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.

Xbox 360 Elite RRoD

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.

Looking Elsewhere

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.

The Fix

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!

Falcon?

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.

26 Comments

I had my previous 360 fixed about 6 times with the "x" clamp replacement, it worked fine the first time for a couple months then what do you know, RRoD again! After the next fix it lasted for two months before the RRoD kicked in again.

Eventually I grew sick and tired of this happening and ending up buying one of the BENQ drive models from April this year. I haven’t had any problems since!

With the "x" clamp fix make sure your guy is using bolts and not screws because then it will just keep overheating over and over again!

Also good to note to provide your power brick with enough space to "breathe" as it’s like the heart of the console, and plug the 360 in the wall not an extension cable as this helps it live a long life – apparently!

I’m happy to hear your stoked for Gears, I managed to play it early and I tell you you’re in for a treat! It sh**s a brick on the first game! Look forward to hearing your thoughts on it too!

Yeah, I’ve taken all the necessary steps to ensure it has sufficient room to breathe, etc. Which is why it’s even more of a kicker when it craps out.

The dude that worked on my console used bolts. He totally knew what he was doing every step of the way, as he’s done over 200 consoles. I’m feeling pretty confident that it will hold up now.

That’s great! I hope my 360 lasts until the next generation, it’s such a great console apart from the hardware issues!

Brilliant news! I’ll see you on Gears 2 next weekend then? 🙂

I recently noticed the difference in hardware when my 3 year Xbox 360 died on me and I bought a Falcon Xbox 360 Elite as a replacement. With roughly 40 arcade game and around a few demos it took around 7-8 seconds to load just the game count on my old 360.

On the new one it takes less than a fifth of a second and I have maybe 15-20 demos stored up. Amazing speed difference that I can only expect to be even better with the NXE coming out soon.

I just had my 2nd xbox rrod two months ago and used xbox.com to request the repair. I had a box for shipping back in a couple days. And this time they turned around the repair in 10 days. The first time took about a month as it happened the day before they announced rrod extended replacement. I’m in the States so maybe it’s different, but I would suggest staying away from the their phone support whenever possible. Glad to hear youre up and running again, just seems risky to void warranty for repairs.

There’s a repair centre in Toronto, which is about 45 minutes away. So the turnaround here is quick. I’m assuming there was a mix-up somewhere between Xbox support and the shipping company since my box never arrived.

I weighed both sides and getting it fixed locally seemed like such a better option. Sure, I can’t go to Microsoft now – but look at the hassle it is.

I’ve now had five 360 failures between two consoles (bought a second system after failure #4 only to have that system die 36 days later). Really frustrating that I basically need two systems to have a working one at all times, but at least so far everything’s been warranty work. My one console is now out of warranty though, so if it dies again I may just have to look for somebody to repair it.

As for the shipping label thing, when they first pulled that on me I flatly refused and made them send me a box… But as I’ve come to realize, in my case it really doesn’t matter. I’ve got three or four of their coffins piled in my basement complete with foam inserts and Microsoft bag, so I’ll just use them from now on.

Still waiting on the 36 day console to come back… Got email confirmation that they received the system early this week, but haven’t heard nothing since. Microsoft really needs to get their shit together.

It is quite ridiculous, isn’t it? I really hope they get put through the ringer about this before the next gen Xbox comes out. This CAN’T happen again.

Glad you got *another* one fixed Matt.

I’m not sure if this was available to you when you bought your Xbox but here in the UK I got mine from Game(.co.uk) and they offer for all of their consoles a 1, 2 or 3 year guarantee.

Essentially the minute I got the RROD, I removed the hard drive, unpluged and packed the console, headed over to my closest Game store and they switched it out for a brand new console and I was back home playing again in under half an hour. For about only $50 this is worth itself over and over again.

Alas, what we really need is for Microsoft to sort themselves out and fix the fucking problem once and for all!

Some stores have those over the counter return policies here, but yeah, you have to pay extra for them. And you still have to deal with the DRM licensing bullshit, which was one of the big sticking points for me. I have 40 odd XBLA games, dozens of Rock Band tracks, and 3 active profiles on my console. Shit needs to be working properly.

… and Purolator just dropped off my replacement system not 5 minutes after posting my above comment. Nice!

When I replaced my original 360 2 years ago we had to do the ‘find your own box thing’.

I just found an old box big enough and then stuffed it with plastic bags and other crap to pad it out. I wasn’t too bothered, at the end of the day it was broken, and if it gets trashed in transit…

I was happy about to do it that way really just to get it moving. Shame it was on Chrismas Eve it happened…

I have had only one box give me the RRoD so far. But what pissed me off was that the one that they gave me in return was only a few months older then then one I sent in. So now I am just waiting to get another RRoD.

