Posted on November 23, 2010, Shawn Sines How to Fix the Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death
How to Fix the Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death
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While Microsoft may have moved on and completely re-designed the Xbox 360 to avoid heat problems like the Red Ring of Death (aka RROD) many of us still have the old 360 models. These old systems are prone to failure without any warning. One day you’ll be ready to jump into a game of Halo:Reach and BAM! The red ring will appear around your power button and the system will throw up a cryptic error code. So, to stem the red tide of disappointment we offer direction on how to fix the Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death.
- Xbox 360
- A torx 12, 7 and 6 screwdrivers to remove screws from the 360′s case
- A 1/4 inch wrench or socket to remove the X-Clamp posts from the heatsink
- Small Phillips screwdriver
- Small flat-head screwdriver
- Arctic Silver thermal compound
- a Small cleaning cloth
- A Thin metal stick
Time to Install: 45 minutes
Table of Contents
- Step 1: Preparations
- Step 2: Disassemble the Xbox 360
- Step 3: Remove the Xbox 360 Motherboard
- Step 4: Remove the X-clamps
- Step 5: Remove the Heatsink
- Step 6: Clean GPC & CPU and Apply New Paste
Opening up your Xbox 360 is a fairly simple process but novice computer or electronics tinkerers should be cautious. Some of the following steps will require you to remove sensitive electronic components.
Be sure to take precautions to eliminate static electricity and keep your work space orderly to make sure you can reassemble the unit once you’ve completed this process.
As always, remember that opening up your XBox 360 yourself will void any remaining warranty, so if you’ve still got any coverage, send it to Microsoft. If you choose to open it up, you do so at your own risk.
Before you can begin the steps to repair your Xbox 360 we should find the sorts of Xbox 360 errors that are commonly associated with the “Red Ring of Death”.
The Red Ring of Death is a general hardware failure. The system indicates this problem using 3 flashing red lights (which are green during normal operation of the unit) near the power button.
Normally this condition is an indicator that the Xbox 360 graphics processing unit (GPU) is overheating, causing the system to lock up or fail the initial power on testing process.
When the 360 overheats it may cause the motherboard to warp, making the soldered connections between the CPU and GPU weaker and subject to interruption.
If this is the error you’re seeing then this guide should fix your issue.
Breaking down the Xbox 360 is a fairly lengthy process itself so we’re going to attempt to dissect it in sections, noting the required tools in each part. To reassemble the unit, simply reverse the order of this Step.
- Remove the 360 Faceplate by inserting two fingers into the USB slot and gently pushing up on the tab.
Step 2B: Remove the Grill Plates
- Remove the Xbox 360 Hard Drive.
- Insert the thin metal stick through the white holes on the top and bottom of the Xbox 360.
- Pull gently on the grill as you disconnect the latches – Do not force this or you WILL break the plastic latches on the grill!
- Repeat this process on the other end of the Xbox 360
Step 2C: Remove the Bottom Shell
Now that you have the end pieces off, it’s a simple matter to separate the top and bottom plastic casing of the Xbox 360.
- Turn the Xbox 360 to the front side and place it “upside” down.
- Using a flathead screwdriver carefully pry the four clips apart, releasing the top and bottom of the unit.
- Carefully pull the unit up about 1″. Do not force the unit apart at this point.
- Rotate the console until you are facing the rear of the Xbox 360
- Use the screwdriver to loosen the remaining rear retainers
- Pull the bottom of the shell away from the Xbox 360
Step 2D: Remove the Upper Shell
Now that we’ve removed the bottom of the unit you’ll see the shiny metal casing of the Xbox 360. There are 14 silver screws and 8 black screws that hold all the parts of the Xbox 360 together, including the top shell.
- Using your Torx screwdrivers, remove the 12 silver screws (T12 sized) and 8 black screws (T7 sized)
- Remove the top shell piece, exposing the inside of the Xbox 360
Step 2E: Removing the DVD Drive
To access the motherboard we will need to remove the DVD drive of the Xbox 360. There are cables and other connectors to unplug before the DVD drive will easily slide out of the case.
- Disconnect the SATA and power cables from the rear of the DVD drive
- Pull the DVD drive up and out of the case
Step 2F: Remove the Fan Shroud and Cooling Fans
Next we’ll remove the cooling gear for the Xbox 360.
- Compress the sides of the plastic cooling shroud until you hear a click and the unit comes free of the case
- Unplug the Fan power plug from the motherboard
- Gently pry the cooling fans loose and lift them out of the 360 case.
Step 2G: Remove the IR and Power board
The circular ring of lights on the front of the Xbox 360 also includes the unit infrared receiver. To take out the motherboard we need to disconnect this control panel.
Follow this process to disconnect the light and IR receiver.
- Remove the white plastic cover by gently prying it from the circuit board
- Remove the three torx screws securing the board to the case using a T6 screwdriver.
Now that we’ve removed the associated parts the Xbox 360 motherboard should now slide easily out of its metal housing. Carefully lift the motherboard out and set it on a protected surface.
In order to remove the Heat Sinks and apply the thermal paste that will fix the RROD, you first have to remove the retention clips on the bottom of the Xbox 360 motherboard.
This is possibly the most frustrating and difficult part of this entire process. Removing the metal clips requires you to pry the metal restraints off using a tool. Here is how you achieve this feat:
- Use a small flathead screwdriver to pry the edge of the X-clamp away from the grooved post.
- Carefully repeat this process on the other posts until the clamp comes free of the motherboard.
Be VERY careful here, a steady hand is needed or you could accidentally damage the motherboard of the Xbox 360.
It is not required, but I recommend using a piece of cardboard and placing it between the X-clamp and the motherboard when attempting this step. If you slip, then hopefully the worst damage you’ve done is to dent some cardboard, not destroyed your Xbox 360.
Now that the retaining clips are gone we need to remove the heat sinks from the CPU and GPU on the Xbox 360. Simply lift the large metal heatsinks from the CPU & GPU by lifting them off the posts on the motherboard.
With the heatsink removed you can see the exposed CPU & GPU chips covered in messy thermal paste.
Before we can reassemble the Xbox 360, you need to clean off the old gunk before applying new cooling paste. This is a vital part of fixing the overheating problem.
When you continue and wipe down the motherboard chips you should be careful not to stress the motherboard with too much pressure. The old paste will wipe off with a little persistence, and without a lot of pressure.
The Xbox 360 does not need a lot of thermal paste if it is applied correctly. Using the edge of a credit card or similar tool you should spread a thin layer of thermal paste over the CPU and GPU. The paste should cover the text of the chips and appear smooth.
Remove any excess thermal paste and you should be ready to begin the process of assembly. Carefully seat the heatsink over the chips, being careful not to smash or slide the cooling part while doing so.
If you find that any of the paste is oozing out from under your heatsink, remove the unit and clean and re-apply until there is no excess pushed out.
Secure the X-clamps and begin the process of assembling your Xbox 360.
Before completely closing up the Xbox 360 and attaching the outer shell, be sure to connect the IR board and DVD drive.
Plug in video and power connections and test the unit to be sure that the fix indeed works. Some Xbox owners find that replacing the thermal paste makes a big difference but others need more drastic means.
Fixing the Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death is not a guaranteed process, over time motherboard warping and solder joint failure can become severe enough that no average person can fix the issue. If that is your case, your best bet may be to just buy a new Xbox 360 Slim.