xBox Modding Please
August 17, 2005 6:37 PM   Subscribe

I just got an xBox specifically to mod it out but I'm a bit lost. It appears as if I don't even need a physical mod chip but is that really true. If this is so what's the use of them?

So it seems that there is such thing as using saved game files to mod my xBox. So what is the point of the physical mod?

I want to:
- Play emulated games
- Play DVDs
- Play videos (AVIs, MPEGs etc)

Should I:
- Add RAM (tricky work seemingly)?
- Get a physical mod chip?
- Do anything else?

Also is there any special stuff that might be an interesting thing to do to an Xbox?
posted by Napierzaza to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Add RAM -- not unless you're incredibly hardcore. There's some games you won't be able to play emulated (large Neo-Geo games in MAME, for example), but it's really not worth the effort, which requires surface soldering two memory chips to a board. And I think on newer Xbox revisions they've actually removed the spots on the motherboard.

Get a physical modchip? -- Maybe. It used to be that you needed a modchip, but now there's softmods that will let you do almost everything you can do with a modchip. If you're ok at soldering, a modchip isn't a bad idea, it's an easy solution that doesn't require you to screw around with installing softmods. If you want to replace your harddrive, you may (or may not) need a modchip. I know at one point the newer XBOXs (1.6+) didn't properly report the harddrive key, making it impossible to encrypt a new drive to work, though this may be fixed by now.

The only resources you really need are and #xbins on EFnet (commonly referred to as "the usual places"). From those two places you should be able to find everything you need.
posted by cosmonaught at 7:05 PM on August 17, 2005

Previous questions and good resource.
posted by ODiV at 7:17 PM on August 17, 2005

I prefer a modchip. Personally soft-modding is too much of a PITA if you want to go on xbox live or change your mind some time. With a chip you can just turn it off and load the xbox bios you want to get on live.

But a soft-mod will handle everything you need. You won't even need a larger hard drive if you choose to stream avis or mp3s from your computer with samba (or other flavor). Plus you can keep roms on a DVD.
posted by andendau at 7:24 PM on August 17, 2005

I recently modded my xbox using a chip. It is wonderful, and once you get it done, there's just no comparison. Putting a chip in isn't difficult at all, even for someone with little to no hardware skillz like me, so don't let that be a barrier.

Using a chip does give you the ability to install a switch that will let you go on xbox live, so that's one advantage. I've also heard stories about games re-installing the old firmware over your modded firmware, similar to what happens with hacked PSPs, and even though that sounds a bit apocryphal to me, it wasn't worth the hassle of worrying about it.

Other things interesting to do with a modchip:

Install emulators and emulated games.. if for no other reason than people will come over and say "remember Rolling Thunder?" and you can say, "sure, I've got the arcade version and the console version in 4 languages on my xbox".. which won't get you laid, but it still impresses a certain type of person.

Xbox Media Center lets you use your PC as a content server for your television... so you can play your Divx movies and MP3s, or show slideshows of your digital pictures on the television rather than on the screen (which wows your parents). XBMC also connects to Shoutcast stations, so you can use it as a smart man's satellite radio. It will get movie trailers, and show the weather for you too.

I'm still uncovering new things to do with mine. Good luck.
posted by Hildago at 8:33 PM on August 17, 2005

The soft-mods require a specific game, right? Do people just buy that game or what?
posted by smackfu at 6:29 AM on August 18, 2005

Other than the ability to go on xbox live (which I'll never do anyway), a hard-mod provides zero advantages over the soft-mod. And in my opinion, a soft-mod is a much more accurate kick to the nuts of Microsoft.

One recommendation I do have is putting in a ridiculously huge hard drive when you do mod it, you won't be sorry.
posted by gfroese at 7:30 AM on August 18, 2005

I haven't been into the xbox modding scene since about a year ago, but back then you needed a specific game and a memory card to mod it without a chip. For me it was both easier and cheaper to just buy a solderless modchip (I bought the matrix chip).

There are good emulators for pretty much any system there is a good emulator for on the PC. (Playstation and N64 emulation was pretty buggy a year ago, dreamcast emulation didn't exist. Snes emulation fucking rocked.)

Playing media is wonderful. Streaming content from your PC works perfect on most formats. Xbox Media Player has support for dolby surround sound. Plus you can play DVDs from any region without the remote. And you get progressive scan, which you for whatever reason don't get with the microsoft firmware.

However you do it, do it. It's great. will have answers to any questions you have, both the forums and the main site. (Just stay the hell out of the xbox-scene political forum, unless you want to get into the internets dumbest flame wars, usually between the right wingers and the ultra right wing wackjobs.)
posted by cheerleaders_to_your_funeral at 7:42 AM on August 18, 2005

It appears as if I don't even need a physical mod chip but is that really true. If this is so what's the use of them?

Finding the right game/hardware combo can be time-consuming/annoying. The hardware option allows you to revert back to the original BIOS (good for XBLive, if you like that sort of thing). Hardware mods allow for nifty LCD screen hacks. Some, like the Xodus systems, have built-in USB ports, which is pretty cool. Also, modchips have extra RAM for alternate BIOSes. The Xenium, for instance, has a meg of room. You can save the default BIOS (just in case!), and still have 768K left for other BIOS options. The Xenium chip comes with built-in FTP, SMB, Telnet, and a bunch of other stuff. You just plug it in and FTP stuff over. It's dead-simple. I'm sure the Xecuter stuff is just as good, though I haven't tried it.

I want to: - Play emulated games - Play DVDs - Play videos (AVIs, MPEGs etc)

You'll need a good BIOS (X2 5035, for instance), the latest version of XBox Media Center (XBMC), and MAMEoX for game emulation.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:06 AM on August 18, 2005

As for interesting stuff, check out X-BOX Linux.
posted by blag at 10:04 AM on August 18, 2005

Hildago, which chip did you use?
posted by smackfu at 12:51 PM on August 18, 2005

Softmods are not permanent. We're not talking about flashing the TSOP or something like that, right?


Chip: more features (like in-game reset, change/remove opening animation, etc.), easy to disable for Xbox Live! play. Costs more, but not much (there are $30 solutions out there -- depends on your Xbox version -- find this out FIRST). If your soldering-fu is weak, look for a solderless chip solution (somewhat more $), but in my experience the soldered chips last longer (solderless connectors rely on alignment of little pins to the circuit board, and vibrations can screw that up)

Softmod: Free, if you know someone with games which the softmod "save game" buffer overload exploit works with. Harder to "back out" of for Xbox Live! play. (Arguably) less configurable.

Either way, you'll want a larger hard drive, as well. You'll need room to put loads of homebrew apps (XMBC, emulators/roms, etc.) and you can even copy (legally) your Xbox DVD games to the hard drive for faster access!

Good luck, and be a good Xboxian and don't use the chip to play pirated game copies.
posted by catkins at 2:17 PM on August 18, 2005

Get a mod chip. You're going to open it / get somebody to open it to stick in a larger hard disk anyway, aren't you? Fork over the extra $20 and get a physical mod. You won't regret it. The little red LED on mine warms my soul no end.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:36 PM on August 18, 2005

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