Tip & How-To about Video Game Consoles & Games

Xbox 360, Red Ring Of Death Fix This is a DIY fix for the common red ring of death problem. If your xbox 360 is still under warranty then let them handle it as it is there fault in the first place. What Causes the Red Ring Of Death The "Red Ring of Death" or "RRoD" is a general hardware failure issue. Indicated by three red lights around the power button. The most common hardware issue is a loose GPU (graphics processing unit) . The GPU is fitted to the main board and after heating up and or being jolted around, which will be indicated by three red flashing lights. At which point your Xbox will be froze up. How to Fix RRoD, Step by Step ::Disassemble Xbox 360 Case:: 1.Instead of discussing this in length I have provided a step by step tutorial on doing this HOW TO DISASSEMBLE. ::How To Remove Motherboard Safely:: 1.Gently, Unplug all cables connected to motherboard and associated small devices and take DVD drive out. After removing the dvd drive, get the fan and motherboard out of the xbox 360 case. (Take note of where and how everything is connected. Draw a diagram or take a picture) ::Crucial Motherboard Disassembles:: 1.With the motherboard removed we can now access the X-Clamp that we will be replacing. This is a somewhat tricky part and care should be taken to not be to aggressive and end up damaging the board. We begin by wedging a small flathead screwdriver between the clamp and the stud. Then gently rock the screw driver back and forth and the clamp will eventually work its way up and off of the stud. The third will become very easy to remove and then it will just pop right off. ::Heat Sink Unscrewing:: 1.With the clamps removed the heat sinks just lift off. It can sometimes be difficult to remove because the heatsink paste is still sticky. Using your finger to push the stud through the hole works great for the more stubborn ones. 2.Once the heat sinks are free we are able to use our 1/4" nut driver, wrench or pliers to remove the studs. 3.To prepare the steel case we use a 3/16 or 13/64 drill bit to enlarge the heatsink mounting screw holes for each of the heatsinks to be repaired so the larger M5 screw can be installed. We use a Uni-bit for the task as it's first step is the 3/16ths we need and it also deburs the hole at the same time. Spacing between the heatsink and the board is critical in this repair so make sure to clean off any stray steel shavings and burs. 4.Install all the screws and use some tape to hold them in place. This makes it much easier to keep everything in place. 5.Let the ring toss begin! Add 3 steel washers to each of the screws, followed by a single nylon washer. It is very important to make sure you have three steel washers first and then a nylon washer last to isolate and protect the motherboard from damaged traces or shorts. ::Cleaning and Reprepping the GPU:: 1.Start by removing as much of the old heat sink compound as you can with a tooth pick.Use something like goo gone and a Q-tip to remove the excess compound from on and around the processors die. Alcohol will work also but it is no where near as effective at removing the old sludge. Follow up the job with a little alcohol to remove any leftover goo gone or other foreign oils or debris. 2..Next we need to apply a thin coat of thermal compound to the die. Just use a VERY tiny amount, you are looking for a skim coat similar to the thickness of plastic wrap. Silver based compounds can have adverse effects when in contact with electrical components not to mention the thermal compounds efficiency is greatly reduced when too much is applied. ::Reinstalling the Motherboard:: 1.Now reinstall the motherboard, you may have to adjust the positioning of the screws to get them to fit through the motherboard. 2.Now with the motherboard in place install the final two washers, a nylon one first followed by a steel one. Again it is extremely important to have TWO washers between the heat sink and the board. One nylon washer first to protect and isolate the motherboard and one steel... just to be redundant that makes two washers. 3.Place your heat sinks onto the screws and hold them in place with one hand while carefully putting a couple of turns on each screw to keep the washers from falling off. I place the unit on the edge of a table and from below poke my screwdriver through the tape and turn the screw in a few threads. Do not tighten any of them completely yet. 4.Now peel the tape off of the screws and prepare to tighten them down. Turn each screw gently until you feel a little resistance. Do this to every screw before actually tightening them down. Now similar to the technique used in mounting your wheels on your car or bolting down a head on your motor; begin to tighten each bolt slowly in a kitty corner fashion making sure to evenly distribute the pressure across the processors die. Tightening down one side and then the other can result in a cracked processor die. With your large screwdriver put the final turns on each screw. 5.Almost done. Reconnect your power button assembly/wireless board. Plug your fan back in but do not reinstall it in it's original location yet; also DO NOT put your fan shroud back in yet. Connect your DVD optical drive so as to not get banned from Live for powering up your box without the drive connected. Now with your Xbox basically re-assembled except for the fan shroud, plug your power and video cords in and proceed. *This next part is the most crucial, This step requires you to overheat your GPU. Many tutorials tell you to unplug your fan and turn it on until it overheats. There is one major flaw with this approach. The thermosistor for the overheating protection of the 360 is contained within the CPU. The problem is that the CPU overheats without any airflow before the GPU is able to get sufficiently hot to "reflow" the BGA solder connection that has failed. 6.In order to cool the CPU but not the GPU it is again important to have your fan shroud removed. Now take your fan that IS plugged in and lay it on top of your DVD drive with one of the fan's over the top of the CPU. This will keep the CPU plenty cool to prevent it from overheating while the GPU will get smokin' hot; like burn your finger hot! 7.Now power on your 360. Some boxes may just work at this point because just pressure alone was enough to make the GPU's connection good. I still like to overheat even those just to make sure I don't have to deal with it again. So now you should be getting the three red lights like your were expecting. You want to overheat the unit for at least 30 to 45 minutes. The key is in the lights; as long as it is flashing the 3 red lights (1,3,4) then your are in good shape and the overheating process is working. What you DO NOT WANT is for the unit to actually overheat giving your TWO flashing red lights (1,3) at which point the 360 cuts off power to both the CPU and GPU preventing them from actually getting hot. Again is probably the difference between someone who succeeds and someone who fails. --Now that you have sufficiently heated the GPU, power down your Xbox 360 and let it cool down completely (ten to fifteen minutes should be more than enough). Replace your fan shroud; you should now be fully assembled except for the case itself. At this point you should cross your fingers and power your box back on. If all went well your should now have a working 360! Congrats! If it did not work for you its not completely a bust yet. I suggest tightening the screws down even more and overheating yet again... some units are stubborn! This is just one well known attempt at fixing RRoD, But is not always 100% effective. Good weekend project if you have one of these xbox's sitting in a closet. -Dan

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