's faster and more powerful in every way, is more expandable in every way, and runs more software. And all of its hardware and software has mainstream support. And the case is just plain cooler, IMHO.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 5:02 pm 
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IsaacKuo wrote:
My take on computer cases is that I'll likely never buy another case after acheiving better results with a homebrew case using minimal tools and a shoestring budget.

Not including the DVD burner, my new system cost about the same as an X-Box--except it's faster and more powerful in every way, is more expandable in every way, and runs more software. And all of its hardware and software has mainstream support. And the case is just plain cooler, IMHO.


Ok, I'll bite.. how can you make a PC in a stylish case (even a homebrew case).. with mobo, PIII733, 20gb hdd, dvd-rom, PSU, RAM, gfx and OS for under 120GBP, or say, 225USD (damn the dollar is weak)?
It would be good if it weren't too big too, otherwise it'll be ugly standing next to a video player.
I state 225USD as a price limit but maybe it should be nearer 120USD since when technology crosses the pond a 1:1 exchange rate is often used. :evil:

btw.. do you have any pictures of your homebrew cases? I don't really have the inclination to make my own case although I probably could if forced to do so, but it's always nice to see other people's work. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 6:03 pm 
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isaac had an earlier post about his inexpensive, homemade case: here. dunno about buying all the guts in that PC for the price of an xbox though.

some mini-itx mobos are fairly cheap and highly integrated and could be bought for less than an xbox. but you still need drives, memory, PSU etc. if you haven't seen http://www.mini-itx.com its worth a look just for all the crazy things people make cases out of. it may give you some new ideas.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2004 10:25 pm 
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One minor note about my homemade case--I removed the foam since it didn't seem to have any effect on the temperatures and didn't reduce noise as I had hoped it might.

Anyway, the price of the guts was low because I followed the same basic rule of thumb which always applies in bargain hunting--try to buy when you find a great deal, not when you need it.

The bulk of the guts were a Fry's deal for $150--the motherboard, P4Celeron 2.4, and 256Mb RAM. I've since heard bad things about Fry's and their computer equipment, so I'll be wary of them in the future. The PSU, a Fortron 350, I got at NewEgg's regular price of $42. The hard drives were ones I already had lying around, but hard drives are one place where it REALLY pays off to wait/hunt for deals. The difference between regular and sale prices can be greater than a 1:2 ratio!

The case, of course, cost less than $10. However, the new case I'm putting together will be about twice as much, because I'm using sandwiched construction for superior build quality. Thus, I'm using 12 tiles instead of only 6. The dimensions of the new case are much smaller--but not so much that I can get two panels for a single tile.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 6:10 am 
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IsaacKuo wrote:
One minor note about my homemade case--I removed the foam since it didn't seem to have any effect on the temperatures and didn't reduce noise as I had hoped it might.

Ok.. I admire your effort and I'm sure that it works great as a work PC but there is no way in hell I'm putting that in my home. firstly it won't be pretty sitting under my TV.. in fact it won't even fit.. secondly.. fire hazard.. thirdly.. no electrical shielding.. fourthly.. the holes everywhere are ugly.

btw.. did you find out why your HDTV playback was jerky? I don't think it should be jerky on a Cel2.4 unless it were overheating and throttling the CPU clock. If you need more CPU cooling then may I suggest a proper HSF like a Alpha 8942T with a Panaflo _sucking_ off it, through a duct out of the side of the case? Just a thought, criticism welcome.

IsaacKuo wrote:
The bulk of the guts were a Fry's deal for $150--the motherboard, P4Celeron 2.4, and 256Mb RAM. I've since heard bad things about Fry's and their computer equipment, so I'll be wary of them in the future. The PSU, a Fortron 350, I got at NewEgg's regular price of $42. The hard drives were ones I already had lying around, but hard drives are one place where it REALLY pays off to wait/hunt for deals. The difference between regular and sale prices can be greater than a 1:2 ratio!


Unfortuntely there is no real equivalent to Fry's in the UK but there are some sources of older stuff at cheap prices (like computer fairs and the like). To give you a taste of how UK vs US prices look then consider the cost of a Fortron 350 here in the UK - it's about 55 GBP excluding delivery (that's over 100 bucks!!).

So in conclusion, from a UK point of view, I could get creative on an XBox for 120GBP (plus cost of modchip) which only has one fan or build something like Isaac suggests which'll set me back at least 300GBP with one (noisy) stock Intel HSF and a (more acceptable) 120mm PSU fan.
Granted I'll have substantially more power in Isaac's solution but I only want DVD/DivX/streaming playback not a full HTPC with digital TV capture and all that exciting stuff.

flyingsherpa wrote:
isaac had an earlier post about his inexpensive, homemade case: here. dunno about buying all the guts in that PC for the price of an xbox though.

some mini-itx mobos are fairly cheap and highly integrated and could be bought for less than an xbox. but you still need drives, memory, PSU etc. if you haven't seen http://www.mini-itx.com its worth a look just for all the crazy things people make cases out of. it may give you some new ideas.


