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Tech Talk: A Guide to Xbox 360 Overheating and Repair
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The Geeks of Doom   |  @   |  

By Uccello

Xbox 360 Red Ring of DeathThe Xbox 360 is one of the most popular gaming consoles on the market. It is capable of rendering incredible graphics, providing online group game play, head-to-head game play and wonderfully immersive environments. However, the console is also prone to numerous issues. Owning an Xbox 360 console can be enjoyable, but it can also be frustrating and maddening, especially when you understand that Microsoft will do little to nothing to help in the case of errors due to manufacturer defects.

What Causes the Xbox 360 Problems?

While Microsoft would like you to believe that there are numerous reasons the Xbox can experience errors, there is a single underlying cause for the majority of problems experienced. The design of the Xbox console results in a propensity for overheating, leading to numerous error codes. These codes are displayed through the Ring of Light, with the exact code being displayed by specific LEDs illuminating red and flashing. Four error codes can be displayed by the console. These are:

  1. A single red light – This is the 1 red light error and will be accompanied by an error code on the television screen. The error code will appear as Exx, where the x’s indicate numbers. For example, E74 is a common error code, while E73, E69 and E64 are examples of less frequent error codes. The 1 red light error may appear to be linked to the AV cable, but is usually caused by a malfunctioning GPU chip.
  2. Two red lights – If the lights in sections 1 and 3 are illuminated and flashing, the Xbox is experiencing general overheating. This can be due to incorrect placement, but is more commonly associated with the poor design Microsoft used during construction.
  3. Three red lights – If sections 1, 3 and 4 are illuminated and flashing, you are experiencing the dreaded Red Ring of Death, or 3 red light error. This code indicates a “general hardware failure”. However, this code can also be traced back to problems with design and implementation.
  4. Four red lights – If the entire Ring of Light is illuminated and flashing, it means that the console does not recognize the presence of the AV cable. This can be caused by a faulty AV cable, a loose GPU chip, the incorrect TV output setting on the AV cable and more. However, overheating is the most common cause of the issue.

As you can see, the underlying cause of most problems is the extreme amount of heat generated by the Xbox during operation. Xbox 360 overheating repair can help solve the problem.

How Can I Repair My Xbox 360?

If you encounter the abovementioned problems and basic troubleshooting does not help, it is time to repair the console. You have two options available when this becomes necessary:

  • Send the console back to Microsoft – If you have remaining warranty coverage, this is the best choice. However, the repair process can take up to two months, leaving you without a gaming system. If you lack warranty coverage, this option will cost you $150 plus shipping costs, as well as the time it takes to complete the repairs.
  • Repair the console on your own – Repairing the console on your own is a simple process. However, it can void your warranty if you have one. That said, home repairs are easy, fast and effective, allowing you to bypass the lengthy wait for Microsoft to complete repairs that should never have been needed in the first place.

What Is the Problem?

The problem with the Xbox 360 overheating and requiring repairs is a multifaceted subject. It involves Microsoft cutting corners during research and development, as well as bypassing the testing process required to ensure that the console was free of errors before putting it on the market. The heart of the matter is the heat generated during operation. The solder used to attach the GPU chip and the CPU chip to the motherboard is unable to withstand these temperatures. In essence, the heat causes the solder to become brittle and fragile, forming cracks and fissures in the soldered joints. The heat sinks used to cool the chips are too small to operate effectively, and the protective thermal paste used on the chips is likewise ineffective against overheating.

As the console heats up, the motherboard flexes due to heat. While this is a normal process, the weakened solder around the GPU breaks, allowing the flexing action to force the GPU chip out of contact with the motherboard. This causes numerous errors, including the 3 red light error, the 1 red light error, 2 red light error and many others that are not indicated by the Ring of Light. In short, your Xbox 360 is now useless and will not operate.

How Do I Repair It Myself?

Repairing the console on your own may sound like a daunting task. Actually, it is surprisingly simple. All you must do is modify the cooling system to enhance the dispersion of heat during game play and ensure proper GPU chip contact with the motherboard. In fact, you can accomplish this repair using only tools that you likely already have on hand and about an hour of free time. Compare that with the two months of waiting for Microsoft to repair a problem that is their own fault!

As a note, there have been numerous “fixes” developed to combat Xbox overheating. Do not attempt many of these repairs! Wrapping your console in a towel or sticking it in the freezer is an excellent way to damage the console permanently or even cause a fire in your home. Use only a tested, accurate repair method to ensure you get your gaming system back on track and avoid potential damage and harm.

About the Author

Anthony Uccello is an avid Xbox 360 gamer and has been playing video games since Atari. He bought his Xbox 360 the day of the launch and was enraged when his Xbox 360 stopped working because of the red ring of death error. It was then he founded www.Xbox360Repair.ca and has been helping people fix their Xbox 360’s.

15 Comments »

  1. Nice advertorial, I sure hope GoD was paid to post this article since it really didn’t tell us anything new other than someone is selling an instructional DVD that shows you how easy it is to fix RRoD on your own. :P

    Comment by Matt — December 9, 2008 @ 1:51 pm

  2. @matt

    Nah, we’re don’t accept pay for any of our submissions. Uccello wrote a great informative article that’ll be sure to help people who are less tech-savvy and informed as you are, and we’re proud to publish it :)

    Comment by Dave3 — December 9, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

  3. get the Nyko cooler for ur 360 – i had an elite burn out on me, since then i’ve gotten the Nyko cooler (that clips on to the back of the xbox) and im good to go, the machine is cool to the touch after hours of play..

