The History Of The Red Ring Of Death

The latest consoles from Playstation and Xbox have had their critics. They’ve received a fair amount of praise too if we are being fair. And while they both have had flaws, they’ve seemingly committed themselves to improvements in software which has helped elevate both consoles to be as close to flawless as you can get. It is far removed from their predecessors. If you have owned an Xbox 360 there is a good chance you have experienced the infamous, Red Ring of Death.

What is the red ring of death?

The red ring of death (or rrod) is a set of lights that appeared on your Xbox 360 consoles. It was a built-in warning system to show particular errors. There were several errors that the lights could mean, but the one that everyone feared was the rrod.

So it was just Xbox?

Specifically, the red ring of death was exclusively an Xbox problem, yeah. But that does not mean that the PS3 did not have its own catastrophic fault. Sony’s machine was prone to a similar error known by the less catchy title of the yellow light of death. (Or ylod) I mean it may have been far less common than the issues with Microsoft’s machine but seriously, that is a weak name for a system breaking error, don’t you think?

Diagnosing the fault

Here is the thing about the ring, sometimes those red lights showed up for other stuff too. Countless were the heart in mouth tines when I thought my console was a “gonna” only to realise my power lead wasn’t plugged in properly. So what did the rrod look like? It was three red lights flashing if your console showed that you were in trouble.

So what was the cause

The actual cause is a bit of a mystery, some have pointed to overheating. The net result was often damaged solder on the console’s motherboard around its central processing unit, but that was a symptom rather than a cause. What is crazy is that Microsoft claims to have performed extensive overheating trials without issue, perhaps then the progressing tech used in games pushed the system to its limits, whatever the case it caused Microsoft to extend their warranties to three years costing the company an estimated billion pounds. That is some chunk of change!

The fixes

Because Initially not a lot was known about this issue there were a lot of consoles exceeding their standard year’s warranty and therefore people were looking at solutions that didn’t involve expensive repairs. There were two prominent “solutions” one advanced and one archaic.

Replacing the x clamps

This was the technical one. It involved opening the Xbox’s case and removing the central processor, applying a new layer of thermal paste and then placing it back In place. If you were especially unlucky you might need to do some soldering too. The YouTube tutorials made it look easy, it was not and I borked a console attempting this method. I’d built PCs before, but consoles aren’t designed with easy replacements in mind!

The tea towel trick

I don’t know why this worked but it often did. Leaving your console on overnight, wrapped up tight got it nice and toasty and often gave you a few hours playtime afterwards without issue. Of course, this method was an absolute fire hazard and should never have been a thing but when all you want to do is get online with your mates…yes I tried it…yes it worked…yeah I’m an idiot!

Will it ever happen again?

Doubtful. It was a costly PR nightmare for Microsoft which lost them credibility and cash. It was born out of a need for style over functionality and is likely to be a mistake they never repeat.

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