Our Favorite XBOX To HTPC Hacks

Let’s face it, the original Xbox is ugly. It might have looked cool when it first came out but now most would be embarrassed to display that old beast with the rest of their entertainment hardware. This is unfortunate because the old girl still has some life in her. If you have tools, time, and talent you can give the box a facelift and bring it back to see the light of day. We’ve got six of our favorite Xbox to Home Theater PC hacks after the break to inspire you.

Xbox mini by [Ghostavel]

This case was designed in autocad and laser cut from acrylic. The DVD drive was and the HDD swapped for an 80gig laptop drive to save space. A different heat sink and fan added to both the GPU and processor to keep this puppy cool and quiet. To the right in the foreground you can make out a tiny PSU.

Pioneer DVD Case by [Barney_1]

DVD players are designed to sit in your entertainment center and that’s why they’ve been a popular home for Xbox guts. This hack removed the standard AV connector from the Xbox board and routes those solder points to the connections on a Pioneer DVD player case. An LCD display resides in the window for the DVD player’s display, and a PC DVD-Rom (not pictured above) takes the place of the original DVD tray. The power and eject buttons have been wired to work and the original IR receiver wired to the Xbox dongle, leaving the appearance (at least from the front) completely unaltered.

Xbox Slim by [Coca627]

This case is made from methacrylate. The hardware changes include a smaller PSU, a slim DVD-rom, laptop HDD, and added USB ports. WiFi and wireless controllers have been included in the design. The white is a nice touch and will complement that white Wii that looks lonely next to the rest of your black components.

Minibox by [Themikesssta]

This is more of a mod than a hack but it’s a pretty amazing one. On the hardware side he did remove some capacitors for less current draw during boot. The DVD and HDD have been swapped out for smaller ones and an LCD display has been added. The case is made from MDF but it’s the paint job that makes this look so good. There’s a total of five coats on this tiny box.

Xbox Micro by [Bandit5317]

We featured the Xbox Micro last year because it’s a marvel of slimness. It’s got a laptop HDD and long-thin PSU and almost nothing else. Some serious shoe-horning had to be done to make the package this thin, and the finished look greatly benefits from those efforts.

Svelte XBMC by [Richard Wileman]
There’s not much info on this case but we think it’s rather sexy so we’re throwing it in. As you can see, the DVD drive is gone, the HDD is smaller, and cooling has been upgraded with a fanless heat-sink and two case fans. The controller ports were rerouted to the rear of the case and the IR dongle has been built in for use with a remote control. The case cover has a grill above that massive heat sink and we’d be interested in finding out if both case fans are pumping air out of the case, in effect pulling a ton of cool air past the CPU.

17 thoughts on “Our Favorite XBOX To HTPC Hacks

  1. I’m really into console modding. I modded my Xbox360 with a crystal dark blue case, replaced the fans with crystal green led talismoon fans. Replaced the heatsync with better modded all copper ThermalTake hs and fans on gpu and cpu.

    Overall it looks cool and was simple and gets attention from guests. I guess that’s one of the reasons I did it.

    These projects have gone above and beyond though. Congrats to all the features here.

  2. “On the hardware side he did remove some capacitors for less current draw during boot.”

    What? those capacitors are there to suppress transient currents on boot, removing them would only make things worse

  3. “we’d be interested in finding out if both case fans are pumping air out of the case, in effect pulling a ton of cool air past the CPU.”

    Unless I’m mistaken, don’t fans blow towards the label? Thus those would be intake fans.

    Great mods all around!

  4. @ Frik,

    I see what you are saying now, I bet he did it because there is no longer any 12v draw from the drives (laptop drives only use 5v).

    If the Xbox is based on Pentium III tech there is a good chance it uses 5v for the CPU as well, no need for 12v caps if it isn’t using them.

  5. Always thought the original XBox looked ugly and I’m still suprised just how massive it is whenever I see one ‘in the flesh’.

    Looking at the great re-housing hacks here and how lots of people like XBMC and how an XBox is now dirt cheap I may have to pick one up for a HTPC.

  6. What is this fetish with seeing your AV gear? put it in a cabinet and close the door. get a real universal remote (not harmony, those are crap) with a RF repeater or a real control system and call it done.

    I go one further, banish all that crap from the living room. It’s all in the basement in the AV rack, run the wires back to the set and my RF remote controls it all so easily that even grandma can figure it out.

    7.1 surround, only the xbox360 is in in the living room and the TV plus speakers. wife loves it, and all the gear stays clean plus cool.

  7. I -JUST FINISHED- (like days ago) doing a hardmod on an old xbox that was destined for the trash.
    (transferring emus to the thing as I type this!)

    I bought the X3 CE chip and a complete front control panel that incorporates a ton of hardware hacks developed over the years including that LCD display.

    It’s been interesting learning about how to transfer files to the machine and set up a dashboard. (I’m starting out with EvoX)

    But ugly? Butt ugly? I don’t know about that.

    Even with a snazzy front panel to liven up it’s stock looks it’s not as slick looking as THESE beautiful projects are, but hey, the A-10 Warthog is one ugly ass-kicking piece of hardware too! ;)

  8. strider_mt2k–

    I’m looking to mod my original Xbox and am interested in the items you mentioned–where did you get the modded front control panel? And, is there a good site that collects all these mods and details how to do them?

  9. I’m with fartface, more hidden the better. As much as I liked the xbox, decided to just mount PC gubbins in a quaint looking wooden TV cabinet. Working on a universal IR remote >>> PS2 interface using a picaxe; old PS2 keyboard innards and some 5066 quadbilateral switches, this will get the important keys.. arrow keys and enter button. AHK scripts to respond to other keys to launch apps. Looking good so far though on a 42″ LCD.

  10. Love hardware mods. I’ve only ever modded a vid card to unlock it and succeeded til reboot when it defaulted back to original throughput.
    Those look pretty easy though I agree that a proper htpc or simply an external tb sata drive plugged into an asus oplay media player or a hisense hdtv player would be much simpler (~$250). I don’t play games either. But it would have been nice if they had come unlocked to begin with.

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