Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

HTPC in Xbox (orig.) case

Last response: in Systems
Share
May 26, 2009 5:44:18 PM

I am building a new HTPC and found an old Xbox case in my basement which got me thinking. Would it be possible to fit an entire HTPC in an original Xbox enclosure? I am an experienced system builder, but have never used a custom case. Has anyone tried this / know someone who has?

I'm planning on using a Zotac ITX motherboard which is 6.7" x 6.7" (smaller than the Xbox motherboard). One thing that concerns me is the power supply. It needs to be very narrow. Has anyone encountered this problem / situation with a PC build?

Thoughts welcome.

More about : htpc xbox orig case

a b B Homebuilt system
May 27, 2009 5:40:28 PM

Sounds like an interesting project. Keep us updated on your progress. For a power supply, you could probably go with a picoPSU. You can find a good selection at this website:

http://www.mini-box.com/
Related resources
May 27, 2009 5:57:06 PM

It could definitely be done....sounds like a neat idea as i have three xboxs in my room atm...one is softmodded and one is stock...one is stock and broken...

I must admit the xbox is one hell of an awesome console to do emulation on....did i mention that the 360 SUCKSSS...so keep us posted
May 27, 2009 6:18:25 PM

rwpritchett said:
Sounds like an interesting project. Keep us updated on your progress. For a power supply, you could probably go with a picoPSU. You can find a good selection at this website:

http://www.mini-box.com/


Thanks! That site has some great stuff. Now I just need to make sure the processor I use only needs 1 4-pin power plug. The E8400 i was going to use requires 2 I think. But a lower power processor may need just 1.

Here's what I plan to put into it if anyone's interested.

Processor: Intel E7400 2.8 GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard: ZOTAC GF9300-D-E LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 9300 HDMI Mini ITX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: 2x1GB OCZ platinum

HDD: tbd

Optical: Laptop slimline DVD/CD combo (w/ adapter to standard ATA)

I also plan to connect the front LEDs up to power/hdd activity and use the original power button of course. Haven't decided what to use the eject button for yet.
May 27, 2009 6:20:29 PM

tonyn84 said:
If I read the description correctly, one version of those Zotac Ion boards has an external power brick, just like a laptop, that'd be the easiest way to go I think.

edit:
sold out currently but this is the one I was thinking of http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Interesting. It looks like I would have to use either Ion/Atom which I'm not crazy about doing. Neat that they embed the power though.
a b B Homebuilt system
May 27, 2009 6:24:17 PM

Can you re-use the stock Xbox optical drive?

There's also the new E6300 that is the same clock speed as the E7400 but has 1mb less L2 cache. It's cheaper.
May 27, 2009 6:51:06 PM

I think the Zotac motherboard is too tall to use the xbox DVD drive. They did some funky stuff to make sure that it would fit with the stock mobo. Also the supports for the mounting bracket will be covered up by my motherboard. I plan to mount the laptop drive to the inside of the top of the case, which should work fine. But there is a possibility that the Zotac will be just as short as the stock one, in which case I could try to modify the bracket and use any old 5.25" optical drive. I'll have to wait and see how the motherboard fits when I get it.

That E6300 is intriguing. Seems like it would be very low power indeed and dirt cheap.
May 27, 2009 8:17:27 PM

WTH!....you can do full 1080p on an intel atom...have you done any research at all!...this is going to be a total waste of money if you buy a processor that is several times the power that you actually need....
May 27, 2009 9:03:10 PM

rewindlabs said:
WTH!....you can do full 1080p on an intel atom...have you done any research at all!...this is going to be a total waste of money if you buy a processor that is several times the power that you actually need....


Thanks for your opinion. I have done research into it and it looks interesting. I was not planning on using an Atom or Atom/Ion system because its very new and I don't have any experience with it.

On the other hand I am the one paying for the parts not you...

Still...worth a second look at whats available.
a b B Homebuilt system
May 27, 2009 9:17:05 PM

On Anandtech, there has been several articles about the new Zotac Ion platform. Unfortunately, it has two critical flaws at this time:

#1 It does not support wake-on-USB from S3.
#2 It cannot play Hulu videos smoothly.

