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how can I get a xbox 360 set up on the cheap
January 25, 2009 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Planning on getting a Xbox 360, Oh and I want to do it on the cheap. Any advice?Here is my plan...

Would getting a Xbox 360 Arcade+ a X GB hd in a USB enclosure work? Any help on what would work/not work would be appreciated. I am a total xbox n00b.
posted by ShawnString to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total)
 
Only the official hard drives will work.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:38 PM on January 25, 2009


You can't use a USB hard drive for game saves etc but you can use a USB hard drive to play videos and other media types on the 360. Most Hard drives and enclosures will work for this.
posted by imjosh at 6:01 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming megosteve is right, I have no idea actually but 20gb xbox hd's go on ebay for like 20-25$, not really that expensive. Gamestop sells arcades for right around 150 right now, ebay a harddrive and boom, cheap xbox. If you're worried about not enough HD space 20gb is plenty for gamesaves. Some people want bigger hd's so they can save movies, we have ours setup through our network and stream movies from our NAS.
posted by BrnP84 at 6:03 PM on January 25, 2009


Dell is having a sale you might want to take advantage of that brings down the price of the Arcade to $158, but I think it ends soon. Then you can just buy a 20GB refurb drive from MS for $30 (that offer ends tomorrow though) or a 60GB pack and you're good to go.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:53 PM on January 25, 2009


What exactly do you plan to use the Xbox 360 for? Games? Media streaming? My friend has an Xbox 360 with a dead DVD drive. You would need an official hard drive for games/saves, though. The Xbox my friend owns has no hard drive, power cable, or AV cable but you could pick that up cheaply.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:09 PM on January 25, 2009


The 360 is designed to be a money pit. Damn near everything is off the shelf components that are then locked up with stupid custom ports and such. They want like 100 dollars for a wifi adaptor. Their controller is some BS custom 2.4Ghz protocol when everyone else went with bluetooth. In classic Microsoft fashion, the 360 controller fails to employ any of the spread spectrum engineering concepts that allow devices to interoperate and share the wavelength, leading to massive interference.

Their networking tools only officially work with other Microsoft systems ("Windows Media Connect"). WMC is the perfect Microsoft protocol: it's a modified version of the UPnP AV spec Microsoft itself designed. Have a nice network attached device? Hope you can install ushare or something similar. Their codec support is basically everything in the meager ranger of

Then there's the LIVE network. Online multiplayer requires "gold" service. Even though in most cases only the matchmaking runs on their systems; actual games happen independently. Even their vaunted Netflix tool requires gold access. I have no idea why, since you're already paying Netflix for access. They offer movies and TV shows for download, but it feels wrong to pay for cable and internet and then pay to download TV shows again. Most of the game downloads will cost you Microsoft Points, which are like regular money except once you buy them you have no legal recourse. Best of all, they seem to have dispensed with "gamerpics" (like a forum icon) in favor of Nintendo Mii-like avatars. They charged you for most of the gamerpics, and I'm sure they'll start charging for avatar crap.

Plus the damn thing overheats like nuts. Most importantly, Civilization Revolution freezes all the damn time and it's clear that I have no further leverage in the situation.

If I still haven't talked you out of this, then I recommend CheapAss Gamer. They have guides on how to get double millage out downloads on the forums, and they point out deals like 13 months of LIVE for 30 bucks. You'll have to decide if you want to use a wireless controller and incur higher power costs (or even battery costs!), or do with a cord and try not to trip on it. It's USB, so there are limits to the extension length.
posted by pwnguin at 7:20 PM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Given the proven failure rate of these items, I think longdaysjourney outlined your best option: nice cheap new bare-bones system, and a 20-gig drive to snap on the side. Under $200 for a full setup, with warranty, is pretty unbeatable, and will probably stay around there until XBox 470 or whatever stupid-ass name they decide to call the XBox 3.
posted by Aquaman at 7:20 PM on January 25, 2009


I did the sale that longdaysjourney mentioned up the thread, and my 360 should be here tomorrow. Best deal going for a new system at the moment. I bought 360 arcade, and the add-on pack with the new 60GB drive, headset, and 3 months of live. brought it up to the same cost as the pro system.
posted by deezil at 8:00 PM on January 25, 2009


pwnguin: "Then there's the LIVE network. Online multiplayer requires "gold" service. Even though in most cases only the matchmaking runs on their systems; actual games happen independently. Even their vaunted Netflix tool requires gold access. I have no idea why, since you're already paying Netflix for access. They offer movies and TV shows for download, but it feels wrong to pay for cable and internet and then pay to download TV shows again. Most of the game downloads will cost you Microsoft Points, which are like regular money except once you buy them you have no legal recourse. Best of all, they seem to have dispensed with "gamerpics" (like a forum icon) in favor of Nintendo Mii-like avatars. They charged you for most of the gamerpics, and I'm sure they'll start charging for avatar crap."

So, this is sort of a ridiculous characterization of XBox Live.

Firstly, if you want to be online with it, you need Gold. End of story. Might as well just factor that into the cost of ownership. That said, it's cheap. Really cheap. $50 a year is almost nothing, really.

The fact that all matchmaking is done over XBL is actually a good thing. When you let game manufacturers do their own matching stuff, they invariably screw it up.