    Comment by Siah — December 9, 2008 @ 3:13 pm

  4. I actually have to give Microsoft props for customer service when my 360 went haywire. The repair did cost $90 but they sent me a pre-paid shipping box, I got the 360 back two weeks later and it looked like they just replaced it with a new one. They also send a voucher for a free month of gold Xbox Live. I’m a glass is half empty kind of guy so when I have anything positive to say about a company, it’s high praise.

    Comment by Day V — December 9, 2008 @ 9:04 pm

  5. ARTICLE DIDN’T TELL YOU HOW TO FIX A DAMN THING! ALL THIS WAS IS A DIET COKE(JUSTONE INFORMATIVE CALORIE!) STYLE INFOMERCIAL, BRAVO!

    Comment by korollocke — December 9, 2008 @ 11:27 pm

  6. This article is a joke. “you can accomplish this repair using only tools that you likely already have on hand and about an hour of free time”. Do tell. Oh wait, that is where the author stops. It’s called a guide to repair. Except there is no guide. Great. I will write an article called “fix your car” and just say “Hey, don’t take it to a mechanic, fix it yourself!” Some guide.

    Comment by archeron — January 4, 2009 @ 2:29 am

  7. Sure Dave, that’s why the same article appeared nearly verbatim over at QJ.net today.

    http://xbox360.qj.net/Xbox-360-Rings-of-Death/pg/49/aid/127692

    It would be a great article if it actually told you how to fix anything. Diagnosing the problem isn’t that hard, hell M$ will even tell you how to interpret the Red Rings. I don’t care if it’s an advertorial, but at least have the decency to call it what it is. Now, if you really didn’t get paid anything to post this rubbish, then you guys got hosed.

    Comment by Matt — January 5, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

  8. @Matt

    Again, people don’t pay us to publish articles. Anthony asked if we would like an article regarding Xbox and we agreed, as long as it was a unique article written for us and not syndicated spam. A large part of the articles that appear on Geeks of Doom are from contributors who selflessly email us content that we think works for our site, and I honestly have no problem with the fact that his ultimate intention is to help promote his repair guides. We get press releases day and night that are used, not only by us, but by thousands of sites to generate news and content and they are far less helpful (and more vacuous) than this articles is in regards to actual content. I think the article is informative and well written. If you already know all about this kind of thing then kudos, but regardless of your personal knowledge level the content is sound.

    Now, if your link proves to show me an article that changes the terms for which we agreed to publish this article (i.e. it is a dupe or near-dupe of this content), we will have it immediately removed from our site. Otherwise, take it for what it is.

    Comment by Dave3 — January 5, 2009 @ 7:38 pm

  9. I bought this piecce of crap brand new,Jan 15th 2009.To date this has froze almost 30 times.I paid top dollar and got junk.Im very dissapointed MR GAtes.Shame on your greedy piece of junk.Shame on your rude evil corrupt way of life and your monopoly.You should be hanged and shot and then fed to the pigs.You may be rich but your a retarded(slow) idiot.

    Comment by luke — January 17, 2009 @ 3:44 am

  10. I received the Red Ring of Death. I went to wikipedia, researched ROD and followed the process that was defined. As much as I didn’t like the fact that I had to send my 360 off, the whole process of waiting for the box to arrive that I was to ship the 360 in and the time the 360 was gone was only 3 weeks.

    Comment by teeme — February 6, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

  11. this works i did my first one 2 weeks ago now i am fixing a few more. all the bolts and washers are on ebay. it takes about 1 hour to do

    Comment by fireblade — March 9, 2009 @ 11:07 am

  12. As far as I know, it does work. I agree with fireblade and tho I have already fixed 2, I do think that the info was indeed very informative. If anyone has any other advice, maybe more indepth or whatever, please post the link or info. Thanks

    Comment by Big Coop — May 3, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

  13. It does not bother me that people are exploiting a failing of MS. What gets me is that this is a design flaw of MS and they are not publishing a solution. They would rather that others exploit and make money rather than help the people who bought their product in good faith and have since abandoned those who found the design fault. My son has lost 3 games due to warping discs from the heat but he does not have a red light on the front of his game. One game he had for a total of 2.5 hours before it could not be used in anyone’s xBox 360. The other two saw a total of less than 5 operating hours before they could no longer be used. MS stateside will not repair because we are in the military overseas, MS in Germany will not repair because they do not have the same type. In either case, you are forced to pay $150 to correct a MS design fault or pay people who like to exploit MS failings. MS needs to get on the ball and find a fix and publish for all, free.

    Comment by Bruce — November 15, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  14. I can show you how to fix this design flaw for pennies with materials on hand you can contact me at [email protected]

    Comment by Anonymous — January 10, 2012 @ 9:16 am

  15. Okay this doesn’t tell how to fix the Xbox at all. I read that whole thing for no reason. What a waste of space.

    Comment by Bekah — December 14, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

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