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Xbox Finally Admits to What Caused the Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

In the fifth chapter of the new documentary Power On: The Story of Xbox, Todd Holmdahl, Xbox's former head of hardware, explained that connectors would break inside the system when it switched too quickly from hot to cold.

"All these people loved playing video games, so they would turn this thing on and then off, and when it would turn on and off, you get all sorts of stresses" said Holmdahl.

As stressful as the problem was for most fans, the issue might have even been even more stressful for Xbox. The documentary shows clips from several news stories of the time, and the way they impacted public perception. Former Xbox boss Peter Moore revealed that the red ring of death nearly destroyed the brand.

"By the time we looked at the cost of repairs, the lost sales that we factored in, we had a $1.15 billion dollar problem," said Moore.

Fortunately for fans, Steve Ballmer, then CEO of Microsoft, provided the necessary funds to keep Xbox afloat when all hope might have been lost. In the documentary, former marketing lead Albert Penello says that Xbox employees can laugh at some of the issues that plagued the company in the past, but after all these years "nobody laughts at the red rings." It's somewhat difficult to square that statement with the fact that the Xbox Gear Shop is now selling a red ring of death poster, but maybe some people find it a bit funnier than others. It's hard to imagine anyone from that era wanting that poster, but at least fans can say things have gotten better over the years!
 

ReBurn

Gold Member
The controversy around the poster for sale is so odd to me it’s just like misinformed manufactured outrage. They’re selling posters of all the documentary episodes and one is called red ring of death and centers around the 360 era and that flaw.
It's cool that they owned the problems and fixed them. Other companies had to be sued and forced to take responsibility for their defects.
 

Fbh

Gold Member
I dont get this quote:

"All these people loved playing video games, so they would turn this thing on and then off, and when it would turn on and off, you get all sorts of stresses"

Dude almost sounds surprised people were turning the console on and off. What were they expected to do? Never turn it on? Turn it on once and leave it on forever ?
 
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ManaByte

Member
I dont get this quote:

"All these people loved playing video games, so they would turn this thing on and then off, and when it would turn on and off, you get all sorts of stresses"

Dude almost sounds surprised people where turning the console on and off. What were they expected to do? Never turn it on? Turn it on once and leave it on forever ?
It’s been known for a long time and any device from the era that used lead-free solder suffered from this. The Xbox was just the highest profile box.
 
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DarkMage619

Report me if I continue to console war
I dont get this quote:

"All these people loved playing video games, so they would turn this thing on and then off, and when it would turn on and off, you get all sorts of stresses"

Dude almost sounds surprised people where turning the console on and off. What were they expected to do? Never turn it on? Turn it on once and leave it on forever ?
He was saying that the lead free solder in the system didn't hold up as well with power off power on cycling. I believe the prototype systems used normal leaded solder and it didn't exhibit the same problems lead free solder did.

It’s been known for a long time and any device from the era that used lead-free solder suffered from this. The Xbox was just the highest profile box.
Yup this exactly.
 

Aldynes

Member
My fellow Gafers, those who worked at retail like me back in 2006 trough 2010 know the struggle.

I swear I got the unluckiest customer ever, one day that guy just enter the boutique to buy an Xbox 360 "refurbished" went home, call us to inform it was not working, came back to the store, we tested it, RROD, dude's got another console in exchange, a brand new one, go back to his home, call us the day after to tell the exact same thing, you know the drill by now, came back and we test the new console, fucking RROD, we got him another new Xbox 360 and this time we open the damn thing in front of him and we test it to make sure, this time it finally worked as intended.

The sheer number or return we got was astronomical, each day there was at least one RROD from a customer, that led the retail chain I was working at came up with the idea to sell extra years of warranty when the customer wanted to buy the console, we had to literally said It will break in the future, it was a matter of luck and time, what a complete nonsense, ever heard that kind of shit when buying anything else? It's the WORST thing a seller could say !

