Two weeks ago today, I turned on my Xbox 360 and was greeted by 3 glorious red lights. Never in my life, have I gone from being in a perfectly great mood to completely filled with rage in such a short span. This is after all, my fourth Xbox 360 to fall victim to one error or another that rendered it useless. I wasted no time, and jumped on the phone with Xbox Support to start the process of sending in my console in return for a refurbished one. Seeing as my Xbox 360 Elite was manufactured in December 2007 and it hasn’t left my house, it’s still practically new and in absolute mint condition. I wasn’t stoked on trading it, and even less stoked about having to go through the tedious process of re-licensing my DLC again.
Thanks, But No Thanks
The day after I opened my support request, I received an email outlining the steps I needed to follow in order to ship off my broken console. What I didn’t realized when I was on the phone with support, was that they have adopted a new process which involves for more effort and responsible on the consumer’s end. In all three cases where I had to ship off broken Xbox 360s for repair previously, I had a received a box with custom foam padding and a pre-paid shipping label. All I had to do, was put my console in the box, seal it up with the tape provided, slap on the shipping label, and take it to my nearest Purolator. This time, they expected me to find my own box and padding to ship it in, then print off a label they had emailed to me, and finally ship it off. The instructions clearly state that the box I send it in, will be used to ship the refurbished console back. But also states that I am not to use the original packaging as it will not be returned – what will not be returned? The original packaging, or the console? In any case, I was not about to go out and spend money on a box and something to pad it with. I called Xbox Support again the following Monday and asked to swap to the pre-paid method that I’ve used before, which was no problem. The box was supposed to be delivered within 3 – 5 business days and I was given a new service number. For whatever reason, the box never arrived.
Once I reached 5 business days passed the point of my second call, I decided to look for an alternate route. The release date for Gears of War 2 is quickly approaching, and I simply can’t miss that! My first thought, was to see if I could find a used console for cheap. eBay returned nothing decent, but Kijiji proved to be a gold mine! I found numerous consoles for under $150, most bundled with extra controllers and games. But on the second page of results, I found an ad for a dude that offered repairs on RRoD consoles. He boasted a fixed rate of $50, a one hour turnaround, and a 30 day guarantee. I fired off an email to touch base, to which I was greeted with instructions to determine the exact error code my console is returning. Apparently, there are a handful of common issues that cause the RRoD, which range from overheating to broken solder points. The latter being a quick fix, and ultimately what my console fell victim to. The repair guy assured me he had he had repaired over 200 consoles successfully and that my error (0020) was the second most common and a very easy fix. I was convinced that this was the way to go, and setup an appointment with him for the very same day.
When I showed up at his house, he took me down to his work bench and told me exactly what was wrong and what he was going to do to fix it. The long and short of it, is that he did an “x” clamp replacement, which replaces the flimsy clamps used to hold the CPU and GPU to the motherboard, with bolts that are fastened right to the metal casing inside the plastic shell. While he had it open, he used thermal tape to improve the air flow, which should prevent any possible overheating, provided I have adequate space for the escaped air to go (which I do). I left my previous Elite in his hands and went and played Trism on my iPod and the closest Tim Horton’s for about 45 minutes.
Not Quite Out of the Woods
I returned to his place just as he was finishing the “x” clamp replacement. He fired it up, and no red lights! The logo animation played, the dashboard opened up, then an error popped on screen – E-71. “E-71” he said, with a slight be of a worried tone. “I haven’t seen too many of those.” I damn near shat my pants at this point – one error for another? The error code the console was returning now, pointed to overheating as the cause. Which didn’t make any sense given that the console hasn’t been used in nearly two full weeks. A quick Google search turned us onto the actual culprit – corrupted BIOS cache. Holding the sync button while powering it on cleared it, and that was that! Good-to-go!
While my console was sitting on his work bench out of its case, I pointed out that it looked quite different from my first Xbox 360’s innards. Apparently, my console is a Falcon model, and I didn’t even know it. I had hoped it had the improved hardware, given the manufactured date, but never knew for certain if that was the case.
Do it Yourself, or Find a Pro in Your Area
Through all of this, I was blown away when I found out some of the causes of the RRoD. Especially now, with early adopter’s consoles reaching the end of the 3 year warranty term. I’m sure a lot of people are just tossing their consoles and buying a new one, when it could be something as simple as a broken solder point. In any case, I’m glad I decided to look for a different avenue to get my console fixed, and happy to be ready for Gears of War 2 next week. I would recommend you look for someone in your area that can do RRoD repairs, if you find yourself in a similar situation.