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Xbox 360 Installs may have a secret.

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So I have had some time to test out quite a few games using the new install feature in the NXE. I wanted to determine just what the benefits were. Would the games load faster, how much quieter was the console and so on. I must say I’m rather surprised at what I’ve found and it’s led me to an interesting conclusion.

Firstly, load times – the games I tested were Banjo Kazooie – Nuts and Bolt’s, Fallout 3, Pure, Gears of War 2 and Midnight Club. After timing a specific load screen with the game not installed, I would install the game and time the same load screen again. What I found was that the difference was very minimal and in some case’s as with Gears of War 2, the load times were in fact worse. The game that gained the most was banjo Kazooie but it was a matter of a couple of seconds.

So with the install option not offering much in terms of load speed I turned to the other advantage it may have. The ability to take work load off the optical drive. This is when I started thinking, I’ve had 3 previous Xbox 360’s die on me because of drive issues, In fact I’ve never had a RROD, all my 360 issues have been optical drive based. We’ve all heard the stories of the work Microsoft has put in to combat the RROD but I haven’t heard much about optical drives.

Installing games to the HDD all but takes the optical drive out of the equation, it spins for a few seconds when you boot the game and thats about it. It doesn’t even get up the “jet engine” speed we are used to for those seconds. So at the end of the day what the install option does is extend the life of your optical drive. It makes you wonder if there isn’t something Microsoft knows about our optical drives  that we don’t?

Last Updated: November 26, 2008

24 Comments

  1. Fox1

    November 26, 2008 at 15:16

    💡 No optical drive spinning means less heat being produced which should also reduce the chance of RROD.

    Reply

  2. Fudzy

    November 26, 2008 at 15:43

    That depends on what get’s hotter, the hard-drive or the optical drive?

    Reply

  3. Fudzy

    November 26, 2008 at 15:48

    A good read regarding how futile the hdd installs are:

    http://kotaku.com/5097252/so-how-much-space-do-your-360-games-installs-take-up

    Reply

  4. baba

    November 26, 2008 at 15:59

    Gareth,

    After your excuse for an article, My PS3 Hates me, I hardly believe anything you write these days.

    So boys and girls, for a proper comparisson, go check this out on Eurogamer: http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=290745

    Reply

  5. Wolfy

    November 26, 2008 at 16:11

    good point but keep in consideration the HDD is external not internal so only the top half of your xbox will be heated and thanks to room tempreture it will cancel each other out

    Reply

  6. Wolfy

    November 26, 2008 at 16:14

    I would wait 10 to 20 seconds longer if that means my graphics will be smoother and not wait for certain scratched discs that i own to re-render polygons and so forth . I have this problem mainly with midnight club the scenery get washed away or the road dissapears.

    Reply

  7. RivaZA

    November 26, 2008 at 16:14

    This thought has been in the back of my mind ever since I heard about the optional installs. I thought “I bet this is to reduce the number of warranty swap-outs involving the disc drive”.
    Truth is MS don’t do anything just because they think there consumers would like it. Everything they do is monetary driven (They are a business after all). Do you think if the Disc drive were not failing all the time that the HDD installs would have come into fruition? I don’t think so!

    Reply

  8. RivaZA

    November 26, 2008 at 16:23

    Well if the components in my PC are anything to go by then a constantly reading harddrive gets much hotter then a constantly reading DVD-rom.

    Reply

  9. RivaZA

    November 26, 2008 at 16:38

    Looking at that list and knowing that you can’t put more than 6.8gig on a 360 disc I have to wonder how many Multi platform titles could have been so much more had they been exclusive to the PS3? I not talking graphically, but content wise. There are so many game sitting right on that mark. GTA4 is the first on that comes to mind.

    Reply

  10. SlippyMadFrog

    November 26, 2008 at 17:02

    “case’s as with Gears of War 2, the load times were in fact worse.”
    Something is fishy. Eurogamer is painting a different picture.

    Gareth, can you post the exact load times of the games? That will make this article a bit more believable.

    Reply

  11. Lupus

    November 26, 2008 at 17:15

    Okay why is it limited to 6.8gigs per disc? Dual layer discs are just under 9 gigs?

    Reply

  12. Milesh Bhana

    November 26, 2008 at 21:25

    Has anyone with an Elite tested installs with multidisc games like Blue Dragon/Lost Oddeysey. I think it would be awesome if you could drop all the disks on the HDD and only have to insert disk 1 and not have to get up to change disks. (I’m assuming that it’s not the case, but i gotta ask…)

    Reply

  13. Milesh Bhana

    November 26, 2008 at 21:27

    that’s ok I guess, but then let us swop out puny 20GB (with all my DLC i cannot even install ONE game) for the new Pro 60GB FOR FREE…

    yeah, didn’t think so either.

    Reply

  14. baba

    November 26, 2008 at 21:28

    They are actually having their bread buttered on both sides:
    1. Less warranty swop outs
    2. Increase in 60GB and 120GB HDD’s

    Reply

  15. baba

    November 26, 2008 at 21:31

    I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, the other space is probably dedicated to MS for things like firmware upgrades etc.

    Reply

  16. LazySAGamer

    November 26, 2008 at 21:50

    There doesn’t seem to be a universal agreement about the benefits of the installs however don’t you think it’s better to commend Gareth on an original piece of work instead of just asking him to work from other websites again?

    Reply

  17. spl0it

    November 27, 2008 at 08:35

    My 360’s drive is on the way out. I was getting DRE’s at least once a day.
    The HDD installs allows me to still play Xbox until next year.
    I dont want to even attempt swapping it out now.
    December without my xbox would be a complete disaster

    Reply

  18. bokka1

    November 27, 2008 at 08:54

    I have found that after installing Far Cry 2 to my hard drive I started getting frame rate drops and the game became unplayable at certain points. After uninstalling it I had no further problems.

    Reply

  19. gazza

    November 27, 2008 at 09:19

    The issues I’ve had with my Xbox’x up till now have not been heat related. They have all been beacuse something in the optical drive has failed weather its the laser itself or whatever. It starts slowly with the occasional disc read error and then soon wont read any discs and ends up with the “put this disc in a Xbox 360 console” error. With 3 in a row going down like that you can’t blame me for seeing something fishy there.

    Reply

  20. SlippyMadFrog

    November 27, 2008 at 09:20

    I think I gave the wrong impression. I like the article, but I would like to see the actual seconds if the load times where timed. It will make this article even better.

    Reply

  21. gazza

    November 27, 2008 at 09:20

    Thanks Baba I love you too. 😀

    Reply

  22. Wolfy

    November 27, 2008 at 14:43

    it only gets hotter caused its in a small closed down section of your tower like right next to your cpu… wow i wonder why

    Reply

  23. Wolfy

    November 27, 2008 at 14:47

    or suspose to be pirate proofing data?

    Reply

  24. Wolfy

    November 27, 2008 at 14:49

    you know i see what your saying but you should use a lens cleaner more often. I xbox did precisley the same and i smacked it a couple of times and left it in the company of my girlfriends boring coversations now its to scared to give me any hastles

    Reply

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