Xbox: Operation Revival

The original Xbox, introduced to the US in 2001

The original Xbox, introduced to the US in 2001

I recently wrote about how my classic Xbox had died a death and was hoping to revive the console by replacing a series of bulging capacitors. Sadly replacing the caps did not solve the problem, so I was left with only one option, find a replacement motherboard. If you’re buying an Xbox off eBay, you’ll find the Crystal edition sells for a premium. Other then it’s appearance, there’s no real difference between the Crystal and the standard black model Xbox, both share the same components overall.

Finding a Replacement

After spending an evening on eBay, I found a decent donor unit. A standard black edition with a faulty optical drive which I won for £13. As I only needed the motherboard, the DVD drive was not much of an issue. Finally arriving in the post, I discovered the unit had been manufactured in 2002., two years earlier then the Crystal.
According to a guide I found online, the year suggests it being a revision 1.2, where as the Crystal is more likely revision 1.4 (2004). Another reason I suspect this is because 1.6 models will not allow soft modding, as the TSOP chip can’t be altered. Seeing as the Crystal was originally modded, it kind of rules it out for being a later model.

All the research I had done online, suggested the Crystal and black model Xbox were identical inside. So long as they were both made in the same year. The original Xbox underwent several revisions since being introduction back in 2001. So unless you know the year of the console, it’s pot luck what you’ll end up with when buying off eBay. After dismantling the newly arrived Xbox, I discovered the power board and logical board were actually different to those inside the Crystal. This really didn’t come as any shock to be, given the two-year difference between the units.

For an in depth examination of the different models of the original Xbox, I highly recommend checking out the following link, which is full of useful information.

Same but Different

Aside from the difference in boards, I also discovered the header connectors for the joystick ports were not in the same location on the rev 1.2 logic board. This meant the cables from the Crystal case, connecting the joystick ports to the board did not reach far enough. I solved this by simply swapping the joystick ports over from the black case. Another point worth noting was that the PSU from the Crystal was not compatible with the older rev 1.2 motherboard. The older model was a single row connector, were as the new model has a double row, more inline with an ATX connector.

Rev 1.2 Xbox, subtly different to the Rev 1.4 board.

Rev 1.2 Xbox, subtly different to the Rev 1.4 board.

In the end, the only parts of my old Crystal Xbox that survived the swap were the optical drive and case. Making this very much an Xbox transplant.

Rev 1.2 single row power connector.

Rev 1.2 single row power connector.


Closing Words

After all the work I put in to sourcing new caps and the lack of success I had in reviving the old board. It is easy to see why most people choose to just buy another Xbox instead of repairing the faulty one.
While it does solve the problem temporarily, the fact still remains that as these consoles get older, the caps are ever more likely to fail. If a year down the road, I’m faced with the same situation. I will still try to repair the motherboard, before opting to simply buy another Xbox off eBay.

Repairing an existing board, with fresh caps dramatically increases the life of your Xbox. Far more then if you bought another console, which could be anything up to 13 years old.

Keep on Geeking!







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