The Thinnest Xbox Laptop Yet


With every generation of consoles, there comes a time when the price of a new box is cheap enough, and used machines are plentiful enough, that console hackers pull out all the stops before the next generation arrives. For the Xbox 360, that time is now, and with no PS1-like hardware revision on the horizon, it looks like [jhax01]’s custom Xbox 360 laptop might be the smallest Xbox casemod we’ll see for a very long time.

[jhax01] was inspired by the work of [Yung Jeezus] and [AllYourXboxNeeds]’ YouTube channels and decided to craft his own custom enclosure for an Xbox 360 slim. The case was made out of aluminum plate cut with a simple angle grinder and bent on a cheap 18″ Harbor Freight brake. Despite these extremely simple tools, [jhax01] managed to fabricate a case that’s right up there with the masters of Xbox laptop craftsmanship.

The CD drive was ditched along with plans for a second hard drive. The display’s enclosure and hinge comes from an ASUS Zenbook, hence this project’s eponym, the ZenBox. The panel from the display was discarded and replaced with one that would work with the LVDS converter [jhax] found, giving the laptop a resolution of 1366×768.

It’s an amazing piece of craftsmanship, and an impressively thin gaming console to boot. Throw in a battery, and we’d be more than happy to carry this one around with us.

29 thoughts on “The Thinnest Xbox Laptop Yet

    1. Strangely enough, the stock motherboard is actually slightly taller than the DVD drive. Simply removing the drive doesn’t get you anything (other than lateral space). The ports have to be removed from the board and the heatsink and cooling redesigned. It was loads of fun to make! You should try to beat me and make a smaller one! :)

      1. I just wanted to commend you on such a classy response to someone who didn’t get a third of the way through the first page of the build post where you mention the custom heatsink. Great Job!

        1. You say that like he’s the first one to add a custom heatsink to one of these, the laptops that were made from the original 360s had to have custom heatsinks because the stock one was, well, xbox huge.

          I’m not discounting his work, it’s great work, but it isn’t exactly full of earth shatteringly new ideas. Though I will admit, I had not considered doing something that takes a huge drop in functionality in exchange for a decrease in size.

          1. I agree 100% that there’s nothing new here other than my particular combination of these elements. I think the part that you’re missing is that this was purpose built to suit my needs. I needed something small for travel and this fits the bill. The only loss in function is the ability to put a disc in it — a trade off that most small laptops and ultra books make. Sure, you could just buy a gaming laptop, but at a much higher cost and without the Xbox Live ecosystem. Otherwise, it still plays all the same games and functions in the same way, you just have to download it from XBL or buy the disc and rip it.

      2. The current one I’m making I’m using a cheap ass 21″ 1080p screen, so it definitely won’t be smaller, but I’m not focusing on size. I’ve cut down a few of the ports (who needs kinect on a 360 laptop?), but I’m keeping it right at the height for the heatsink, since I’d gain virtually nothing in height since I’m keeping the DVD drive. What I’d really like to do would be modify the drive to be slot loading, but I haven’t had the time to get into that yet. What I was really stuck on was the case, I was thinking about making a mockup, then use that to make a silicone mold, then make the case out of that, but I may also take a leaf out of your book and go with aluminum.

        I’m also planning on adding a few extra features, since I have some room left over with the size monitor I’m using.

        Just out of curiosity, what are you using for speakers, and how do you like them?

        1. For this build, I’m using 1.25″ ‘star speakers’, you can find them on eBay. They are quite small and work well for their intended purpose, but I would only rate them as adequate in terms of sound quality. I generally use a headphone jack anyway. For my first build, I used 1 7/8″ speakers by Daytona and they are awesome, but need 1.5 inches of mounting depth. I recommend you search through the site, there are a lot of options and you should be able to get great sound in a case that size.

        1. No doubt you are correct! In fact, you simply can’t make one this small and keep the DVD drive. The unfortunate reality is that the DVD drive and motherboard are linked via hardware encryption keys so you cannot merely change the drive for a smaller one or a different model. Another modder is making one using the xk3y which emulates the dvd drive but reads your ripped discs from a hard drive. However, in order to get it as small as I could, I felt it was simpler to just purchase and download content from XBL. Either way, there’s still a lot of pesky desoldering and soldering to do. :)

    1. It runs a dual NAND, one retail and the other hacked. All the discs that I already own were ripped to the hard drive and can be played without the disc on the hacked NAND. Otherwise, new games are purchased and downloaded via Xbox Live and do not require a disc.

  1. A “harbor freight” brake bends metal as well as a $90,000,000 gold and platinum jewel encrusted brake. Price of the tool does not make it more useful or functional. The abilities of the tool user far outweighs the cost of the tool.

    1. However, cost of tool could relate to quality of a tool. For instance, last longer, works better.. Looks better haha
      Anyway, even tho I prefer quality, I picked up my current claw hammer off the side of the road hahaha it’s fiberglass handle, metal head… Missing protective rubber hand part.
      I’m done

  2. Was that honestly the best DDOS protection they could come up with? I’ve never had a splash screen like that before.

    Somebody should beat up their sys admin. No linux admin should ever rely on something as crude as that to do their job for them.


    On the other hand, nice build! It’s similar to the GC hacking that is going on right now as well. Takes some serious soldering skills, but the results are amazing.

  3. So what I’m reading is that this one is 13″, so when do you make the 17″?
    also wondering if it’s possible to use those really tiny mini fans that they use in touch screen car stereo head units because I would try to make a portable ps3 model that’s this small

    1. I’m not familiar with the ps3’s motherboard or that type of fan so it’s hard for me to say if it will provide adequate cooling. I believe another challenge you will have will be the video. The Xbox has VGA output and I was able to solder directly to the motherboard to access it. As far as I know, the ps3 only has component or hdmi outputs. Not insurmountable, but it changes the methodology a bit…

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