Is the Xbox Series X Water cooled? – CareerGamers
Is my Xbox Series X really on?
That’s the first question I asked myself when first powering up Microsoft’s new console. Why? Because it was so quiet!
And I mean, I could have heard a mouse scampering across the floor next door, whisper quiet.
This made me think that a water cooling system, like the type you’d find pumping away in a high-end gaming PC, was responsible for keeping the Xbox frosty.
Being the “curiosity killed the cat” type that I am, I decided to dig out my Time to TamperTM console screwdrivers and opened up my Xbox Series X to see for myself.
This is what I found:
Is the Xbox Series X Water cooled? No, the Xbox Series X is not water-cooled. The Xbox Series X uses a vapor chamber cooling solution in tandem with a single fan active cooling method. The Xbox Series X’s Vapor chamber does use a small amount of liquid to transfer heat. But, this is not the same as a PC water-cooling system which uses a large amount of distilled water, along with a pump and fans, to remove large amounts of heat from a system.
Ok, now you know the Xbox Series X isn’t water-cooled. In the next few sections, I’ll explore in more detail what keeps your Xbox Series X so cool and quiet, why it’s not water-cooled, and if there’s any way to mod your Xbox Series X to use water-cooling.
What currently keeps the Xbox Series X cool?
This is a very basic heatsink. As you can see the fins not only vastly increase the surface area of the heatsink, but they also acts as conduits for cool air to pass through.
The Xbox Series X is sadly not water-cooled. But something must be cooling it, right?
Well, yes of course there is. A large amount of the volume of the Xbox Series X monolithic design is actually dedicated to cooling.
The Xbox Series X makes use of one large 130mm fan placed at the very top of the console. This fan is designed to pull cool fresh air through the system from the bottom and to spit hot air out from the top.
But there must be more to it than just 1 fan?
The Xbox Series X makes use of what is called a vapor chamber. For a full in-depth look at what a vapor chamber does, I recommend heading over to Advanced Cooling Technologies’ Vapor Chambers Explained article here.
But basically, a vapor chamber uses a liquid containing “wick” to aid in the transportation of heat from one side of a large cooling heatsink to the other.
One side of this cooling block is in contact with the components that heat up, such as the CPU. The other side of the block is in contact with a large heatsink made up of many fins. These fins are designed to increase the surface area of the heatsink to aid in the removal of heat by moving air.
The heat is then spread through the greater area and volume of the fin-covered heatsink. As the fan sucks in air, this air passes over and through the fins high surface area and wicks away heat.
For a very quick, literally 10 seconds, look at how a vapor chamber works, take a look at the animation below that shows how heat is transferred through a vapor chamber.
The Xbox Series X makes use of this vapor chamber design. One side of the console is dedicated to holding the massive fin-covered cooling block that sit’s atop the vapor chamber block.
Air can also move through two other routes through the console. But the vast amount of cooling is done by the large fin cooling block and heatsink.
Take a look at the image below to get an idea how cooling is done inside the Xbox Series X:
Graphic showing air being pull in from the bottom of the Xbox Series X and pumped out of the top. Thanks Microsoft for the image.
As you can see from the above X-ray image, half of the Xbox is dedicated to keeping it cool.
Why isn’t the Xbox Series X water cooled?
One of the questions that wagged on the tip of my tongue after realizing that Xbox wasn’t water-cooled was, why isn’t it?
After all, water cooling is the single best way to cool a gaming PC. Well, without resorting to extremes like liquid nitrogen, anyway.
There are a number of reasons why water-cooling was viewed as a washout by Microsoft. Let’s take a look at few of them:
The number one reason why the Xbox Series X doesn’t have a water-cooling system is cost. It would have simply not been possible to build a $500 dollar console and include a water-cooling solution.
Water coolers are far more expensive than traditional air coolers. For example a water cooler kit from renowned PC hardware designer Corsair will set you back around $530! That’s $30 more than the Xbox Series X!
Fancy taking a look at this, admittedly awesome, water cooling kit? Then head over to the Corsair Hydro X Series Xh405i sales page.
The fact is, consoles are not PCs. A PC is essentially a bunch of electronic components housed in heavy-duty steel armored boxes. These are often extremely large and heavy, making them hard to move. So, any water cooling solution is safe within the confines of the PC chassis.
This is not the case with the Xbox Series X. Though console is big, by console standards, it’s tiny compared to the vast majority of gaming PCs. This makes Xbox easy to accidentally kick over, nudge, and fall over. This would not be good for a water-cooling system. Any sudden jolt could cause a leak which would mean instant death for Xbox Series X and its delicate components.
It would be overkill
Microsoft didn’t include a water cooler in the Xbox Series X because it would be overkill. The machine is already superbly cooled by the cheap and readily available cooling part in the console. They have just been used in very creative ways. This would make adding a water cooler to the Xbox a completely needless expense. Especially given the mid-level components stuffed inside the Xbox Series X.
What benefits would water cooling ad to the Xbox Series X?
The main benefit of a water cooler is it dissipates far more heat than other cooling solutions. This gives you more headroom to run your components at higher clock frequencies, which generates more heat. As a rule the higher the clock rate of your components the more heat they will generate.
If the Xbox Series X did have a water cooler, Microsoft could have probably increased the clock speed of the Zen CPU to close to 5Gz, and the GPU to over 2.5Gz.
If Microsoft had done this it would have increased the GPU power from 12 Terflops to 16.5 Teraflops. A massive bump in computational power. That’s a roughly 35% increase in graphical power! But it would have come at the huge costs of including a water-cooler mentioned above.
Will there be a water cooled Xbox Series X equivalent in the future?
No console has ever been water-cooled. That includes the “pro” consoles such as the Xbox One X and a PlayStation 4 Pro.
And I personally think we will never see a water-cooled console. Well, at least not in the next decade or so. There’s just no need.
Even when Microsoft inevitably brings out its mid-gen Xbox Series X upgrade (The Xbox Series Z?) that console, though it will house more graphical power, will still be air-cooled.
For consoles that use off-the-shelf mid-range PC parts such as the Xbox Series X and PS5, there is simply no need to use water cooling. So don’t expect the next consoles to use water-cooling.
Can you buy after market water cooling kits for the Xbox Series X?
Unfortunately, no you can’t. However, that hasn’t stopped some DIY enthusiasts from trying to tear down the Xbox Series X and rebuilding it with a PC water cooling solution bubbling away inside it.
I’ll leave you with this video I found on YouTube by “Project Blog”. The water-cooled Series X does look bulky, but still, you gotta hand it to this fella, it looks fantastic! Take a look for yourself:
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«Ex-Box One S PC» — a custom water-cooled PC by creator Aaron Howe
Titan Rig’s fourth Featured Rig has arrived!
This time around we have an amazing rig from Redditor Aaron Howe (/u/Draelren). Aaron has managed to pack an entire liquid-cooled PC inside what was once a gaming console, and it looks awesome!
Builder: Aaron Howe
Case: X-Box One S console
Motherboard: ASRock Phantom Gaming X570 ITX/TB3
APU: AMD Ryzen 7 4700G
RAM: G. Skill Trident Z Neo 8GB 4800MHz x2
Storage: WD Black SN750 1TB
PSU: HDPLEX 400W DC-ATX PSU
Dell Alienware 330-watt laptop charger
CPU Block: Bitspower ASRock X570 ITX/TB3 Monoblock
Radiator: Alphacool NexXxoS XT45 Full Copper 50mm Dual Radiator
Fans: GELID Solutions Silent5 FN-SX05-40 50mm
Reservoir: Alphacool Eisstation 40 DC-LT
Pump: Alphacool DC-LT 2600 Ceramic 12V Pump
Tubing: EKWB EK-DuraClear Soft Tubing, 10/13mm (3/8″ ID, 1/2″ OD)
Fittings: Bitspower G1/4″ to 3/8″ Barb Fitting, 90° Rotary
Bitspower G1/4″ Extender Fitting 15mm
Bitspower G1/4″ to 3/8″ Barb Fitting
Aaron’s choice of case is inspired, and his execution is incredible. Built inside the chassis of an Xbox One S console, this PC is packed in tight but still manages to look amazing. Custom water cooling with the help of a Bitspower monoblock and one of Alphacool’s odd-sized radiators and tiny ceramic pumps really sets this machine apart.
