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The Elite Grille Mod


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#1 fahrenheit

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 12:02 PM

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1hr idle in Xexmenu v1.1

Ambient temperature 26c

CPU = 46.6c
GPU = 44.6c
EDRAM = 43c
MB = 34.9c



Optical delusion

I decided fairly soon after jtagging my Jasper Elite that I was going to run it without an optical drive.
I initially thought I’d have some fun bogging up the tray slot on the faceplate but it required lots more work and would force me to paint it and of course that wouldn’t match the rest of the console.
I committed to the idea of using the open slot as an air intake and bought some suitable speaker grille to complete the look.

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I also decided to use the grille on the hard drive case but because the hard drive is orientated upside down in a standard case, I wasn’t happy seeing the circuit board.
The white sticker on the WD 500gb drive I had chosen wasn’t much more attractive, so that had to go, leaving the rather nifty (and shiny) top.

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To flip the hard drive, the plug has to have a big chunk cut out of the corner and holes need to be drilled in both the shield and the base plate.

I excitedly finished all of this without much consideration for airflow (it was pre-Xexmenu). Using traditional thermocouple testing I then discovered the cost of my decisions...

It became glaringly obvious that the stock design of the console incorporates the DVD ROM drive and simply removing it isn’t helpful. By having the optical drive sitting on top of the GPU heatsink, it helps create a tunnel and removing it means there is less air being pulled through the GPU heatsinks fins due to the reduced pressure.
RJBtech discovered this ages ago with his fan shroud mod, but its worth repeating. You might think that simply taking out the DVD drive is letting your GPU breathe. Its not.

The other problem is the open slot in the faceplate where the optical drive’s tray used to be.
By having that as an open space, more air is pulled directly from the front, rather than the sides (where it was designed to be pulled from). This has a negative effect on the South bridge and the ram. It also affects the CPU because that slot is directly in front of the GPU fan, which means a channel is created. The GPU benefits, but the CPU gets second-rate air (compounded even further with the GPU heatpipe extension).
The top metal shield has holes above where the GPU heatpipe extension rests and when the front DVD slot is sealed, more pressure is available for the CPU’s fan to pull air down from the vent holes, over the GPU extension and out through the CPU heatsink. By having the front open those vent holes are less effective.

The Twin Towers

So I had a ‘look’ I was happy with, but I wasn’t happy with the airflow.
It seemed stupid to keep the low profile GPU and the shroud as it practically puts a wall in front of one fan, so I bought a 2nd gen CPU heatsink from ebay and waited for it to show up.
I was less than impressed with it when it arrived. The seller had thrown it in a large bubble bag and left the old thermal material on the bottom. It arrived with a few bent fins, dings and grease everywhere.
The factory surface is rubbish (assume just from the dust alone that this one came off an old Falcon).

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The one off my April 09 Jasper had a better machined finish, but it still had room for improvement.
I lapped them both and attached them back with AS5.

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The sacred shroud

I’m fairly certain that MS deliberately left the gap between the motherboard and the lower edge of the shroud. Not so much to avoid touching components, but to draw air from the sides and over the south bridge, ram and ANA/HANA chips.
Sealing the bottom will help add pressure across the CPU and GPU sinks, but at a cost to those other components. The air around them stagnates and their temps climb. I wanted to have heatsinks and active airflow over those components (at the cost to the CPU and GPU), so I made my custom shroud with the same gap as the stock one.

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Spicy Chips

For the ram chips I chose Swiftech MC14 copper ramsinks because they are tall and are made for radiating in still air environments. Channel (fin) sinks are less effective if they don’t have airflow either pushing or pulling from one end to the other. I made the shroud wider at the bottom so that the two ram chips to the side of the GPU would get air. The MC14’s are tall enough that the tops of them are exposed to the GPU fan (through the channels of the GPU heatsink) and so they can be actively cooled (although this pulls hot air through the GPU sink.

These have fairly heavy and are applied with Arctic Alumina Thermal adhesvie

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Looking through the rear -
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The quiet town of ‘Southbridge’

This had me pondering the best solution as it sits in a low airflow area. Once I began testing I was even more confused.

I tried both low profile aluminium fin and prong-type sinks and the Swiftech MC14, but nothing I tried made any improvements. It wasn’t even neutral, every sink in every configuration resulted in higher temps. It was 0.3 of a difference higher at best and four degrees higher at worst (according to Xexmenu 1.1). I thought that perhaps the package wasn’t even (new black south bridge Jasper) but that didn’t really seem to factor and there was always just enough grease to compensate for any surface irregularities.
If I had to guess I’d say that this comes back to the fan shroud again and the gap which is just the right height for sucking air over the top of the southbridge package. Adding a heatsink seems to shift the heat to a point above where the fans can reach it and perhaps its lingering and keeping the package hotter(???)
I honestly don’t know and am just theorising. It seems that if you are going to place a heatsink on the south bridge, then go BIG! Anything else seems to give diminishing returns (perhaps worse). Unlike the RAM and HANA chips, I can leave my finger on the south bridge (although its still fairly toasty) so I’ll try not to worry about it and hope that its fine for the life of the console. Any suggestions/solutions appreciated on that one.

A hot girl called ‘HANA’

She’s in the perfect place to receive a gusty breeze blowing through her hair.
A mini version of the CPU heatsink seems like the perfect fit here. Being planted right in front of that fan should make the HANA chip fairly easy to cool.

My biggest worries were that -

A: Anything added to the package will reduce line of sight between the fan and the GPU heatsink.
B: Will create a blockage/chicane between the fan and the south bridge.
C: As a result of being taller, will catch more hot air from the culmination of the heat from both RAM and GPU which gets funnelled over it.

I decided to go small and lightweight and used a fin-type aluminium sink similar to the CPU one. Its not very tall so doesn't impede the airflow to the other components.

The (blinking) Eye of Sauron

So as a consequence of running without an optical drive connected, I was now threatened with epileptic seizures from the furious blinking center led on the ROL. Not content to stick with the original green smd, I wanted it white, which of course was twice as blindingly bright. I lost more than half a day trying to find a solution but decided to make a thread here and fortunately got an answer. Pins 4 and 6 on the DVD-ROM power connector need to be bridged. This also has the added benefit of allowing you to boot Xell (otherwise all you get is a black screen).
Even though the motherboard was out of the case, I didn’t feel like soldering the two pins on the underside of the board, just incase I wanted to at some time to pop the optical drive in. The solution was to use a small motherboard jumper pin.

http://i3.photobucke...DROM_bridge.jpg

The first one I tried was too big and easily slipped off but this little guy is perfectly snug and I can orientate the console without worrying about it coming off and rattling around the case.

®ejected

So now that I could infact use eject to boot Xell, I had discovered a problem. The faceplate was covering the eject button.
I really didn’t like the idea of defacing the faceplate and finding a suitable button and mechanism would have been a real chore, so I decided to place a button on the side where it would be easy to find without needing to look at it and would blend in stealthily with the top grille.

I found the perfect momentary switch, but it wasn’t the perfect height so I had to make a mount for it
I used a solid core of plastic and drilled it out and shaped it. The top plastic grille on the console is slightly concave so I shaped the mount so that the button would sit flush with the top of the grille. Its easy to press but not easy to accidently press, which was always the goal.

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Since the motherboard can’t be installed/uninstalled with the switch mounted to the chassis, I used a 2-pin and socket plug to join the two halves, with the other side running to the underside of the motherboard where the eject button is soldered.

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The Home Stretch

I added an RJ45 poor for nand flashing. Same as the one I did in this thread -
http://forums.xbox-s...howtopic=691873

Only difference is I mounted it to its own flashing so that I could remove it from the chassis without unsoldering it (should I need to get the mobo out).

I approached the fan divider a little differently.

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This divider position helped rebalance the CPU and GPU temps and took a couple of degrees off the the CPU. It also had a positive effect on the south bridge.

I also added some vent holes in the top sheild to accomodate the GPU heatsink-
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Without these holes, the heatsink on the GPU has no air at the very top/front of the fins and since the open faceplate slot is mid-height to the heatsink, this would create a bit of a hotspot at the top of the case. I didn't want to go crazy on the holes because that would then reduce the pressure from the faceplate slot.

Spacer - The Final Frontier

Removing the optical drive creates another issue that doesn't seem to have been given much consideration from others who do this mod.
The long case screws that attach the top case panel to the chassis go through the four dvd drive corners and apply downward pressure on those four points. The opposite side of the motherboard corners are the fans shroud (top right) and the USB port (front right).

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If you assemble everything back without the dvd drive, the top right and bottom right corners will be pinned, but the center top and bottom and the left top and bottom points will float. This is not good for board warp (Xenon owners especially take note).

My solution -

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These spacers where made from a car antenna and apply downward pressure when the case is assembled. The center front and front left ones measure 52mm and the top left one measures 60mm.
For the center top point (under the shroud), I didn't want to obstruct air so I bolted the point with a short M4 and nut.



You've gotten this far? OK, one more pic...

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#2 DirtyH

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 12:47 PM

cool mod and awesome work.
I really like the grille style. smile.gif

and top quality pictures are always nice.


#3 WorldFormula

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Posted 14 February 2010 - 11:00 PM

I may have to recreate this piece of artwork to some degree. Nice work!

#4 fahrenheit

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 12:03 AM

Thanks guys.

