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Xecuter3CE + X3 Pro Switch + XLCD Review
This review was done by Xantium of XBox
Where to buy X3(CE) and add-ons::
USA and Canada: | Extreme-Mods | Divineo.com
Europe: MrModchip | Divineo.co.uk
This is the hardware review of Team Xecuter's latest modchip.
It includes the review of the basic package and the Pro-Switch
and XLCD addons.
An overview of the software features of this modchip will
I started writing it before the 'updated' CE version was
released - but I updated it to match the CE changes. The Xecuter3CE
includes just a few small hardware optimizations compared
to the original purple Xecuter3:
* a better connector (plug) of the alt. 5v point.
* a 90 degree angle I/O socket for easier install/positioning
of the no solder XLCD screen.
* different design flash protect switch now with LED to give
a better indication of flash protect status.
* better layout of the I/O solder positions/points.
* different PCB colors that correspond with the current CE
design (white front, red back).
There are no real new features on the CE version, so the X3
OS/Bios releases will of course always work on both versions.
This is what you will get in the default Xecuter3/Xecuter3CE
package that retails at a suggested price around 58usd. The
X3(CE) modchip, the 'normal' external adapter, external adapter
cable, a headerpin, a wire install adapter, the power/eject
control adapter, reset/eject cable, alternate 5v wire for
xbox v1.6(b), D0(LFRAME)/LAN/HDD cable and self-adhesive pad
to stick the modchip on the case when installing using wires.
The Xecuter Xbox v1.6(b) LPC Rebuild PCB is now also included
into the default package at no additional price.
Official Feature List:
-2MB Flash Rom With 15 Bios Storage Options
-Dedicated 256K Backup Rom with a new Linux based bios (Can
be upgraded to any bios you wish)
-i2c Bus for X3 Config LIVE!
-New Enhanced I/O Bus for Full LCD support (and other future
-All LCD modules to be custom made with adapters so no soldering
-2 Modes Flash Protection Control (On Switch and on Mod itself)
-Mod Enable - Quick Press reset to boot from 2Mb Flash Rom
(External LED will indicate Blue X3 Logo)
-Mod Disable - Press reset >1 second (External LED will
indicate RED X3 Logo)
-Quick Press Power+Eject >1 second to boot from 256k Backup
Rom (External LED will indicate PURPLE X3 Logo)
-HDD Activity LED
-LAN Activity LED
-D0 Control (Disable Mod Via Software)
-Wire Install Adapter (New design that plugs into pin header)
-Pin Header Install (Pin header supplied)
-High Quality external switch with changeable facias (different
colors and logos)
-X3 works perfectly fine without the external switch. We give
YOU the option without forcing the choice.
-New X3 Bios with X3 Config Live OS - Supports v1.0 - v1.6b
-Supplied with all adapters & cables
-Bank Modes: all combinations of 256k/512k/1024k banks possible
You can install the modchip with several of the 'known' LPC
- With a headerpin: this is exactly the same as with other
modchips except that the X3 modchip uses 2 extra LPC points
(used for X3 Live on-the-fly bios editing).
- With wires: in the package you will get a special headerpin-to-wire
adapter, so you will not have to solder any wires on the modchip
itself. You can just plug this adapter in the X3 modchip headerpin
and on the other side of the adapter all wires will come out
that you can solder on the Xbox motherboard. This allows you
to install using the wire-method if you like and keep the
main advantage of the headerpin-install (easy to swap modchip).
You will also get a 3-wire adapter that you can plug in the
X3. One wire is for D0 (xbox v1.0-1.5) / Lframe (Xbox v1.6(b))
and is required. The 2 other wires are optional, one for LAN
status (network - blinking when there is network activity)
and one for HD status (blinking when something is read/written
from/to the Xbox harddrive).
You will also get a small adapter to connect the E(ject) and
P(ower) points with the X3. It's fully solderless, you plug
out the yellow wire coming from the xbox frontpanel, plug
this wire into the adapter, plug the wire coming out of the
adapter on the xbox motherboard and then connect this adapter
with the X3 modchip (both ends also with a plug - so no soldering).
- Team Xecuter also made a solderless adapter for the X3
(sold separately). With the 'Xapt3r' adapter you can install
the X3 without any soldering on Xbox v1.0-v1.5. There will
be a separated review of the Xapt3r very soon (as it works
for Xecuter 2.6(CE) too). The adapter will connect all LPC
points and the D0-point. The Eject/Power points are already
solderless by default, but the adapter will not connect the
LAN and HD led points ... which are of course only optional,
but if you want to see the LAN and HD activity leds on your
external adapter you will still have to solder these 2 very
easy points yourself.