I was able to talk with Aaron about his build at length. Good stuff ahead!
Thanks for sharing your creation with us Aaron! I’m a fan of big cases myself, and this project of yours reminds me why. To my eye this looks like the end result of an incredible amount of work and patience, and it shows!
Does this project have a name?
Yes! I call it the Ex-Box One S PC, which the ‘Ex-Box’ part came from my previous LAN rig I had built, which was the same rough concept of this, but was air cooled, and was in an Xbox 360 actually.
I forget where the name exactly originates with my old build, but someone made a comment about it being an ex-Xbox or ex-box or something, either on Facebook or Reddit, and I was like “OH! YES! THAT!” and I just kind of ran with it.
Maybe someday I’ll come up with a more anthropomorphic name for the computer.
No! This is perfect!
What do you primarily use the Ex-Box for?
It’s my LAN rig for when I go more mobile with my gaming. I live near Portland, Oregon and every year there’s multiple LAN parties near me (at least pre-pandemic there was), PDXLAN was the main one I take my machines to, but there are also smaller ones such as GNW Lan around.
Occasionally I’ll use the system at home to game on also. My main computer is primarily a workstation, so it has applications, drivers, and various tweaks to its system for productivity, server management, and the like — that some games just DON’T get along with. It’s a Threadripper paired with an RTX 3070, and yet Conan Exiles won’t even launch properly on it due to some software complication that I haven’t bothered to track down yet.
If I find myself unable to play something in particular with the 4700G’s internal GPU, the motherboard has a TB3 port, and I have a Razer Core v2 to hook up a graphics card externally to the system if I ever need to.
How long have you been building PCs?
I got started with PC’s at around 12, and built a few with my stepdad, but eventually branched off into coding and visual effects / 3d modeling. I took a decent long hiatus from hardware until I was actually in my mid-20s around 2013. I then became addicted to PC hardware, building systems just for the fun of it to see how it would perform, tearing it down and then going and buying more hardware. Eventually I became a hardware reviewer for a few years, and I do miss that job sometimes actually. I’d love to get back into it someday. Just the thrill of getting your hands on something early and getting to play with it, and push its limits, is always a fun time.
I’ve since turned into doing commissioned PC builds for various locals looking for one-off unique systems. In the past 8 or so years I’ve built nearly five to six hundred systems either for professional use at work, personal use, or for friends and family.
How many water cooled rigs have you made? What got you into water cooling?
This was actually my first water cooled build! I’ve been wanting to jump into the art for a while now, but never really had a reason to. What got me wanting to do this particular build as water cooling, was because my last one was air cooled — I thought I’d try my hand and see what could be done in an Xbox chassis with water.
Looking around the internet back in 2018 when I started this project, there was no AIO option for something using a 50mm radiator, dual 50, or triple 50 like would fit in the chassis. So I knew it had to be custom.
Some friends were definitely pushing me to do it and were wanting me to do custom loops for their systems as well, so I just jumped right in on that idea to get experience.
How did you learn to build a custom water cooling loop?
A LOT of research actually. I’ve watched channels on YouTube like JayzTwoCents for years, and he’s always kind of been known for having water cooled builds; so I looked through some of his videos. Then I went to online forums, Reddit, Facebook groups, you name it. I looked at loop theory and what might need to change with such a small loop vs a more traditional one.
I learned to drive a manual vehicle the same way actually. I knew what car I wanted, went online, and then just went and did it. Same here, knew what I wanted, bought the parts, did it.
Some of us just learn better by doing – I know the feeling.
What were the deciding factors in your choice of brands/parts for this rig?
A lot of the deciding factors were down to form factor.
Going into the project I already knew from previous experience that there is no way to fit a GPU into the chassis, while also maintaining an internal power supply, not to mention the radiator, pump/res, and the other water cooling parts. So I knew I HAD to get the best iGPU processor possible. At the time the 5700G wasn’t even announced yet — the best available was the 4700G, so that’s what I went with.
