• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

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


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!
I had two 360's get RROD'd on me. The first one I waited in a line for 20 hours outside of Best Buy for, only to take it home, play Perfect Dark 0 for an hour, realize how bad the game was (the amount of slowdown was crazy too), then get thr Red Ring. Then I had to wait a week for my second 360, which broke right away. Followed by another couple weeks of waiting.

Shit show.
 
south park beat a dead horse GIF

It's the fifth chapter in a documentary about Xbox. Are you expecting them to leave out one of the most spectacular hardware fails in gaming history?
 

LNXD

Neo 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.
The problem was the lead-free solders, which cracked under constant high temperature changes. When the xbox 360 was launched they don't have time to test them because they previously used lead. The wii and the PS3 launched 1 year later and the problem was already known because the xbox 360 wasn't the only one who suffered it. The chip could support the extreme changes in temperature but the solders didn't, so one of the first solutions was to improve the heatsinks so it will not heat so much.
The wii didn't have that problem because with the power it had it didn't heat up in hell.
 

sn0man

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.
Yeah. YLOD wasn’t on RROD scale. I say that as a diehard 360 fan. Probably my 3rd favorite console of all time.
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.
I didn’t know that. Where did you find that out? Interesting tidbit.
It speaks to the quality of the 360 that even with these ridiculously unacceptable issues that people still adore the console and remember it fondly (myself included).
💯 I loved my 360s. I had a launch model. Then I had RROD. I got a replacement from MS. Then I found a Jasper and traded in my replacement. I just got the Jasper out this spring to play red dead revolver BC and it still works. I also ended up with a Pro at some point for system link action (along with 2 copies of most of the 1st party and exclusive titles). That was still peak Xbox for me.
It was actually the lack of time during development they gave to temperature stress testing due to the rush they made to get it out on the shelves. I knew a few of the original engineering team in China that would tell me many things candidly when there was nobody else in the room.
China folks from IBM?
 

Excess

Member
Not news. We knew this. This is why even reballing it would eventually cause it to fail again. The issue was the shit solder they used and keeping two chips properly cooled. Horrible design.
 
ps3 had pretty big design flaws as well from memory
the shop next to where i worked at years ago made a mint machine reflowing ps3s as they were out of warranty and sony didnt cover it like MS did with theirs in our country (not sure if they did anywhere else)...the BC models (original) seemed to be the biggest offenders with a YLOD
but it seemed to give them at least another 12 months of life before you had to repeat the issue

If you were poor you could do it at home with a heat gun

Never had any issues with my Wii
I went through 4 Xbox 360s
 
so I see you never heard of the Yellow light of Death? which will eventually get every fat PS3 to die?
in my experience fixing stuff and lot of people that repair stuff corroborated, it is actually a power supply problem, after years it start to get more hot than normal and its directly touching a piece of metal that holds one of the processors(dont remember which one) that generated extra heat that may not be in consideration in the design, the quick fix its to make a bridge to separate ir a bit from the processor, or an extra fan to compensate the extra heat, I repaired a PS3 with reflow 3 times but had the same problem until I placed a PC fan directly to the power supply that fixed the problem I know of cases where they adapted a PC power supply
 
Last edited:

ManaByte

Member
Not news. We knew this. This is why even reballing it would eventually cause it to fail again. The issue was the shit solder they used and keeping two chips properly cooled. Horrible design.

MS released a six-part, four hour, documentary about the history of the Xbox. It's giving clickbait websites weeks worth of useless word-salad SEO "news" stories that are just repeating the information anyone can find for free on the Xbox YouTube channel in a much more entertaining fashion than a clickbait article written by someone trying to hit a daily word/article count for a website.
 

V4skunk

Banned
I always wondered how many x360 owners there really were! When almost every one I knew ended up buying a replacement.
Personally I had 3 rrod and on the 3rd one I think the warranty had run out and I had to buy another one.
 

nush

Member
I always wondered how many x360 owners there really were! When almost every one I knew ended up buying a replacement.
Personally I had 3 rrod and on the 3rd one I think the warranty had run out and I had to buy another one.

