Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Find an XBOX 360 65nm "Falcon" System

I have been looking for one of the newest revision Microsoft XBOX 360 systems for a while, now that I heard Microsoft finally updated the components (well, at least the GPU - Graphics Processing Unit) in a new 65nm technology chip in the XBOX360 Falcon Chipset release. The CPU is also supposed to be getting an update to this smaller 65nm chip later in 2008, but the wait is over for me now, since I put off purchasing this game system for a couple years now and the new GPU makes enough of a difference with heat and power-consumption to alleviate any fears of the XBOX 360 system overheating or producing the notorious red-ring of death.

I have been waiting for quite some time for these new "Falcon" 360 machines with the 65nm technology primarily because I wanted to make sure the machine would be reliable and stable, but moreover it uses less power (and, produces less heat of course - which heat, of course, is certainly one of the larger risk factors for electronics-failures). In some other detailed XBOX 360 reviews, I have seen people report that after testing with some device called a "Kill-a-Watt", they are seeing power consumption reduced by nearly 1/3 compared to the original XBOX 360 "Zephyr" based 90nm GPU machines. That's not bad. Certainly, it could be better if they'd expedite the move to ultra-modern 45nm chips (like Intel's latest CPU line), but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Although reports of the newest revision 65nm XBOX systems have been circulating since something like August, availability had been spotty and the ways to "detect" which units were truly the new Falcon chipset version were haphazard and hit-and-miss at best. There were techniques like looking for two little coils vs. three, and copper-heat-dissipation tubing and different heat-sinks, but recently, what appears to be a nearly foolproof way to find an XBOX 360 Falcon is simply looking for the 175W power-supply information on the box-label.

Basically, the power-supply wattage numbers reflect the fact that the newer 65nm XBOX 360 Falcon chipsets require less power. The older consoles will show 203W instead of the new 175W value on the label that shows the Lot Number, Team, and UPC-symbol. Look for the value in the lower-left corner of the label, just left of the taller product UPC symbol, and you should see a line that reads "~100 - 127Vac, 4.7A, 47-63Hz, 175W". That 175W is the 175 Watt power supply indicator. People everywhere are reporting that this is a sure indicator that you have a new Falcon-based XBOX360 console.

Earlier, the team-number and lot-number (and manufacture date) were being used as a best-guess way to get one of the latest systems, but it wasn't foolproof. But now, with this 175W power-supply indicator, it seemed simple enough, so I went looking. I just found a "TEAM: FDOU" AND "LOT NO: 0743 (LOT 473)" XBOX 360 PRO Console Bundle (had Forza 2 and Ulimate Alliance games - which I could care less about, included), with the new 175W power numbers on the label, at a local WalMart of all places (here in Ohio). I checked the machine out for the Falcon "guts" with a flashlight too (at home), and sure enough, it looks like everyone said it would. Mine shows a manufacture date of late October 2007 also.

So, I fired this unit up right away with Halo 3 (my only immediate "must have" game purchase), which I must say is also quite nice. Even with Halo 3's intense graphics and action scenes to stress the CPU and GPU, the system runs nice and cool and pretty quiet (a BIT louder than the old standard XBOX, but not bad at all). I like the new Wireless controllers - I guess I could have gotten them for the old box, but never wanted to pay for them. Now I just have to wait for some other good-looking games (like Call of Duty 4, Mass Effect, etc) to come down in price.

Sadly, the only downside to this purchase, was that although I jokingly blogged about whether I could make enough money with the Google-Ads shown on my blog to ever pay for the 360 machine, I did have to lay out my own money, lest I would have waited another year or more or the ads to ever pay for it - and I just wasn't patient enough for that! :) Also, the console was not offered at an on sale price or anything (no surprise given the demand), and had I waited til after the holidays, maybe that would have changed. Oh well. Time to play some Halo3 and enjoy this awesome game machine that I did manage to wait two years for!

No comments: