You are watching: Xbox 360 inner cooler
By Gerry Block
When the word first started circulating (within the first month after launch) that the Xbox 360 has issues with overheating leading to the now infamous Red Eye of Death, third-party accessory manufactures sprung into action desrwandachamber.orging add-on cooling systems for the console. First out of the gate was Nyko's Intercooler 360, a three-fan assembly that docked on the back panel of the console and drew power directly from the 360's main AC input via a pass-through jack. In the early months of the Xbox 360's life the Intercooler 360 was a highly popular product. We reviewed it back in August 2006, and at the time gave it a solid review. In the months following, however, word began to spread on the internet that some users were experiencing hardware failures related to the Intercooler. Specifically, some owners discovered short-circuits had occurred in the Intercooler's power pass-through jack that melted surrounding plastic and in some cases fried the 360. In our case, the review sample Intercooler is still docked to the 360 we tested it with, the only launch unit still functioning in the LA office, we might add. Nonetheless, other owners were indeed affected, and Nyko addressed the issue in an official response (link). In the end the general conclusion was that in some cases when the AC-power jack was too loosely connected to the Intercooler a short circuit could occur.Now, almost a year later, Nyko is launching a new Intercooler in its line of EX branded accessories desrwandachamber.orged to compliment the Xbox 360 Elite. Other than the fact that it's now molded in black, the updated Intercooler features a seriously redesrwandachamber.orged AC pass-through plug that is far more robust than the previous release. The original Intercooler's connection was simple plastic, whereas the EX model has upgraded to a metal housing enhanced by a spring-loaded release mechanism. In head to head testing conducted today, we can confirm that the connection is massively more stable in the EX model than the original. Whereas we were able to easily shift the AC plug in the original model to the degree that fan-speeds were affected, the EX clamps so firmly upon the AC plug that we were not able to propagate any looseness at all. Removing the plug is almost a chore, requiring depression of both the Intercooler EX's release button and the two buttons on the 360's own AC plug, a decidedly two-hand affair that actually requires a bit of muscle. We were impressed at the very marked contrast between the two coolers, and believe the new locking mechanism will likely address the short-circuiting issues previously encountered. In other respects, the Intercooler EX seems to perform similarly to the older model. The three fans move a lot more air than the various USB powered competitors thanks to the srwandachamber.orgificantly greater voltage available from the AC power pass-through. As PC gamers know, high fan RPMs make a lot of noise, and such is certainly the case with the Intercooler EX. It's loud, and in our office demo room it completely dominated the slightly audible whirr of our DLP projector to the degree to which we were jacking the volume up a lot louder to cover it up. Our current arrangement has the 360 console sitting less than 4-feet away from our seating location, which makes the extra noise particularly apparent. With a lot more room, or with an entertainment cabinet blocking the noise, we can image the issue may be less pronounced, but users sitting close to their console should be highly aware they'll be able to hear the Intercooler EX distinctly. Hard evidence on the exact internal temperature difference the Intercooler EX provides is hard to come by since we don't have an infrared thermometer that can get into a closed Xbox 360. Temperature comparison charts provided by Nyko claim between 10 to 30-degree Fahrenheit improvements in various locations within the console with an Intercooler equipped. Oddly, the comparison chart provided with the EX cites the 360 naturally running about 10-degrees hotter without the Intercooler EX than the chart provided with the original Intercooler, which we think makes all the figures a little suspect. For our part, we can confirm the three fans blow dramatically more air out the rear of the Xbox 360 than the naked console does, and to the touch the exhaust is a lot cooler, probably in part thanks to its sheer velocity. We also setup a pair of Xbox 360s, one Intercooler EX equipped, the other bare, and put them to work playing HD-DVDs via add-on drives (one of the most taxing applications for the hardware). The Intercooled 360 was noticeably cooler to the touch after 2-hours of playback, which confirmed an unscientific, but real, difference made by the Intercooler EX.ConclusionWith this re-release of the Intercooler 360 it would appear that Nyko has succeeded in massively improving the strength of the AC pass-through jack on the Intercooler to the degree to which we expect short-circuiting issues should be resolved. In other respects, the Intercooler EX does its job pulling more air through the console rather effectively.
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Potential buyers should be aware of the srwandachamber.orgificant noise the extra cooling fans make, but in crowded installations or in closed entertainment cabinets, the Intercooler EX will likely do a lot to help keep Xbox 360s healthy and cool.