Posted on January 23, 2008, Chris Xbox Insider Talks 360 Failure Rates and More
8bitjoystick.com is reporting that it has spoken with a confidential source that previously worked on the Xbox 360 and got him or her to reveal various details that had only been guessed at previously. If you’re questioning the site’s credibility based on that, I don’t blame you – but, this is the site that originally broke the story of Bungie’s leaving Microsoft. So take this as you will.
Q: So what do you think the real failure rate of the Xbox 360 is? Some have estimated it as high as 30%. I got my Xbox in early 2007 and so far so good but what do you think the chance is that it’s going to die on me one day.
It’s around 30%, and all will probably fail early. This quarter they are expecting 1 M failures, most of those Xenons. Some of those are repeat failures. Life expectancy is all over the map because the design has very little margin for most of the important parameters. That means it’s not a fault tolerant design. So a good unit may last a couple of years, while a bad unit can fail in hours. I have a launch unit and have not had a single problem with it. And it’s used a lot. But I don’t know anyone else with a 360 that hasn’t broken, except you now. There’s no way to tell when yours might die. But the cooler you can keep it, the longer it will probably last. So stand it up, keep it in free air, etc.
:Note: Xenon was the code name for the first Xbox 360 mother board.
When asked what the source thought caused Microsoft to face such hardware problems (none of the other systems have anything even remotely close), two main points were made: engineering on the system has been under-resourced and the system was rushed so that it could beat Sony to the market.
Q: How much more reliable are the current generation of Xbox 360 than the previous designs? Original Xenon, Zypher and Falcon.
I’ve heard that the failure rates for the current design is sub 10%. Much much better, but still too high imoh. And those designs haven’t seen much life yet, so no one knows if that failure rate will hold.
Q: How many times does an Xbox 360 unit have to be sent in and repaired before they will replace it with a completely new unit?
That’s not how it works. You send in a broken box, you get back a working box (hopefully). So there is a rotating stock of the original units that get repaired and returned to service. Plus, they keep finding these cashes of launch units here and there and using them too. Didn’t you hear during the holidays that bundles were found with units made in 06? Those were pulled back from the retail channel last spring when the new heatsink was done, and had the new heatsink placed on them and then put into the shipping flow like any other box.
Back to the rotating inventory of launch units. You risk getting one of those back until the last one is out of the system. I imagine the next big outrage will be when some of the folks who waited till Falcon to buy a console for reliability reasons, and has to send it in for service, gets a Xenon back! Even when all of the Xenons are gone, you will likely get a newer gen repaired one back rather than new. Unless the fail rate gets so low there are none available. I’m holding my breath…
There’s a whole lot more in the full story, so it goes without saying that this is a must-read.
The full article is located here.