If you want content like movies/TV shows/gamerpics, etc, yes, you'll have to pay for them. Why should it be otherwise? The basic avatar stuff will remain free, certainly, since you're required to have an avatar.

Anyways, don't let Live deter you from ownership - if anything, it should encourage you to buy a 360, since it's the best of the three consoles for online play and downloadable content.
posted by TypographicalError at 8:36 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ignore pwnguin's crazy rant. The facts are that the 360 is a pretty amazing device and Live works incredibly well. Yes, it does cost money. Peripherals cost money too. This isnt communism.

That said, a lot of first-party hardware is expensive, Im looking at you MS and Nintendo. For my 360 I bought a 3rd party VGA cable and am planning on getting a 3rd party controller. If I needed to go wireless then Id attach an old linksys WAP on there in client mode. You dont have to buy the MS stuff, except for the memory card or hard drive. The 360 can use attached storage but only in read mode. You cant write to it or save games on it.

The downside with the arcade package is that it doesnt come with an HD cable. The cable it comes with is a composite SD cable. So if you want HD out of this system buy a 3rd party cable or pony up to for the pro. I believe the current model of the arcade has an HDMI slot. If so just get an HDMI cable.

Im cheap too. I dont have a hard drive in my current system, just a used 256 memory card. This cripples the device so its just a game machine. Youre not downloading demos and videos with the little memory card. I also have it attached to an old computer monitor with a 15 dollar 3rd party vga cable. I dont need to tie up the hdtv with the game system and I still get HD-quality graphics via the monitor. Win-win.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:59 PM on January 25, 2009


Seconding to ignore pwnguin. My 360 has never overheated or frozen. I have a wireless controller with a 3rd party charge and play kit (cheap) - I'm not sure what "higher power costs" I'm incurring but I think I can probably afford them. The controller doesn't interfere with my wireless lan. I also use a 3rd party cable to plug it into the vga on my monitor (cheap). I got my gold live membership off ebay (cheap). They don't seem to have removed any of the gamer pics stuff and I downloaded and applied a GTA4 one yesterday for free. Although the games cost points to download, most games have playable demos you can download which normally have a couple of levels for free.
posted by JonB at 11:42 PM on January 25, 2009


I don't mind the matchmaking, but it's still crazy how many things LIVE charges for, that people somehow do for free on the rest of the internet. It doesn't help that the market place isn't in any currency I follow regularly. 400 MS points is what, 5 dollars?

If the above was a rant, well it partly was. It was also written a bit too hastily. But mainly it's a warning: ownership incurs a lot of hidden costs and doing lots of things with it requires putting down the cash. It seems silly to pay 240 (3 dollars) for a show I already have recorded and available on U-verse and free on Hulu.
posted by pwnguin at 12:21 AM on January 26, 2009


If I needed to go wireless then Id attach an old linksys WAP on there in client mode.

I would advise against buying anything from Linksys, particularly for use with an Xbox 360.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:03 AM on January 26, 2009


This has been very helpful. I think what I am going to do is get a new Arcade, get a 20GB HD off ebay (looked last night and they are cheap), run a long enet cable to it from my ibook in the corner of my room (turning on internet sharing, and yes I know about the firewall changes I have to make) and get a copy of Connect360 to do streaming from my mac.
posted by ShawnString at 4:33 AM on January 26, 2009


Another thing, I agree Xbox Live isnt all that expensive. Hell just to do Netflix Watch It Instantly on my bigger TV, is worth it alone.
Also the Arcade does have a HDMI port and I can get those cables cheap.
posted by ShawnString at 4:36 AM on January 26, 2009


As always, caveat emptor, but Craigslist can be a great source of cheap wireless adapters.
posted by SemiSophos at 5:36 AM on January 26, 2009


We got a refurbished unit with a 20-gig HD from Microcenter for $180 back in October. It's seen heavy play ever since and we haven't had any trouble with it. We keep it on top of the entertainment center for maximum airflow/cooling abilities.

If you go with wireless controllers you should invest in rechargeable batteries, and get enough so that when one controller conks out you can just put a charged set in, put the old ones in the charger, and keep on going.

As far as Live goes, it depends what you want to do. If you don't want to do online multiplayer immediately you can start with a free silver account. I have that and have decided that I'll upgrade whenever I want to do something that I can't do with the silver - so far, it's not happened, but then I'm primarily a single-player or local multiplayer gamer. Of course, my husband has a gold account so we use that one for Netflix, which is actually a killer app for us - I get so much more value out of the Netflix subscription now.

I was a longtime Playstation/Nintendo person but I am in love with our 360. Good luck!
posted by oblique red at 8:18 AM on January 26, 2009


I know I'm late to the party, but:
There is a hack available to upgrade your 20Gb Xbox HDD with a western digital 120Gb one, if that's up your alley.

Also, the new "Jasper" units have a more power efficient and cooler running GPU, making power consumption lighter and making the dreaded RROD less likely.

Here are the stats, if you see these on the box, you have a Jasper console. As a bonus, you get an HDMI output. Look for 12v - 12.1 amps of voltage, 150W PSU, 256mb internal memory. Also a manufacturing date after Oct 2008. This applies to Arcade systems too.

I would never buy an Xbox unless it was new. Make sure you're not getting a refurb.

Also if you get an HDMI cable, you can buy them cheap on Amazon.
posted by sonicbloom at 8:54 AM on February 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


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