As you can see it's a bit more work to install then most
other Xbox modchips, but it's certainly not harder to install
... it just requires a few minutes extra. Connect the E/P
adapter (no soldering), solder 2 extra LPC points, install
the external adapter (no soldering - see below) and solder
the LAN/HD points take a bit longer - but it's not for nothing
of course ... you will be able to select your modchip mode
using the eject and power button, you will be able to edit
your bios features on-the-fly in the X3 OS, you will get an
external adapter to 'hard-select' the bios bank and en/disable
the flash protection and you'll get a 3-color status led,
a HD-led and LAN-led.
For Xbox v1.6(b) you will also get a wire that can be plugged
in the X3 for the alternative 5v point and you'll also get
an LPCrebuild PCB. With this 'Xecuter LPC Rebuild PCB' you
still have to link the same points to repair the LPC bus on
Xbox v1.6(b), but it will allow you to do this a lot faster.
(no looking-up points or cutting/stripping wires).
* The Modchip Itself
Once installed you will be able to boot your modchip from
the backup rom. The Xecuter3CE is pre-flashed with an Xecuter
Flashbios v3.03+ cromwell-based legal bios. This Flashbios
is compatible with all xbox consoles to date. (Xbox v1.0-v1.6b).
This bios will allow you to flash the X3 OS/Bios on the main
flash or flash any other bios you may want. You can not only
flash from a file on CD, DVD or harddrive, but you can also
flash from network which is very usefull and easy if you have
a mininum of network knowledge. No more burning CDs or DVDs
with dummy files - instead just connect your xbox with your
network (DHCP or with a fix IP) and you can flash the X3 via
a simple web-interface directly from your computer.
If for whatever reason the bioses on the main flashchip get
corrupted, you can always boot from the backup 256KB flashchip
that is pre-flashed with the Xecuter FlashBios.
The X3 OS (which also contains a hacked bios that is fully
editable from within the OS - more about it in the upcoming
X3 Software review) takes 1MB of the 2MB flashchip.
You may wonder why the X3 is pre-flashed with the FlashBios
and not this X3 OS/Bios. Due the fact that the X3 OS is built
with the MS XDK and the X3 Bios is based on the Microsoft
bios it can not be legally distributed with the modchip. Some
people see this as a big disadvantage ... but unless you plan
to only run linux on your Xbox you will have to find a way
to get a hacked bios and homebrew XDK software anyway ...
and if you can find this you can find the X3 OS too.
Installating the X3 will also give control over the eject
and power buttons on the Xbox. So to en/disable your X3 modchip
you don't have to change switches ... quick press reset to
boot with modchip enabled, press reset for +1sec to boot with
modchip disabled and press reset+power for +1sec to boot with
modchip enabled from the backup flash. You can always easily
see the status of your modchip from the X3-status-led on the
The X3 also has 2 expansion ports: one connector specially
made for the XLCD addon and solderpads for a 16-bit I2C expansion
port for eventual future upgrades.
The modchip is stable and so is the X3 OS/Bios - I did not
encounter any significant problems.
The 'Normal' External Adapter::
On the left side of this picture you can see the 'normal'
external adapter (the one in the middle under the power and
eject button is the pro switch) ... it's always included in
the default X3 package. On top you see a led that gives activity
of the LAN and Harddrive. Just under it you have a led with
the X3 logo that will indicate the status of the modchip (red
for disabled, green for enabled and white for backup flash).
Under the logo you have the switches, the first 4 will allow
you to 'hard'-select which bios bank you want to boot, the
last switch will allow you to en/disable a 'hard' flash protection.
When I say 'hard' I mean it's a real hardware selection and
no software selection. So it will not first fastly boot OS
to load the right bios, but it will directly load the right
bios from flash when booting (more info in upcoming software
With 4 small dip-switches to select one of the 15 possible
banks (8x256k, 4x512k, 2x1024k, 1x2048k) you will most likely
need to print out a nice table listing the bios banks with
their corresponding dipswitch status.
The external adapter is optional - if you don't want to install
it you don't have to (modchip will by default boot from first
1MB bank (size of X3 OS)). Bios banks can be selected from
software too and flash-protection can be en/disabled from
a switch on the X3 modchip itself.
X3 modchip (in general) PROs
+ Good build quality
+ External adapter, you can always 'hard' select bios bank
and see network and hdd activity.
+ Real hardware flash protection
+ Hardware support for on-the-fly bios editing
+ Not relying on 3rd parties for 'hacked' bioses.
+ Backup flash
+ Lots of cool/trendy 1st party addons ... but if you want
them all it's gonna cost you some money.
+ LPC rebuild and alt. 5v for Xbox v1.6(b) included in the
normal X3 package.
+ Great wire-adapter. Classic Headerpin install also possible.