The motherboard that I wanted had to have great aesthetics due to the window I had planned, I wanted it to have TB so I could rock an external dock, it had to have m.2 support, and I wanted a little bit of RGB. Plugging these options into Newegg only popped up with a single search result. I had my answer. The ASRock Phantom Gaming X570 ITX/TB3. A super unique motherboard for AMD’s AM4 socket, but yet uses Intel mounting holes.
Due to the AM4/115X weird mounting solution, I went through buying a few different blocks and trying out a few different solutions, none quite seemed to look, function, or fit right. Eventually settled on Bitspower’s monoblock for the X570 ITX/TB3. It was made for the board, provided appropriate cooling, and looked great when paired with the rest of the water cooling components.
The internal power is supplied by a 400W DC-ATX unit from HDPLEX, and the external power brick is a 330w laptop charger by Dell, made for their Alienware laptops. I wanted an internal power unit to keep the external cables to a minimum; and I had used their 250-watt version in my old Ex-Box 360 mod — so I knew it was from a company that had great attention to detail and would fit my needs.
The two main cables for the HDPLEX iPSU were custom done for me by some friends, the 1” 24-pin was donated by Heath from Tek by Design, and the 8-pin EPS was done by Michael over at MB Custom Sleeving, both great guys, and I was happy to have their work in my build.
The pump and res combo pairing of the Alphacool DC-LT 2600 and the Eisstation 40 DC-LT were kind of my only choices at this sizing. Literally nothing else would fit. However, that hardware combination required me to run an Alphacool NexXxoS XT45 50mm Dual radiator, instead of their triple 50mm radiator, just so I had a place to put the pump and res combo.
The fittings were a mix and matched set just based on where I knew the tubing would need to go, and what would fit the space required. Most everything came down to millimeters of spare room, if any at all — and the majority of planning was just down to figuring that out.
I imagine a build like this comes with more than its share of obstacles. Did you run into any that you hadn’t planned for?
Ha! I think I just went over some of that actually. Aside from finding out bits of hardware were too big, bulky, or incompatible for some reason with something else that I had to change from my original plan along the way, I think the biggest other obstacle in the build was with the internal framing.
My first few versions were all done with aluminum framing and cold welding / epoxies. With the added weight of system components and trying to build the rest of the system, it kept breaking apart. After trying a few different methods for joining together the frame that I wasn’t satisfied with, I decided to design a frame and 3D print it. Having gone to school for multimedia arts and game design, I was able to put some of my experience there to use in this project.
Over the course of a few months I tested 7 different iterations of the frame, each time refining where I needed extra support, where needed cut outs, and what needed to be thinner to allow for cables to pass through. In the end I believe I had all of the kinks worked out, and I feel it turned out pretty well.
For the Xbox One S chassis, underneath there is a lot of spare plastics for rigidity, or for the optical tray, or for clips used for the internal hardware in places — most of those got shaved off, or merely cut away.
The bottom of the casing also had a large hole cut in it, roughly 8” x 11” tall to allow for the glass panel to display the internal hardware.
Are you happy with the look/sound/performance of your new rig, and is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes! I’m absolutely blown away by it every time I look at it. The pictures do NOT do it justice, at all.
As far as doing things differently, yeah, I probably would have done a bit more thorough research on how I was going to get the pump/res to work, so I wouldn’t have had to go through buying so many different items to try to make it work.
I’m actually also working on doing a revision now for it, using EK’s ZMT in black, instead of their EK-Clear, which started to turn yellow on me after a few months of use.
Any advice for the aspiring water cooler?
Yes! Don’t be afraid! You can do it! Spend a bit of time up front and try to get a grasp of what you want to do, and what you want it to look like, then do it!
I love the glass panel on the front of the machine – tell me about how you pulled that off.
So the glass panel is actually just a simple, like, $2.18 cent piece of glass from Home Depot. Required no cutting actually and slipped relatively easily in place. The pieces I have holding it in place are mirror clips designed to just go on a wall for a wall mounted mirror.
Not all the time does a mod need to go with the highest tech answer, sometimes just simple uses of everyday materials can go a long way to providing a decent aesthetic.