DirtyH, I'm jealous of your temps. I'm also much like you in thinking that silence = golden.
This console is run at stock fan speed (which is loud enough imo).

#5 PGX

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 12:13 AM

nice console and post you went very indepth, great post.

#6 DuggyUK

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 12:15 AM

very nice and thanks 4 the pics

#7 WorldFormula

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 06:55 AM

QUOTE(fahrenheit @ Feb 15 2010, 12:03 AM) View Post

Thanks guys.

DirtyH, I'm jealous of your temps. I'm also much like you in thinking that silence = golden.
This console is run at stock fan speed (which is loud enough imo).


Why don't you mount some 50mms on the back of those heatsinks pushing the air back to the stock fans? That would drop your temps like a rock, and then you could replace the back fans with quieter ones to get even more silent.

#8 fahrenheit

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 07:45 AM

QUOTE(WorldFormula @ Feb 15 2010, 06:55 PM) View Post

Why don't you mount some 50mms on the back of those heatsinks pushing the air back to the stock fans? That would drop your temps like a rock, and then you could replace the back fans with quieter ones to get even more silent.


Adding smaller fans doesn't reduce noise, it adds more noise. And quieter 70mm fans than the stock Nidecs? I don't know that there are any tbh. No way I'd touch the Deltas or the Sunons. I've returned more 360's than I've bought thanks to those terrible Deltas.

Extra fans also have the potential to upset the harmony of airflow within the case. You might cool one area but it can literally starve another.
Its the same with fan speed mods. Increase the fanspeed = increased turbulence. Turbulence can upset the balance of airflow. Its like a raging river that cuts new channels and shuts-off others.

#9 WorldFormula

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 07:21 PM

QUOTE(fahrenheit @ Feb 15 2010, 07:45 AM) View Post

Adding smaller fans doesn't reduce noise, it adds more noise. And quieter 70mm fans than the stock Nidecs? I don't know that there are any tbh. No way I'd touch the Deltas or the Sunons. I've returned more 360's than I've bought thanks to those terrible Deltas.

Extra fans also have the potential to upset the harmony of airflow within the case. You might cool one area but it can literally starve another.
Its the same with fan speed mods. Increase the fanspeed = increased turbulence. Turbulence can upset the balance of airflow. Its like a raging river that cuts new channels and shuts-off others.

What I'm thinking is that the airflow is already there, because there should be suction at the back of the heatsinks from the stock fans. If you were to mount new fans there, it would only augment the amount of air heading back; other parts of the 360 probably wouldn't change too much. If they did, I think the benefit is greater than whatever bad that may cause. Thats just what I'm seeing right now.

As for the fans, as long as you get high quality fans for the back of the heatsinks, the sound isn't going to increase. Fans like these might be perfect - http://www.newegg.co...N82E16835191003. They don't move much air, but they would still be beneficial for this situation and be silent. As for the back fans, you could do something aftermarket like DirtyH but it wouldn't be as clean, and you're probably right about the nidecs being the best anyway.

#10 fahrenheit

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 11:08 PM

I don't see any benefit technically or practically tbh. This is a Jasper and its not exactly about to burst into flames (unlike my Xenon). My desire for peace and quiet far outweighs my need for sub arctic temps.

When I said I was jealous of DirtyH's temps, I didn't mean I had any desire to seek parity with them.
Apart from the south bridge (which I can probably live with) I'm perfectly happy with the end result.

#11 WorldFormula

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 11:12 PM

Alright then, I guess not. I'd be happy with the end result too. biggrin.gif

#12 iceman2048

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 02:17 AM

Absolutely beautiful, subscribed.

#13 finalman

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 07:56 AM

QUOTE(fahrenheit @ Feb 14 2010, 12:02 PM) View Post


The one off my April 09 Jasper had a better machined finish, but it still had room for improvement.
I lapped them both and attached them back with AS5.


What grit sandpaper value did you use?


#14 fahrenheit

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 08:05 AM

Started with 400 and did most of the hard work with that. Then 800 till its hard to see the scratches. Then 1500. Finished off with the little bit of 2000 I had. Usually I'd do much more finishing with 2000. Its a bit hard to notice you are making any progress with that grit, but if you keep at it it comes up fairly nice.

Use lots and lots of soapy water, changed regularly.

The black spots you can see in the pre-lapped sink are actually tiny holes in the alluminum that were probably airbubbles when the sinks were made. Fortunately none were where the die contacts the sink, but it took me a fair bit of sanding to realize they weren't just bits of grit.

Edited by fahrenheit, 17 February 2010 - 08:11 AM.


#15 s3kt0r

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Posted 01 April 2010 - 12:59 AM

man this is some nice work, congratulations, it looks awesome. thanks for the interesting reading and pictures.




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