How to Oil-cool Your Xbox - the Cheap Way.





Introduction: How to Oil-cool Your Xbox - the Cheap Way.

About: I like messing with stuff.

I recently saw a man who had put his first-gen Xbox in a fishtank very nicely to oil-cool it. I'm too cheap to so it that way.

I am in possession of a slightly useless first-gen xbox; it freezes up during fast games but otherwise works perfectly. Thus, I was the perfect candidate for trying this - nothing to lose!

I shall chronicle for you how I oil-cooled my xbox with around-the-house items for a net amount of $0. It doesn't look as good as the nice way, but great for the student or just generally cheap diyer.

NOTE: yeah, the desk I'm doing this on isn't clean. Deal with it.

BIG NOTE: I'm not responsible for any damage to your xbox, spills, nuclear war, etc. It's your problem. Worked for me, but I can't guarantee you won't screw it up.

Step 1: Disassemble Your Xbox.

I did this ages ago, so use one of the may online guides. May I suggest The torx bits aren't really needed; a very small flat-head screwdriver will do the trick.

Step 2: Select Your Container.

Now find a medium-sized plastic container to hold your xbox. Personally, I had a plastic cereal container lying around that fits the xbox motherboard like Microsoft designed it.

The drives stay outside of the container, so don't worry about room for them. Instead, worry about getting the cords to reach them.

Remember, a tighter container means less oil to fill it with. Mine took just over a gallon to fill.

Step 3: Position Everything.

Now, figure out how everything has to be positioned. I did mine so I wouldn't need to extend the wires at all. YMMV, some wires may need to be extended.

I used a bit of duct tape to attach the controller connectors and power/eject buttons to the bottom of the mobo. In hindsight, I would extend these or something; I have to turn it on with a fork.

I first tried with the power supply at the bottom of my container, but that didn't work when the power cord was added - check with the cords attached so they don't interfere.

I later decided to put the power supply next to the motherboard. I'm a bit overcautious, so I cut some rubber shelf liner into a non-conductive separator between the two.

Step 4: Put It in the Container.

In the vertical postion my container used, I found the easiest way to make everything sit well was some thick wire through two of the mobo holes, over the edge, duct taped down. It is extraordinarily sturdy.

Step 5: Attach the Drives.

Now attach the drives to the outside of the container. This will be different for everyone depending on the container. I did it pretty badly, and redoing the drive attachment is on my todo. Ugly as hell.

Now, fire it up for a dry run! This is a good time to make sure it will work at all. Don't worry about the lack of a fan, it should only be on for a few minutes for testing.

Step 6: Add Oil.

I used a little over a gallon of vegetable oil I found in my family's pantry. Any vegetable oil should do. I suggest leaving the xbox on while adding the oil to be sure nothing bad happens.

If all is well, you're done! And out little to no money to boot.

Also, if you leave the buttons in the oil the green leds have a cool effect glowing.

The oil cooling didn't help with the issues my xbox was experiencing (I think it needs a hard drive), but it is a lot quieter sans fan.



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    19 Discussions

    I would highly recommend using mineral oil it does not deteriorate the way vegetable oil does and the clear oil looks better

    Submerging it in oil? That sounds like the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

    1 reply

    It's actually a really good idea. There are plenty of guides on the net and several videos on youtube where people cool their gaming PCs in a vat of oil. It effectively cools the entire system and it's nonconductive, so nothing shorts out.

    Here's a quick link. As you can see, if done right (no offense to OP, lol) it can actually look pretty durn cool.
    That one's pretty sweet, too.

    what are the benifits of oil cooling your first gen xbox? reduced noise? better performence? seems a bit pointless

    Great walk-through it's really helpful to know which parts to put in the oil and which to set to the side.

    So all the heat dissipates into the oil but how does it get out of the oil besides just going through the plastic into the air? How long does it take for your bucket of oil to heat up?

    If it heats up a lot or very quickly you might want to consider a bigger bucket of oil so that the heat can dissipate more. Also if the oil where moving and not stagnant this would help the heat transfer. I'm thinking just a fish aquarium pump would do the trick.

    I've also seen these types of fish aquarium systems use baby oil which would look nicer to have a clear liquid than the yellow vegetable oil. This would have different heat transfer properties of course but I don't suspect you're too worried about the math. I wouldn't be either.

    umm.. whats the point in this? doesnt the xbox work fine normally with air-cooling?

    The hard drive isn't your problem. The oil won't magically take the heat way. You should add a fan so you get circulation through the oil and it gets currents. Right it's likely heating up WORSE. Especially since you used such a small container you have no room for uneven heating to create natural convectional currents. Good attempt though.

    2 replies

    I thought about that. In  another oil-cooling setup I saw an aquarium bubbler used to do that. Would that work? I have one on hand I'm not using.

    That might help in transferring the energy into the air. I recommend a fan to have a flow over the motherboard. Could maybe have it near the bottom so the natural convection of the heat will help bring it to the top where it will cool a little then come down again along the sides. Essentialy what you've made here is a giant heat spreader.

    Why not run the hard drive on your computer, And check it for errors?
    If its got errors then at least you can fix that. 

    1 reply

    Two reasons:

    1. I think it is more a performance issue than errors. The problem seems to be just general lack of speed.

    2. I would have to dig up an IDE cable since I no longer use IDE in any of my computers.

    Thanks though!

    [quote]I am in possession of a slightly useless first-gen xbox; it freezes up during fast games but otherwise works perfectly. Thus, I was the perfect candidate for trying this - nothing to lose![/quote]
    Did you think about XBMC ? It is the best media center ever. It has been previously made on and for a modded 1st gen xbox, now run on mac, pc win and linux and more.
    Go for a google search, or even in instructables :

    Anyway very funny attempt :) I already seen a PC, where the mother board was swimming into cook oil for cooling. Thought it was a joke :)

    1 reply

    Yeah, I've used xbmc before on my comp, but I would need to buy a few things to mod my xbox. In my current state my TV is smaller than my monitor, so not really worth it.

    I see it more as a way to possibly get some fun and use out of a piece of hardware I had resigned to the junk heap.

    I would use mineral oil. Vegetable oil goes bad after a while and needs to be replaced, as far as I know, mineral oil doesn't have that issue.
    Mineral oil, and I assume vegetable oil too, take a long time to heat up, so if the 360 isn't on all day, but only for a couple hours at a time, it MAY not need a pump.

    You need a circulating pump and some way of taking heat out of the oil. Run this for a while and your machine is sitting in a tub of hot oil...


    ill have to apologize for my previous comment as i only see one now (im tired aswell) but in the first bit of text " I'm too cheap to so it that way." coould swore i saw more earlier

    You may be right, I'm a bit tired. But where do you see these errors? It doesn't look terrible here.