The Xbox 360 was so great it didn't even affected the sales, it kept selling, worse thing is that extra warranty program we sold ended up becoming mandatory sale objectives for the company I worked back then, they used the Xbox 360 as an exemple and made tons and tons of money on consoles, which by themselves, never made them much to begin with, it depends on which retailer big or small having some kind of deal, but basically they got 1€ of benefit for a new console worth 299 or more, so they always had to depend on selling used games to make profits, now with this, they made 40€ per console, even on consoles that never had problems before, or after, this is the less talked about side effect of that whole RROD debacle in my opinion.

EDIT : So just 2 days after my post, guess what ? Micromania (the retail store aka the french Gamestop) got sued and lost a case about misleading customers on the Extended warranties they have to put big yellow text on their website that flags them for being caught lmao, more than 13 years later but hey it's a thing !
 
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SatansReverence

Hipster Princess
I got lucky and never had RRoD on my '06 360 back in the day, thing was used daily for gaming and media, the problem I had was the disk drive fucked up with the laser going too far and losing contact with its gear train thus not being able to seek properly.

Fixed it by making a stopper with a piece of plastic from a coke bottle lid and that was good for a few years before I got a slim.
 

StreetsofBeige

Gold Member
My 20gb Pro finally bombed to RROD after 6 years.

It would turn on and I could play for maybe 5 minutes. Then it would RROD. It would get to a point it would always lock up on one of those Skyrim loading screens.

I dumped it off on GS for I think $65. They turned it on, saw it booted up to the dashboard and then turn it off, and said it's good. lol.
 

Aldynes

Member
No they didn't. The Wii and PS3 were RoHS compliant and did not suffer from this. It was a poorly designed system which didn't take into account warping.
They wanted to put the design of the console as a priority since that was perceived as a flaw the OG Xbox had, then they had to fit everything in that console case, it was bound to have heat problems, the solder was just the weak point of an overall flawed plan.
 

ReBurn

Gold Member
Cheap solder.
There was a study in 2019 about the role of lead-free solder in the failure of electronic devices. It concluded that when devices with lead-free solder failed that 70% of the time it was because of the solder and how operating conditions affect it. But companies are forced to use it for ecological reasons because nobody wants lead in landfills.

Reflowing the lead-free solder on 360 and PS3 systems wasn't always a permanent fix because the thermal cycling would still stress the solder over time. Reballing with leaded solder balls was the best bet for a longer lasting repair.
 
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M16

Member
No they didn't. The Wii and PS3 were RoHS compliant and did not suffer from this. It was a poorly designed system which didn't take into account warping.
Never heard of YLOD? It was pretty prevalent, but maybe not as common as RROD. Also laptop gpu's in that era were rife with the exact same issues. It was a common industry thing until the fabs figured out the right solder blends.

Btw the problem wasnt even caused by microsoft on the 360. It was IBM. It wasnt the solder that goes on the motherboard, it was from the solder that connects the die to the carrier.
 
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ManaByte

Member
Reflowing the lead-free solder on 360 and PS3 systems wasn't always a permanent fix because the thermal cycling would still stress the solder over time. Reballing with leaded solder balls was the best bet for a longer lasting repair.

Yup. The RROD/YLOD issues didn't go away until the slim revisions. Even the 360 "Falcon" chips RROD (mine did). It wasn't until the first 360 slim and the first PS3 Slim (which I still have) that the issue vanished due to getting the solder blend correct.
 

Reizo Ryuu

Member
Two of mine died, for the first one I didn't want to send it in, because I had just bought NG2 and it crashed right in the opening cutscene in the village.
So I just bought a new one, carefully opened it, put my dead 360 inside and returned it.
That one died much later, and then I just bought a 360 elite, that one is still hooked up and working today.
 

M16

Member
systems wasn't always a permanent fix because the thermal cycling would still stress the solder over time. Reballing with leaded solder balls was the best bet for a longer lasting repair.
Actually that did nothing to repair anything because the problem wasnt the solder that connects to the motherboard. It was the solder that connects the actual cpu die to the carrier(which then gets soldered to the motherboard).
 

Soltype

Member
Also remember people talking about staying away from certain games to prevent it.People thought gears might have contributed to it
 
the good old 360. RROD and the disc drive that sounded like a drill. i remember thinking the red ring issue was because of people not taking care of the console until my one got it.
 

Three

Member
Btw the problem wasnt even caused by microsoft on the 360. It was IBM. It wasnt the solder that goes on the motherboard, it was from the solder that connects the die to the carrier.
The YLOD was a thing but it wasn't a RROD failure rate which was above the expected 3 to 5%. And the wii? No issues there. I have several old fat laptops from that era. Not a single solder issue. Hinges on the screen broke though. Warranty companies know these failure rates and nothing matched the RROD in that era.

I mean I guess it's cool to blame everyone except those who designed the actual system. The issue was caused by a design flaw on the 360. All other consoles used PowerPC chips provided by IBM too, what made this different? Why did the Jasper motherboard revision help alleviate RROD? The issue was caused by MS' design. They had a design that would not take into account warping when heating and expected the solder to withstand it. The issue was warping on the motherboard hence why an x-clamp fix existed too.
 

Metnut

Member
Told myself I’d never buy another Microsoft console after RROD. I’ve stuck to that and it’s worked out great so far. Might finally break my promise mid-late generation if some of these XBox exclusive RPGs end up being the real deal.
 

DaGwaphics

Member
No they didn't. The Wii and PS3 were RoHS compliant and did not suffer from this. It was a poorly designed system which didn't take into account warping.

Those systems released ever so slightly later. I'm guessing their prototype units also matched the specification.
 

01011001

Member
No they didn't. The Wii and PS3 were RoHS compliant and did not suffer from this. It was a poorly designed system which didn't take into account warping.

so I see you never heard of the Yellow light of Death? which will eventually get every fat PS3 to die?
 

DaGwaphics

Member
So I see you didn't read the thread. As much as YLOD sucked it wasn't a 30-50% failure rate. On top of that Wii had absolutely no issues. Why can't people just admit it was a design flaw? Why must it be everybody elses fault.

I don't see how you figure that Xbox didn't admit the failure was a design flaw in the documentary. People are just expanding on what they think the root cause of the failure was. Not sure how this site figures this was new information, I've seen countless YT and other media outlets talk about this long before the doc was released.
 

ReBurn

Gold Member
Yup. The RROD/YLOD issues didn't go away until the slim revisions. Even the 360 "Falcon" chips RROD (mine did). It wasn't until the first 360 slim and the first PS3 Slim (which I still have) that the issue vanished due to getting the solder blend correct.
I had 2 RROD. The third console I received lasted until PS4 and One released then it ultimately failed again. The first PS3 slim is a beautiful thing. I still have mine. My OG 60 GB got YLOD and I sent it in for repair. Sony said they couldn't fix it and sent me the slim and some free games. I wish I would have been able to keep the fat one but it is what it is. But it has been a sturdy machine.
 

Three

Member
I don't see how you figure that Xbox didn't admit the failure was a design flaw in the documentary. People are just expanding on what they think the root cause of the failure was. Not sure how this site figures this was new information, I've seen countless YT and other media outlets talk about this long before the doc was released.
I didn't say the doc didn't have MS admit it was a design flaw. I'm just amazed that even after they admit it you have people here saying it affected any device from that era when it didn't or that it was actually IBMs fault.
 

ManaByte

Member
I had 2 RROD. The third console I received lasted until PS4 and One released then it ultimately failed again. The first PS3 slim is a beautiful thing. I still have mine. My OG 60 GB got YLOD and I sent it in for repair. Sony said they couldn't fix it and sent me the slim and some free games. I wish I would have been able to keep the fat one but it is what it is. But it has been a sturdy machine.

The first slim PS3 is the best PS3. And yea I got my slim when my 60gb launch one YLOD.

The top loading one is cheap shit.
 
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DaGwaphics

Member
I had 2 RROD. The third console I received lasted until PS4 and One released then it ultimately failed again. The first PS3 slim is a beautiful thing. I still have mine. My OG 60 GB got YLOD and I sent it in for repair. Sony said they couldn't fix it and sent me the slim and some free games. I wish I would have been able to keep the fat one but it is what it is. But it has been a sturdy machine.

I only lost one, my first one lasted just a little past 3yrs (lucky me) and the second Jasper unit was still alive and kicking when I sold it in 2016.
 
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