For serious gamers, most experts say the Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite is the video game console to get -- especially now that it's $100 cheaper. It has a larger collection of must-have games than the PlayStation 3 Slim (*Est. $250), and reviewers say online gaming through Microsoft's Xbox Live handily beats Sony's PlayStation Network. Graphics are fantastic.
However, the Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite is not without its downsides. It doesn't include Wi-Fi or a Blu-ray player like the PS3, and there are a number of concerns about reliability. In a 2009 reliability survey conducted by PCMag.com, 29 percent of Xbox 360 owners reported a hardware failure, compared to only 7 percent for the PS3 and 2 percent for the Nintendo Wii. While hardware updates were said to fix most "red ring of death" (RRoD) failures, a new problem -- the E74 error -- has been causing a number of headaches over the past year. Microsoft offers a three-year warranty for RRoD failures, and it extended the same coverage for E74 errors in April 2009. While it's great that Microsoft offers warranty coverage for these failures, it also indicates that there are enough hardware problems to warrant a change in policy. Reviewers recommend skipping the Xbox 360 Arcade, which lacks a hard drive and can only play Xbox 360 games.
Dozens of reviewers covered the Xbox 360 Elite when it first debuted, but few have reviewed or tested the console since then. We found user ratings to be invaluable because these report on the kinds of reliability issues -- which are particularly critical when it comes to the Xbox 360 -- that professionals often miss. Among professional reviews, CNET stands out for its timeliness, though some older reviews are worthwhile as well.
This review, which was originally written in 2007, has been updated with a few new details for 2009. Most notably, the Xbox 360 Elite has dropped in price. Overall, the Xbox 360 Elite gets high marks for its excellent game collection, online multiplayer gaming and backward compatibility with some original Xbox 360 games.
Review: Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite, John Falcone, Updated Sept. 11, 2009
This article reports on PCMag.com's annual reliability survey, which includes video game consoles for the first time in 2009. The Xbox 360 loses out on the Readers' Choice award to the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. More troubling, 29 percent of respondents report that their Xbox 360 required repairs at some point in its life.
Review: Video Game Consoles Service and Reliability Survey 2009, Editors of PCMag.com, Sept. 15, 2009
Nearly 100 owners give the Xbox 360 Elite mixed ratings at Amazon.com. Those that like the console say the game collection can't be beat, but others complain that it no longer includes an HDMI cable. There are also a sizeable number of reliability complaints.
Review: Xbox 360 Console 2009, Contributors to Amazon.com
The Xbox 360 Elite fares better with consumers at BestBuy.com, where more than 500 reviewers give the console very high average ratings. For the most part, reviews are more detailed at Amazon.com, but there is useful information here as well. Most owners say they love the games and realistic graphics.
Review: Microsoft - Xbox 360 Elite Console - Black, Contributors to BestBuy.com
PCMag.com has a dated write-up on the Xbox 360 Elite. According to author Brian K. Neal, Microsoft has a winner with the Elite, which gets high marks for its excellent collection of games and online marketplace. However, he notes that it runs hot and noisy.
Review: Xbox 360 Elite, Brian K. Neal, Oct. 29, 2008
ArsTechnica.com's Ben Kuchera is a professional video game reviewer, and he writes about the Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite from a gamer's perspective. Even though his impression of the Xbox 360 is primarily positive, he doesn't shy away from mentioning its shortcomings. While dated, this is one of the more detailed reviews available.
Review: Xbox 360 Elite, Ben Kuchera, May 2, 2007
7. PC World
PC World hasn't rated the Xbox 360 Elite, but this moderately detailed review covers performance, setup and DVD playback.
Review: Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite System, Melissa J. Perenson, April 27, 2007
Like most reviews of the Xbox 360 Elite, this one dates from 2007, and some of the details are outdated. For example, the 2009 Elite no longer includes an HDMI cable. Still, this review is useful for its details on game performance.
Review: Xbox 360 Elite Review, Ian Bell, May 9, 2007