Should I buy an Xbox 360 Arcade?
April 15, 2009 5:46 AM   Subscribe

Should I buy the Xbox 360 Arcade, or would a different model Xbox 360 be a better option for me?

I want to play games. Based on the games I want to play and what other features I want from a console I've narrowed it down to the Xbox 360. However I've been out of the console loop for a long time and don't know which Xbox 360 model to buy. The Arcade is cheap (plus I can get a couple of free games with it -- regular games, not the bundled arcade games), but there must be downsides.

What I want to do with my console is, not surprisingly, play games. GTA IV, racing, FPS, and action/adventure games are my cup of tea. I'm not likely to use it for online gaming, and I'm not interested in my console being a media centre. That is, I won't be downloading movies or music onto it. I just want to buy games, play them, saving every now and then. Multimedia I can live without, but I'd hate to find that the cheaper model can't play certain games now or in the future.

As an aside, I used to be a big PC gamer and feel much more comfortable with the keyboard/mouse combo for games such as GTA or FPSs, so the possibility of buying and using those peripherals would be great. That said, I'll survive if it can't be done.

Any advice would be great, keeping in mind that I really have no idea about how things work on the Xbox 360.
posted by teem to Technology (20 answers total)
You're going to want to step up from the Arcade. The hard drive is really, really useful, even if you don't think you'll be downloading stuff a lot. Many games have updates and additional content (maps for FPSs, new content for GTA, etc) that you'll miss out on with little or no storage.

Plus the other systems (pro/premium) tend to be of newer architecture, so less chance of Red Ringing.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:55 AM on April 15, 2009

I bought an Xbox about 6 months ago. Originally thought about the Arcade because of the price, but was really happy I spent the extra money on getting the next bundle up with the hard drive. Even if you don't download content, copying a game to the hard drive and playing it from there makes the system much quieter.
posted by tommccabe at 6:04 AM on April 15, 2009

I have the Pro, the old architecture (so far no problems) and I'm really glad I opted for it instead of the Arcade. Copying stuff to the hard drive makes a *serious* difference in noise and load times.
posted by the dief at 6:06 AM on April 15, 2009

I think it's definitely worth getting a Pro, or whatever they're calling the first configuration up which includes a hard drive. I mainly use the hard drive for downloading demos and trailers. The demos in particular are invaluable.
And if you do buy an Arcade, then later decide to get a hard drive, you won't have saved much at all.
posted by lucidium at 6:06 AM on April 15, 2009

Ya, robocop is right, not having the hard drive takes away from the Xbox experience for reasons he explained. You also don't get the HD cables with the Arcade. So if you have a HDTV you will not be able to use the higher resolutions unless you buy the cable. I don't think you get a headset either. But if you are not playing online games this might not be an issue.

I honestly think that once you start playing games you are going to want to be able to get downloadable content and eventually will want to play online. It is the XBox live that sets the Xbox apart from the other consoles.

Whatever your decision is, you will enjoy the Xbox!
posted by birdlips at 6:12 AM on April 15, 2009

Whatever you do, buy new! The Red Rings of Death are much less frequent on recent units. Getting an old one puts you at constant risk for a meltdown.
posted by spamguy at 6:23 AM on April 15, 2009

Yeah, the demos are really nice. There is a big batch of demos out there for all of the new games, and the Xbox Arcade games are a lot of fun too.
posted by craven_morhead at 6:28 AM on April 15, 2009

Get the better version and get it new. Used ones will red ring on you. The older models did not do a good job with their designs. The processor can over heat, melt the glue holding it down, and then make your Xbox completely useless.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:31 AM on April 15, 2009

I would buy an Arcade, but also go out and but the Xbox live pack that has the headset and hard drive and 3 months of live. Keep an eye on some deals sites and you can snag it for sometimes as little as $75, when it retails for $100. Then grab a set of HDMI or component cables down the line and complete the ensemble. Sure, it doesn't come together all in one box, but it does give you three opportunities to deal hunt and get better prices than one.
posted by deezil at 6:32 AM on April 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just to clarify, you cannot go on the internet with the Arcade. This means no multiplayer gaming over the internet.
posted by maryrosecook at 6:34 AM on April 15, 2009

The arcade does not come with HD cables, so youre going to need to spend another 20-40 dollars on cables. Later on you might want the hard drive and the retail price on that thing is ridiculous. The arcade really isnt the bargain you think it is.

