How was the Xbox 360 improved from the original Xbox?

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How was the Xbox 360 improved from the original Xbox?

Like any two members of a family separated by one generation, the original Xbox and the second generation Xbox 360 have plenty in common. Both consoles are designed by Microsoft. The Xbox made its debut in North America in 2001 and the Xbox 360 was introduced in 2005. Many of the games available for the Xbox can be played on the Xbox 360 because of the backward compatibility of Microsoft products. The four years made a large difference in a variety of ways that will be discussed in this buyer's guide.

While the original Xbox is no longer being produced, the Xbox 360 can be purchased at a wide variety of electronics and mass-market department stores. If one were to go online, then eBay has the widest selection and best prices available for Microsoft-developed consoles. In this guide, the differences and improvements between the original Xbox and the Xbox 360 will be examined. The guide will examine hardware, operating system, available memory, hard drive, online content, and media capabilities among other differences.

Overview of Differences

The following table will provide an overview of differences between the two consoles. These differences will be examined in more depth in the rest of the guide.



Xbox 360




Units sold

24,000,000 (as of May 10, 2006)

67,000,000 (as of April 19, 2012)


DVD, CD, download

DVD, CD, download


733 MHz Intel Pentium III

3.2 GHz PowerPC Tri-Core Zenon



512 MB of GDDR3 RAM


233 MHz Nvidia NV2A

500 MHz ATI Xenos

The differences between the two consoles in just four years of development is quite clear in this table. The Xbox 360 has much more power in terms of CPU, memory, and graphics, which is fairly evident when playing games on the 360.


The original Xbox was the first console to have a built-in hard disk drive,, which eliminated the need for console users to use separate memory cards. The disk drive allowed users to rip music to the hard drive. The Xbox also featured a bulky tray-loading DVD-ROM drive and a 3.5-inch hard drive. The Xbox 360 also has a hard disk drive, but its CPU is a triple-core 64-bit PowerPC-based design by IBM. To reduce CPU size, cost, complexity, and power demands, the Xbox 360 uses in-order execution. The original Xbox used out of order execution, which added complexity to the process.

Hard Drive

The hard drive of the original Xbox featured an 8 or 10 GB hard drive. Users could also purchase an 8 MB memory card to allow for saved game file transfers. The Xbox 360 allows for much more information to be stored via its 2.5 SATA hard disk drives. Custom firmware is used, which makes standalone drives incompatible with the Xbox 360. Originally, the Xbox 360 had a 20 GB hard drive, but the drive was upgraded to 60 GB in 2008, and the Xbox 360 Elite model has a 120 GB hard drive.


The graphics card of the original Xbox was co-developed with Nvidia. It provided for 115 million vertices per second with four pixel pipelines that included two texture units each. The graphics card allowed for 932 megapixels per second. The graphics card for the Xbox 360 was called Xenos and was co-developed by ATI. Xenos featured 16 texture-filtering units and 16 texture-addressing units. The 48 floating-point vector processors were able to provide six billion vertices per second and 500 million triangles per second. The graphics processing unit (GPU) of the Xbox 360 also has a heatsink to conduct heat away from GPU.

Operating System

Related to Windows 2000 and NT operating systems, the original Xbox had an operating system that included similar APIs, such as DirectX 8.1. However, the operating system was not a modified version of either previous Windows system. The user interface is called the Xbox Dashboard, which was carried on to the second generation console, but renamed the Xbox 360 Dashboard. The Xbox 360 Dashboard can be found on a 16 MB file system with access to 32 MB of the system's memory. Updates are downloaded from the Xbox Live service directly to the console. Functionality of the dashboard can also be added via apps that are downloaded via the Xbox 360 game system.


The memory of the original Xbox was a 64 MB DDR SDRAM (double data rate synchronous dynamic random access memory), a 200 MHz system that was supplied by either Hynix or Samsung. This system allows for higher transfer rates by strict control of the timing of the electrical data and clock signals. As noted in the table above, the Xbox features 512 MB of GDDR3 (graphics double data rate 3) RAM clocked at 700 MHz. This system uses two 32-bit wide data words per clock cycle from input-output pins. Lower voltage requirements provided lower power requirements and reduced heat output.


