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A Late Adopter's Guide To The Xbox 360
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    A Late Adopter's Guide To The Xbox 360

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    While a lot of gamers are moving onto the new-gen consoles, not everyone experienced the benefits of Microsoft's system during the last generation. Thankfully, it's not too late. Not only is the hardware cheaper, but there is a greater wealth of Xbox 360 content to explore than ever before. Microsoft's Xbox 360 is an entertainment system that could provide you with a nearly limitless number of entertainment hours. Whether you spent the last decade playing on other systems or are just looking for an economical way to get into gaming, here is everything you need to know to make the most out of the Xbox 360.
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    How Many Different Models Are There?
    Traditionally, there weren't many differences between the various versions of a video game console. Years after a console's original release, the publisher might have created a streamlined version, but this was usually just a sleeker iteration the original that didn't function much differently. These days, the choice of a console model has gotten a lot more complicated. Deciding which model to purchase depends on which one you want to hunt down, how much hard drive space you think you need, and how reliable you think the system will be. Here’s a quick breakdown of the many different Xbox 360 versions.

    Core Model – This is part of the first wave of 360s Microsoft released in November 2006. The system came bundled with a composite video cable (only capable of standard definition), shipped with a wired version of the Xbox 360 controller, and did not have a hard drive.
    Premium Model – Also released in November of 2006, this model was similar to the Core model but included a hybrid composite/component capable of HD output, a wireless controller, and a 20 GB detachable hard drive.
    Xbox 360 Elite – Released in April 2007, this version of the system looked very similar to the original Premium model except that it featured a matte black finish and had a 120 GB hard drive.
    Xbox 360 Arcade – Replacing the original Core Model, Microsoft released this entry-level Xbox 360 in October of 2007. Like the Core, it also didn't have a hard drive, but came bundled with a 256MB memory card and a disc that featured five Xbox Live Arcade titles: Boom Boom Rocket, Feeding Frenzy, Luxor 2, Pac-Man Championship Edition, and Uno.
    Xbox 360 Super Elite – Originally released in November of 2009, this 250GB version of the system was bundled with a variety of games including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Forza Motorsport 3, Halo 3, and Halo 3: ODST.
    Xbox 360 S 250GB Model – The Xbox 360 S (or 360 Slim) marked the system's first major redesign. Released in June of 2010, this 250GB version of the system featured a smaller case with a glossy black finish. This version of 360 replaced the Xbox 360 Elite. Starting in 2011, Microsoft started releasing the Xbox 360 S with a matte finish.
    Xbox 360 S 4GB Model – Released only a few months after the 360 S 250GB, this cheaper model featured a 4GB hard drive and replaced the Xbox 360 Arcade Model. It also featured a matte finish from day one.
    Xbox 360 E – Microsoft's second major redesign for the system, this more rectangular, two-tone color design shared some design traits with the company's Xbox One. This most modern design comes with 4GB, 250GB, and 500GB hard drive variants.

    But Which System Should I Buy?
    If you're getting an Xbox 360 for the first time, your best bet is to look for a Xbox 360 S or E system. We generally recommend the E, since it has more storage space.

    Do I Still Need To Worry About The Red Ring Of Death?
    When the Xbox 360 first released, users reported a high number of console failures. The original design was prone to overheating, which sometimes caused a hardware failure. This failure was designated by three flashing red quadrants on the ring around the 360's power button, which earned it the nickname the "Red Ring of Death." This was primarily a problem with 360 consoles produced before the Xbox 360 S redesign, so you shouldn't have to worry about it if you're buying a brand new console today. However, you might still be able to find older models on the used market that are still at risk. Some versions of the original Xbox 360 design feature an updated chip design that makes them less likely to overheat. The best way to check for this is to look at the systems amperage rating. On the back of the system, to the lower left corner of the unit's bar code, you should see a series of number that might read something like 14.2A; 5V. The number before the A equals the number of amps used by the system. The higher this number is, the better off you are. Generally, anything higher than 14.2 amps is safe and likely won't cause a Red Ring of Death failure. If the system's amp rating is only 12 then it is more likely to suffer a system failure.

    In short, if you're buying an Xbox 360 S or E, you shouldn't need to worry about the Red Ring. If you're buying an older model, then check its amperage rating.
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    A look at the back of an Original Xbox 360; the highlighted area is where you will find the system's amperage rating.

    How Much Does A 360 Cost These Days?
    The Xbox 360 E model is the most common system on the market these days, and the 4GB version generally retails for $199, while 250GB bundles are generally closer to $250. You can also find various older refurbished models for close to $99.
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