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360 Intercooler
Score: 95%
Developer: Nyko
Device Type: Accessory



Function:

The 360 Intercooler is a device designed to help ease the minds of those gamers who feel that the Xbox 360's overheating possibilities cannot be ignored.

This unit sits between your the power cable and the power port and adds three CPU fans to the back of the console. The additional airflow not only helps to pull the hot air out from the inside of the unit, but it also keeps the air around the 360 moving. Due to the way the Intercooler connects to your system, you don't need any additional power cables or a lot more cabinet space to use it.

The Intercooler is the same shade of white as the Xbox 360 and also extends the back of the console's base another one or two inches, so it not only adds more stability to the Xbox when it is standing up, but it also adds to the system's aesthetic attributes.


Performance:

Just before I got the 360 Intercooler in to review, my launch release 360 started showing the "Hardware Failure" issue that plagued most of those early models. And although the Intercooler didn't save that Xbox, I believe the damage was already done by the time the product found its way into my apartment. So all or most of the performance tests that we ran the Intercooler through were done on a brand new unit straight out of the box. Without further ado, here are our performance test results.

Without the Intercooler on, I found the back of the 360 would reach over 110 Fahrenheit while watching a movie. With the cooling-accessory attached, the temperature was around 105F. Then I tested the temperature for while the system was playing a game. With the Intercooler on, the back area got up to about 110F and between 115F and 120F with the unit detached. I also checked how hot the system got while it was "at rest" (i.e. just sitting on the Xbox Dashboard). Temperatures were recorded at 103F and 107F with the Intercooler on and off respectfully.

Because the Intercooler can be turned off while still plugged in, though this can cause some problems (see below), we also ran tests to see how the console stood up with the Intercooler effectively blocking the system's vents. In all three test-scenarios, the temperature was at or close to 110F. So it seems that having the Intercooler attached but not on neither hurts nor helps the console's heating issues. This is a very good thing; if the Intercooler should happen to fail, it won't cause your 360 to heat up due to restricted airflow.


Features:
  • Powered by the Xbox 360 console. No extra AC adapter needed
  • Snap-on Assembly for easy installation, no tools required
  • Increases air flow and reduces heat throughout the Xbox 360
  • Improves protection for internal circuitry
  • Enhanced performance for your Xbox 360
  • Fits in entertainment centers with the console in either horizontal or vertical position
  • Auto or manual power on and off

Drawbacks & Problems::

And now for the problems. The main issue I have with the 360 Intercooler is the on/off toggle switch on the unit. When I saw that it had this, I saw several possibilities that all had promise. One possibility was that you could leave the Intercooler on all the time, allowing you to keep air constantly moving in your entertainment cabinet. Another was the ability to turn it off when you didn't feel like you needed the extra cooling while you were playing the game (though I don't really know when that would be). At first I was hard pressed to find a purpose for this switch because it didn't seem to serve either of these purposes.

Let me explain. I first tried the "fan's on all the time" possibility, simply put, the Xbox has to be on for the Intercooler to run. So then I decided to see what would happen if I had the Intercooler off with the 360 on. As a result, I got the three red lights (having just seen these bastards with my last 360 I immediately turned off the console in a fit of panic). After doing some research, I realized that the console was trying to tell me that it wasn't getting enough power. This means that while it is plugged in and not turned on, the Intercooler acts as a resistor of sorts and doesn't allow enough power to pass into the console for you to turn it on. So, if you can't have the Intercooler on while the console is off, and you can't have the console on while the Intercooler is off, that means that both have to be on for either to work ... so why is there a switch?!? At least this was my first impression. I later tried the switch again and my 360 didn't have any problems running with the Intercooler switched off. Frankly, this bit was iffy. I found that the system had trouble starting up about 25% of the time if the Intercooler's power switch wasn't turned on.

Since you don't have to physically flip the Intercooler switch every time you want to turn on your 360, you can just leave it in the On position and ignore it. Because of that, the fact that there is a switch is more of an annoyance and source of confusion rather than a functional drawback so its weight on the product's score isn't all that great.

So if you are seriously worried about the system's overheating issues, at $19.99 the 360 Intercooler definitely seems like a viable option. It can't hurt, that's for sure.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Sony PlayStation 2 GameTrak Game System Sony PlayStation Portable 4.0 GB Memory Stick Pro Duo

 
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