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The Xbox Series X is a Giant Cooling Machine Wrapped Around a Gaming PC

An Xbox Series X torn apart and on a white table.

Well, it’s that time again—the next generation of gaming consoles are upon us, so our friends over at iFixit were kind enough to get their hands on one and tear it to pieces. This time the Xbox Series X is up, and there are some small surprises to be had, along with a giant heatsink.

Have you ever taken apart an Xbox One? Well, good news; this is pretty similar totally different. That much is probably obvious considering the Xbox One resembles a budget VCR, and the Xbox Series X looks like the world’s most boring bread box. Emphasis on the box.

But that size isn’t a total waste, according to iFixit. It seems Microsoft’s chief concern was keeping the monster of a gaming console cool. The company used tricks like folding board components around an aluminum block to dissipate heat.

The innards of an Xbox Series X, held in place by black rubber straps.
It’s a strapping young console. Rubber straps, that is. iFixit

That’s not all, of course. During disassembly, the teardown wizards discovered a colossal heatsink and a giant fan to boot. Microsoft took other steps as well to minimize the machine’s noise, including securing all the components with conveniently labeled rubber straps. Those should keep vibrations in check. In theory at least.

None of that is a total surprise. The Xbox Series X is all about power, and the heart of the thing is a custom AMD custom 8-core Zen 2 CPU that’s bound to generate enormous heat.

In other interesting tidbits, Microsoft stuck with the same disc drive the Xbox One S and Xbox One X use, complete with a necessary circuit board to pair it to the device. That means if you want to replace it, you’ll have to do some soldering—sad times.

An extremely large heatsink.
You’re not dreaming, that’s a huge heatsink. iFixit

And more surprisingly, the hard drive is user-replaceable—in theory. You still have to tear apart your console, of course, and it’s possible you’ll have to go through a ton of effort with command line and scripts to format the new drive correctly. But unlike the PS5, the hard drive is not soldered to the motherboard.

Right now, it’s unlikely you’d want to replace the hard drive anyway. The Xbox Series X already has a 1 TB m.2 2230 NVMe SSD. If all those numbers mean gibberish to you, just know that you can’t get much faster than that right now, nor can you go much larger. Not for “you aren’t Bill Gates” kind of money anyway.

But what if you want to try anyway? Well, it sounds doable—the iFixit team gave the Xbox Series X a reparability score of seven out of ten. You’ll want a Mako driver kit to get past the Torx screws, but a lot of the inner parts are modular once you get to them. But while some components, like the hard drive, can be physically replaced it’s possible you’ll still need additional difficult software work. Hence the imperfect score. But don’t take our word for it; go check out the pretty pictures and the full teardown at the iFixit site.

Source: iFixit

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and is responsible for the site's content direction. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smart home enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »