PC inside Xbox 360 case

Jamesfast

Minimal Tinkerer
Original poster
Jun 26, 2018
3
4
I'm building a lite gaming PC inside an Xbox 360 and I came here to talk about it!
I've spent the last couple months planning and designing the build. I have just about everything I need to get started now, and will be beginning to modify and assemble the parts slowly over the next few weeks. Going forward I need to be careful to avoid making mistakes and I think getting some visibility here is going to help.

This will include:
ASRock B350M-ITX/ac
Intel i3-8100
Noctua NH-L9i
Zotac GTX 1050 Ti
SilverStone FX350G power supply

I picked up XPG Gammix 2666 ram with other components when I was going to build with Ryzen initially, and returned everything but the ram before I knew these Intel chips use only 2400. I'm assuming it will still work.

// Planning

When I decided to start this, I had some criteria to keep things functional and looking original:

* Run 6th gen console emulators (specifically, run Shadow of the Colossus smoothly)
* Make use of hard drive shell (though maybe not removable)
* Make use of every feature on the face plate (including DVD bezel)
* No visible modifications to the plastic shell
* Brickless
* Re-integrate the RF module (for wireless controllers) and power button

I decided to use Intel with an Nvidia descreet GPU after watching several videos comparing the Ryzen APUs running games with PCSX2. Ryzen just didn't perform as well as even the 1030 in Shadow of the Colossus and Gran Turismo. Figuring out how to fit a descreet GPU in with an optical drive and power supply has been tricky, and there are several things I need to consider:

* Space between components
* Heat generation
* Air flow
* Fan noise
* Structural stability (with mounting the GPU)

Some similar builds use only the plastic shell which helps with space and cooling, but I need to keep the steel tray to help support the GPU and to keep the unit semi-portable as a console is intended to be.

// Designing

There are some restrictions with the arrangement of the components:
The console's face plate means an optical drive can only fit to the left and top of the case. The space below wouldn't be enough to fit a heatsink.
The power supply could only fit laying down to the side of the motherboard. The two next to each other are right at 10" or about 5mm less than what the tray allows.
The only space a card will fit is behind the drive and to the left of the heatsink, above the power supply. The space to the right of the optical drive and in front of the heatsink is not long enough.

I need to maximize the distance between the left wall and the heatsink to fit the graphics card, so I looked for a motherboard with the CPU socket sitting highest on the board (farthest from the PCI slot).
I found dimensions of the components and drew them out on cardboard cut to the size of the tray, you'll see below.
I had to estimate some measurements by holding a ruler up to images on my monitor. For example I measured an image of the motherboard to be 123mm on my screen, with the CPU slot between 76-91mm or median 83.5mm from PCI side, so (6.7/123)x83.5 gave me about 4.55" from PCI edge to center of CPU slot. I assumed 2mm tolerances, which I found was pretty spot on.

* Steel tray interior dimensions: 10.5/8 x 8.9/16 x 2.3/8" or 270 x 217 x 65mm
(with 10.1/8" between screws that pass up through, and up to 2.3/4" from plastic to plastic)
* Flex PSU: 5.9 x 3.2 x 1.58" or 150 x 82 x 40mm
* Optical drive: 128 x 128mm (with bezel) x 13mm
* Motherboard: 6.7 x 6.7"
(center of CPU slot: ~4.55" from PCI side)
* Heatsink: 95 x 95mm or 3.74", 37mm tall

For the GPU, I was going to use a 1030 at first since it seemed to run SotC ok in the videos, but at the time the Gigabyte model was sold out and the only other 1030's seemed to have very large passive heatsinks. I'd have to modify or replace these heatsinks and rig up fans to fit one, but I couldn't decide on a clean solution even having picked up (and returned) two 1030's. At this point I decided to pull the trigger and get a 1050 ti since they're also low profile and also don't need external power, and then I would figure out cooling later (I think I have now).

So here are some pictures:
First is of the cardboard insert sitting in the tray. I marked screw placements on the left and right sides, and placement of the power supply, motherboard with heatsink, and dvd drive.
Second image is PSU, mobo and heatsink on the insert
Third has optical drive and GPU which will sit above the PSU

This is as far as I've come. I haven't ordered the CPU yet. When I have it, I'll build the PC in a small tower first to get some baseline temps. Then, I will begin making modifications to the GPU's heatsink and test again in the tower. When I'm confident the GPU will be cooled well enough after being made to fit in the 360 case, I'll move everything there and continue testing as I work out cabling.
 

Jamesfast

Minimal Tinkerer
Original poster
Jun 26, 2018
3
4
I finished collecting the major components, so I assembled the motherboard and made sure it posted.
Next step will be to run some benchmarks and get an idea how hot the GPU is going to get under load, since I'll be modifying the GPU's heatsink. I'll be trimming the outer fins so all are uniform height, and attaching a 60mm fan over the GPU. Also a notch is needed at the end of the heatsink to about 5mm in and about 15mm deep to clear the fan on the CPU's heatsink.

Besides the GPU, there are several modifications I need to make.
For the tray, I need to cut out behind the CPU for the heatsink, and cut out around the PSU so it sits a few mm lower.
I got a Noiseblocker 40x20mm fan for the PSU... but the PSU's fan is 40x15mm. I'll be removing the shell and seeing if I can trim 5mm around the fan to fit the new one.
The PSU cables need to be shortened, and some removed. I think I'll have to mount the motherboard and PSU before I can do this accurately.

The clearance between the GPU bracket and wall of the case is tight but I found super thin HDMI cables for drone cameras. This will let me bring the GPU's HDMI port to the back of the case.
I'm hoping the plastic shell will allow me to keep the video ports on the I/O panel covered so the GPU's HDMI port is available.

I'll be cutting a strip of steel to span the case from front to back for the GPU to mount to on the end above the motherboard. I picked the Zotac specifically for the screw holes on the end, even though there was a nicer EVGA for $10 more.

 

nz1070

Minimal Tinkerer
Apr 16, 2018
3
1
Good luck, i got a xbox 360 case and xbone for a mod but ended up with a dan a4, i might do it of i get another itx board.
But i like the idea and the look of a pc in xbox,
 

Valantar

Shrink Way Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
1,974
1,918
Neat project! In terms of fitting it all, you'd probably be better off with some sort of DC-DC PSU setup alongside an internal AC-DC brick, though - those get quite a bit smaller than the PSU you have pictured (it looks like some sort of flex-ATX unit?). This could help you fit a more potent/quiet cooling solution on your GPU. The G-Unique (search this forum) plus something like a Mean Well RPS-200-12-C should do the job, although you'd need to run and terminate your own wires. The HDPlex 160 DX-ATX + 160W AC-DC adapter combo would probably also work with your hardware, but it's bulkier than the G-Unique+MW PSU.

Also, undervolting (and possibly underclocking?) the GPU sounds like a good idea, considering you're already using a more powerful card than you originally planned. Most Pascal cards have decent headroom for lowering power draw at same performance, or lowering it significantly at the expense of 5-10% performance.
 

metropath27

Average Stuffer
Apr 22, 2018
77
4
Neat project! In terms of fitting it all, you'd probably be better off with some sort of DC-DC PSU setup alongside an internal AC-DC brick, though - those get quite a bit smaller than the PSU you have pictured (it looks like some sort of flex-ATX unit?). This could help you fit a more potent/quiet cooling solution on your GPU. The G-Unique (search this forum) plus something like a Mean Well RPS-200-12-C should do the job, although you'd need to run and terminate your own wires. The HDPlex 160 DX-ATX + 160W AC-DC adapter combo would probably also work with your hardware, but it's bulkier than the G-Unique+MW PSU.

Also, undervolting (and possibly underclocking?) the GPU sounds like a good idea, considering you're already using a more powerful card than you originally planned. Most Pascal cards have decent headroom for lowering power draw at same performance, or lowering it significantly at the expense of 5-10% performance.
I'm using an at power supply I have made a platform for it to go under the desk and I will just cut some holes in the back and route the cables in it's kind of janky but I think it will go well
 

Valantar

Shrink Way Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
1,974
1,918
I'm using an at power supply I have made a platform for it to go under the desk and I will just cut some holes in the back and route the cables in it's kind of janky but I think it will go well
So you're planning on never actually moving the PC? I suppose it works, but personally I'd never go for something that complicated and impractical. While getting a pico-style PSU and some sort of AC-DC converter will of course be an extra cost, I would definitely hold out until affording that was possible - it won't require you to cut giant holes in the case to route cables, it'll be a much cleaner build, and it won't require an external box ~half the volume of the case. To each their own, I suppose, but considering the massive effort already involved in stuffing a PC into an X360 case, I would really go the whole distance and kill the ATX PSU.
 

metropath27

Average Stuffer
Apr 22, 2018
77
4
So you're planning on never actually moving the PC? I suppose it works, but personally I'd never go for something that complicated and impractical. While getting a pico-style PSU and some sort of AC-DC converter will of course be an extra cost, I would definitely hold out until affording that was possible - it won't require you to cut giant holes in the case to route cables, it'll be a much cleaner build, and it won't require an external box ~half the volume of the case. To each their own, I suppose, but considering the massive effort already involved in stuffing a PC into an X360 case, I would really go the whole distance and kill the ATX PSU.
I only use my PC on my desk so for me this setup works but it's not for everyone I mean you can move it you just need to find a place to put the PSU which for me is under my desk also this setup is much cheaper if you already have a gaming pc