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Thread: OS Xbox Pro

  1. #1

    OS Xbox Pro


    Before I begin talking about my latest build, let me just say this: I'm a PC. That's right, I said it. Back in high school when we got a shipment of brand new iMacs I was one of the few that wasn't lured in by the flamboyant colors and bizarre error sounds. While everyone else was using iMovie and Final Cut Pro I worked with Premiere, and later Avid. There was nothing I could do on a Mac that I couldn't do faster and better on a "PC". Now, though, that I'm looking to start my career in video production I'm finding a lot of employers are wanting editors who have experience in Final Cut. This left me with the distasteful choice of either setting foot in an Apple store or spending the next couple of months laboring in my garage, with the potential for serious injury. I of course took the easy way out; I present to you the OS Xbox Pro.


    It was just recently that I found out about the EFi-X dongle, a device that plugs into compatible motherboards and allows them to boot a wide range of operating systems including OSX. The promise of being able to buy my own components and run a stable copy of OSX made building my own system the perfect way for me to accomplish my objective and likely save a lot of money as well. was also kind enough to sponsor this project by sending me one of their EFi-X dongles.

    The first step was to decide on a look for the case. While I wanted to throw in at least some design elements to pay homage to Apple cases, I didn't want people who entered my home to think I was a Mac users either. Microsoft has helped me avoid this for years, and I realized they could buy me some more time. I decided the original Xbox would make the perfect starting point for this system, and was lucky enough to stumble across an Xbox Dev. Kit for our local tech recycling center.

    Hardware wise the plan was to select components with the minimum system requirements of at least the entry level $2500 Mac Pro. Despite being a couple inches taller than a retail Xbox, at 1/5 the size of the Mac Pro this was to be a very tight system. After gutting the Xbox I realized not all ATX motherboards would fit, and eventually found one that was compatible with the EFi-X dongle and had all the featured I wanted, including being LGA 775 with DDR3 memory.

    Size, and more importantly the space needed for all the connections on the back panel, also limited me to a 300W TFX micro power supply. This raised some red flags as that was considerably under the 400W minimum requirment asked by my low profile GeForce 9800 GT - a component I required to match the "GeForce GT 120" that came standard in the Mac Pro. To compensate I invested in the slightly more expensive 65w version of the Intel Core2 Q9550, the Q9550s.

    Having received my primary components from Newegg I set about cutting and bending the motherboard tray from a sheet of aluminum. It was soon clear that even with my small PSU I would have to position it above the north bridge, and sacrifice on of my PCI-e x1 slots. To support the wieght I decided I would build a second aluminum tray that would be supported by standoffs from 4 of the motherboard mounting holes. On one side of the PSU, Just above the very low profile ZEROtherm cpu cooler, would be a stack of 4 2.5" hard drives. Among them would be 2 7200rpm 500gb drives raid0 through a highpoint raid card for Final Cut editing, a 5200rpm 160gb drive for OSX, and—in an attempt to make this a proper computer—an identical drive for a Windows 7 install.

    I then moved onto the front panel. The Xbox controller ports were to stay and be repurposed as front panel USB, SATA, and Firewire ports. Unfortunately they were too low and the headers would be blocked by components on the motherboard. I solved this by cutting them out, flipping them upside-down , and re-attaching them on the opposite side to keep the front panels natural curve. A small panel from the CD Rom drive also had to be detached and bondo-ed onto the front panel as there was absolutely no room for an optical drive in this build.

    For the shell I first cut away the back face to fit around the new motherboard tray. I decided I would use the same style mesh you find on a Mac Pro in the place of the ribbing that was on the Xbox. After bending the mesh, and a lot of bondoing and needle-filing, all that was left to do was sanding and paint.

    One of my primary goals while designing this system was to create the best price per performance for running Final Cut Pro. A Mac Pro configured with similar specs runs around $4500. By simply watching for deals, and searching through a wide range of PC component manufacturers, I was able to build a system with a retail cost of under $1500—and that includes a retail copy of OSX. Add to that a copy of Windows 7 and Ubuntu and I've ended up with a computer that I might actually enjoy using.

    Final Product / Sponsors

    //" alt="" />

    And of course I have to thank my very first sponsors! Thank you to for providing me with the EFi-X dongle—the inspiration for this project.

    And also thank you to Newegg for hooking me up with a whole lot of great hardware.


    Intel Core2 Q9550S @2.93GHz
    Gigabyte GA-EP45T-UD3LR
    Sparkle GeForce 9800 GT
    8GB Crucial Ballistix 1333MHz
    Highpoint RocketRAID 2640x1
    2x 160GB 5400rpm Seagate Momentus HDD
    2x 500GB 7200rpm Seagate Momentus HDD
    16GB 1.8" Super Talent MasterDrive KX SSD
    EFiX USB V1

    You can view this build from start to finish through my video worklog, available on my Youtube channel.[/video]]

  2. #2

    OS Xbox Pro

    Beautiful. How big/many fans you have in there? I'd be worried about it getting pretty hot, especially when rendering video edits.

  3. #3

    OS Xbox Pro

    Awesome!! I think it would be cool to have one of those.

    Hey I also think that you are in the Intel Challenge if I am not mistaking.

    Go over there and vote for Stealth at

    Link to his page

    I voted so should you! :mrgreen:

  4. #4

    OS Xbox Pro

    Awsome mod, way to stick it to the man(s)! You got my vote

  5. #5

    OS Xbox Pro

    Beautiful. How big/many fans you have in there? I'd be worried about it getting pretty hot, especially when rendering video edits.
    Thanks! There are 2 (surprisingly quiet) 40mm fans by the cpu as well as the psu fan drawing air out of the case. I haven't done any extreme encoding yet, and it does get a little warm, but nothing too bad. I am putting together a custom made low profile pci exhaust fan that I plan to just pop in there so I really wont have to worry about it at all (nobody make a low profile one), so right now I'm just keeping an eye on it.

    Hey I also think that you are in the Intel Challenge if I am not mistaking.

    Go over there and vote for Stealth at

    Link to his page
    Thanks AF! You know how I love contests!

    And thanks for your vote as well Roboduck!

  6. #6

    OS Xbox Pro

    Hahah. It looks just like the real thing, but with way better components inside the box! Good job!

  7. #7

    OS Xbox Pro

    I've uploaded the short video I did for the intel contest for those of you who don't have 10 minutes to watch the full thing -[/video]]

    For some reason the rules said 10mb limit, which is terrible, so now it's up in HD.

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