Today a new Xbox lands in our inbox, and that's a rare thing—though not as rare as it used to be. What makes the new Xbox One S a worthy mid-cycle update to Microsoft's console? Let's tear down this surprisingly slimmer, possibly speedier, appreciably sassier Xbox One and find out. Game on!
Step 1 Xbox One S Teardown
You'd expect some differences from the Day One Edition Xbox One we tore down way back in 2013, and you'd be right. Here's what we know:
Spec-bumped GPU supporting HDR10 along with the same AMD "Jaguar" 8-core SoC found in the original Xbox One.
2 TB of storage (500 GB and 1 TB configurations are coming)
HDMI 2.0a connectivity with support for 4K video at 60 Hz
Internal power supply
Fancy vertical stand (2 TB model only)
Redesigned Xbox Wireless Controller
Etched into the starboard side of the Xbox One S, we find a cute reminder that this console still hails from the other tech capital of the West Coast: "Hello from Seattle," home of the Microsoft brigade.
Moving right along, we discover the Xbox One S is now identified as Model 1681.
In a design decision that takes us back to consoles of old, this One features mechanical buttons in lieu of capacitive ones.
Gamers with a toddler or wet-nosed pet know the pain of the ultra-sensitive power button on the original Xbox One.
Around back, under the many vent holes we find:
HDMI out (left) and in (right)
Two USB 3.0 ports (in addition to the one on the front)
IR output, optical audio, and Ethernet ports
What about my Kinect, you ask? You can apply for a "free" Kinect USB adapter—provided you already own a Kinect, an original Xbox One, and the Xbox One S.
Those who buy a Kinect to go with their Xbox One S will have to purchase the $40 adapter separately.
Our first act of teardown: tamper evident sticker removal. But no screws in sight, just the back of an immobile plastic clip. Bummer.
We take a moment to reminisce about our old Xbox 360 Opening Tool, but decide our trusted iFixit Opening Tool would be of more use here.
Make that opening tools—because popping that plastic "security" nub takes a little extra oomph.
Do we like security clips? Not in a box. Not with a fox. Not in a house. Not with a mouse. We do not like them here nor there; we do not like them anywhere.
After some intense prying, we successfully remove the bottom cover, revealing a metal interior case.
These clips may be tough at first, but plastic is bound to bend or break, unlike a reusable screw. The next time you open your One S it may not clip back together...
Some nostalgic green screws labeled F (for first?) free the primary assembly from the upper case.
Remember when Xbox was black and green and not a Destiny bundle PS4?
This One, more streamlined than its predecessor, doesn't feature any weird, afterthought components left out in the cold.
All that's left in the PC/ABS case are some button covers and Sabic and Samsung logos—probably the plastic suppliers.
Okay, is it just the teardown giddiness, or does this case vaguely resemble a Star Destroyer hangar?
Lifting one metal midbody panel reveals a beautiful sight: such nice, sleek components that we are momentarily inclined to keep the cover off forever.
Somebody call the Jackson 5, 'cause identifying these numbered and labeled components is easy as 01-02-03 (and 04).
But wait—who's that we spy?
Master Chief has arrived on a new world, this time to protect the optical disc drive bracket. Hopefully the Flood keeps out of this drive for good.
Much like the RF board on the Xbox One, the front panel board of the Xbox One S detaches outward from the lower case.
With the front panel board's EMI shield removed, we quickly spy a lone IC and some of its friends:
MediaTek MT7632TUN (Likely a variation of MT7632 2x2 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.0 Module)
Sync switch for wireless controllers
Next up on the teardown chopping block is the Wi-Fi board. After removing a few Torx screws, it comes quietly just like the front panel board before it.
This is a nice incremental improvement over its location in the previous Xbox One—it makes for one less step to open the inner metal case.
Wi-Fi is handled by a MediaTek MT7612UN (Likely a variation of MT7612U 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi Module)
At this point, component removal is a bit of a hunt, so we extract some screws and see which component is freed first.
Oddly enough, despite being labeled 04, the hard drive is the first component out.
The labels are likely numbered according to assembly, rather than the disassembly.
