In which a potential 360 buyer has questions for gurus.

#1 Posted by CountBubba (41 posts) -

I'm considering buying myself an Xbox 360, but these rumors of an upgraded hardware/natal package next year are making me nervous, even more nervous than I was before of the other 360 red flags, or more to the point, red rings. Of death. Ahem.

I'm currently the proud owner of a PS3 and a DSi (a hardware iteration I feel pretty good about waiting for). I've never cared much for online multiplayer, and the fear of the 360's tendency to shit all over itself has long been a limiting factor in my 360 interest. On the other hand, I love the PS3's DVD upconverting abilities and Sony has enough exclusives I want (MGS4, inFAMOUS, FF Versus XIII) to leave me certain I "chose" the correct console, come to that.

However, because I care far about individual titles than any stupid console rivalry BS, Gears 2, Fable II, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, and especially Mass Effect 2 more than ever have me wanting a piece of Microsoft's delicious, yet historically unstable pie.

I keep reading about a "Jasper" something-or-other that supposedly should make the 360 less prone to RRODing. My current plan is to purchase an Arcade unit along with a couple games at first to save money, and later purchase a 120gb hdd and a few more games and then attempt to install all of the games I play onto the harddrive, and the number of these games would be relatively small, because I believe I will rely on my PS3 for most non-360 exclusives. Given this, here are my questions:

1. I've read that only the new Arcade units are guaranteed to have Jasper. Is this accurate?
2. And is it even important?
3. Specifically, is it important enough to still get the Arcade unit over any deals I might find for the Pro Unit?
4. How important is owning a harddrive?
5. Will I be able to get along with five or six games' worth of save files on the included memory stick?
6. How much faster do these big titles run with the harddrive there to cache?
7. How much faster than THAT will they run if I install the games to the harddrive?
8. And whether or not it makes them run faster, will it make the 360 run cooler, and would this make the 360 less prone to RRODing?
9. Would the danger of bricking my hypothetical 360 because of the touchy disc drive be allieviated with my games all installed on the harddrive?
10. And say I'd want to install five or six games (those listed above, with room for further future releases, say Alan Wake for example) onto my HDD - would the 60 gig be enough? Or is 120 the only way to go? Or is it likely that a 300+GB HDD will be released, perhaps around the time of the supposed 360/Natal upgrade unit?

By the way, If it comes down to a simple Do I Care About Natal Enough To Wait, the answer is that I only care about a Natal bundled unit if it has significant hardware upgrades.

Also, sorry if giant wall-of-text posts are taboo here or if I'm somehow in the wrong section or anything. It's my first post here. Love the podcast.

#2 Posted by Death_Unicorn (2838 posts) -

1.) I believe so
2.) Not so much, but it does improve some aspects of the Xbox's performance
3.) I believe the Pro also is a "Jasper"
4.) Pretty important
5.) No, I don't think so
6.) Idk
7.) Installing to the harddrive gives minimal differences but it also lets you not hear the disc spinning, and gives you a less chance of a hardware failure
8.) Yes. Sorry, I'm not reading the questions until now
9.) I think so
10.) I think 20 gb is enough since you are only going to buy a certain number of games. Just go through a cycle of installing games you are playing, then de installing them for th next batch

I tried my best... :P Hope it helps.
I would recommend not getting the Arcade, and getting the Pro though.

#3 Posted by Bigandtasty (3202 posts) -

I know that some Pros are Jaspers but any Pro that is still bundled with Lego Indy and Kung Fu Panda is not.

#4 Edited by CountBubba (41 posts) -

Assuming I can find a Pro Jasper, the only other benefits over the Arcade I can see (on the Amazon product pages, anyway) are the 60GB hard drive, the ethernet cable (which I already have), and the headset (which I won't use, since I don't play multiplayer online and I've heard it's not so good anyway). It's also $100 more.

Assuming I can find a 60+ HDD for less, is there any other consideration that makes the Pro a better decision? Is there any reason to fear a used 360 harddrive? I've seen 120gb units for around $60-70.

#5 Posted by Gizmo (5389 posts) -

I have a friend called Jasper, he has a Jasper.

#6 Posted by Death_Unicorn (2838 posts) -

Well the hard drive is pretty much essential. That's why I would recommend a Pro, but whatever floats your boat, duder.
I don't know about used hard drives.

#7 Edited by CountBubba (41 posts) -

If I had to guess one way or the other, I'd assume that Jasper's life is probably MORE amazing than the average human life. Confirm/deny?

EDIT: Thanks for the advice, btw

#8 Posted by freezerr (218 posts) -

Get a hard drive. You need it to save downloadable content (including free stuff), XBLA games, save games, etc. A 120gb drive seems big since you said you only want to get a few games anyways. A game usually requires 5 or 6 gigs to install in my experience.

#9 Posted by CountBubba (41 posts) -

Alright, that's it confirmed. I think I'll grab a 60 gig and an Arcade machine (even if all else were equal, I want the included disc with Pac Mac Tournament Edition, and I'm sure at least a couple of the Sega collection games are worth playing).

#10 Posted by choffy21 (1376 posts) -
  1. No. Most Xbox 360's on store shelves have the Jasper Chipset
  2. Not really; the Falcon is good enough
  3. Not really. The Arcade is good only as an entry-level system; if you're serious about your Xbox 360, get the Pro, day one
  4. Well, if you want to play online (at all), it is basically required (i.e. Halo 3 requires the free Heroic Map Pack, which is 300+ MB. Arcade's 256 MB Internal Memory Card obviously can't handle that
  5. Yes. Save game files are anywhere from 1 KB to 20 KB; more than enough for a 256 MB Memory Card
  6. Wait, I don't understand the question...
  7. Depends on the game. Most times have a few seconds load-time improvement. But installing Halo 3 actually increases the load times.
  8. Yes. The disc drive isn't running, which not only saves power, but makes it run A LOT cooler.
  9. Don't worry about your disc drive, worry about the CPU and GPU in your 360 (if anything; that stuff is uncommon now)
  10. Most games take about 6 GB to install, so you could install ~10 games
Hope that helps.
#11 Posted by Fracture (148 posts) -

I would honestly stay away from used hard drives. The only 2 reasons I can think someone would return JUST the hard drive is they either bought a 120 and have no use for the 60 or it was flaking out and they got it through gamestops used testers so you might be getting a possibly flaky drive. Plus the drive you got could be really old, as in 1st gen old and the age does play a factor in it's wear and tear, regardless of how "refurbed" it is.

#12 Posted by Maxszy (2064 posts) -

Honestly, if you are still holding out for something better, you will always be holding out for something better. If Natal comes out, then you'll ask "is it better to get it right now or wait to make sure its stable?" " To wait to see if there is a bundle later on?"

Eventually you just need to take the plunge man. Sounds like you want to play some of the 360's games, so you might as well do it now. There are plenty of games to catch up on to keep you busy. Just if you do so, get a pro with a Hard Drive if you have any desire to play much at all, which it seems you do.

XBL is more than just online multiplayer. That's a huge part obviously, but you also get access to demos before other people, if you are a netflix subscriber, you could then stream through your 360 and so forth.

#13 Posted by Diamond (8634 posts) -

I'll tackle the ones I know something about.

4. I think it's really important for an enjoyable experience.  Between demos and XBLA games (which include about half the good games on 360), save files and installing games, a HDD is a must.  I think some games even require a HDD for online play.
5. You could do it, but it wouldn't be as good.
7. The range varies from 'almost not at all' to literally twice as fast.  The 360 has a loud DVD drive, so installing games is always a big bonus in that way.  The average improvement is about 25% faster load times I'd say.  Better to get a bigger HDD than 20GB if you want to install games, the bigger HDDs hold more games and are seemingly faster (based on people's GTA4 LOD complaints on 20GB).  I've never played 360 games without the HDD, so I've always had caching and I base all the times off that.
8. Shouldn't make it much cooler, I imagine the DVD drive spinning has to add a little heat, but probably not too much.
9. Nope, most of the problems with the 360's dying have been due to long term damaged caused by the heat the processors create.  I've had a 360 DVD drive die in the past though, so that will be one lessened problem.
10. 360 games when installed range from 3.4GB (something like that is the minimum size) to 6.8GB, most are in the 6GB range, but a few like Orange Box (how the fuck did they manage it?) and Far Cry 2 are much smaller.

#14 Posted by RandomHero666 (3181 posts) -

Xbox consoles are way more reliable these days, and the unreliability was overblown to begin wIf you do get one, Dead Rising, Forza Motorsport and Many arcade games are reccommended


#15 Posted by choffy21 (1376 posts) -
@Fracture said:
" I would honestly stay away from used hard drives. The only 2 reasons I can think someone would return JUST the hard drive is they either bought a 120 and have no use for the 60 or it was flaking out and they got it through gamestops used testers so you might be getting a possibly flaky drive. Plus the drive you got could be really old, as in 1st gen old and the age does play a factor in it's wear and tear, regardless of how "refurbed" it is. "
GameStop takes the Hard Drives in seperately from the console itself for trade-in's, so your good to go!
#16 Posted by keyhunter (3207 posts) -

Get a 20 gig HD used for 5 bucks somewheres and then upgrade it to 120.

#17 Posted by ChopperDave47 (78 posts) -
@CountBubba:

I don't know much about any of your actual questions.. but i do have one straw to pick at. the 360 has DVD upscaling too, it's not just some sony supertechnology.
#18 Posted by TheHBK (5466 posts) -

Yeah dude the new Arcades definitely have the jasper 64 nm chips, both CPu and GPU, the last 360 version only had it for the CPU.  Also, it is still rare to find a Jasper 360 pro.  I would just go ahead and get the Arcade and get the 120 GB HDD from Best Buy, the HDD is on sale for 120 bucks so getting both the Aracde and that will only be 20 bucks more than the pro, even though you get the bigger hard drive.  So a better comparison is that you get it for 80 bucks less than the Elite.  Go get your HDMI cables from target, the belkin ones there are just 30 bucks and are really good.
360 has good DVD upscaling because it has a built in upscaler, and this works for games too so a game on a 1080p TV will look better on the 360 than it would on the PS3.  If the game is multiplatform and 720p native of course.