Until they work out the kinks with Ion, I would wait.
May 27, 2009 9:40:33 PM

Thanks. That makes a huge difference. I get a lot of TV from Hulu and it could be a deal breaker. Maybe the Atom/Ion can wait until they beef up the power.
May 27, 2009 9:52:04 PM

I never said you should buy an atom just that an 8400 or 7300 are way more than what you need...if you feel like being a moron and wasting cash yeah its your buy and your money ;) 

And again i never said the atom platform was a good one or one worth getting...just that it does support full 1080p and its quite a notch down the the 8 and 7 series c2d's....how you people got that i was recommending an atom is quite odd...
a b B Homebuilt system
May 27, 2009 9:55:52 PM

The OP never said specifically what this build will be used for. For all you know, he will be doing video encoding which requires quite a bit of CPU horsepower. There's no need to resort to name calling because you are making assumptions.
May 28, 2009 12:21:27 AM

rwpritchett said:
The OP never said specifically what this build will be used for. For all you know, he will be doing video encoding which requires quite a bit of CPU horsepower. There's no need to resort to name calling because you are making assumptions.

He said HTPC...if he plans on doing more he should list that...
May 28, 2009 5:36:57 AM

Yo chill out about my choice of CPU already. Who cares if you think I might pick an "overpowered" one. That's my choice. No one's forcing you to read this thread. End of story.
May 28, 2009 6:43:41 AM

You asked for my opinion/thought and im giving that...and someone is bringing up the possibility that you will need extra cpu power..if you think you have what you need all down pat then yippe....usually people try to build cost vs performance htpcs....
May 28, 2009 6:42:11 PM

I'm still not thrilled about the optical drive situation. I may just wait until after I get the motherboard and see what the space is like inside the 'box. Laptop DVD drive means buying an adapter to make it work.

Anyone know a good alternative to using a laptop DVD drive (that is smaller than standard 5.25")?
May 28, 2009 7:00:58 PM

Rewind, the whole thing about doing this is for a project. Have you tried to put anything into an old xbox? I dont think you have so, let the man do what he wants, it's a project he's willing to risk going for.

G.L.
May 28, 2009 7:07:32 PM

newegg has quite a few if you search for "slim dvd", most are external usb ones but some look like you could pop them out of their case
May 28, 2009 7:45:40 PM

External DVD player not a bad idea. Though they're not terribly cheap (>$50). Most are USB powered/connected so that would be a bit funky but do-able.

After a quick browse it seems like I'd have to shell out ~$20 for a slim ATAPI to SATA adaptor card. But I could use my current laptop's drive (which I never use anyways).

Still best case is if I can squeeze a 5.25" drive over the motherboard. I'll have to wait and see. Not sure when I can order the motherboard yet, hopefully within a few days.
May 28, 2009 10:07:47 PM

This is a really cool interesting project! Can you post post some pics!
May 29, 2009 12:16:28 AM

fullmetall said:
Rewind, the whole thing about doing this is for a project. Have you tried to put anything into an old xbox? I dont think you have so, let the man do what he wants, it's a project he's willing to risk going for.

G.L.

....try getting at me with something that actually matters....picking a less powerful or more powerful cpu isn't going to take up more sapce...thats decided by the cpu cooler he will chose :sarcastic:  troll elsewhere....the suggestions im handing out are very useful but your pointless attempts at criticism are not...

Anyways

i also would recommend using your current laptop drive...there is quite a bit of room between the top of the xbox and its own motherboard i mean they fit an entire drive+brackets there...so you should have more than enough space to set one up....you should look for a low clearance cpu cooler depending on how you seat the motherboard....depending on what you do with the drive i mean you may only use the drive to rip dvds and play everything from your hdd so if the internal one doesn't fit...just run get an external dvd enclosure for the laptop drive and you can run it when you need it....

and yeah you should definitely post some pics on your progress...might entice me to use my spare box
May 29, 2009 1:35:28 AM

Here's a few pics for those interested. I'll post some more when I get parts in.



Before removing all the parts. (for those of you who have never peeked inside an Xbox before...)




Took out the optical/HDD. underneath you see the mainboard and power supply




Everything ripped out. (front is facing to the right)




I made a mock up of the mobo i intend to get...used some cardboard and a stock intel cooler to get an idea of height. You cant see it very clearly, but the CPU fan is still about 3/4" below the top of the case which is fine.


