The 360 is a fairly demanding console, with some pretty strict guidelines on positioning, use and care. This makes for a world of difference compared to older consoles, which sat anywhere you wanted and worked happily for years (mine still do).
So if you’ve got a 360 and don’t want it to give up the ghost, there’s a few precautions to take note of. If your 360 is dead and you’re feeling handy, then all might not be lost!
One of the most important things you can do to prolong the life of your console is choosing a good place to leave it. Heat is the number one killer of Xbox 360 consoles worldwide, so to protect yours you want to have plenty of space for it to breathe.
Cramped TV stands and stereo cabinets might provide a fairly practical and attractive solution but if the storage lacks airflow then you’re cooking your console.
Vertical placement of your console is an option, and provided you’re not using a wired controller (you don’t want to knock it over, after all) it might save you some space.
Wherever you end up putting your console just make sure it’s open to good airflow, not a soft surface (cloth isn’t good, nor is carpet) and isn’t going to fall over or get knocked over. You’ll also want to avoid putting it near any air conditioning vents, as the contrast of hot and cold air will cause condensation within the machine. Not good.
You should never move your console, change orientation or generally unsettle it whilst it is in use. The 360 doesn’t lock game discs in place, so you might end up scratching the game or doing serious damage to the drive.
One thing you’ll definitely want to avoid is placing the console on top of any existing AV equipment, such as a satellite receiver, amplifier or other console. Heat doesn’t like company, and your 360 doesn’t need friends.
Regularly checking the air vents and using a damp, soft cloth to remove any dust build-up is also a good idea. You’ll be surprised how much crap it sucks up.
The Red Rings of Death
They can strike at any time, with warning (regular crashes, high operating temperature) or just out of the blue but the infamous red rings of death spell doom for your Xbox 360.
The rings are actually used to signify an error code in a bid to isolate the problem. The community has painstakingly attempted to document each of these codes, in order to help those who have run out of warranty and are interested in home repairs.
If you want to fix your Xbox 360 yourself it’s not going to be easy. It can even cost you money if you use one of the many kits that have sprung up for this exact purpose, though many get away with using household products and not spending a fortune.
It’s worth mentioning that I’ve noticed a lot of sellers on eBay who buy broken Xbox 360s, repair them (it should take you around 2 hours of work, depending on your level of skill) and re-sell them as functioning repaired systems – these repairs can and do work, but perhaps not every time.
The following is a list of resources to help salvaging an ex-Xbox:
Note: If your console is banned from Xbox Live for whatever reason none of these will fix it. There is currently no known “fix” to whitelist a console, but you could always try X-Link Kai. Opening your console will also invalidate your warranty, so if you’ve got a problem and still have warranty it’s best to leave Microsoft to fix it.
A full run-down of the known Xbox 360 error codes, how to read them and information on what to do once you’ve isolated the problem. If a potential solution to your problem exists, you should be able to find it here.
For fixing a number of error codes, the X-Clamp fix is a tried and tested technique which requires a steady hand and a fair bit of concentration, though many have succeeded.
Information pertaining to mods, fixes and delivering that dose of CPR your console needs. A bit old now, but still valid as you’re likely to be repairing older consoles anyway.
Hopefully you won’t encounter any rings of death, non-responsive DVD drives or other Xbox failings. You could always buy an additional cooling unit to strap to the back of your 360, a good idea if you use it a lot (but noisy).
Eventually though your console might die, and if the warranty isn’t on your side then a home-made fix is your only option. What have you got to lose, right? Let’s just hope the next generation of games consoles are more reliable than the last.