I had 4. It's true that it bumped up the numbers somewhat.
 

clem84

Gold Member
What blows my mind till this day is how long it took to correct the problem. For the first 3 years, a significant number of 360s sold had that problem. After the first 3 months it was obvious that thing was a complete disaster reliability wise. How can it take 3 years to fix this?
 

ParaSeoul

Member
But that wasn't the issues? Didn't the console just generate way more heat that it should have and the case didn't have enough airflow? PS3 also had an overheating problem to a lesser degree probably because they delayed it by a year,they both used IBM PowerPC processors at the time which was actually called a "thermal nightmare" at the time.
 

Great Hair

Banned
Thought it was due having too much thermal paste and that caused the cpu cooler block to loosen over time (when in a vertical position).
 
Last edited:

anthony2690

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 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 ?
I am under the impression that when they probably tested the devices, they potentially had loads of them left on for probably thousands of hours, to see if they overheated.

& Turning the device on and off, had an adverse effect that they never tested for.

I am just guessing though, it was a very insightful and interesting episode though, and honestly refreshing to see people be so open and honest about a flaw or issue, that was a bad time for the brand.
 
To be honest, I'd much rather companies respond like this, than to say "your holding it wrong".

It's always good to admit when your wrong, it's shameful to try and cover it up or blame the user.

On the other hand, selling the RROD poster is just flat out hilarious.

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.

Don't really get responses like this. MS knew about RROD very early on. There's a good chance they knew about it before launch. But for over a year they denied it, claiming it was customer fault and outright lied about the failure rate being within normal rates for electronics. It wasn't until 2007, with many articles being published and murmurings of lawsuits did they finally fess up to the problem. MS were far from good guys in this scenario. Which is why people find the overpriced poster to be in bad taste.
 
Last edited:

ManaByte

Member
Thought it was due having too much thermal paste and that caused the cpu cooler block to loosen over time (when in a vertical position).

Nope. It was lead free solder that cracked after time as the solder didn't withstand changes in temp that caused it to flex as well as older lead based solder. When it cracked it caused the die to separate from the carrier, causing hardware failure.
 

NeonGhost

uses 'M$' - What year is it? Not 2002.
I always wondered how many x360 owners there really were! When almost every one I knew ended up buying a replacement.
Personally I had 3 rrod and on the 3rd one I think the warranty had run out and I had to buy another one.
Had 2 RROD both repaired for free then traded that console in as soon as they announced the slim model whicjph was a nice upgrade since I still had a launch version with no HDMI and no Wi-Fi
 
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.

Guess you never heard of YLOD; as someone whose PS3 YLOD'd on a damn web page for video game longplays (of all things), that shit was terrible.

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.

Can't contest this, though. It's been known for a little bit as a most-probable theory the issue was in a rushed design for the internals to fit in the styling case, and not having a rigorous QA process for the motherboards to check for stress flex from heat. They also sourced system assembly across a myriad of factors contracted to 3P companies to meet the release deadline, that also probably played a role.

People should probably watch Stop Skeletons From Fighting's RROD documentary alongside the Power On one to get some great overall perspective from two sides of the coin (one from a fan, one from the company itself).
 
Last edited:

Calverz

Banned
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.
 

SkylineRKR

Member
At first they thought it were cheap clamps getting loose. But it was known that it had to do with solder melting under temp differences, and then breaking. If you reheated the Xbox with a towel it would reattach but it was temporary.

YLOD wasn't as rampant. At least not for me and my friends. We all had RRODS for at least twice. YLOD happened on my PS3 when it was 5 years old. I did have a PS3 that didn't read discs after 3 weeks, got it replaced in store.
 

FranXico

Member
YLOD wasn't as rampant. At least not for me and my friends. We all had RRODS for at least twice. YLOD happened on my PS3 when it was 5 years old. I did have a PS3 that didn't read discs after 3 weeks, got it replaced in store
Aye, nowhere near as widespread. YLOD hit my launch PS3 8 years later. I did expect some people to come into the the thread defending MS (so honest LOL) and using PS3 issues to excuse a defective console that was knowingly released in that state.