Here's whats gonna save me...by using a Pico PSU I save a lot of space. (not shown, but it is basically is just cables)



By putting the motherboard to the right side (facing the front of the system), I think I can use a standard optical drive and put the HDD underneath it. As you can see, I will need to modify the DVD drive mounting bracket as it hits the motherboard in one spot, but that is no trouble.




Removed the front button panel. Going to connect the power switch and I plan on wiring up the LED's to power/HDD activity. I am thinking of trying to get the eject button to work also, but that would require soldering wires inside the DVD drive which I'm not not crazy about doing.
May 29, 2009 4:18:00 AM

Make sure to keep up the sweet documentation as im definitely interested now...great pictures....make sure to show off the dvd drive bracket modification...
a b B Homebuilt system
May 29, 2009 7:29:16 PM

@OP: Mind listing the actual space available in the Xbox case.
May 30, 2009 1:26:16 AM

anybody have tried to use Intel Atom N230 for the HTPC?
I like the idea to keep PSU outside of the box very much...and energy efficiency of the Atom... it seems to me that all heavy load of the HTPC is handled not by Atom, but Nvidia graphic processor....
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I would, of course, buy the N330, but it is not yet available as far as i can see...
May 30, 2009 1:31:56 AM

Yes you can, since the ION platform fully accelerates HD files, however there are still some flaws I've heard. And it can't deocde Hulu HD content I've also heard :lol: 
May 30, 2009 2:09:32 AM

AKM880 said:
Yes you can, since the ION platform fully accelerates HD files, however there are still some flaws I've heard. And it can't deocde Hulu HD content I've also heard :lol: 


is not it just a software problem which eventually is going to be solved?
well, i have never used Hulu service myself, so... do not know what I am going to miss....
My Xbox is sitting abandoned since 2003 loaded with Knoppix and Freevo, its PSU fan sounds like a remote highway, I hate it. decTop idea with PSU outside of the box was very nice one... decTop is dead silent.
May 30, 2009 3:09:35 AM

Shadow703793 said:
@OP: Mind listing the actual space available in the Xbox case.


Internal Dimensions:

11.5" x 8.25" x 3.25"



June 1, 2009 4:15:35 PM

Unfortunately, due to temporary funding (or lack thereof) problems, I may not be purchasing parts for another week. To recap, the parts I plan on using are as follows:

ZOTAC GF9300-D-E LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 9300 HDMI Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel Pentium E6300 Wolfdale 2.8GHz 2MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I plan to use the stock CPU cooler because I (hopefully) dont have a clearance problem with the motherboard and I'm not to worried about overheating.
I will measure the power consumption to be sure it is <100W before I purchase the Pico PSU. I feel fairly confident about this, since the processor is rated at 65W + ~20W for the peripherals.

After those have been confirmed to work properly:

picoPSU-150-XT, 102W Power Kit
http://www.mini-box.com/picoPSU-150-XT-102-power-kit?sc...

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I will certainly update status of this project when parts arrive.
June 1, 2009 7:21:39 PM

I'm building a very similar box to yours and I'm looking at using a different case which is wider but not as tall as the Xbox. I also have an extra Xbox case lying around so if you are successful, I may use that instead.





16.6"W x 2.25" H x 8.25" D

The inside has plenty of room for the same Mini ITX motherboard and there is probably enough room for a Slim Bluray drive and a Hard drive. I'll likely custom fabricate the front out of plexi-glass and reuse some of the old buttons.

It would be nice if I could reuse the old face which has an LCD screen, LEDs and knob but I'm not sure where to start for learning how to communicate with those electronics.

Also, because of the small height, I'm looking at using the following cooler:

ZEROtherm ATOM 30H Low-Profile cooler for ITX, MATX, HTPC-Retail - Retail
June 1, 2009 7:47:08 PM

Nice!

Yeah that is a full inch shorter than the 'box.

I'd thought about a blu-ray drive but don't have the cash for that at this time.

