Thermals of the XBox 360

Xbox 360 Logo While my XBox 360 is down and out, I did a little happy hunting on the internet. Look what I found:

Fragile Part of Xbox 360? Thermal Design Expert Investigates

As it’s a Japanese site, all the temperatures are reported in Celsius, so I’ll do a little conversion for those of us (like me) who are stuck in the only country that doesn’t use the metric scale. My edits are in red.

The Xbox 360’s power was about 170 W when the DVD equipment was running. The temperature of emitted air was about 113°F. A temperature gap with the room temperature (73°F) was 40°F.

“When designing consumer products, it is common to seek a temperature gap of around 18°F between exhaust and room temperatures,” the thermal design expert said. “The 40°F is quite a large gap, in the first place.”

In only five minutes since we started playing the game, the temperature of the heat sink on the graphics LSI rose to 158°F. The thermal gradient was about 18°F/min.

In 15 minutes, the microprocessor heat sink temperature stabilized at 136°F, but the heat sink on the graphics LSI rose to 176°F, 103°F above the room temperature.

Assuming room temperature of 95°F in mid-summer, the gap is estimated to reach more than 162°F. In that case, the temperature of chips in the graphics LSI could exceed 212°F. [The Brainwrecked Tech notes that this is the boiling point of water.]

To test this out, I took my digital room temperature thermometer over to my brother’s house and tested the exhaust from his XBox 360. It topped out at 106.7°F with a room temperature of 77.1°F. Keep in mind, this is a dinky little thing enclosed in plastic, probably not too terribly accurate as it’s a $20 consumer device, and I didn’t feel like blocking one of his fans and risk meltdown for the sake of a stupid little blog post. There was about 2 inches between the back of his 360 and my thermometer.

I knew 360’s ran hot, but damn.

Also of good note is this picture of a naked 360 mobo w/ heat sinks and air ducts on the site. Notice the right-hand side of the air duct? Is it any wonder why the CPU stabilized at 136°F while the LSI chip didn’t stabilize until 176°F?