We find a Samsung Seagate Spinpoint M9T ST2000LM003 2 TB 5400 RPM with 32 MB Cache SATA III 6.0 Gb/s hard drive. Try saying that ten times fast.
Sadly, hard drive replacements still void the warranty, and need some tricky formatting.
The One S packs a sweet SATA III drive, but it may still be using the SATA II interface of the original Xbox One. You can always add an external hard drive though, thanks Microsoft!
The next to go is number two: the optical drive—too easy! Master Chief is of course along for the ride.
Here we have the artist formally known as a BD-ROM drive, courtesy of Philips and Lite-On Digital Solutions. The DG-6M5S model found in the Xbox One S is slightly different from the DG-6M1S found in the Xbox One, with the biggest upgrade being support for BD-UHD.
We also snag a couple rubber bumpers. These probably help keep the high-speed optical drive from rattling us off our rockers.
Now we come to the One S's hat trick (a.k.a. #03)—a smaller, newly-fanless, neatly-integrated power supply. Gone is that dangling anchor of yore.
Welcome to the club, Xbox One.
An external power supply is much easier to replace than an internal one. So lets hope Microsoft did their homework to mitigate that need!
This power supply also accepts 100-240 V inputs, meaning you can take it pretty much anywhere there's a socket. Take that, Xbox One!
The power supply connects with what PC gamers will instantly recognize as a perfectly ordinary, 6-pin PCIe connector.
Things are heating up in the teardown room, but we can't extract the "Thermal System" just yet. So we lift the whole dang motherboard assembly out of the metal casing.
A springy, X-shaped bracket secures the heat sink to the motherboard—a signature part we've seen in every Xbox since the original 360.
The "X" is a bit fussy and takes some muscle, but some practiced prying with a flathead driver saves the day.
With the component countdown nearly complete, it's time to extract part number 01: the thermal system.
Out comes the system's single 120 mm fan—looking much like a PC case fan, but with some sculpting that's unique to the Xbox One's design.
The standard Xbox One had a similarly robust cooling setup, possibly designed to avoid a repeat of the Xbox 360's billion dollar problem.
The backup for the One S's biggest fan is an impressive aluminum heat sink and copper heat pipe set. Cool.
Now on to our One true love, chips!
X949211-001 DG4001FYG87IA (Includes 1.75 GHz AMD "Jaguar" 8-core CPU + overclocked 914 MHz AMD Radeon Graphics GPU)
16 x Samsung SEC 549 K4W4G1646E-BC1A 4 Gb (512 MB) "gDDR3" SDRAM (total of 16 x 512 MB = 8 GB)
X861949-005 T6WD5XBG-0003 Southbridge
Toshiba THGBMFG6C1LBAIL 8 GB eMMC NAND Flash
ON Semiconductor NCP4205 GASUY1614 (Likely an iteration of the NCP4204 GAC1328G Integrated Power Control IC found in the Xbox One)
Texas Instruments SN75DP159 6 Gb/s DP++ to HDMI Retimer
And on the back of the motherboard...is not much really.
Realtek RTL8111HM (Likely an iteration of the RTL8111 gigabit Ethernet Controller)
Oh and that handy front-side USB port—which is on the opposite end and opposite side from its friends, poor guy.
Now on to the controller!
While we are disappointed by the lack of visible screws, we will celebrate a small concession: the batteries are still user-replaceable! (Looking at you, DualShock 4).
Using our recent console expertise, we bust out the trusty opening tools and pop off some white paneling, finding some sneaky Torx security screws. Boo.
Not only that, but a final Torx security screw is hiding under the battery compartment sticker. Double boo.
But hey, still better than Pentalobes.
Popping off those plastic panels reveals what looks like a neat little assembly, complete with four haptic feedback motors.
But once we start to extract the beast, we see the truth: Unless you're handy with a soldering iron, this is an all-or-nothing disassembly procedure.
We decided to pick option "all" and just lay everything out, still connected.
Beauty is only skin-deep, and so too are this controller's physical changes. Inside, it's largely the same design as the original Xbox One controller—our guides should be relevant for both models.
That's a wrap! Time to lay out the parts and calculate a repairability score.