The Xbox One S is noticeably slimmer than the original version of the console. What did Microsoft change on the inside to make this so? Noted hardware hacker Ben Heck recently disassembled the console on his YouTube channel to check out the guts and consider ideas on future hacks that he could perform in the future.
Heck is known for taking consoles and modding them into either laptops or playable tablets. For example, he turned the original Xbox One into a huge tablet not long after release. He’s also known for creating console controllers that are accessible to those with disabilities. This always makes for an interesting watch, despite other hardware enthusiast sites already taking the console apart.
The controller for the Xbox One S was the first thing Heck tore into first, because it serves his interest of creating controllers for those with disabilities. The new controller adds the ability to connect to a Bluetooth-enabled device like a laptop or tablet to use with games along with a more tactile surface on the grips, but remains unchanged otherwise from a user’s perspective. The difference is revealed to be in the guts of the controller.
The Xbox One S controller combines the small System on a Chip (SOC) CPU with the wireless module, whereas these were separate before. The inteconnects between the two PCBs in the controller have also been reduced from two to one. Per Heck’s observation, Microsoft is saving money with the reduced number of parts, but he doesn’t appear terribly happy at how it may limit his custom builds in the future.
Tearing apart the actual Xbox One S console turned into a bit of a remembrance for Heck as he compared it to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The layout of Microsoft’s new console is clearly labeled, as if the company expected enthusiasts and fans to open the case for a peek inside.
The newest addition to the Xbox One S is an internal power supply. The Xbox 360 and original Xbox One both featured external power bricks. The new power supply is impressive for how much Microsoft was able to cut the size down to fit inside a smaller case. Interestingly, there is a replaceable fuse inside the power supply in case something unfortunate happens.
As previously noted, the original Xbox One’s size was an exercise in overkill by Microsoft to ensure the console did not suffer from the same overheating problems as the Xbox 360 did at launch. Not only was the case larger for launch Xbox One consoles, but the heatsink and cooling fan were simply massive.
The heatsink and cooling fan for the Xbox One S are still sizeable, but noticeably smaller than the original. Copper heat pipes have been added to the new console’s heatsink. Additionally, the contact point for the APU is now aluminum instead of a solid copper core. The cost savings for the new heatsink’s reduced size and reduced amount of copper, which is more expensive than aluminum, should be big for Microsoft.
So what does Heck have planned for the Xbox One S now that he’s taken it apart. The hardware hacker is considering turning it into a laptop, as he pointed out that the new power supply may allow him to try a battery-powered version. However, he’s asked for community ideas as well to be shared on his website.
The Xbox One S is just the first in a line of console tear-downs gamers should expect over the next year. The PlayStation 4 Neo is coming next, followed by the Nintendo NX by March, 2017. The Xbox Scorpio will then make its debut with the advertised ability to play games in 4K resolution.
How do you think Heck should mod the Xbox One S console? Sound off in the comments below.
[Image via YouTube/The Ben Heck Show]