One of the major advances of the Xbox 360 is the use of Kinect,, which is a motion sensing input device. The Kinect was developed to compete with the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation Move,, and allows gamers to play without touching a game controller. The Kinect uses motion sensors to interface with the system via gestures and spoken commands. Kinect can track up to six people, but only two people are captured for motion analysis. The sensor is a horizontal bar with a motorized pivot that can be placed above or below the display.

Online Content

Another major advancement in console development is the incorporation of online content. The original Xbox had its online gaming system called Xbox Live, which allowed users to download content and compete online with other gamers. The service only worked with a broadband Internet connection. The Xbox Live system was broadened to take advantage of the power of the Xbox 360. While Xbox Live for the Xbox required a subscription, the Xbox 360 has a non-subscription service called Xbox Live Free (initially called Xbox Live Silver). There is also a subscription service called Xbox Live Gold. With either system, users can create a user profile, join message boards, and access the Arcade and Marketplace options.

Xbox Live Arcade

The Xbox Live Arcade is an online service that allows users to download video games. The games can be purchased using Microsoft Points, which is a currency that does not involve a credit or debit card. Games purchased via the Arcade are generally geared toward casual gamers.

Xbox Live Marketplace

The Xbox Live Marketplace is a virtual market that allows users to download purchased or promotional content. The Marketplace can be used by both Gold and Free Xbox Live users. There is free content to download via the Marketplace. Other that games, users can download map packs, gamer pictures, and dashboard themes, as well as movie and game trailers.

Xbox Video

The Xbox 360 adds the ability to watch movies via the Internet, which is different from the Xbox. Using services like Netflix, the Xbox 360 can show movies on the same screen on which it plays games. There is also video content available via the Marketplace, which includes television shows. Content, other than short clips, is not available for streaming, but must be downloaded. In this way, the Xbox 360 is more of a media center than the original Xbox.


As noted above, many (but not all) Xbox games can be played on the Xbox 360. In fact, most of the Xbox games look even better on the Xbox 360 because it is compatible at high definition resolutions (720p and 1020i). The differences in the graphics can be seen most clearly along the edges of characters and along the plane that divides the video. In order to play Xbox games on an Xbox 360, one must have Xbox Live and the Xbox 360 hard drive accessory.

How to Find the Original Xbox and Xbox 360 on eBay

Although the original Xbox was discontinued when the Xbox 360 arrived, there is still one place where you can get both consoles: eBay. You can search for an Xbox via the search box or you can use the category directory to find your game console. To do the latter, start at the Electronics page and go to the Video Games , Consoles & Accessories category. From there, select the Consoles link. The Xbox 360 can be found under Platform, and the original Xbox can be found by clicking on "choose more" under Platform. You can further narrow your search by choosing region code, condition (new, used, or manufacturer refurbished), and bundled items.

Searching Tips on eBay

If you choose to use the search engine on eBay, there are a few good ways to help you find what you are looking for. First, be sure to spell all the search terms correctly. If you wanted to find an original Xbox without getting Xbox 360s in your results, you can eliminate the term 360 by typing "-360." The eBay search engine does not use capitalization. If you know the exact phrase for the product you are looking for, you can put your search terms in quotes, such as "Xbox 360 Elite."


The Xbox 360 has improved the lives of gamers in a variety of ways. In addition to improved games, the Xbox 360 can be used to watch a variety of video content, including television shows and movies. The games have improved by having improved graphics, enhanced memory, and a more powerful system. The Xbox 360 also includes the use of Kinect, which allows for motion sensing and the elimination of the controller. The Kinect allows families to play together without requiring older and younger people to learn how to use the controller. The Xbox 360 also allows for a more robust online experience via the console. The Xbox 360 dashboard allows users to download content, both games and videos, to entertain further. This guide has provided details of how the improved technology of the Xbox 360 can help users. If a person wants to find either an original Xbox or an Xbox 360, both consoles can be found on eBay.

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