As far as reusing the old LCD screen, that would be cool but very tricky.
June 1, 2009 10:26:47 PM

dravis12 said:
Unfortunately, due to temporary funding (or lack thereof) problems, I may not be purchasing parts for another week. To recap, the parts I plan on using are as follows:

ZOTAC GF9300-D-E LGA 775 NVIDIA GeForce 9300 HDMI Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel Pentium E6300 Wolfdale 2.8GHz 2MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I plan to use the stock CPU cooler because I (hopefully) dont have a clearance problem with the motherboard and I'm not to worried about overheating.
I will measure the power consumption to be sure it is <100W before I purchase the Pico PSU. I feel fairly confident about this, since the processor is rated at 65W + ~20W for the peripherals.

After those have been confirmed to work properly:

picoPSU-150-XT, 102W Power Kit
http://www.mini-box.com/picoPSU-150-XT-102-power-kit?sc...

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I will certainly update status of this project when parts arrive.



Good luck, looks like a nice build. Hopefully you won't need a new fan for this board. Thats what I'm wondering about too. I want one of these but I want to use a better cooler :( 
June 1, 2009 11:01:09 PM

would it be possible to reuse the XBOX power supply to power the Zotac 9300 board? Is it powerfull enough? It looks like the pin-out might be fairly simple.
June 1, 2009 11:09:14 PM

emp3r0r said:
would it be possible to reuse the XBOX power supply to power the Zotac 9300 board? Is it powerfull enough? It looks like the pin-out might be fairly simple.


I had looked at that briefly, but am concerned with the connections. It only has a 20pin motherboard connection which the Zotac needs 24 pin. Also it only has a single molex connector, which i suppose is enough to power the hard drive and dvd player.

Basically, I'm missing 2 4-pin plugs (one for the motherboard, the other for the processor). I suppose if I could steal the right connections from the 4-pin molex then it is possible that it could work.

Another reason why I plan to get the motherboard/processor and test some things out before I get the power supply.

June 1, 2009 11:13:41 PM

Update: doing some investigation of the xbox power supply and comparing it to an ATX one, the connections are not the same and therefore I don't think it would work.
June 1, 2009 11:31:51 PM

Quote:
therefore I don't think it would work.


needless to say it is as loud as B-52
June 1, 2009 11:58:32 PM

uqbar said:
needless to say it is as loud as B-52

look at the pictures above, there is no fan tied directly to the XBOX PSU
June 2, 2009 12:12:35 AM

emp3r0r said:
look at the pictures above, there is no fan tied directly to the XBOX PSU


i have started thinking to abandon this idea altogether, since for some $50 I can get much better box...it is just too antique for nowadays.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 2, 2009 1:47:43 AM

dravis12 said:
Internal Dimensions:

11.5" x 8.25" x 3.25"

Thanks
June 2, 2009 2:50:00 AM

uqbar said:
i have started thinking to abandon this idea altogether, since for some $50 I can get much better box...it is just too antique for nowadays.



Yeah. I mean the original 'box isn't the prettiest thing in the world, I'm using it mostly for the challenge and nostalgia. You are correct, there are better looking cases out there to be had.

June 2, 2009 5:08:52 AM

dravis12 said:
Update: doing some investigation of the xbox power supply and comparing it to an ATX one, the connections are not the same and therefore I don't think it would work.
After reading the wikipedia page on ATX, it looks like the Xbox PSU could possibly work. All you'd need to do is rewire it. The 24pin connectors are backwards compatible with the 20pin connectors. As long as there is enough power going to the 12V rails then it would probably work. I've also researched other power supply options since I have internal room for a power supply.

I found all sorts of interesting options.
For example:
http://www.fspgroupusa.com/OPEN_FRAME/ITX/fspofitx.asp
June 2, 2009 1:13:07 PM

emp3r0r said:
After reading the wikipedia page on ATX, it looks like the Xbox PSU could possibly work. All you'd need to do is rewire it. The 24pin connectors are backwards compatible with the 20pin connectors. As long as there is enough power going to the 12V rails then it would probably work. I've also researched other power supply options since I have internal room for a power supply.

