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O2xModification.comís MCXB Xbox Case Review
>> Iíve recently had the privilege of reviewing a number of cases from this new 3rd party case manufacturer called www.o2xmodification.com. This MCXB Case is being marketed as a high end, high quality case replacement that is an ideal addition to a home Theatre enthusiast setup. My in depth and detailed review of 2 of his 3 cases follows that Iíve been promising for weeks followsÖ
I was sent his two leading products, the Black and Natural cases.
Included in a classic MCXB Complete Black Case package..
-Black painted aluminum Top Panel
-Bottom Brushed Aluminum Tray (same panel regardless of kit) with pre-mounted/wired HD switching system (two switches)
-A single 40mm fan pre-mounted on the bottom tray.
-Front Acrylic Panel with 2 high quality Vandal Switches (momentary) and pre-wired with long extension for Power / Eject connector, and a 2 color LED to indicate Xbox Power/Eject/System status.
-2 IDE Cables, to allow for 3 Hard Drives hooked up with Project 411 concept.
-2 High quality extensions for the 2 controller port pairs.
-1 High Quality extended replacement cable for the DVD power connection.
-Black Anodized Metal Face plate for the case, with a Silver DVD Bezel.
-2 bags with all the screws you need to secure panels, hard disks, etc.
-4 Acrylic circle feet/stands with double sided sticky tape to secure them.
Retail Price $140.00 US Dollars from www.o2xmodification.com
Shipping of the product is perfect. It comes well boxed, and the parts are secured with interlaying layers of foam to protect the finish on parts that need it. Others are bagged and separated for ease of construction. Some assembly is required.
-Screwdriver with common bits, including wood bits.
-All the torx bits necessary to remove components from your stock xbox case.
As shown, this package retails for $140 US dollars. Contact www.o2xmodification.com for current shipping pricing/policy.
-Designed to blend in with your home theater system
-Different styles and colors to fit your needs and your lifestyle
-Fully interchangeable parts
-In brushed anodized aluminum or acrylic
-Room for two additional hard drives (three total)*
-Uses a switch system that allows the use of a combination of different hard drive brands and capacities*
-Turn your Xboxģ video game system into a Linux-based PC or Media Center*
This case is definitely one of the most promising to cross the review desk here at Xbox Scene. Iíve seen a lot of 3rd party cases, and few designers/manufacturers have put in the thought that is evident in this case.
Starting with the general look and feel of the case, it was designed with a slick euro home theatre look and feel, with a simple and clean esthetic. Nothing fancy, just two high end polish vandal switches providing the basic power and eject function every xbox user needs. While on the subject of the power and ejects buttons, the manufacturer has wired them in what I call the ďwrongĒ configuration.
Front Panel, Bottom Tray
Xbox owners are used to the top button on their console being an eject button, while the bottom is the power on/off button. The MCXB case is wired opposite to that convention. It isnít a big deal, and can be easily ďfixedĒ by any owner. Each Vandal switch has screw downs to secure their wiring so re-wiring isnít a difficulty if your tastes demand it.
Moving on, the bottom tray is where all the action is. Itís pre-drilled to accommodate all of the Hard Drive screws/mounts. From the bottom, they are visibly counter sunk holes, so no unsightly screws will protrude out the bottom when the case is completely assembled.
Included with the kit is all the professional extension cables you need for the dvd power cable, the controller port pairs, and 2 custom IDE cables. I wonít waste time on them, they connect as youíd expect. The IDE cables fit easily, whether you mount 1, 2, or 3 hard drives. Some creative folding of the IDE cables will help keep the innards of the box clean and neat.
The Hard Drive switch system is simple and elegant enough. Looking at the case from the right side, front view, there is 2 slide switches. Top one toggles power on and off for the hard drive connected to the first molex power connector. Ideally, this could by the stock Hard Drive for LIVE players, etc. The lower switch, toggles power ON to either Hard Drive 2 or 3 when the Top Switch is toggled to the off position.
This works well, but not perfect. However, it has all the pitfalls of any project 411 inspired Hard Drive switching system. Some hard drive combos will simply not work when connected on the same IDE cable chain. This is not a unique problem for the MCXB, as others like Xtender, and other homemade project 411 concepts all suffer from the same combo issue blues. (read my upcoming review on the Xtender 2 Hydra cable to see if/how it fixes the problem) As of this writing O2xModification makes no mention of the combo issue in any of their online literature regarding this case.
The layout of the parts on the bottom tray, is where a lot of thinking was put into the case. The motherboard, with itís warm running CPU, MCPX, etc sit behind the DVD drives and beside or behind any hard drives youíll mount in this case. The thinking here was Heat rises, and heat kills. With this configuration, a small and quiet 40mm fan easily handle the cooling chores for a fully loaded MCXB case.
People who first look at this case and see only one little 40mm fan will doubt the wisdom of this setup. Conventional wisdom tells us we need either more fans, or a single larger fan pushing more cfm. This simply isnít the situation. With a comfortable ambient room temperature of 16-18 degrees celcius, the chip never went higher than 50 degreen celcius which is more than acceptable. The Natural Case Iíve been running 24/7 under medium load playing movies, music etc via XBMC, while the Black one has been my LIVE xbox, which has been used 4-8 hours a day solid gaming for a couple of weeks now. No hiccups or lock-ups etc.
