X-Box 360 Red Ring of Death

Console gamers like myself are largely insulated from problems that plague PC gamers. Just insert game, press power, and play. No specifications or tweaking to worry about, no drivers to upgrade, no crashing… Here, let me turn on the X-Box 360 and show you. Wait, what?! No, Dead Rising is not supposed to look like colorful HD noise! I’m sure it’s a fluke, I’ll just reset… Uh oh…… the pretty green lights around the power button have turned red and the 360 refuses to boot!

The above tale paraphrases my X-Box 360 experience this weekend. Apparently I am not alone — m0thman’s tale is just as woeful. Kotaku documented his tragedy in an operatic video. The8thsign needed three X-Box 360’s to get one that worked. Not only does Microsoft have a Knowledge Base article on the red “Ring of Light”, but they even offer free repairs on 360’s manufactured in 2005 if you call 1-800-4MY-XBOX. Mine happened to be manufactured in February 2006, and would have thus required a $140 repair fee.

Update 2006-10-19: My 360 died again, after the below fix afforded me 24+ hours of error-free operation. No Red Ring of Death, but it reverted back to the random crashing. Others have reported continued success with this technique and, despite my results, I feel the theory is sound. Something related to the problem obviously changed. I decided to cut my losses and get a new 360.

Not anxious to drop another $140 or potentially wait several weeks for a refurb system, I proceeded to search for a solution. I followed a technique found on xbox-scene.com to determine my error code (0102, “unknown error”). Then I came across the below video entitled “Hot Air Gun Fix – XBox360”:

Intrigued by the video, I looked for more info on this “Team MODFREAKz” person, and found the original xboxhacker.net forum post detailing the hot air gun theory, which was basically arrived at as follows: MODFREAKz realized that his freezing 360 would function after several reboots. He surmised that the eventual success might be attributable heat expanding solder joints and improving connectivity. Specifically, the solder joints that connect the RAM and graphics chips to the motherboard. These devices use Ball Grid Array packaging (wiki). Rather than traditional pins and holes, BGA packages use tiny solder balls. During manufacture, BGA chips are attached with intense heat, so the hot air gun fix is a sound theory.

So I purchased a hot air gun, and proceeded with informit’s fairly comprehensive disassembly instructions. Despite the thorough instructions, dismantling the 360 was a hassle at times. I found it easier to remove the front cover by pulling from inside the USB flip-cover rather than the memory card flip-covers. The heat sink retention mechanism was particularly difficult to remove and reattach, but force and patience prevailed. I set the temp. on 750F, followed the video, and crossed my fingers while it cooled off. Since I had the thing open, I applied Arctic Silver to the GPU and the CPU.

When I reassembled the 360, I was first impressed that it still worked after my battle with the heat sinks, then I was pleased to see Dead Rising again, sans glitchy video. Several hours of running the title screen and intro suggest that my 360 is healed. One could argue that the new heat sink compound (e.g. arstechnica), or even the jostling during disassembly is responsible for the fix. In any event, I’m happy with the result, and will live happily ever after with my X-Box, and my new heat gun and Torx T8 screwdriver.

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28 Responses to “X-Box 360 Red Ring of Death”

  1. Mjölner says:

    Awesome! Personally, I love having an excuse to buy tools and take stuff apart. It’s even better when it works after it’s put back together. I haven’t had this issue with my 360 [find wood, *knock*knock*], but I have been looking for a reason to buy a heatgun…

  2. Mike says:

    I have the exact same problem, code 0102 as well.

    I found the same solution on the web and have been thinking about trying it myself … first I’m going to try calling MS and see if I can get them to drop the fee. Probably not, but I figure I might as well try.

    How has the fix held up? Still running good?

  3. luis says:

    i have the same problem if you now a place i can send to fix my x box360 plz i beg u to tell me

  4. Mjölner says:

    Bummer re:update! Random crashes really should be left to those of us who still game predominately on PCs…it’s a badge of honor 😉

  5. Mike says:

    I called MS and they wouldn’t budge on the repair cost. I guess I didn’t really expect them to, but I tried.

    Anyway. I tried the fix last night and my 360 has been running fine since. Hopefully it will last for awhile.