Matt, here in the UK it has always been that way. They send it back in a different box. Its quicker than waiting for them to send a box to you any way. and not really alot of hassle.

best advise is to keep the plain box they send it back to you in for the next time it breaks it what i did.

Well, that sucks. Looks like you had a hard time getting your 360 repaired. About three weeks ago a friend of mine called me saying how he bought a RRoD 360 for $50 from some guy. In 30 minutes I walked him through on how to register the Xbox under his Gamertag account and then I showed him how to file a repair claim on Xbox.com.

In about 3-4 days he got his box (with foam and etc.) and shipped it off. In about 2.5 weeks from when he filed the repair claim he got a new refurbed Xbox 360 in the mail and I have been playing with him for about a week with no issues.

When my 360 RRoD (E. 74) I sent my console in to Microsoft but that was before their new policy so it took about a month to get it back. However, from what I can tell from my experience and my friends, we never had a problem on Microsoft’s end (aside from the console breaking).

DIY is the way to go. When I got the RROD I was pissed, but it gave me an excuse to dig into the innards. I went with the “8 penny” trick where you tape 2 pennies to each of the memory chips – it effectively keeps the motherboard from flexing when it gets warmed up. It really wasn’t that difficult, but it took a few hours to read up on how/why the fix works.

It’s good you went with the DIY approach. I’ll bet you have no problems from here on out.

I’ve had my 360 RROD on my 3 times so far, and since MS doesn’t "officially support" 360’s where I live (Philippines) I’ve had to resort to finding someone to fix it here. I’m hoping the last fix will be for good this time.

I’m surprised your 360 still RROD’d considering it was the newer Falcom model, I thought they had these issues well under control when they released that version.

I’ve just experienced the same shit. One morning my console looked at me with her red eyes and told me "nooooo sir".

Looks like today a guy will come to pick up my console, though I’ve had to figure out the packaging (bullshit). At least the shipment is for free.

If I ever encounter the problem again – I’m going to grab the newest (Falcon, I guess) Elite, and push this one out on ebay or sth.

I admit – for a moment I thought about PS3, but the controller is sucky, and the title lineup is ass. On the other hand I’m a bit of a x360 fanboy and I do hope, that this repair is the only one I’ll ever need 🙂

I know a lot of people that have done that – bought a new console while theirs is in the shop, then sell off the refurbished one when it returns. It’s a good way to go, to ensure you don’t have much down time. But you don’t get much for used consoles because of the whole RRoD plague.

Sucks that it happened to you just before the Gears of War 2 release. I would have been one grumpy motherfucker come November 7 if I didn’t have a 360. 😉

Sigh. I read this article last night and awoke to an RROD 0020 this morning. Couldn’t you have written about winning the lottery? 😛

It is just like a lottery though, isn’t it? Except the fact that everyone loses. More like roulette, I suppose.

Its this Red Ring of Death issue that has hindered my purchasing of an X-Box, however if it is this simple to fix rather than jumping through corporate hoops then I may well pick up one next time I get paid.

I’ve had two friends lately who’ve had their xbox kick the dirt.

Out here in Vancouver, there’s a 15 year old that has become pretty famous through word of mouth. Very high fix rate, plus he will also put in a new drive or fan if you want it. Cost is only around $40.

I wish I had never purchased that crazy warranty, said no thanks on my second one.

I been waiting about 5 weekes for microsoft to send me a box so i can get my xbox 360 fixed but all i get form them is "We will get back to you in 5 working days". Iam sorry but this really starting to p— me off, I paid good money for the system and all i get is the run around. They sent me a free gold member ship, and then they took it back, Iam geting very tired of microsoft.

I think Sony would help me more faster and better than microsoft, Iam loseing hope with microsoft.

Hey Matt,

I live in Toronto too and just got my first RRoD after 19 months of faithful service.

I’ve seen a couple of guys on the internet that do the repairs…… did you take a guy in Brampton or a dude in East TO?

Cheers,

Moe

ive just fixed my xbox 360 that had e74 error rrod, its quite easy to do. couldnt send it off to microsoft becuse it had just run out of guarantee, bummer. last console i sent off to then took over 2 months to get back after many phone calls, anyway having almost thrown the thing out the window , i found the answer at xbox360 solutions, took me about 2hrs work but now my 360 is singing again. i hope to see you guys on live, name is devilfish, look out for me. hope all your xbox 360s stay trouble free..great blog by the way

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