In the corner of my room, collecting dust, sits the component pieces of my Xbox 360. Purchased as a Christmas present for me and my better half in mid-2007, it has been in a state of disrepair since Christmas 2011 when it decided that – for one reason or another – it didn’t want to play anymore.
As most of you reading this will know, most Xbox 360s from that era came with certain… “issues”, problems in the manufacture that were eventually addressed by Microsoft, who kindly (!) offered a free repair… as long as your Xbox went rogue within a particular timescale. Happily, our Xbox 360 was made of sterner stuff than most, and lasted longer – well, long enough for the terms of Microsoft’s free repair to run out of time.
So when December 2011 came around, we were left staring at the forbidden RRoD error notification halfway through a session of Quantum of Solace…
Yes, The Dreaded Red Ring Of Doom
Hit by the legendary Red Ring of Doom/Death, whose devastating effect on an Xbox 360 often leads to them being barely uttered, save for awe-struck whispered tones as if referring to some ancient beast from Middle Earth, it was the end of that particular gaming session, and indeed the rest of the night.
Heading towards midnight and with six-month old babies to deal with a few hours later, we opted to get to bed and approach the problem the next day.
Whether this delay was a mistake or not isn’t completely clear. Certainly there are plenty of suggestions on the web as to how one might fix the problem in the absence of extended care from Microsoft and any desire to spend money on shipping and repair.
Checking online for a solution, the following (albeit extreme) ideas seemed the most likely…
Fix A: The Towels
Having been schooled in the 1980s I was pretty confident that the idea of turning on my Xbox 360 while wrapped in towels and waiting until it started working was a pretty mental idea.
At the very least there was the possibility of causing further damage to the console, and that was before we consider the possibility of fire. Not a good thing, really.
The thinking behind this disguised pyromania is that the heat created inside the case would reseat the GPU, attached to the motherboard with solder rather than pins. This loosening of the solder balls is what causes the instance of RRoD that we were experiencing, and short of creating Mordor-like temperatures inside the case to fix the processor cleanly to the mainboard, the Xbox 360 would remain an expensive doorstop.
But once reseated, couldn’t the GPU come unstuck again?
Fix B: The eBay Kit
As a matter of fact, yes it could, which is why some enterprising eBay sellers have been able to make money setting custom-built screw clamps that can be used – in conjunction with a paint-stripping heat gun – to firmly fix the GPU to the motherboard, heavy-duty style.
In fact I even splashed out on the reasonably priced alternative to a trip to Germany for my Xbox 360, and can see the parts from here, complete with mean-looking, thick screws to hold the heatsink tightly to the GPU, with thermal paste also included. I’ve even gone so far as to strip the Xbox 360 down into its constituent parts, ready for the act of briefly heating the GPU, placing the heatsink on top and screwing the new clamps into place.
But there is one thing missing. I don’t have a heat gun.
All For The Cost Of A Heat Gun?
As techy things go, I’m usually pretty adept, and the same goes for fixes. However despite the money I’ve spent on my Xbox 360 and the time I’ve spent playing on it and enjoying music and video streamed from the PC, there is something stopping me from getting my act together and repairing the console.
Perhaps it is the fact we now have a Nintendo Wii, although graphics-wise, that’s unlikely. More unlikely is the fact that I’m a big fan of Windows Phone, and regularly spend time topping up my Gamerscore on that platform rather than via Xbox Live on my games console. Obviously, using both platforms would be more effective.
Maybe it is the cost of buying the heat gun; perhaps it is the fear of failure. Could a grown man be afraid of the crushing disappointment that might strike upon first switching on the Xbox 360 after the procedure only to find that it didn’t work?
Actually, I don’t think it’s any of these. In truth, I think I fear the only thing worse than failure:
The fear of the bloody Red Ring of Death occurring again, and knowing that once and for all my Xbox 360 is dead; at least right now as it sits in a corner of my room, collecting dust, it still has a chance…
Have you been interrupted by failed technology at the most inopportune moment? Do you have broken technology lying around your home? Have you successfully overcome the Red Rings of Death with these or any other methods?
Let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Droobey