Holidaze 2008: Xbox 360 SKU chart, revisited

We'd love to say picking up an Xbox 360 is as easy as going to the store and grabbing the first box with the console's name on it. For better or for worse, this generation of consoles gives consumers many choices at the (potential) expense of causing confusion at the store. This holiday, Microsoft has three different models (aka SKUs) on the market: Arcade, Pro and Elite.

So, it's with all this in mind that we present you this handy guide for discerning the difference between the various Xbox 360 SKUs out there. Please note that the red, green and yellow coloring is not only festive decor for the holiday season, but a subjective highlight of what each version excels in (or subsequently lacks).

Elite Pro (60GB)
Arcade Pro (20GB) Halo Edition Core
Price $399.99 $299.99 $199.99 $349.99* $399.99* $279.99*
Storage 120GB HDD 60GB HDD 256MB
memory card
20GB HDD 20GB HDD none
Color Black White White White Green/
HDMI port Yes Yes
Yes After July 2007 Yes After July 2007
Bundled Accessories
Ethernet cable Yes Yes No Yes Yes No
Headset Wired Wired No Yes Wired No
Play &
Charge Kit
No No No No Yes No
Video cables HDMI 1.2,
Composite RGB**,
Controller Wireless Wireless Wireless Wireless Wireless Wired
Xbox Live Silver,
1 Month Gold
1 Month Gold
1 Month Gold
1 Month Gold
1 Month
Yes Yes No*** Yes Yes No***


* Model has been discontinued. Price based on final MSRP.
** To correct some formatting issues, "component" has been replaced with "RGB" in the chart
*** Hard Drive required for backwards compatibility

I've got to ask some rhetorical questions, can you help me out ... again?

Of course, it's always fun to talk to yourself.

Awesome! Thanks!

No problem.

Zephyr, Falcon, Jasper and now Valhalla ... Can you explain all these different chipsets?

Zephyr is the name given to the first upgrade of the Xbox 360's motherboard, which started showing up in retail consoles July 2007, and sported an HDMI 1.2 port and an improved heatsink.

The Falcon chipset will sport a smaller, 65nm CPU -- theoretically, this means cooler temperatures and less energy usage. This chipset was introduced in September 2007. The Jasper chipset features a shrunken, 65nm GPU and may already be in production. The Valhalla chipset, next in line, is rumored to have just one 65 nm GPU/CPU hybrid superchip.

Except for checking for an HDMI port (included in all Zephyr and later chipsets), there is no easy way to tell which chipset you have.

Why not?

Because Microsoft isn't interested in telling you, that's why.

Okay, fine, but how do I tell if my Xbox 360 console has an HDMI port?

All Elite, Halo Edition, and Arcade models come equipped with HDMI ports because they were manufactured after Zephyr was introduced. The Pro and Core models all have HDMI if they were produced after July 2007, and the best and only way to tell is by looking at the box (see the picture to the right).

What if I'm buying my Xbox 360 used and I can't check the box?

Then you can look at the console itself. An HDMI port should be found under the giant proprietary A/V port. Use the picture below for reference.

Why isn't the Core or Arcade model backwards compatible?

A hard drive is required for backwards compatibility, both for holding the emulation software and to act as a storage space for original Xbox games to use (remember, the original Xbox always had a hard drive). It's important to remember that if you buy an Arcade or Core SKU and want it to be backwards compatible (or just store more than 256 MB), all you need to do is buy a hard drive from Microsoft.

Will the New Xbox Experience come pre-installed on my console?

Doubtful, although at this point we don't know about consoles shipped to retailers after the November 19th NXE launch.

Protip: Click on a phrase on the image above to see the related video

Do I need a hard drive for New Xbox Experience?

No, but you need at least a 512MB memory card. If you bought a used Core model (it must be Core and not just a console you bought without a hard drive), you are eligible for a free 512MB card or a discounted 20GB HDD. Click here for more details.

I bought a new Xbox 360 and want to transfer my old games to it. Is that possible?

There are a few ways to do this. If you bought a separate 120GB HDD, you can use the bundled data transfer kit. If you bought an Elite, you can ask for a transfer kit from Microsoft for free.

The other tool is a license transfer kit, which requires you to go to the Xbox website and enter your new console ID and serial number. You will have to then re-download everything, but the content will then work on your system even if you're not connected to the interwebs. Save files will have to be transferred via memory card, though.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.