I found all sorts of interesting options.
For example:
http://www.fspgroupusa.com/OPEN_FRAME/ITX/fspofitx.asp



I suppose all the connections are there... (+/- 12V, +/- 5V) so you could re-wire it. But I am not thrilled with that prospect. I'd much rather use a PSU made for this kind of thing, like the link you sent.
June 5, 2009 5:34:10 PM

Parts are ORDERED.
June 6, 2009 3:53:33 AM

good luck! keep us posted with pics!
June 15, 2009 1:44:07 PM

I know its been a while, but the parts came in and I am almost finished. Below are some pics I took detailing my grueling journey. Put about 12 hours into this project over the weekend...I have all the parts except for the PSU, which will be in this week.



Here you can see I cut the metal insert out for the side and made a hole in the back for the ports. Used tin snips, that metal is surprisingly tough. I also cut through the plastic in the back with a Dremel...that tool was invaluable to this project.





Here's a side view where you can see what I cut a bit better. You can also see the motherboard mounting bracket, which I made with a piece of Plexiglas. I drilled holes for the standoffs and screwed the whole piece down using 3 of the screw holes that were already in the bottom of the case.





I used the same plastic bracket for the hard drive, just cut off all the extra stuff around it to make it a simple box. The front/left is an origional HDD bracket, the top/right is one I modified. This was convenient because it already has all the right holes to screw in the drive. You can see how much stuff I had to trim off, again the Dremel with a cutting bit was used.





Here's the DVD drive bracket, as you can see I cut the right half of it off because it would be over the motherboard. Left is the one I'm using, right is original. The bracket rests on top of the hard drive casing perfectly, so it is still supported sufficiently. Trimmed the extra supports off the bottom as well.






Motherboard installed with hard drive. I plan on securing the HDD bracket to the bottom of the case with some Velcro.






This is a very important thing to note, it's tough to see, but I drilled into the side of the case slightly (at the bottom) and when I set the motherboard I purposely had it hang partway into the "edge" of the case. This is because the DVD drive would not fit due to the RAM being in the way. Struggled with this for a while but this solution works fine. The top/side of the case does not hit the motherboard because it comes down along the very outside of the edge. (though I did have to trim the inside of the cover there were some vertical braces that had to be cut).





\

Everything in the case (except the PicoPSU, that wont arrive until Wednesday)






Shows some of the wiring I did to use the front buttons and lights. If anyone wants to know the pin outs I will gladly post the info just don't have it in front of me.

I was able to get the power button working great. Also I did end up cracking open my DVD drive and soldering wires to the eject button. Then I plugged that into the front eject button on the case and it works like a charm. I don't recommend this for inexperienced electronics users as it is not a great idea to open up your dvd drive and will certainly void any warranty. Hopefully I didn't damage the drive...







the right green side is the power LED and the left red is HDD activity...I think i messed up the pins because the HDD activity light stays on all the time I will have to fix that. MS did some funky stuff to that PCB...








....and liftoff (though I had tested the motherboard when i got it...) boot successful. All I really have left to do is secure the DVD drive, its gonna be a major pain because i cant get it to line up with the opening exactly as the Xbox one did...I am going to have to glue on the XBOX dvd drive plate and do some funky stuff...but I really want it to look right. Probably work on that Wednesday.

Checked power draw and it didn't go above 60W, and that's at the plug so internal is surely less. Only wished I had tested it while playing 1080p HD video. Still, sure to be <150W which is what the PSU is rated at.

Well that's all for now. Hope this interests some people. If there's any part where you want more description or another picture, let me know I will try to help you out.





June 19, 2009 12:55:42 PM

Alright folks. In case anyone is still following this...I pretty much wrapped things up last night. Finished mounting the hard drive/dvd drive. Just need to track down the case screws to hold the top on (minor detail...)

the PicoPSU works like a charm, system draws 60W average to about 75W max (playing 1080p HD video). well under the 110W AC/150W DC power supply rating.

I ran the system with the case closed for 8 hours last night, in the morning it was pretty toasty in there so I'm also going to add an 80mm fan to the front to blow some air around. HDD was pretty hot.

Again, anyone have questions let me know.
June 20, 2009 9:19:25 PM

Awesome project... I'm jealous xD! you MUST post final build pictures... also what is an HTPC <.<
a b B Homebuilt system
June 21, 2009 3:30:39 AM

Nice. Well done.
!