Remember back in the day when new game consoles were touted as cutting edge? Except for the fact that the engineers forgot to add proper ventilation to their state-of-the-art machines. This has been the stigma ever since the PlayStation 3 and especially the Xbox 360 cooked themselves to oblivion, and the rise of external blowers like Antec’s X-1 Cooler for the Xbox One came to be.
Despite this generation of consoles being downsized and generally better-built, the inclusion of an intercooler is an example of being “safer than sorry”. There really isn’t much to the X-1’s simple brick shape with a front lip that’s tastefully flush to sit over the top right (where the diagonal vents are), and it doesn’t physically latch on to anything but aesthetically matches without sliding about. It’s all black with a rubberized surface so you can place your controller or other accessories close by without blocking airflow, and most significantly, there’s an actual temperature display with a dual sensor layout.
Here’s how it works: by itself the Xbox One’s rear and right side inlets feed air inside and heat is pushed out through the top, which is a much-improved design compared to its original “Red Ring of Death-prone (RRoD)” predecessor. But with a still-noticeable of amount warmth emitted the X-1 pulls and forces that air to the upper rear without direct interference, and helps keep the hardware cool under lengthy periods of use.
Because life happens, most owners still put their consoles in tight and cramped areas, despite the fact that manufacturers frown upon such ‘wild and reckless’ endeavors. The X-1 Cooler is a champ when it comes to the basics of circulation. Its single large blower draws power directly from the Xbox One via short micro-USB cable (included) and comes equipped with an extra full-size USB port that acts as a passthrough so you’re not cheated out of connectivity.
Thanks to a friend of mine who gets the most out of his Xbox One we used it as a tester of what real-world users can expect. I appreciate that Antec was smart in providing a very basic but essential dual sensor that digitally reads both ambient temperature (left), the heat from the console (right), with a blue LED and fan automatically kicking in when the system reaches a certain threshold (86°F / 30°C). The noise is a lot more controlled and not as disruptive to sensitive listeners like Nyko’s Xbox One Intercooler. In fact, it does its job with nary a palpable hum under load.
Antec advertises up to 30% cooling efficiency for the X-1, and while it did keep things under pressure after an afternoon of Forza Horizon 2, Mortal Kombat X, and WWE 2K15. Our general readout for the console ranged between 103°F-114°F, which is surprisingly average for an Xbox One that sits in a decent entertainment system layered in dust (this is after all, the authentic gamer experience right here). With the X-1 installed the decrease was more reasonable at 91°F-98°F, which is roughly a 10% to 18% advantage from the highest recorded temperature without it. This is not the 30% claim but with external environments and factors involved it is pretty good for Xbox Live or all-night sessions – we’ll take it.
It didn’t totally live up to the boastful claim of cooling improvement but Antec still made thoughtful strides with the X-1 Cooler for Xbox One. It does most things right for those who decide to ‘play it loose’ with their investment and stays comfortably quiet in the process. With the Nyko variant for direct comparison it does seem to be easier to live with and a better choice overall – just be wiling to drop a meager $4.99 for the active temperature sensors.