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Case Mod - In Progress Xbox 360 Elite Black Case Fan and Temperature Probe Mod [Complete]

Discussion in 'Project Logs' started by geebles, 6 Jun 2011.

  1. geebles

    geebles Own's a Dremel

    Joined:
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    Hi, I’m a new member so go easy :) I’m a student and have very little money so everything I do is with the minimal of tools! Anyway, I know you guys love original computer case mods, but I’ve done something slightly different and significantly improved the cooling on my Xbox WITHOUT making it look terrible (like the many many that I have seen on the internet)

    The Plan
    To improve Xbox 360 cooling to prevent overheating, without changing the exterior of the console dramatically. That’s about it really; I’m going to be adding an extra fan to improve cooling a lot, and also some thermometers to monitor the temperature.

    Tools and Items
    - Screwdrivers, Pin, other case opening tools
    - Drill, rotary cutting bit, sandpaper
    - 70x70x15mm Fan
    - Soldering iron

    Construction

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    To open the console, I used this guide: http://www.llamma.com/xbox360/repair/Xbox-360-Disassembly.htm
    You don’t need the case opening tool, simply use a pin, it’s very easy to do and it’s all about gentle pressure.

    Inside my Xbox, I have the original GPU heatsink, which I plan to swap for the new and improved heat pipe one, and the Elite CPU heatsink. The newer CPU heatsink is larger and made out of all aluminium so should offer good cooling; however it might get in the way of my fan.

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    This is where I wish to location my fan. On another Xbox I put a 40mm fan here, but it was so weedy and pushed through so little air I wanted something better.

    Also note I have done the cardboard mod, which basically forces airflow through the cooler, rather than over the top. This has been done on the GPU too. It channels the air down the fins, rather than allowing the air to freely leave.

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    I am planning to attach the fan to the outer case, and I will drill a large hole on the other side to let air in. The red fan will look very nice because the Xbox is black and these two colours complement each other well! I am also going to invest in a 70mm fan grill (found on eBay) to protect from fingers!

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    Next up I sanded down the area the fan was going to go. Using a pair of wire cutters and pliers I cut the plastic strength holding bits off as they are in the way. Note I have aligned up a pilot hole to make sure it’s in the right place (tiny little hole in the middle) Also the position was carefully selected so not to interfere with the metal cage and other bits.

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    I drilled using a rotary drill bit; I suspended the plastic case over some blocks of wood so not to cut through the floor or anything!

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    Here is the finished piece all sanded off to make a nice smooth exterior and look.

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    This is starting to look good now. I really like the red fan! This is just a mock-up I haven’t attached anything yet.

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    I then proceeded to cut the metal Inner shell up. No round hole for this as the whole fan needs to fit through it!
    Note: To cut out the solid bit of metal, i drilled a series of small holes along the path I wanted it cut, and then snipped the short joints with pliers. This worked very well, as I don’t have my Dremmel tool with me right now.

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    Here it is with everything put back! If you look closely you can see the gap between the CPU and the shell is very small (just less than 10mm...) This would be fine if it had the old style CPU heatsink as it does not get in the way! So I’m going to have to cut some of the fins off the CPU to get this to fit.

    Cutting the fins won’t affect it too much, I only need an extra 7mm or so to give ample clearance, and also the fan will be actively blowing on it so it should be cooler anyway!

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    Here I have taken off the Motherboard and then the CPU block ready for cutting! Was very easy to do, just had to get a screwdriver to pry the metal clips away.
    I will also put some fresh thermal heat compound on as-well!

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    Marking up..

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    Cutting..

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    The finished piece :) This took a little while.. After cutting the back bit with the saw, I then got a small drill bit and drilled a series of holes, then using some pliers I bent the fins backwards and forwards until they snapped off!

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    I have now drilled some more holes to attach the fan with. I measured up and did some pilot holes to make sure it was all aligned up!

    To get power to the fan I am going to join it to one of the rear fan power connectors. I forgot to take a picture of this, but it’s basically just wiring it up to the same wires that the original fans use! They are speed controlled by the Xbox and run at around 5volts, and increase when the console heats up. I wired this up to a 3pin fan header so changing of the fan would be easy :)

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    Here is the fan mounted in place (without fan grill), fits well!
    I bought some digital temperature sensors from eBay, they were only a few quid each :) They are designed for computers, and have a 5volt connection, which is perfect as the Xbox DVD drive uses 5v so we can borrow some electricity goodness from there! The sensors each have a digital readout and a digital needle, and to measure the temperature they have a wire with a 4mm diameter metal rod on the end.

