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CheapMod Review

This review was done by http://www.xbox-info.com/

Buy your Cheapmod modchips from Divineo Germany

Cheapmod Review
The package contained:

One - Cheapmod Chip
One - Length of Kynar wire
One - 16 pin gold plated LPC header plug

Initial Impressions:

The Cheapmod chip kits arrived well packaged and secured in a bubble-padded envelope, each Cheapmod chip kit was individually packed in a zip lock bag. The delivery time was excellent.

The Cheapmod mod chip is based on Andy Green aka Numbnut's cheapmod solution utilizing the SST49LF020 a 256k (2mbit) flash chip.

This design has been refined to include an LPC header plug and a socket attached to the mod chip PCB, this has two key benefits it allows easy installation and removal of the mod chip. Also should you wish to change mod chip totally you will already have an LPC header plug attached to your main board, the majority of new mod chips on the market will support connections to the main board via this method until Microsoft remove the LPC header totally from the Xbox main boards layout.

As can be seen in the photo above a pin is missing from the plug and already inserted into the socket on the mod chip, this prevents you from accidentally plugging the mod chip in the wrong way round, a simple effective solution allowing no mistakes to be made upon fitting.

The overall construction of the mod chip was of a high standard. The quality of the PCB, sockets, and pins were also excellent.

Installation:

After removing the outer case, DVD, hard drive and the main board. I then removed the solder in the LPC holes as this was a version 1.0 Xbox, using a desolder pump made the job a breeze. Once I had 15 clean LPC header holes the plug was inserted.

I had already decided to solder all 15 pins into the LPC header, you actually only need to solder 9 pins to make the correct connection to the LPC header, but while you have the main board removed it only takes a few extra seconds to solder all 15 pins.

The next task was to strip each end of the Kynar wire supplied and solder them onto the two points located on the reverse of the main board, this can be seen in the photo on the right above. You can if required fit a spst switch to this wire giving you the ability to enable and disable the Cheapmod chip.

Finishing the installation was easy all that was required was for me to connect the mod chip onto the newly fitted LPC header plug.


I tested a range of different 256k BIOS images including the new Cromwell 1.6a 256k Linux BIOS. All of which were flashed using the Evolution X dashboard and performed exactly as expected. All homebrew software, Linux and original Xbox game discs worked without problem.

Overall:

BIOS is flash updateable using the latest Evolution X dashboard software.
Requires complete main board removal for installation.
Good value modchip at an excellent price.
Only a 256k flash chip.
Ability to flash blank SST49LF020 chips for use in other Cheapmods.
LPC header plug makes fitting and removal a dream.
Fast and simple installation.
Suitable for v1.0 and v1.1 Xboxes specific BIOS image is required.

Prices:

A single Cheapmod kit retails at $22.00 (usd) or £14.00 (ukp) discounts are available for larger orders, more details are on the official Cheapmod website.

Conclusion:

The addition of a 16 pin gold plated LPC header plug and socket make this probably the best value cheapmod on the market, even with these additional components the price is still very reasonable. The install time fitting the mod after opening the Xbox case is about 10 to 15 mins on a version 1.0 Xbox as you have to remove the solder from the LPC header holes. On a version 1.1 Xbox it takes about 4 mins to install as the LPC header holes are not solder filled. Depending on how the Xbox scene moves forward a 256k flash chip may just not cut it, but being realistic most normal users will never have need for larger BIOS images no matter what hype other mod chip producers on the scene make about extra BIOS features needing larger flash chips. The average Xbox user just wants the ability to run homebrew software and backups. From a price to performance ratio these are 'Cheap as Chips' and I whole heatedly recommend these without any doubts.


Official website and installation guides are here: http://www.cheapmod.com/




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