Xenium Gold Review - May 2006 - By HSDEMONZ
Team Xodus Official Website:
Buy Xenium Gold: Divineo.com | Extreme-Mods.com |
Itís been a while since I wrote a modchip review for the original Xbox. In fact, the last one I wrote was for the X-Changer chip and I vowed to not write another review for any modchips for the original Xbox Console. The reason I took that stance at the time was that I felt that after 4 years, the console is done chip wise. For four and a half years ago, we needed modchips (softmods gave us most of the same functionality) to give us easy access to homebrew apps, alternative dashboards, media players, alternative OS options, etc. All of which, weíve hand for a long time with little actual change. Weíve seen just about all the useful features, and innovations we can expect to realistically see for that console. Iíve held to that ideal since that review.
Whatís changed? Well, just before Christmas of 2005 we saw the Xodus hype and announcements of the Xenium 24k Gold version. I was both excited, and a little dismayed at the same time. Xodus chips have time and again been a hardy breed, with a lot of fan support in the scene, and a lot of work behind the scenes by some great people work and tweaking their Xenium OS. Xodus has time and again innovated, and came up with new and interesting ideas for the Xbox modding world. Xodus in their various incarnations gave us the first real Solderless solutions, and to this day despite a lot of competition I still hold them up as the best solderless solution on the market. (check previous reviews I wrote and filmed about their solderless solutions.)
That announcement though also seemed to hallmark a changing of the times for the scene. Xbox 360 had been around over a month.. and it was clear around the scene that the old guard was changing. This 24k Gold Chip, while a thing of beauty in those initial announcements screamed ďlast callĒ to those paying attention. (not necessarily for the team.. but for innovation/features in chips for the first Xbox console).
Clearly, the Xenium 24k Gold was cosmetic in nature. Designed to appeal to those easily swayed by itís simple esthetic beauty. Comments from TeamXodus indicate that this chip is an offering, to cement itís place in the scene and to say thanks to itís loyal supporters over the years. Now.. the Hype:
The only 4th gen chip worth its weight in pure Gold. Thanks to a custom OS (Xenium OS) this is by far the most advanced, feature rich device ever to be released for your console. While others are cutting costs and removing features, we @ Team Xodus wanted to go out with a device that shows the standard you all are used to from us, nothing but GOLD is and always will be our aspiration. Of course our now industry standard, SP adaptor, will be an option for this truly unique collectors item. You have to see this item physically to actually appreciate its sheer beauty and unique design.
Xenium GOLD 24K : Team Xodus is proud to announce our latest offering in the hugely successful Xenium range of products. As a special celebration of our two year birthday and in keeping with the spirit of giving we have decided to release a special collectorís edition Xenium. ANNOUNCING THE WORLDS SMALLEST AND BY FAR THE MOST STRIKING 4th GEN CHIP. AND THEREíS MOREÖÖ we have decided to go a step further for this one of a kind commemorative edition. We decided to plate it in PURE 24 CARAT GOLD! AND THEREíS MOREÖ. Same great price. Same great value. AND THEREíS MOREÖ..
XeniumOS 2.3.1 Gold Edition:
- Fixed RTC access problems. System clock is now read correctly, and overridden to a default time if not set
- Fixed heap allocation, full 64MB ram is now available to XOS (previously fixed at 21mb)
- Fixed task switch inconsistency. Task switch interrupt was previously using an inconsistent delay, causing unreliable performance
* Replaced red borders left on default skin
* New default skin exclusive to Xenium GOLD
- Bug fix
What is this new product called? XENIUM GOLD of course! ÖBEAT THE GOLD RUSH!!!
We would like to let all our resellers and valued customers know that our production problems are now behind us and we expect full stock supply by the end of next week. ALL backorders will be fulfilled at once as we are now in full production. As a thank you gift for your continued loyalty and patience, we are including a unique ďdummyĒ Xenium GOLD PCB in every chip sold, which can be used as a keyring, box decal or necklace. We hope you like it and would like to thank all of you once again for sticking with us through all this
Ok.. With the hype aside.. lets take a look at this chip..
What you actually get in the package, in Pre-April Shipments, was an Xenium 24k Gold Chip, Pin header, D0/LFrame Wire, and USB adapter. In current shipments, Xenium 24k Gold Chip, Pinheader, D0/LFrame Wire, and USB adapter plus as an added bonus a Keychain PCB (Gold Plated).
The Chip is easy to install, youíve got 2 options. You can solder the included Pinheader to the Xbox mothboard and use/solder the included D0/Lframe Wire to the appropriate points on the Xbox motherboard, or you can use the optional Xenium Solderless adapters on the market. Both methods with give you a trouble-free experience when installed properly.
The Chip is smaller than itís predecessors. Itís a lot smaller, roughly two-thirds the size of the Xenium Ice Chip. The Xenium 24k Gold is still using the same AMD and Xilinx Chips that theyíve been using for years now. Itís also clear that the Gold is a consolidation, as it has fewer surface mounted components then itís ICE predecessor. Less components, should equal cheaper to produce. Originally, I had intended to to do some Gold Quality tests on the Gold Plating, to properly determine if the plating was in fact real Gold or not. I wasnít able to do so. It does seem to exhibit all of the qualities of plated Gold, including being really easy to scar. Little More can be said about a Gold Plated Modchip. The Meat and Potatoes of any Modchip, is what can it do for you, not how it looks.