Vents over the motherboard on the top panel, and the myriad of vents under all key components on the bottom tray panel do their job well. I wouldnít put a candle over the top motherboard vents. However, itíll never get so warm that you canít comfortably put your hand there to warm it up on a late winterís day.
If there is an issue with the 40mm fan on this case, it is that it has no fans grill protecting it from getting bent and damaged. Running your hand across the back to plug in cables you would undoubtedly stick your hands in that fan at least once. This isnít a big deal, any 50 cent 40mm fan grill can be screw onto the back of this case.
The rear of the tray is die cut, with the proper holes for the video, network, and power connectors. Youíll find that more than enough space has been left for those ports. It wonít be a tight squeeze. Anyone who has had issues mounting ancient motherboards in new xbox cases or vice versa will see this as a godsend.
Something that Solderless Modchip users will be slightly concerned about, is that they will need to alter or replace their screw with one of a shorter length. (or simply user spacers or washers.)
Moving onto the top panel, here lies one of this caseís design flaws. Going across the front edge, the panel is folded down providing needed strength and rigidity. However, since this panel comes flush to the front acrylic panel, where the 2 large vandal switches are a design compromise was clearly made. The Top Panel has a 1 inch chunk cut out of it prior to painting. The result, is that on some of the MCXB cases, the top panel will bulge in the center over the top vandal switch regardless of how tightly secured the entire case is. This is apparent in the pictures of the Natural Case. It isnít as apparent in the Black case.
A work around that partially solves that bump/bulge problem is to use thick carpet tape, cut to shape, lining the bent edge of the top panel. It will hold down the top panel to reduce (but not totally eliminate) the unsightly bulge.
Securing the top panel to the case is done with 8 wood screws. (yes.. I said wood screws) Some will find that these screws totally kill the look of the case. They donít bother me nearly as much as they bother others. However, what does concern me is that they arenít counter sunk at all, unlike the bottom panel and the Hard drive screws with were counter sunk so the screw would be flush.
The Front Panel, made of Acrylic, with the nice anodized aluminum front metal panel is the joy factor of this case. Youíll either love this case or hate it based solely on this panel. Again, wood screws are used to secure it. Same issues as well as the screws are not counter sunk to make for at least a flush look.
I found a workaround for these screws, anodized thumb screws, but even this solution wonít appeal to many who look at this case.
The controller ports are pressed firmly into the front Acrylic panel, and do double duty as a securing mechanism for the case. Some xbox owners however are going to have a real problem squeezing the port pairs into their respective holes. Some ports, will have solder on the shiny metal casing. That will either need to be removed, or filed/sanded down. I had this problem, and made quick work of it by firing up my dremel and a grinding wheel.
You might have noticed that the ports are upside down. This in and of itself isnít an issue, as anything plugged into them will still work. What is a problem, is that the overall design which is supposed to cater to the home theatre type enthusiast, those people will not be pleased when they plug in any of the Microsoft DVD Remote Dongles. (or most wireless controller or headset dongles) The following picture best illustrate the problem.
Unless you are able to place the console to the edge of the surface it sit on, using external dongles are going to be a nightmare. Someone who is creative will mount the dongles on the inside Iím sure. But using this kit as is, expect to get creative when using your dvd dongles.
The kit comes with an acrylic bezel panel with a small anodized aluminum metal plate panel for the DVD drive. As designed, the manufacturer has supplied double sided foam tape to secure it. It works well enough, but I found it preferable to scrap that off and to use carpet tape. (thinner, and provided better adhesion.) It isnít necessary to install that panel at all. I did on the Natural Case, but not on the Black case preferring to leave the stock Xbox bezel on the dvd drive.
Rounding out the case is the feet. 4 Acrylic feet, pre-taped with the same foam sticky tape used everywhere else on this case. Again, I opted to remove it and use thinner carpet tape. You could just as easily drill 4 holes into the bottom tray and pre-drilled the feed so that they can be better secured.
-Low Profile Home Theatre Euro Style
-Materials, heavy gauge sheet metal/aluminum
-Excellent Cables, and extensions.
-Laser cut parts
-Well packaged for shipping.
-Price, itís fair considering the parts and workmanship, but cost prohibitive for most.
-Double sided Foam sticky tape used far too much
-Bulge issue over Front Buttons. (design flaw)
-Upside down controller ports.
-Wood Screws? Poor choice, 4 in front, 4 on each side. Better options are available.
-Dongles donít fit proper depending on console placement (design flaw, given the home theatre purpose of this design)
I donít want people to get the wrong idea. Iíve enjoyed these cases, and I do see them as very esthetically pleasing, they fit in well with my home theatre equipment. They arenít excessively or dangerously hot as some might suspect. The Hard Drive switching systems works as well as can be expected from any Project 411 based idea. Some drives simply wonít work in certain combo with this or any other 411 concept switching system. Despite the issues with the dvd dongle, I have this case prominently displayed in my home, and it's in daily use.
Discussions Iíve had with the staff of o2xmodification.com indicate that we can expect new variants of this case, including LCD windows, and others that fix some of the issues detailed in this review.
Raw Photography: More Pics
Xbox-Scene Continuing Discussion Thread: Review continues
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