Most of you will remember back in the days when the only site
crazy or stupid enough to cut a hole in their case and add a
fan to it and calling it a "Blow Hole" was
[H]ardOCP. Since then, we have overclocked just about
everything there is to overclock, and in our quest for speed
there hasn't been a piece of hardware out there that we
haven't burned up along the way. This has only emphasized the
importance of cooling to us, which in turn has spawned some
pretty ingenious methods of cooling around here over the last
Having said that, we have been water-cooling our systems long
before it ever became "cool", and certainly before
there were sites dedicated to water-cooling or even retail
businesses to specifically support it. I have used and tested
every water-cooling component "known to man", from
homemade waterblocks all the way to retail water-cooling kits
and systems. Matter o' fact, three of the five systems I run
are currently water-cooled machines.
Water-cooling, when done correctly, is far superior to any air
cooled system. This is especially true in small, cramped
spaces where fans do barely more than circulate the hot,
trapped air. The inside of an Xbox is certainly cramped, and
being the damn thing is made up of PC components, it gets
pretty hot inside.
I decided to take my water-cooling hobby (yes, water-cooling
can be a hobby) and apply it to an Xbox. . .if it was
Here's the unsuspecting victim, the Xbox gaming console.
Obviously, since the space inside the Xbox is already at a
minimum, the water-cooling system will NOT be able to be
installed on the inside of the unit. The challenge will be to
construct an effective, external water-cooling system that also
doesn't look like complete ass.
I have a few goals with this project:
1. Better overall cooling for the Xbox.
2. Making a unit that can be replicated with fairly
common components, without spending a fortune.
3. Clean, professional installation. No ghetto
installation, no use of epoxy to attach a crappy homemade
waterblock, and no zip ties or wire and bubblegum tricks.
4. Leaving the Xbox without any permanent alterations so
that it may be easily returned to original condition.
There are a few things you will need for this project. Not all
items have to be the same, but it helps since this
is a proven system. Obviously, there is a lot of room for
experimentation. This is simply a guideline of some the
components I used for this project. I will not list every
component used, since this isn't a step-by-step
"how-to" article, but the important items are listed.
A. Black plastic file cabinet, preferably something that
comes as close to the same color/texture/style as the Xbox
are easy to find and very inexpensive (under $10 US).
waterblock used for this mod was chosen because it worked
perfectly with the existing heatsink hold-down device already
installed on the Xbox. The unit was also chosen because of its
great cooling ability and low profile ($24.99 US).
C. The reservoir and water pump selected for this project
dual pump setup used in Koolance systems, although any
reservoir and pump can be used. Some people prefer external
pumps used in conjunction with a separate reservoir, as opposed
to reservoirs that incorporate submersible pumps.
D. Radiator, again, is a matter of choice. I happened to
have a handful of different units available for this project.
E. AC/DC Adapter (110v AC to 12v DC). These can be found
anywhere for less than $5.00.
F. Hose, clamps and couplings can all be found at your
local hardware store. 3/8" OD (outside diameter) is the
largest size hose that can be used without modifying the Xbox
This article is NOT a "How-To". Most of the steps you
will see here are basically an account of what we did. If you
feel like we didn't cover a certain area thoroughly enough,
chances are we intended it that way. Common sense must be
applied to this project, and we certainly don't recommend anyone
tear apart their $300.00 gaming console if they are not fully
aware of the consequences. I will go into a little more detail
about this at the end of the article.
First, you have to open your Xbox "without voiding your
warranty" like we
did the last time we cracked an Xbox open to show you guys the
insides. The easiest way to do this is by using a blow dryer
to heat the labels that are covering the screw holes and gently
peel them back.
The heat allows the labels to be removed without tearing, or
losing the adhesiveness of the label itself, so that it can be
easily reapplied. It is best to just peel the label back as far
as needed to get the screw out, without removing the whole
label. Also, use heat when removing the feet of the console to
ensure the adhesive comes up with the feet.
Note that the screws on the XBOX are almost all of the "Torx"
kind, so you will need a Torx head size down to T6 to fully
disassemble the XBOX.
Now that we have figured out how to open the Xbox without
breaking the labels, let's turn our attention to designing and
building our water-cooling system. We'll come back to the inside
of the Xbox later.
(Please note that opening your XBOX does in fact void the
warranty, and the techniques noted above do not in any way keep
you from voiding it.)