Ever since the XBox 360 was released in 2005, it has been plagued by problems that lead to what is known as a general hardware failure, i. e. the whole console shuts down. Because the problem is indicated by three flashing red lights around the power button on the XBox 360, it is often referred to as the 3 Red Rings of Death by users.
There seem to be a variety of different issues that cause the three red lights error and suspicions are generally that both the design and manufacturing are at fault. Between 10% and 30% of all XBox 360s released between 2005 and 2007 may fail.
Subsequently, Microsoft has extended the warranty for the XBox 360 by three years so owners can get them fixed. According to AP News, the problems with the console will end up costing Microsoft over a billion dollars to fix.
General XBox 360 Problems
There are actually a slew of XBox 360 issues that can can create hassles for owners, but the ones that specifically create the three red lights error (and are now covered under Microsoft's extended warranty) are as follows:
Soldering - the lead-free solder that is located beneath the motherboard is considered to be one of the most common areas of failure.
Overheating - Overheating is a major issue with the XBox 360. The design of the console itself does not allow for sufficient cooling and this is basically what causes the problems with the lead-free solder in the unit. The solder gets cracked and brittle and eventually breaks apart.
In July of 2007, Microsoft announced some changes they made to the internal hardware of the XBox 360 that should fix the overheating issue, but general failures are still a concern even with new units and there are other issues with the XBox 360 as well.
SquareTrade, a company that sells warranties for the XBOX 360 and other electronics, reported a 16.7% failure rate of all XBox 360s with a SquareTrade warranty over a purchase period of four months in 2007. 60% of these were the result of the general hardware failure, or red rings of death, and the rest were other common errors with the system such as disc read errors, disc tray problems, power failures, etc. Only the general hardware failure is covered by Microsoft's extended warranty.
So how do you keep this happening to your XBox 360?
Since overheating is a major culprit behind the three red lights, it is crucial that you keep your console well ventilated on all sides. This means that there should be plenty of room between the wall and the back of your console or, if you have it in a cabinet, make sure the cabinet is roomy and keep its doors open. I really think it would be best not to run the XBox 360 inside a cabinet at all.
If you elect to add an external cooling source, make sure that it has its own power source. If you have to hook up an external fan to the console in order to operate it you are going to create more overheating problems than you solve due to overworking the XBox's power supply.
If you don't own an XBox 360 yet and the reported problems haven't put you off the idea of owning one (because the games are too great to pass up), then I highly recommend that you buy one of the warranties that places like Best Buy and Circuit City will upsell to you at the checkout counter. Those warranties allow you to come back to the store and replace your console immediately. With long wait times for servicing through Microsoft, it makes sense to pay the extra money for the peace of mind.
The good news for current owners who are sick of the XBox 360 merry-go-round of returns to Microsoft is that you can fix the XBox 360 yourself. It is not as hard as you'd think and you would be just doing the same thing that the warranty repair technicians would be doing anyway except you can have your XBox 360 functioning again an hour from now instead of weeks from now. Get the instructions now at XBox 360 Repairs
For a quick review of different repair guides available, visit: http://www.xbox3redlightsrepair.com/
Eddie Martin spends way too much time playing video games and when he can tear himself away from Halo, he's online playing World of Warcraft.