  6. Twist N Burn says:

    Fellas I tried a few things and left this method for last because it seemed the most drastic and risky of all. Well i had nothing to lose tried it once and it didnt seem to work i was guessing cause i was scared and nervous so i was like you know what im gonna try it again and i held the gun to the board for alot longer than i did the first time and what do you know it worked like a charm. Been playing since last wed for hours when i get out of work and still no problems. If all else fails i highly suggest this method.

  7. Darren says:

    Yep, X-Box 360 is a piece of SH*T!! Mine had the same problem as well. I am not pissing $140 into repair when the damn thing should work after paying near $500 for it and a game. If this is what i can expect after 4 months after purchase, then the hell with 360. These are not just my comments, my friend also has the same problem with his! I can’t help by shake my head with disgust at the end of the day and bend over and let microsoft pipe me up the A%$ hole, as the take my hard earned money!

  8. Jeff says:

    My XBOX 360 got into this condition as a result of a Dashboard update. It was working perfectly before the update. Microsoft wants me to pay to repair it because I’ve owned it for 95 days and the Warranty is only good for 90 days. Owning an XBOX 360 is like playing Russian Roulette, you WILL eventually get the red ring of death its a question of when. Microsoft’s clueless engineers need to figure out how to fix this problem immediately and recall every bricked console and give a refund to everyone who has paid to have their console fixed. I refuse to pay $140 to repair something that may break again in another 95 days.

  9. witz420 says:

    Or If You Do not Want To Void The Warranty, You Will Need,A Hand Towel And A Bath Towel.Next Wrap Up The Box COMPLETELY! Except The Ring Of light Take Out Hard Drive Put The 360 Hard Drive Side Down Turn On The System For 10 Min. ONLY 10 MIN!….Shut Off Let Sit 30 Min……….Reboot And Enjoy, At The Phone Co. We Did It With Power Supplies etc….

    Thanks Again Microsoft
    For A True Gaming Experience!

  10. tommy says:

    I bought a busted 360 from e-bay, guy said it had red rings of death. Sure enough it did.. 3 of them actually, general hardware failure. found a site which described a fix using hot air gun to resolder the mainboard, this I did and worked perfectly – until I put it back in it’s case, Then 3 red rings. many strip downs proved that it worked fine for hours on end out of the case, but immediate failure once reassembled. I found that when I tried to refit any one of the 3 case screws directly under the memory slots, it instantly died. Solution, leave these 3 screws out and it’s been fine since. Good luck

  11. Steve O says:

    My kids used bought an X-Box 360 today (12/26) at a local BJ’s. Out of box failure – E67 error. Take out the drive and the unit works fine – with the exception that you can’t save a gamer tag to the machine. Took it back and got another – same problem. Guy at the store told my wife it was the third one brought back today. Called tech support – their solution is for me to package up the hard drive and send it to them and they will send me a new or “refurbished” hard drive. They wanted to give me an incident number. I told them not to bother. I have my own solution – take it back to the store and get the money back, thank you very much. My advise to my kids (and any one else who will listen), steer clear of this system for a while.

  12. Jesper Copenhagen says:

    This is really fucked up! I bought my 360 in 2005 and i got this issue 2 weeks ago! I triede another solution, I took the 360 apart with only the drive installed, removed the fans and let it run in 10 min. after that, it ran perfectly. In 4-5 days. :o( Now its the same shit with 3 red rings!

    I have: Error code 0020, Game freezes,no warranty sticker, and no patience!
    Now I proberly need to buy a new!

  13. Mjölner says:

    It looks like Microsoft has heard your pain:


    This probably won’t help those of you that just gave up (understandably) and bought a new one…

    All hail Mighty Gates, Ravisher of Wallets!

  14. rich says:

    after about ten months of service my xbox gave me the tree red lights error. when I realized that getting it fixed by MS was anywhere from 150$ to 200$ I just bought a new one. I did however open the old one to check it out. I saw no signs of a problem physically. after some trouble shooting I cam to the conclusion that the system was over heating.

    the dual fan cooling system in a 360 puts out a huge amount of air BUT!!! it sucks… seriously it sucks air out of the system instead of blowing it in. you might think big deal it still cools the system… not enough. in less than a min after start up the heatsyncs for the 360’s processors heat up so bad the smell and generate about as much heat as a household iron.

    now if you look at the heatsync of a computer most have a fan that blows air on to it not sucking away. the cold air blows across the metal (for lack of a technical word” fins and takes the heat away from the processor.

    now to the fix. I noticed that there was very little thermal paste on the processors so I added some. (brand name artic silver 5) I than flipped the fan to blow inward onto the heatsyncs. (not easy since it’s only designed to fit one way) with my fingers crossed i powered the box up. no red lights. i tried to play a movie it got about 20 mins in and locked up. (normally when this happened if you reset you get the red lights again)

    i reset and no red lights. i tried with a cd same effect reset same effect. figuring that like a new pc the thermal paste might need some “burn in time” i reset and let it sit after about an hour and a half it had not locked up yet so I tried playing a game. i played a few rounds of full auto and the box did not lock up.