 

SkylineRKR

Member
This whole system was a fiasco. Great games but I hated the rest.

No HDMI, No built in wifi (which I still needed when i started out), pathetic HDD. Build quality was horrible compared to the old Xbox. Thing made a lot of noise, generated lots of heat around the room (good for the winter I guess), it was bulky and still the PSU was external. The drive, yeah, it was a piece of shit. Especially the Siemens drives I think. Or was it Samsung? Would scratch discs while in vert position especially, or so I was told.

First gen 360 was obviously rushed. The slim was perfect. It had built in wifi, non-proprietary HDD(?) with more space. Big enough since 360 games never had Blu Ray sizes. There was HDMI etc (since the elite, which was odd, that was an SKU with bigger drive and HDMI, in jet black.. same POS however).
 
Last edited:

Boss Mog

Member
The RROD sucked but I gotta hand it to MS, they handled it extremely well from a customer's point of view. I had two 360s get the RROD and both times MS payed for everything and even sent me a box to ship it to them in. So even if it sucked being without my console for a week or two, at least I didn't have to shell out a dime.
 

DarkMage619

Report me if I continue to console war
Aye, nowhere near as widespread. YLOD hit my launch PS3 8 years later. I did expect some people to come into the the thread defending MS (so honest LOL) and using PS3 issues to excuse a defective console that was knowingly released in that state.

Defend what? MS admitted the high failure rate in the documentary. They said they spent over a billion dollars to make the issue right. They did not know that the lead free solder would cause high failure rates unless you think they WANTED to spend billions on replacement systems.

The tester was fired for talking about internal company matters to the press. He would have been fired for speaking about any internal company issues without permission.
 
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 even my cars dsahboard had this. It was from the same era. POS suddenly added thousands of miles to my radius, tyres would fail constantly, i'd be doing 300+ mph, stuff like that.

All came down to brittle eco-friendly lead-free soldering crap. Once I replaced ALL of the solder points, everything worked again.
Same reason why I don't use E10 fuel, but E5. Everything thats good for the environment, consumer wise, is bad in other departments.
 

SirTerry-T

Member
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.
Yep, Nvidia had class action lawsuit filed against them for a similar issue with their 8600m mobile gpu, I had a Dell XPS fitted with one at the time. It was a question of when it it would fail, not if. Managed to get 10 plus years out of mine but I never used it for heavy gaming.
 

Fox Mulder

Member
Yea, cause I'm sure MS is going to admit to something like that in their own documentary.

they’re pretty candid in the whole series from Bill Gates bitching them out to Mattrick and the awful Xbox One launch.

They said they saw high rate of failure early on in testing but were in a rush to get out first and put those aside. They repaired consoles and stuff would break again. They had no idea what was causing it and were in over their heads even shutting down production at one point.
 

Fredrik

Gold Member
Are we blaming the lead-free soldering now?
There was an industry wide switch for lead-free soldering in consumer electronics, driven by EU. It’s not some short era we can look back and laugh at, we’re still living that era. RROD was caused by bad design and bad cooling. It’s not like every thing you buy stop working after 3 years.
 

SkylineRKR

Member
Are we blaming the lead-free soldering now?
There was an industry wide switch for lead-free soldering in consumer electronics, driven by EU. It’s not some short era we can look back and laugh at, we’re still living that era. RROD was caused by bad design and bad cooling. It’s not like every thing you buy stop working after 3 years.

Yeah PS3 and Wii were from the same era, and they were more reliable. The 360 really was an outlier in terms of failures. MS admitted as much themselves, otherwise they wouldn't write off over a billion for it. The onus was on them.
 

Emedan

Member
Pretty common problem honestly - Apple had some repair programs due to similar problems in their Macbooks around the same time.
 

Burger

Member
That was an interesting watch. I wouldn't say it rewrites history - but it's close. Glossing over the actual problem, and the reasons why it happened and then emphasising how great they were for fixing it.

Is there an episode about why the Kinect was a massive piece of shit?
 
Top Bottom