The base with the USB ports is obviously not stock – how did you put this together?
That unit actually is the Insignia brand, which is one of Best Buy’s brands. It’s like Costco and Kirkland kind of. It’s designed for the actual Xbox One S from Microsoft, and I tried plugging it into the PC to see if I could find drivers for it to have it be functional, but it kept coming up with results that weren’t appropriate for the device and trying to look it up by its bare hardware_id met with no great results either. I eventually ended up just hacking off the USB cable that plugs into the back, so it wouldn’t just be flopping about uselessly.
In the end it provides a really nice sturdy base for the PC, as well as brings the radiator up off the table for some additional ventilation.
Thanks for taking the time to give us a look into the creation of this tiny masterpiece, Aaron! You’ve certainly shown that SFF and custom water cooling can work beautifully together.
Waterblock for Xbox 360
The eternal question of many parents is “what is the main purpose of consoles?” Well, of course, for games — any gamer will answer, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a teenager or a person already aged. For a stable and reliable gaming experience, regardless of OS optimization, the presence on the website of manufacturers of original drivers for the video card, the presence of three or more patches intended for the original game, insufficient or too much RAM, insufficiently satisfactory processor performance, lack of free space in hard drive memory, and finally the temperature of the video card mosfets. Yes, whatever you say, but playing on a game console is much easier and hassle-free than on a PC. Among modern game consoles, you can also choose between the Xbox 360 and Play Station 3 (PS3) — both consoles are good in their own way, and disputes about their merits sometimes look like disputes of religious fanatics, so I will not praise my Xbox 360, but I will simply say that I, like many other gamers, after carefully reading many forums, chose the Xbox 360 as my gaming platform. However, due to overheating issues during long gaming sessions, heavy users of the Xbox 360 will benefit from a water cooling system. Although my Xbox 360 is based on a Falkon revision motherboard, which most experts say does not overheat much, I also decided to install a water cooling system in my game console, because what kind of modder would I be if I did not install dropsy? . I will talk about this in several notes on this site, but first we will talk about the water block — the main component of any water cooling system.
General view of the water block for the Xbox 360
XSPC Xbox 360 CPU/GPU water block
The XSPC Xbox 360 CPU/GPU water block is supplied in a small plain cardboard box — everything here is modest and to the point.
Water block XSPC Xbox 360 CPU/GPU against the background of the package
the two hottest and «dangerous» elements. The base of the XSPC Xbox 360 CPU/GPU water block is made of copper, as befits a modern CBO component, and the lid is made of black delrin-type plastic. On one side of the water block there are two holes with fittings where the hoses will be connected.
Water block with fittings
XSPC Xbox 360 CPU/GPU water block copper base contains a series of long channels through which water passes, which ensures effective cooling.
The base of the water block is separated from the cover
In the center of the base there is a thicker «wall» of copper, which divides the base into two parts. Thus, water enters the XSPC Xbox 360 CPU / GPU water block through one hole, passes through half of the channels in the base to the opposite edge of the water block, turns around and returns in the second half of the channels to the second hole, from where it exits back into the system. The corresponding wiring of the channels is also made in the plastic cover.
The base of the water block with close
The whole structure is held together with many small screws — reliably and simply. The water block itself is low enough to fit under the DVD drive of the set-top box. That’s all — later I will talk about all the other parts of the water cooling system for my Xbox 360.
Enthusiasts implemented water cooling in PS5
YouTube bloggers of the Modding Cafe channel have prepared a modification of the PS5, equipped with water cooling. The creators of the unusual version of the PlayStation 5 published a video in which they showed the progress of work.
Installation of water cooling into the console required disassembly of the unit. However, the modified equipment had to be placed in a new casing, because everything did not fit in the original one.
The authors of the project also conducted tests that show that the system used cools the PS5 better than the traditional solution — the maximum temperature reaches 53.5 degrees Celsius, while the standard result is about 65 degrees Celsius.
The Modding Cafe team notes that they intend to release a commercial water-cooled version of the PlayStation 5. There are also plans to build a PC that will be equipped with a similar mechanism.
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