The XBox 360 is one of the best selling console games on the market and for very good reason. The only problem is that significant numbers of boxes suffer from the 3 red light error. Latest reports suggest that the failure rate could be as high as 40%. Whatever the failure rate, the Xbox should be far more reliable and it remains the most significant flaw on arguably the best console on the market.
So why does it happen? I have examined the failure mode in detail and one thing is for sure – whilst the console running hot can cause the problem and it really should have better cooling, particularly given the length of time that people spend on their machines, its not the only cause. Another problem is that there is an electrical connection failure between the main computer chip (the CPU) and the mother board. When the machine gets warm the soldered connection heats up, softens and this can lead to cracking and separation. When this occurs you get the dreaded 3 Red Light error. So basically its a dependent problem caused by inadequate cooling and a poor soldered joint which together cause the fault.
So what can be done about the problem? Again, one trick thats doing the rounds is the towel trick which means that you wrap the console in a towel, turn it on and let it overheat. This seems to make little sense but it can fix the issue. The only problem is that the fix is temporary. The reason it works is that the towel prevents effective airflow, which leads the internal temperature to rise significantly. The solder remelts and if you are lucky the electrical connection is fixed and the red light error disappears. Now it doesn’t take a genius to realise that wrapping the console in a towel and letting it heat up, will not only heat up the offending joint but every other joint in the box as well. Longer term this spells death to the XBox.
The good news is that a permanent fix is available. Its also possible to carry out the fix yourself, with the right guide, in under an hour. So the choice is yours. You can pay Microsoft to fix it, for around $140 or you can fix it yourself with a good guide for around $20-$30.
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