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    Originally I wanted one to be beside the fan, and the other to be above, but there too much stuff inside the Xbox that gets in the way, so the best place to put them is along the edge with the grills. They are going to be aligned centrally, and then central to each half of the system (so to look symmetrical). Out with the Dremmel and using this long bendy attachment I can get into good positions with the cutting disc as it is much smaller than using the whole machine.

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    Woop! Looking good so far, after a little sanding the edges look a bit better! I managed to do the 1st hole PERFECTLY but the second had a large gap on one side :/ I’m going to have to work out a way to neatly cover that up..
    One more thing, the screens have these locating pins/plastic which I’m not going to use, so I’ll cut them off:

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    Also note that there is a button underneath, this changes it from Celsius to Fahrenheit. But I’m going to have it permanently in Celsius.

    Next to glue them in :) To keep them secure and in the right place (ideally you don’t want to glue them.. but because one of the holes was a little too big it wouldn’t locate properly in the centre)

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    Another thing I forgot to photograph is that I needed to cut out two holes in the metal shield thingy that goes underneath! This was quite tricky and rather sharp, but it needed to be cut 5mm bigger than the original holes on all side to allow for wire room. Another thing which worked out well is that I was expecting to cut into the “Cage” of the Xbox, this is the large metal motherboard holder that has walls to it with lots of holes in, you can see it if you look in the side of your Xbox. But luckily the sensors are just inside it so no cutting is needed :)

    Right next step is to put the heat sensors by the CPU and GPU. To do this, I was originally going to flatten the metal rods and stick them to the underneath, however I think there is a small resistor/capacitor inside this metal stick so maybe not a good idea to squash it.. My next idea was to drill 4mm holes in the heatsinks and slide them into there with some thermal goop!

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    As you can see from above, I put the hole in the wrong place the first time.. I wouldn’t be able to put the probe in because of the capacitors in the way! Also drilling into Aluminium was quite difficult once I got 1cm in.. So I think I made it to 1.5cm and left it at that, it should be good enough to heat up the probe to the right temperature. Also I didn’t really want to interfere with the Xbox heatsink design by putting a massive hole in it, that might make cooling WORSE! Which wouldn’t be good.. In hindsight a better drill bit and some oil would have allowed me to drill deeper!

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    Next is to do the same to the GPU, this is a bit different as it doesn’t have a thick bit of aluminium to drill into.. only a lot of fins! My idea was to drill a hole through about 6 of the fins and slide it through there, this time it could go all the way through.

    My only problem with this is that it may restrict airflow, and also the air that is passing over it may cool the sensor down and thus the readout will be lower than what the actual heatsink is, but I’m not aiming for 100% accurate, a good estimation should be fine :) Note that I managed to get the new style of heatsink from a salvaged Xbox!

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    Yay! :) It all fits in! I put some thermal grease (Arctic Silver 5) which hardens over time and will give a good contact between the probe and the metal heatsink :) I wrapped the wires around the capacitors so that they wouldn’t move about, and the tension holds the CPU (left) thermal probe in place!

    Now to test and rebuild.. You may also notice I actually got a new fan, that previous one didn’t move much air, so I got a “StarTech 70mm TX3” fan, which moves a lot of air even at 5v! I also got a 70mm grill from eBay.

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    And there we have it :D Looks pretty good I think, shame the LCD backlights are blue, would have preferred maybe a light red or actually orange would be good!

    Tests
    The maximum temperature on the CPU (Left) is about 38C, and the GPU (Right) is 42C. I’m not sure how accurate these are, but there is not much heat at all coming from the Xbox so I’m pretty sure it’s fairly accurate :) This is the temperate of the heatsink, not necessarily the CPU/GPU die itself, which will probably be about 10 Degrees higher on full load. My tests were with CoD: Black Ops. None of the fans speed up, or get louder, meaning that my modification cools it so much so that the Xbox doesn’t sound like a jet taking off!

    Future
    After doing this, I think it was worthwhile and good fun! And I like to know the temperature of things and if it gets higher it might mean its blocked up with dust, which you wouldn’t know otherwise until it overheats and Red Rings to death..

    - Fix the gap on the CPU screen, you can see the light coming behind it!
    - Alter the backlight colour (it has 2 LEDs, so its possible if only I hadn’t glued them in!!)
    - Add a screen for the Fan RPM
    - Add some soft red lights to the vents at either end (Nothing too bright, just something subtle)

    I think that’s about it :D cost of this mod for me was about £12 which was for the fan, and 2 LCD thermometers. I had the rest of the equipment already!

    Hope you enjoyed that! Have been using it for about a month and temperatures and noise are stable and quiet!
     
  2. \(._.)/

    \(._.)/ New Member

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    Where Did you buy the fan?

    Hey, Where did you buy the fan, I have been looking for a fan like that. Do you have a link? Thanks! :geek:
     

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