After Hours

Cracking open the Nintendo Wii

Wii disassembled

After a week of trying, I finally got my hands on a Nintendo Wii. After taking it for a test drive, I began the painstaking and somewhat frustrating disassembly process. Come along as we go inside the Wii and see the hardware that makes Nintendo's console tick.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

49 comments
Xenosteel
Xenosteel

I imagine that will be twice as hard as taking it apart. Still, was quite interesting to see the Wii's strip-tease. I thank you for the effort you put together in this whole thing: ripping it apart, taking photos and naming the hardware pieces. Good job ;)

Debbie2255
Debbie2255

Love this but I need to replace my Wii Laser. Do you happen to have pics to show how to take the Optical drive apart? Thanks so much, Debbie

weiqiang
weiqiang

I want to play .:) Cool, really, it takes so many components to make it work.That Panasonic chip....

cotemcandy
cotemcandy

you kild a nintendo wii :( :( :( :(

fishcake9
fishcake9

You are putting it back together again right?

tracy.schneid
tracy.schneid

So, have you guys run across any Mii's yet? Where do they store those little boogers?

drawn2life
drawn2life

I am new to TechRepublic and I have to say, it makes me so happy to see these items taken apart. I am addicted to dismembering electronics because I want to see what is inside and how they operate. This is like a conservation effort for electronics doomed for my house. Anyway, I know this will be one of the more idiotic comments on here but, I think my boyfriend will be so much happier when all I have to do is log on and watch the process and not tamper with my toys.

foo1234
foo1234

Couldn't put Humpty-Dumpty together again... Did you?

richards_unsubcribe
richards_unsubcribe

Re Tri screwheads: .... those rocket scientists at Nintendo could have really thrown a loop into you guys south of the line and used those "Robertson" (square head) socket screws that are unique to Canada. Unless things have changed, some goofy old law from the 1940's says that Robertson screws and screwdrivers are illegal to own and use in the US... they'd probably throw you into Gitmo for undermining "National Security". And if your Wii breaks down, you'd hafta send it to Toronto for disassembly and repair... ...whata delicious thought.

bookkeeper
bookkeeper

I think this is pretty cool seeing the inside of a game system before most people even own one. I think no matter what game system a person has most of how good it might be is how well it projects graphics and probably more important how well the games are written. I think for now because of prices being way to high for me i will stick with my sons PS2. Signed Just my two cents worth

ttccot17alex
ttccot17alex

I though we were opening the Wii not the gamecube....nice typo's LOL!!!

pikeman666
pikeman666

OK, so you took it apart and now we have good photos. But what did you see as far as build quality? Is it a piece of crap that's going to fail in 6 months, or will it last? Were there obvious quality shortcuts? Details please!

Jezzerisin
Jezzerisin

I'm just really glad you're not my Dad!

Tom Wind
Tom Wind

how much does it cost now? guess that in a years time it will be cheaper than bread - doesn't look to complicated.. do you think Nintendo will go the same way as pc's and allow us to change cpu's, add memmory..?

T313C0mun1s7
T313C0mun1s7

And if you did have instructions on how to dis/reassemble the optical assembly - where do you plan on getting the replacement laser?

icemaster
icemaster

It is too much fun to take things apart and put them back together not to do so. I believe that manufacturers should not only stop discouraging it, but take pride in the beauty that is inside their equipment and make it easier to do so without damage to the equipment. I for one appreciate a well designed piece of equipment and probably the first thing I do when the warranty runs out is tear a device apart and put it back together.

drawn2life
drawn2life

They stated that they reassembled and that it works fine. That is alot more than I can say for myself sometimes.

wildwasser
wildwasser

lol, looks a bit like a smashed egg to me, white case broken in multiple bits, and guts everywhere.

Dr. Tarr
Dr. Tarr

I've been using Robertson screws for a long time, of course I wasn't around in the 40's, but I was using robertson, before I was using torx

T313C0mun1s7
T313C0mun1s7

There is no such law, the fact is that Roberson just plain refused to sell the licensing rights to anyone (including Henry Ford when he wanted to use them on the first production line). In fact I have a couple of boxes of self tapping sheet metal screws with Roberson heads and several Roberson bits. Roberson screws account for about 85% of the screws in Canada, but they are by no means illegal in the US, where they account for 10% of the screws sold.

ttccot17alex
ttccot17alex

Sorry....the Wii has gamecube components....DUH.....I'm having a Monday..Blah!

