I used to do Xbox 360 system refurbishing professionally.
My tips for keeping an original-style 360 alive are:
- Don't put it in an entertainment center. It needs to be able to vent heat out of it.
- Do not use a Nyko Intercooler. It attaches to the rear of the system over the exhaust fan vents and claims to increase cooling by pulling more air through the factory fan. The older versions piggyback on the power cable and have been known to cause system damage.
- If you're okay with opening the system and voiding the warranty, you could do a preemptive X-Clamp Fix and 12V Fan mod, as well as straighten the system chassis.
The X-Clamp fix involves new thermal compound, and removing the spring-metal X-Clamps meant to put tension on the heatsinks and instead solidly bolting the heatsink through the motherboard and to the chassis. Instructions on the X-Clamp fix are widely available online. You'll need to make sure you have 3mm of washers between board and chassis and 2mm between heatsink and board.
The 12V fan mod involves either soldering a connection between two points on the board to disable fan speed ramping, or soldering the fan's power wires to the 12v+ contact where the power connector meets the board. Instructions are available online.
The chassis straightening is a technique I developed to reduce the amount of repair returns, and was very effective.
In this picture, the 8 screws that hold the X-Clamps and heatsinks to the chassis are circled in yellow, an the two central chassis lid screws are circled in red.
On every system I've worked on, the stamping on the chassis causes the two red-circled points to be 2-3mm taller than the rest of the chassis. This puts a constant warping pressure on the board between the CPU and GPU dies.
The two options available are to pound those flush with the rest of the chassis with a hammer, and still use the lid mount screws there, or to cut them off completely with a Dremel and not use those mount screws.
- The last secret trick is originally intended for a launch-series "Xenon" console, but can be adapted to later systems. The Xenon systems had a spot located behind the Ring of Light connector on the motherboard where a 3-pin fan header could be added. There is room between the CPU heatsink and the chassis to add a 60mm fan to the system lid, in the position where those holes were drilled into the system in previous pictures. If you were to do this on later systems, you would have to tap into the 12v+ connection on the power connector, as they removed the spot for the 3-pin header in later revisions. This modification will require removal of the metal static shield lid from the case top.
I did that mod on my personal system with an 80mm fan, because I couldn't source a 60mm locally. The 80mm required modification of the CPU heatsink to fit, but gave exceptional cooling.
This was a rough shot shortly after installation. I did end up finishing out the hole better.