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N64 freak

XBox Alpha Development Kit Build Log

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N64 freak    19

As there might be a couple people out there who want to own an Xbox Alpha Development kit but don’t want to spend the Cash they cost I thought I just write up a guide how to build one yourself with off the shelf parts!

This is not the first guide about this topic out there but hopefully the most detailed and helpfull!

I’m going to do this as a picture supported step-by-step guide so it should be easy to follow for anybody.


Let’s start with the parts used in the Alpha2 Console:

-Intel VC820 Desktop Board                                            

-128MB RD Ram (Kingston KVR800X 18-8/128)

-733Mhz Slot 1 CPU  (Part number SL3XN)

-250Watt ATX PSU (ATNG Model: PS-250S)

-20GB IDE HDD (Fujitsu MPF3204AT)

-3,5” FDD (Sony MPF920-C)

-DVD Drive (Hitachi GD-7000)

-64MB Geforce3 (180-P0050-0000-A05)

-Network Card (Intel Pro/100)

-Soundcard (Wolfson Micronics WM9707_AMR_EV1_Rev2)

-USB Card (Xircom Portgear PGPCI2 )



Now on to the parts you need to buy for a basic bootable setup:

-Intel VC820 Desktop Board

-128MB RD Ram

-733Mhz Slot1 CPU

-Any ATX PSU 250Watt or more

-IDE HDD 20GB or bigger

-Any DVD Drive that reads self-burned CD-r

-64mb Geforce 3 NV20 Video Card ->more details a bit later!

-Intel Pro/100 Network Card



That’s the minimum that is needed to get the alpha to boot the recovery CD. If you want to be able to do anything except looking at the Recovery Screen you need some more parts:

-2 Port USB Card that uses an Opti Firelink 82C861 Chipset

-Xbox Controller to USB Adapter +Xbox Controller

-Wolfson Micronics Soundcard (or the recreated Version)



That’s how my stack off parts for the alpha looks like:



Once you have all the parts together let’s start by putting it together!

Guess I don’t have to cover how to install the CPU, Ram, Video Card, PSU, Network card, Audio Card and the Drives.

The end result should look like this. It’s not important in which pci port the usb and lan card are installed. BUT it is important that the lan card is installed as the Alpha won’t boot otherwise!!!


When it’s all put together turn it on and check that it properly posts and there are no errors or whatever before continuing!



Now on to burning a recovery CD!

(Thanks to Borman for releasing the May2001 Alpha2 recovery! All credit goes to him for the release!) You can find the files in the download section and can simply download them.


Here's a direct link to the files on an external Server: Alpha Recoveries and VGA Bios

Once downloaded just use ImgBurn (or any other iso burning software) to write the May2001 recovery to a cd-r disc.

Pop that disc into the DVD drive off your alpha and you should see the Xbox animation and should be greated by this recovery Screen afterwards:




Now (if you haven’t done it earlier) plug in the Controller using the matching adapter and Press any button to start the recovery. The progress bar should show how far the progress is. It shouldn’t take any longer than 5 Minutes to finish and you will see this screen. Then remove the recovery disc from the drive and reboot.




You should then be greeted by the following screen where you can set a name for your alpha console.



Congratulations your Alpha Development kit is now fully working and ready to be used!






I recreated the Soundcard to build a completely working alpha kit for myself as the original Alpha soundcards are as rare as the original alphas. If you need one for your build just drop me a message and I can build a couple more!





Graphics Card:

The video card is an important part of this build so here’s a little extra information about that part.

The Card needs to be an NV20 Core Card with 64mb. 32MB cards might also work but we want to be as close as possible so buy a 64mb card to not get into trouble!

I successfully tested 2 card from 2 different vendors:

-Medion MS-8838 Geforce3 200ti



Many other NV20 core cards should work and I gladly extend that list if you used another card on your build! J

Flashing the engineering Bios is NOT needed it is only a cosmeticall detail you might enjoy.

The motherboard does also not need to be on a special Bios version or anything.



You Get a blinking black cursor and no Xbox boot animation?

->You might have forgotten to install the Lan card, got a wrong one or your Nvidia Card is not supported!

Your DVD-drive doesn’t spin up and you end up with an intel Network card boot/bios Screen?

->Something might have gone wrong with the CD you burned or your drive can’t read the cd-r!

Could also be a problem with the boot order!  Check that in the Bios the dvd drive should be the first boot device!


If you have any questions about the build or anything just drop me a PM! :)


Edited by N64 freak
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dark    1

Hi  what is the password for the alpha recoveries and vga .rar?

Edited by dark

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N64 freak    19

@dark The password for the archive is "assemblergames" without the quotes of course!

@Circular Pastry Didn't build it from scratch as i had the datasheet off the IC and most off the shematic in the MW9707AMR reference PDF. But yes i've recreated the soundcard for the alpha console/computer.

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N64 freak    19

Still have 2 off these soundcards here and i'll gladly sell you one.

The soundcards are for sale for 45€ as completely assembled and tested cards. Just plug it in and your alpha has sound :)

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