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler moderator

I found the Wii to be an extremely well built device. The plastic case was sturdy and securely attached to the chassis. The internal connections were generally strong--the optical drive data ribbon connectors were the exception and very delicate. I accidentally dropped the unit on the floor from a height of about three feet before I started dissembling the Wii and it continues to work--only the case showed a few scratches.

cbieger
cbieger

I agree with Pikeman. What exactly has this shown us. Granted I can pick the individual components apart and identify that a graphics chip and that a processor, but are they quality? Will they last longterm? I had two different PS2's which both died after about a year and a half of regular use. I don't want to spend the money on a Wii if it's just going to bite it.

mroonie
mroonie

If you don't want to wait a week, wait in line, or pay extra to get the nintendo wii, there's a photo contest you can participate in at my company. We're giving away a free Nintendo Wii as the grand prize as well as a canon powershot and other prizes. If you want to learn more, you can go to http://www.esshub.com/photocontest.htm I personally have tired playing the Wii and it's great. I wish I could win it from my company but I can't since I work there. I've been trying to get my hands on one but they're being sold out everywhere... very frustrating

Woggs
Woggs

when you pry my cold dead fingers from around it! Friends and I have all of the "big" consoles - xBox, xBox360, PS1/2/3 and Nintendo of ALL flavors - and we agree that the Wii is much more fun to play, especially in a group. Not to mention the small footprint - about the size of an external CDROM for a PC. The only "downside" we could find is no online multiplayer. But since the thing was obviously built to play in groups (remember the commercials of the guys wandering around the landscape saying "Wii would like to play!"), is that REALLY a downside? I will admit I've been a couch potato type console gamer since the days of Atari (and got the belly and butt to prove it), but this console pretty much MAKES you get up and get moving, and you HAVE FUN doing it. We have an ABSOLUTE BLAST playing and sometimes work up a sweat doing it. To answer another's question: Yes, you CAN still sit on your butt and just wiggle and shake the controller, but it is a crap shoot as to whether or not it does what you want it to. The sensor bar will catch if you are moving the controller right/left/up/down, turning counter- or clockwise and moving toward or away from it, but the action needs to be a little exaggerated for it to work 100% of the time. It gets confused sometimes, but that is usually when your movemnet is too small to register correctly, you're "couch piloting", or the batteries get low (and yes, I agree with an earlier post, the controllers DO eat them quick, so get GOOD rechargables!). We pretty much agree that games like bowling are quite accurate and that we really DO bowl that way. Remember back to the "olden days" of game playing... [insert tinkling harp music and colorful wavy patterns here] ...where you would be playing a game and jerk the controller around trying to jump higher, go faster, turn harder or move out of the way of impending doom? Well, NOW YOU CAN! Tactile players (like ME!) rejoice! Something else I've not seen much talk about that in my estimate is a HUGE leap above the other consoles and that is the fact that THE CONTROLLERS ARE AMBIDEXTROUS! Of course whatever you are controlling on the screen still has shield on the left and sword in the right, but you can change physical hands if you are more comfortable as a lefty. Also in the WiiSports games you can set if you want your Mii (the avatar you create for yourself) to be left or right handed. As for durability, I've dropped the console, as well as any number of times dropped or banged the controllers on something and they just keep right on ticking away. I'm more concerned with doing damage to the FURNITURE. It's hard to describe, but when you hold the hardware in your hand you can just FEEL it. Nintendo is scheduled to release a sequel to their bundled WiiSports games the middle of Febuary. It costs $50USD, and comes with a Wii Remote (lovingly dubbed "Wiimote". Elmer Fudd fans rejoice!). Of course yours truly has already purchased the pre-release to make sure I get one. Just in case the bundled games MIGHT lose their interest... Of course this a just a quick ramble and doesn't touch on a lot of the other really cool features of the Wii (like customizing your controller by saving your Mii on it, or the log it keeps of game playing time or the reminders to take a break and go do other things), but the rest you need to just "Wii to appreciate!" ;D

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler moderator

The Wii retails for $249.99 USD. We purchased ours from Toys "R" Us, which sold the unit as a bundle with an extended, 2-yr service contract ($39.99). The total including State sales tax was $304.98 USD. Compared to the PS3 and even the Xbox 360, I think it was a very reasonable price.

neverhadachoice
neverhadachoice

$400AU, I believe $250 USD. they're already way ahead of the pricing of the other consoles, no real need to drop the price much further. there's no way nintendo will let that happen. nintendo isn't about technology, it's about games. it always has been the kiss theory, "keep it simple, stupid". the user doesn't need to understand the tech behind it.

JohnnySacks
JohnnySacks

Ho hum, seen one, seen 'em all. Just another toy for mainstream brats to whine away Mom and Dad's hard earned money on... Heck, put it on the charge card ane equity out your home next year to consolidate it. Get your spoiled brat sociopathic recluses a freakin life and get them away from the damn TV.

bilal32
bilal32

Nice, reverse engineer is my mistress.

qhcomputingny
qhcomputingny

It seems like Nintendo dropped the ball here by not making the controllers rechargeable. Would it really have driven up the price on this system if it included rechargeable batteries? Seems like a pain in the *** to have to find rechargeable batteries for the controllers.

tad1214
tad1214

My friend got one of these and he got mad. And threw the controller. It hit his book case and the book case lost. (It was that compressed wood with the wood grain print) No scratch or damage to the controller. #1 down fall? Doesnt always register what you are doing with the controller and they eat through batteries.

neverhadachoice
neverhadachoice

I've owned quite a few nintendo bits of kit in my time and in that time i've seen them dropped, kicked, had liquid spilt on them, sat on, even thrown, and i've never had a device fail, not even a controller. NES, SNES, N64, Cube, Gameboy, GBASP, DS, and now the wii. if anything i think we can trust nintendo's build quality.