#19 Posted by SpaceInsomniac (3578 posts) -

I have the best advice you'll find anywhere.  Are you ready?

If there's one anywhere near you, buy your xbox 360 at Costco. 

If ANYTHING goes wrong with it, you'll walk in with a broken console and walk out with a brand new console.  No waiting for repairs, no worrying about expired warranties, no "this isn't covered by the warranty" refusals.  You'll have to pay for a membership, but it's SO worth it.  I bought a near-launch system at Costco, I've been through RROD three times, and they've never given me a problem with any of it.

Costco is awesome!

#20 Posted by CountBubba (41 posts) -

DId not know that 360 had upscaling.

The Costcos in my area only have Elite bundles, and they add enough crap to bump the price up to $450-$500.
 
And unless the threads etc I've read about using a computer with wireless as a wireless adapter for your 360, looks like I'll be dropping another $76 (on Amazon) for the official adpater. On the plus side, if I can get the 120gb hdd for $120 along with the adapter and the Arcade unit, I'll essentially be getting a white Elite with wireless for the same price. I already have a spare HDMI cable, so that's taken care of.

I might have to get this stuff piecemeal, spreading the bill over a few paychecks and all that. I'll probably have to survive without the HDD/wireless capability for a month or so to be able to afford it all. The flexibility here, by the way, is the single greatest argument I've heard of in favor of the 360 over the PS3. Anyway, the month it'll take me to rustle up another $200 plus for the remaining components should be just enough time to play through Fable II, maybe twice if I really get hooked on it.

My roommates have a Wii, I already have a PS3, and soon I will own the 360. Gaming utopia shall be mine!

#21 Posted by Akeldama (4239 posts) -

i wouldnt 

#22 Posted by Ouroboros (344 posts) -

If you take anything from this, please do not buy a 360 without a harddrive.  Even if you have to buy one seperately.

#23 Posted by CountBubba (41 posts) -

Even for a month to get my money in order? Dang.

But none of the money bullshit matters anymore: I'm not one to put any stock in fate, but right after my last post, I got an email for my car insurance bill and it's $350 less than I thought it would be. And I'd already set that money aside. BAM! I just financed my 360.

Arcade unit plus a 120gb hard drive.

... there it is.

#24 Posted by pweidman (2307 posts) -
@CountBubba said:
"Even for a month to get my money in order? Dang.

But none of the money bullshit matters anymore: I'm not one to put any stock in fate, but right after my last post, I got an email for my car insurance bill and it's $350 less than I thought it would be. And I'd already set that money aside. BAM! I just financed my 360. Arcade unit plus a 120gb hard drive. ... there it is."

Yeah, good idea, you'll love the space to DL games to the HDD for better performance(in so many ways like quieter system, less disk read errors, less wear and tear on the lens/drive, etc.) and all the other stuff(demos, vids, movies etc.) on XBL.  And don't downplay the need for the gold live subscription...it's essential for the complete experience imo.
#25 Posted by Stang (4726 posts) -
@pweidman said:
"
@CountBubba said:
"Even for a month to get my money in order? Dang.

But none of the money bullshit matters anymore: I'm not one to put any stock in fate, but right after my last post, I got an email for my car insurance bill and it's $350 less than I thought it would be. And I'd already set that money aside. BAM! I just financed my 360. Arcade unit plus a 120gb hard drive. ... there it is."
Yeah, good idea, you'll love the space to DL games to the HDD for better performance(in so many ways like quieter system, less disk read errors, less wear and tear on the lens/drive, etc.) and all the other stuff(demos, vids, movies etc.) on XBL.  And don't downplay the need for the gold live subscription...it's essential for the complete experience imo. "
Agreed. Until you have completely kicked my ass on XBL, you have not fully experienced what the 360 has to offer.
#26 Posted by OptimusPrime (81 posts) -

1. you are never garunteed to get a jasper, it all depends on how often the store you are buying it from updates what they put on the shelves.  I recently purchased a new 360 (last week) and the manufacture date is august 2008.

2. depends on if you mind buying new 360's very often
3. irrelevant
4. You can't own a 360 without owning a hard drive you fool. (no negativity intended)
5. Don't buy an arcade console
6. the speed they run does not change based on the type of console bundle you purchased
7. they only run quieter, not faster
8. no, no and no
9. surprisingly, no.  the disc tray is still threated when you open and close it to put a game in a take a game out.
10. you would need at least 60 gb just to be safe and to leave room for other things. but no more is required for just 5 or six games.

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