Thanks for the links flyingsherpa. re:mini-itx.. yeah, I know all about it - mobos aside I really like the slot loading DVD/CDRW combo drive - very expensive but sweeet. Also, most miniITX systems use the EPIA chips which are pretty good but they aren't really the mutt's nuts when it comes to multimedia.. there are some faster ones but they aren't fanless :(


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2004 7:37 pm 
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The reason the HDTV mpeg videos were jerky is simply because a 2.4 Celeron isn't fast enough. Everything I've ever read about the minimum requirements for playing 1920x1080 MPEG2 videos suggests that at LEAST a 2.2 P4 (not Celeron) is required for smooth playback. A 2.4 Celeron is not nearly fast enough.

As for your comments about my case--you can make a case using similar techniques to match your desires. I wanted a computer box to fit on TOP of my TV, so a compact footprint was more important than minimal height. A horizontal layout is actually easier to put together.

I don't know what you mean about "all the holes". Every hole is plugged up by whatever plugs into the port its for--except one. That one exception is the rear intake hole. In any case, none of the holes are visible from the front.

As for the fire hazard and lack of electrical shielding--I have since determined that both are basically negligible concerns. It would take some sort of very phenominal occurance to ignite a fire, and electromagnetic interference in either direction has no practical effect in practice.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2004 8:01 am 
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I've got a modded xbox aswell.

Mine I think is quite loud, its currently louder than my PC which is really annoying - and my PC I can hear in the middle of the night if I put my head about 2M away - I need to do some more work on it since upgrading my CPU.

I think that if you are doing it for a cost reason you ought to add on to the fact that its going to cost you to add a modchip, because these don't come free aswell as the hassle of doing it. Say £30. If you want a remote thats going to cost £20 aswell. Larger harddrive? Add the cost of this.. Wireless etc. etc.

but its still a cheap box for what it does in your TV.

I am now going to build a HTPC but I am still going to have the xbox and hopefully the 2 will co-exist nicely (with MythTV)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 10:05 am 
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I've got a modded Xbox, too. I've replaced the original hard disk with an IBM 75GXP I had lying around. My goodness... it is loud! I'm thinking about getting a Barracuda IV instead. I know there is also a mod at xbox-scene.com for installing an 80mm case fan to replace the loud blower they've got. I'm thinking that the IV and a Panaflo would do wonders for it!

As far as the media player software goes, don't fret. It's really not that difficult. The only thing I had any trouble with was the mod chip. I used one with "pogo pins" (rather than soldering), and they're difficult to align. I think my DVD reader was having trouble with the disc, too, because now that everything is installed the "pogo pins"are actually tough to get out of alignment!

I use the Xbox as an HTPC. In fact, I use my computers AIW 9600 card to record the Simpsons every day (is there anything else worth watching?). Windows shares the directory over the network, and I've (easily) set up my Xbox to recognize the share. This way, I get home late from work and just plop down on the couch to watch the episode I missed (without commercials, of course) on my TV. I'll be getting the Xbox DVD remote this weekend, and it is fully compatible with the Media Player app. That will definitely make it a complete solution. One quick note- 3rd party remotes won't work... only the original MS one. Don't ask why because I don't know.

The hackers/programmers who have created all the Xbox mods are truly in a class by themselves. I'm constantly impressed by just how refined everything is. These guys have thought of everything you can possibly need to make the Xbox an ideal HTPC. Now if I can only make it quiet!

I encourage everyone who's interested in HTPCs to seriously consider the modded Xbox. The AIW card in your silent PC can be the icing on the cake.

Good luck.

(By the way, the purpose of modding the Xbox is to make it an HTPC, not to play illegal copies of games. Don't play copied games... it gives MS a valid reason for persecuting all modders.)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2004 12:56 pm 
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My Xbox is VERY loud-- IMO of course. The drive is incredibly whiny and the fan is noisy.

For comparison, my HTPC with

- undervolted 120mm enermax fan
- seasonic super tornado 300 PS
- dual 160gb samsung spinpoints

(no other noise producing items in box)

is far quieter. It's not even close, really


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:23 pm 
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I modded my Xbox to fit a Papst 80mm fan inside it. Works great! And Runs cool. Although I did have to hack into the pastic of the xbox to fit it in. (Xbox comes with a custom built 70mm fan)

Like everything in life. If it's too loud, MOD IT and change the fan!

I wouldn't say an Xbox is as loud as a PC of today. However almost all fans are too noisy for me ;).

Warrenty to me is like a 24 hour thing, it basically covers that it works before you hack it ;). True for most PC parts.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 16, 2004 10:35 pm 
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You'd have to replace the hard drive too. It's very whiny and loud, at least by Samsung spinpoint standards.

But yes, once you replaced the 80mm fan and the hard drive, I could see the Xbox being fairly quiet.


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