Everyone knows that the Xbox 360 is the best console in the world (flaming in comments section below please). The only problems are the deafening noise it makes when it's on and its hideous reliability problems.
It turns out that those problems are both easy to solve, as long as your name isn't Microsoft. The folks at Quiet PC have developed a solution that means your 360 can be very quiet, and much less likely to suffer red rings of death. A quiet 360 is also more useful as a media centre too, which will appeal to many people.
The trick is to rehouse the 360 in a better-ventilated case. This, combined with a large rear-mounted fan, should keep your 360 cool while you play intense games for hours on end. It's even possible to water-cool this set-up, if you're so inclined, with ports at the rear for the water intake.
There are three models available, and they differ from the Microsoft versions only in their attractive Lian Li case. The first is the Arcade, entry-level system, which costs around £350. The next step up is the 360 Premium, which includes a 60GB hard drive, for around £390. As you'd expect, the 360 Elite is the most expensive model, at around £450. You do get a 120GB hard drive and HDMI cable included in that, but, bearing in mind that you get an HDMI socket on the 360 Premium, the extra cash seems excessive for just for a cable and a larger hard disk.
If you already have an Xbox 360, you can buy the case, on its own, for £80. You'll then be able to move everything into your own quiet case. Of course, if something goes wrong, it's going to be on your head, so it's not something for people who aren't confident about their DIY electronics skills.
The question is: how much better is it than the traditional 360? Well, we fired our sample up, popped in a copy of the graphically intense Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway and listened carefully. Indeed, as we expected, this is many, many times quieter than our standard 360. There is still some sound from the DVD reader, but it's much quieter than the jet-taking-off noise that we're used to.
We've had a jolly good look around the Quiet PC Xbox 360, and we've included some photos here for you to peruse. If you want to invest in one, check out the Quiet PC Web site. A 12-month warranty is provided too, should anything go wrong.
You'll notice here that the DVD drive has considerable sound insulation around it, to keep the machine quiet. This does work, but you can still hear the drive operating. Of course, now the 360 allows running games from the hard drive, DVD noise isn't so much of a problem.