The Xenium 24k Gold, inherits almost all of itís features itís Xodus ancestor, Xenium Ice. 2MB, with 1MB usable as the OS takes 1 MB. Can be banked as 4*256KB, 2*512KB, 1*1024KB, 1*512KB/2*256KB. Features Recovery Option/Switch. Chip is flashable from Xbox Homebrew Software options. Like most chips, it can switch to Xbox onboard Bios. Chip usage can be selected via Power/Eject buttons for selecting wither the chip run or not. Also possible to have LED and HD Led Indicators. External LCD screen is a possible option via a third party add-on. Also features an expansion port (dual SPI). The Chip is compatible with all version, 1.0 Ė 1.6b of the Xbox console, with Pinheader or Solderless Adapter install methods.
The 24k PCB Keychain piece, is interesting. Itís the same PCB visually, that they use for the Gold 24k Chip. What id does not have is all those surface mounted Chips, flashroms, leds, etc the the actual chip has. What I find interesting though, is that the GOLD chip had a lot of shipping issues and delays, and I have to wonder why a second PCB was made and manufactured, solely to be given out as a free keychain? Itís a cool gimmick, and some people will dig the keychain, if for no other reason than itíll be a collectable to some people. If I had to wager a guess though, itís a dud PCB that didnít make the grade. Regardless, as a non function add-on, itís interesting. Good luck though separating the extra board material from the Keychain PCB. Itís stiff.
The USB Adapter is not a chip add-on, but it does have a related use. With this small, compact and sturdy adapter you can connect virtually any USB device to any of the Xbox controller ports. Feel free to hook up mice and keyboards using this adapter. Like previous Xenium Chips in the v2/Ice lineage, the 24k Gold chip can be flashed via the included USB Adapter. Any Pen Drive formatted with Fat on a PC, and loaded with 1 or more bios files, can be connected directly to an xbox and the flashing process can be done without any burning of disks or hooking up messy network connections. Additionally, using the Pen Drive method you can create an assembly line affect by building a profile and backing it to the pen drive and then having each successive xbox flash itself from that profile on the Pen drive. Bios files, color schemes etc are all stored. Pen Drive Flashing is ideal for the Installer doing units daily.
As I said earlier, whatís important about a modchip is what it can do for you. Well, what The 24k Gold can do for you is directly tied to itís OS. The OS, currently at 2.3.1 (Gold) is a feature packed build that fixes many of the minor lingering hang-ups of itís predecessors, and added a little bit more. Newer Skins and LEDS, theyíve fixed RTC Problems (they claim itís 100% fixed). Internally, TeamXodus was unable to cause the OS to fail to boot. Testing I did myself, which probably could never be compared to what they can do, gave me the same results. However, if I removed, or altered some bytes with a hex editor to replicate a corrupted OS UPDATE FILE, the chip would fail to boot. I donít know if thatís a fair test, but I do know that file can become corrupted. I can say though, the Xenium OS is more stable than it has ever been. Network Transfers, etc seem faster under the current OS, and according to Xodus, the Networking components of the OS are improved and running faster under the hood. Speed improvements are always good news.
Overview of the OS..
The OS Screens sure have changed a lot of the years. (and for the better in my opinion) The OS has grown from those early Cromwell OS and later RTOS incarnations. Looks, speed, and stability have all improved. For previous Xodus Chip reviews, I used a battery of different machines, and a store full of third party devices to test for compatibility. Iíve started to sell off some of that cache of devices, but what I had left, still all worked well with the current Xenium OS. (nothing I plugged in caused it to hang, or slow the booting process needlessly.)
The Xenium Gold 24k Chip /OS has all the feature you want/need, including a variety of Flash methods, plenty of network access methods, hard drive management/format features, OS recovery, bios management, and LED and OS Skin options. I wonít waste your time or mine listing or re-reviewing all the same features over again. If youíd like to see and read a detailed overview of the features of the Xenium OS, take a look at my previous Xenium OS Review
and OS Video
For your viewing pleasure though, I have done a summary walk-though video showing the Current Xenium OS v2.3.1 Gold OS.
What do I think of the Xenium 24k Gold?
- Xenium 24k Gold works every bit as well as previous chips from Xodus.
- Still supports Xenium LED multifunction module (but is not included)
- Includes USB Adapter, equally simple to use and install with a number of uses.
- Safe chip to use and operate, with a good recovery system in place.
- Esthetically pleasing (itís the only Gold Plated Modchip in any scene..)
- Just enough flashable bank space for the average everyday user.
- No Quicksolder Option (previous generations had this)
- No Wire Install Option (previous generations had this)
- Does not included the external LED Module (previous generations had this)
Itís a nice modchip. Works as advertised, and is an improvement OS wise over itís predecessors. I do have some beefs with it though. In some ways, I feel that the smaller size, and gimmick look of the chip sacrificed options. For example, the 24k Gold does not include solder pads, so that kills options for wire install methods, unless you want to ghetto it with a pin header and wires, which of course will look like crap, and begs the question.. why bother? Also missing from previous incarnations is the Quick Solder/Flush Mount method. Some could argue that any new Xbox consoles on the market are 1.6 or higher and arenít good candidates for a Quick Solder method, however some people, myself included enjoyed the method and we still see a lot of older consoles where the quick solder method was a viable and useful option.
Removing those options to make the chip smaller and cheaper to produce probably made good sense to them, but it took away options weíve enjoyed having with Xodus products for a long time.
Also missing, is the free LED Modules. Once upon a time they were included free of charge, 1 per chip. They were useful, as it was a great way of showing externally the status and condition of the OS. If you had an creative inkling, you could daisy chain them for some interesting visual effects. (up to 10 safely.. I usually only used two.) Without this old freebie, we no longer have a simple plug and play option that is compatible with the Xodus brand of chips. Fortunately for myself, I have some of these older LED modules and can still benefit form the LED options in the OS Menus. (the LED options still work for the single LED that is on the top of the 24k Chip, but youíll never really ever see that LED when the box is closed.
I recommend the Xenium 24k Gold chip for people who want a solid, reliable and working modchip with good OS support.