Xbox One just as sleek (on the inside) as PlayStation 4

The folks over at iFixit dismantle the Xbox One to show that despite its bigger and bulkier appearance, Microsoft's next-gen console is just as easy to dismantle and repair as Sony's.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
3 min read

Though it may not be as smooth and slim as its primary competitor, the Xbox One's hardware is just as user-friendly. As illustrated in an iFixit teardown Thursday, Microsoft's all-in-one entertainment machine achieved an 8 out of 10 on the repairability scale and actually gave the teardown specialists slightly less trouble than Sony's PlayStation 4.

"Only a few tools are required to take the whole console apart. The opening procedure is similar to, but much easier than, any Xbox 360," the report reads. "Once inside, a clean, no-nonsense modular design allows the drives, fan, heat sink, wireless board, and front daughterboard to be easily replaced." When tearing down the PS4, iFixit found that it required extensive disassembly -- involving security screws instead of the Xbox One's clips -- to reach parts likely to be desperate for cleaning down the line, such as the fan.

Critics have been nearly unanimous in their negative assessment of the Xbox One's aesthetics, noting that it's taller than the PS4 -- and significantly bulkier than the Xbox 360 -- and is about as as attractive as as enormous VCR. But then again, looks aren't everything and the Xbox One is more than just a gaming machine, making its boxy appearance a fair tradeoff for anyone who finds the console's added set-top box functionality and lofty entertainment ambitions a better deal.

Read more: 15 things you need to know about the Xbox One

Sony was nice enough to give consumers its own teardown in an exclusive Wired video prior to the console's launch, which showcased a surprisingly small fan that undoubtedly gave the console more breathing room for Sony to fit in the power supply. The Xbox One, with its external power supply, sports a massive fan that suggests that that choice is a core factor in its larger appearance. It's unclear whether any heating problems early PS4 users are experiencing have anything to do with fan size.

Another key difference between the PS4 and Xbox One's innards is the hard drive. Both consoles' software now demands that players install new games to the system's HDD. However, while Sony will allow users to replace its drive, Microsoft will not and asks that players rely on external storage through its USB 3.0 port. Getting your hands on the HDD, iFixit notes, will void your warranty.

"Good news: it's a standard 2.5 inch SATA II drive," the iFixit team added. "Unknown news: we're not sure if the Xbox One will recognize unformatted SATA hard drives." That last bit could be unsettling for those daring enough to modify the Xbox One and lose its warranty in the process, as it could result in a fruitless teardown and an unusable extra HDD.

Also worth geeking out over is the Xbox One's custom system-on-chip integrated circuit, combining an AMD "Jaguar" 8-core CPU and AMD Radeon Graphics GPU in the x86 architecture now commonplace in PC gaming.

In orange: the Xbox One's custom system-on-a-chip integrated circuit that combines an AMD "Jaguar" 8-core CPU and AMD Radeon Graphics GPU. iFixit

Hard drive replacements aside, the Xbox One's 8 out of 10 rating proves that even with a bigger, boxier appearance, Microsoft has pulled together an impressively cohesive and user-friendly machine that will only continue to maximize its hardware down the line. iFixit's teardown is still a work in progress, so we can expect more insights soon.