banksyturfwars
banksyturfwars

I got mine for christmas , and just love it. And my friends t00.

johnmckay
johnmckay

The Wii is entertainment for everyone. I don't do PC games or Playstation games (apart from dancemat and singstar --- fantastic). I leave them to the kids. Bring out the Wii and the 4 of us have a great time. You should try it and stop mouthing off when you clearly have no idea what you are blabbing about. The Wii is outstripping the others because the concept and involvement is superb. Go on and try it out. You will love it (maybe not the price; but a mercedes does cost more than a ford too). Long live the Wii

tikigawd
tikigawd

Yikes, so much hatred against a poor console. Consoles don't make people lazy, people make people lazy. Whether it's a console, TV, a book, or whatever, if people want to be lazy they will be. Blaming a console for the demise of society is moronic. If you want your kids to be active then parent them into being so. But please, spare us the viral rhetoric.

WheresITat
WheresITat

It seems ironic that with your username, you chastise others for spending too much time in front of the TV. (JohnnySacks is a Sopranos character for those of you who don't spend too much time in front of the TV.) I think playing the Wii is a much better (more enthralling and engaging) alternative to watching countless hours of a TV drama... not that I don't watch the Sopranos myself.

petershum
petershum

Hey Johnny you sounded like someone who don't approve of gaming. So why are you in this forum in the first place? It is intended for people into gaming..... To use your own philosophy or outlook on life, you shouldn't be wasting your time here either?????

neverhadachoice
neverhadachoice

That reply had all the bitter, jaded venom of someone who's mum wouldn't get them a playstation. Seriously, grow up, that was a joke of a response.

Systems Guy
Systems Guy

It's obvious you haven't seen this machine in action. My sons friends brought his over and we played the games supplied with it. They let dad do the boxing and after about 15 minutes of playing this game my arms are sore. These games strongly encourage to get up and move. I see all sorts of potential for this machine with regards to getting users to get up and move (exercise). You will always have the few that will sit on their fannies no matter what. Just like people who stereotype others.

TinkermanLT
TinkermanLT

I was able to find rechargable units that work with the Wii!! I believe that it was found either at Circuit City or Gamestop.com.

danieljohnlambert
danieljohnlambert

I got a Wii last Christmas, and didnt play it much because there werent any games worth playing. When a game came out that was worth playing, I took it back out of the box and it doesnt work anymore. I turn it on and there is just a black screen with the occasional buzzing noise. Whats even worse then that is when I tried to get the warranty on it, they said I needed proof of purchase, which is ridiculous because it hadn't even been out for a year in Australia at the time.

Woggs
Woggs

Now you are in the realm of ABUSE. :P Like I said in my other post, you can just FEEL it. When I first got mine I treated it like fine china. Then I banged a wiimote off the coffee table. Did it again. Then knocked the console off the entertainment center when doing some rewiring. Now I don't worry about it. Thing still works like a champ. Course I don't go out of my way to bang it, and I certainly don't let my dog chew on it. About the only thing I see as a "problem" is the fact the connections in the back are real easy to disconnect. But that save you from really messing things up if it drops because it won't be pulling on cables when it falls.

Dr. Tarr
Dr. Tarr

Then I need to loan you my Labrador retriever. I haven't forun a controller yet that he can't induce to fail!

DigitalFrog
DigitalFrog

I Agree. My wife was opposed to getting any new gaming console until my son's friend brought his over. It's also nice that it will play the gamecube games so you don't have to start your library all over again like with previous Nintendo systems. I think they did a number of things right with this one. As to the proliferation of screws, I don't see that as a problem except to people that want to dissemble it. I see them as a sign that the box was built better than those that relied on plastic tabs and clips to hold things together. Good one Nintendo!

cgentry
cgentry

I just bought a Wii system...I have a 14 year old. He loves it. Oh, by the way, I didn't buy it for his birthday or Christmas. I bought it for... My wife's and my anniversary... I bought it for us. PS3, Xbox360...most of the games are so intense and so consuming that after a few attempts at playing them, frustration sets in and they aren't of interest to adults. The Wii is wonderful for people that just want to have family fun together or throw a party and do some BOWLING or BOXING or GOLF. It's fun to download the old games we played as kids. Cheers to Nintendo for coming out with a GREAT FAMILY system.

neverhadachoice
neverhadachoice

No more needless repetition than any other game system, just that this time what you're repeating is actions and button presses rather than straight button presses. I think you're thinking about this too much. It's just a fun video game.

TechRep
TechRep

I like the idea of getting up and moving. I really like the idea of the possibility that swinging a sword may provide more damage to the opponent regarding the amount of force thrown with your fist. However, since this is a computer does especially needless or tedious repetition come into play here? Does the same exact action produce the same result or is their some fuzzy logic here? Will this game help our kids become adults that will be able to withstand longer endurance at any factory where repetition is the requirement for job security? People worry about the long term outlook of the quality of these machines, when actually they should look at the long term effects on the users and their lifestyles - or lack thereof.