    I am still testing this so don’t get too excited yet but so far it is looking good.

  15. curtis says:

    U r a dumbass if u post the fix with a towl, u stupid cunt fuck off back to where u came from

  16. DCWmazdaRX7 says:

    Actually he isnt a dumbass for posting that because…(drum roll please) IT WORKS!!!! Granted I did it with a sweatshirt the affect is the same. Now the fix Im guess is more temporary then it is hours of Oblivion it still is just that A FIX! (Mines has worked long enough to play a dvd and an hour of gaming but I dont play for hours on end so this fix my last longer for me then a hardcore gamer)

  17. Mat says:

    Instead of using a heat gun, go to home depot and grab a Benz-o-matic PEN style butane torch. They’re small and cheap.. and also have a solder/heat gun add-on. Open flame works just as well, heats it up quickly and only heats up the small area you need without hitting the rest of the board.

    Rather than paying more thatn $50 for a heat gun, this will cost you less than $15 WITH an extra can of butane, and you’ve got a torch, heat gun and soldering iron all in one.

  18. JonnyRo says:

    Yea, i think i’ll wait another year on this console.

    Still happily playing halo on my original xbox, along with need for speed most wanted.

    The wii also kicks ass too, mostly because of the price.

  19. Critty says:

    I would be careful if using the torch. It will be very easy to over heat the board and chips. And a flame is much more reactive to items that will burn then hot air. And it my opinion that if you heat a larger area gradually its less stressfull on the board.

    Just my .02

  20. Linda says:

    My poor little thing sometimes refuses to turn on, then after an anxious few minutes may become apparent that it will not register the fact that i want it on. Then sometimes the stupid box wont turn off, now thats scary! But it most certainly isn’t as bad when it gets mad and flashes red!!!What the hell can i do??!!! this is my second xbox 360 and i can’t be bothered with paying any more money, especially not for MS to repair it!!!Linda

  21. deezel says:

    The towel trick does work, took 2 attempts but it is working now, don’t know for how long but I’m amazed as I didn’t think it would!! Ours had the 3 red lights on now it is working o.k.

  22. Roberto says:

    I bought my box at release date back in 05 everything worked great!! unitill i got the RED RING OF DEATH!!! i tried the towel trick and it worked but i could only play 2 songs in guitar hero 2. does anyone else have other tricks? my guaranty is expired will opening my box affect me in the future perhaps me deciding to send it over to repair? now for the heat gun thing can anyone please send me a detailed procedure on how to do it at roberto_1632@hotmail.com thnx. Xbox 360 was my favorite console now my wii hold that place

  23. Kai-chan says:

    put a towel on it and turn your xbox on. wait ten minutes. take the towel off, and turn your xbox off and back on. it shall work.
    contact me at sango1fan.deviantart.com if any questions

  24. kyle says:

    hey, ok i got my 360 4 days before cristmase. the next day, i found a little fan. do u think if a fan was blowing IN THE 360 would it harm it or help it?

  25. Steve says:

    the heat gun and towel trick is only a temporary fix. If you want to fix that thing for good do this http://rbjtech.bulldoghome.com/pages/rbjtech_bulldoghome_com/XClampIII.htm

    I have done this on over a dozen 360’s and all are still working. One has been working for over 6 months. Use the shim for sure.

  26. mike g says:

    ok so i just randomely wanted to turn my almost new 360 on that i got about 3-4 months ago and i got the red ring of death and the night befor when i got home i unplugged it so when i turned my controller on it wouldnt connect so i looked at the consul and there was that stupid red ring now either im gunna send it in or buy a PS3 so i need some advice and whats that method with the glue gun can someone please help me?

  27. ds domination infinii

    X-Box 360 Red Ring of Death « Nathan’s Blog

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