Solderless install on Xbox v1.0-v1.5 possible (adapter sold
+ Solderless LCD connector and I2C expansion port for possible
X3 modchip (in general) CONTRAs
- A full installation of the modchip takes a bit longer then
with most of other modchips. Nothing forces you to install
the modchip with all features tho (external adapter and lan/hdd
led are optional).
The Pro-Switch Addon Black/Cristal::
The Pro-Switch is an addon sold separatly. It retails at
a suggested price of about 20usd. This pro-switch certainly
matches a lot better with the design of the Xbox ... it fits
just nicely with the Xbox right under eject and power button.
It has the same features as the normal external adapter: 4
buttons to hard-select the bios bank, 1 button for the hardware
based flash protection and 3 leds: 1 for status (backup flash,
original(off - tsop), main flash), 1 for HDD and 1 for LAN.
Still 4 buttons to select the 15 different possible bios banks,
so that's not made easier on this pro-switch.
The adapter is available in 3 colors: black for the normal
Xbox, crystal for the crystal limited edition Xbox and green
for the translucent green limited edition Xbox (also Halo1/2
LE Xbox). Really a nice from Team Xecuter to also make a matching
version of the 2 most popular LE xbox consoles. Also notice
that the PCB color inside the pro-switch matches the color
of the plasic for the translucent crystal and green edition
... which was a really good idea from Team Xecuter considering
all the leds/lights in the adapter.
The adapter is very easy to install, you can use the same
2 wires as those for the normal external adapter, just bring
them to the middle of the front panel instead of to the left
side, plug them in the pro-switch (you can see the 2 white
connectors on the picture above) and then you can just click
the pro-switch at the underside of the front panel (so no
self-adhesive pad required).
Besides the obvious 'coolness' factor, this adapter also has
another advantage. All buttons are easy to access unlike the
very small dip-switches and each button has a led inside that
will indicate you the status of the button. Only thing I would
have personally added on this 'pro switch' is a small switch
to disable all the leds ... I saw this on the X2.6(CE) external
adapter and though it was a pretty good idea of those who
don't like all those lights. It's not really that important
thought ... you know what you buy.
X3 PRO-Switch PROs:
* Looks a lot better then the normal external adapter
* Fits better with the Xbox design
* Very easy to install, you can just 'click' it under the
Xbox front panel
* Status of each button
* They made a special version of the pro switch to match with
the crystal and translucent green/Halo special edition Xbox.
X3 PRO-Switch CONTRAs:
* No real contras in fact, but it would have been great if
this pro-switch would have been the default adapter shipped
with the X3 ;)
The XLCD Addon::
The LCD addon is an addon sold separatly. It retails at a
suggested price of about 43usd.
Team Xecuter released their own LCD screen that you can connect
directly with the Xecuter3 modchip, without any soldering,
so it's very easy to connect. Cut out the a part of the case
to cleanly place the LCD screen in your Xbox case is less
easy if you have no experience in case-modding. I suggest
you buy the X3 Control Panel or X3 Deluxe Case (not released
yet) if you never did this before. These new addons have a
specially designed place to put the LCD screen
The constrast of the LCD can be modified by scrolling that
small wheel on one of the corners of the Xecuter3 (you can
see it on the top left of this image). The brightness can
be edited directly from the X3 OS.
The screen is big (4 lines of txt, 20 characters per line),
the background color is blue and the letters are white which
gives a real great visual look.
There is of course support for the LCD screen in the X3 OS:
it will display txt when booting (can be changed by user),
display your OS build version, hard-bios-selection and soft-bios-selection.
More features might be added in future X3 OS builds.
You will also have support for the LCD in Avalaunch(info)
Dashboard and XBoxMediaCenter and of course more homebrew
application could be added to this list in the future.
The XLCD is the most useful in XboxMediaCenter. When playing
a media file it will display the name of the file on the LCD
screen. Another great feature in XBMC is you can put it in
a no-tv mode, allowing you to navigate XBMC only usng the
LCD screen, great if you want to make a mp3/ogg jukebox of
your Xbox :)
One of the optimizations of the 'CE' revision of the Xecuter3
is useful here. When installing the original X3 with a headerpin
you kinda had to 'crush' the XLCD wire between modchip and
motherboard (it works - because the wire is flattened specially
for this - but it's just cleaner with a wire-install or Xapt3r-install
(higher)). This has been fixed in the X3CE version. The connector
has been turned on its side (90 degrees) now, so even with
a headerpin install it will fit nicely.
* Connection with X3 modchip is as simple has humanly possible.
* Support for the LCD in the X3 OS, but also in XBMC and Avalaunch!
* Awesome look! (white on blue)
* 'Coolness' factor
* Big LCD screen
* Cutting in Xbox case to place your LCD on the front panel
is far from easy. If used with the X3 Control Panel/X3 Deluxe
Case it will probably be very easy.
* Not so useful for most people ... LCD screens on Xbox are
mostly installed for the look/coolness.