The Xbox One, once cracked open, is extremely similar to a desktop machine.
Gamers will be happy to hear that both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are remarkably easy to take apart, if one is so inclined. That means repairs should be cheap and easy — and modders will have their way with the devices as well.
Not every gadget is easy to break down to its component pieces. Apple's devices are famously hostile to repair: To make them thinner, the company uses proprietary parts attached with glue rather than screws.
The latest game consoles, however, are so like ordinary PCs that if you stood them on their ends instead of on their sides, they could both easily be called compact desktop machines. And the resemblance isn't superficial: Either can be opened up and tinkered with by anyone armed with a single screwdriver — the same one for both consoles, no less!
iFixit's teardowns of the Xbox One and PS4 revealed that both use ordinary 500 GB 2.5-inch hard drives — the same kind you might find these days in a budget laptop. On the PS4, the drive can be replaced by anyone with a single screwdriver and a spare minute or two. The Xbox One's drive is buried rather deeper in the console, and going in there will void your warranty — but because it uses standard SATA cables, it can be replaced as easily as one on your desktop computer.
The PS4's internals are a bit more difficult to access, but swapping out the hard drive is the work of one or two minutes.
But if it's easier to install a new drive in the PS4, that's counteracted by the fact that only the Xbox One supports external drives to keep all those extra games and movies on. Of course, that could very well change in the future with new software and updated hardware.
Being able to get in there and fiddle with the consoles' cables and ports is like catnip to modders, who for years have added capabilities to handhelds and consoles and augmented the built-in software.
Of course, so much in these new platforms relies on special Sony and Microsoft services that one can only change things so much before they start to break. But the next year or so will show what the imaginations of such tinkerers can come up with.
For more info, read our full reviews of the Xbox One and PS4 consoles.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.
First published November 21 2013, 2:58 PM