Just to clarify, you cannot go on the internet with the Arcade.

Thats untrue. It gets on the internet just fine. They all come with an ethernet jack.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:59 AM on April 15, 2009

To nth everybody else, a hard drive is not optional, and newer models have fewer hardware issues.

Also, this question has come up before. Reading some of these old threads may be helpful.
posted by box at 7:12 AM on April 15, 2009

It is the XBox live that sets the Xbox apart from the other consoles.

Another thing that sets the Xbox apart are the online fees. The PS3 online is free.

But on topic: get the (small) hard drive or you'll kick yourself later.
posted by rokusan at 7:19 AM on April 15, 2009

Get the hard drive. I'm as casual a gamer as they come, and I use the hard drive. Free demos are great. Some games need free downloadable patches.

I have the 20 gig version, and it's plenty big for me.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:42 AM on April 15, 2009

Speaking from personal experience, I bought an Arcade and later got a 20GB hard drive from Microsoft for 30 dollars, and couldn't be happier. Things to keep in mind: although I did save 70 bucks I don't have an HDTV so the fancy HD cable wasn't an issue for me and I also had no desire to game online so the headset wasn't missed either.

Almost all arcades are now Jasper-models which is the newer, spiffier, less RROD-y model. I'd not let fear of RRODs scare you out of an arcade.

I don't think the $30/20gb HD deal is still active with MS as it was a promo they were running around Christmastime, but I still think if you don't care about online or HD-ness you can save some cash by getting an Arcade and a Hard Drive separately. In the meantime, Arcades come with enough on-board memory to easily store your game saves. Also-also, if HD is really that big of a deal there's always Monoprice for your cheap HDMI cable needs.
posted by bookwo3107 at 7:54 AM on April 15, 2009

Pick up an Arcade at for $170. Buy a 20GB HD off Craigslist or eBay for about $30.
posted by 6550 at 8:37 AM on April 15, 2009

I clarify - you can get online with an arcade. I did it before I got the hard drive.

However, a hard drive is essential - you don't necessarily have to get the better models. As some people have stated on here, you can buy an arcade for cheap and get a refurbished hard drive. Doing this is the same as buying the upgrade, but it may end up being cheaper (you won't get the shiny disc tray, but who cares?) I would recommend going this route, you end up with the same stuff - at a cheaper price.

The PS3 is an great system, and the online is free - but Xbox live is only $50 per year, is very reliable, fast, organized and seems to offer a lot of exclusive content. It is well worth it in my opinion, but I guess that isn't the point of the question.

Whatever way you decide to go, the Xbox (even with its flaws) is an awesome system. Have fun!
posted by Brettus at 9:21 AM on April 15, 2009

see also
posted by juv3nal at 9:44 AM on April 15, 2009

I'm very much the same as you.
I'm a huge PC gamer who decided that
some of the 360 games looked compelling.

I bought the 360 Pro when GTA4 came out.
I never connected it online, nor do I like to
play multiplayer. The first time I connected
my 360 to the internet was when GTA4:
Lost and the Damned came out. And then
I had to. But what I discovered was that it's
rather charming, XBOX Live. I don't have the
gold membership - like I said, I don't really
play multiplayer. But I do have Rock Band,
and being able to download the occasional
new track is great. Also, more and more
games have downloadable content.

I would suggest a step up from the Arcade.
You'll need the hard drive. You may find,
that like me, what you'll want to do with
your 360 will change the more you discover
what you can do with it.

Oh, and the Elite version is a ripoff.
posted by Sully at 11:41 AM on April 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all of your advice, it seems that a model with a hard drive is a clear winner.

Today I bought an Xbox 360 Pro (60gb HDD), the next step up from the Arcade. So far so awesome.
posted by teem at 6:27 AM on April 16, 2009

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