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.
As well as the main unit, you get all the usual cables and accessories included.
The controller you get will depend on the console you buy. The 360 Arcade and Premium versions both come with a white controller, while the Elite has the cooler black version.
The DVD tray is the same as that of the standard 360. We suspect someone somewhere is having a jolly good time ripping 360s apart to make these machines.
The power button isn't as thrilling as the one on the standard 360, but it will still do the job.
Memory-card sockets are included, but hidden under a handy flap.
Like most modern PC cases, everything is concealed, including the disc tray. Such designs help keep the noise down too.
At the rear, you get water-cooling ports, should you wish to cool the 360 even further. There are also network, AV and HDMI sockets.
This monster fan is responsible for keeping the system cool, but also quiet. Because it's quite large, it can rotate more gently, which keeps the system quiet.
Here's a glimpse at the Xbox hardware lurking beneath. If only we could look inside...
Oh, what's happened? The lid just fell off...
And there is your 360 motherboard, with greatly improved processor cooling.
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.
Safe and sound, but naked as the day it was born, the hard drive is mounted just beneath the DVD drive.
There you go. Proof, if any was needed, that this is the real deal.