Wednesday, 29 February 2012

How to fix the Red Ring of Death – Xbox 360

The RROD is generally caused by damaged solder joints under the CPU, GPU, HANA or Southbridge chips.  It can also be caused by other damaged components but this is rare.

The best thing about the xbox 360 is it gives you an error code when red lights show.  This can be found by doing the following…

  • Turn the xbox 360 on, and wait till the 3 red lights are flashing.
  • Press and hold the sync up button (the small white one), while holding that button press the eject button.
  • The LEDs will now blink the first number in the code (as described below).
  • Release the eject button and press it again.
  • The LEDs will now blink the second number of the code.
  • Release the eject button and press it again.
  • The LEDs will now blink the third number of the code.
  • Release the eject button and press it again.
  • The LEDs will now blink the forth number of the code.
  • Release the eject button and press it again.
  • The LEDs will go back to the 3 red flashing lights.

You should be able to determine the difference between the 3 flashing lights and the error code lights by the rate in which they flash.

Here is how you interpret the LEDs to get the code number:

  • All four lights flashing - 0
  • One light flashing - 1
  • Two Lights flashing - 2
  • Three lights flashing - 3

Then look up the error code here -

Now most errors can be fixed quite easily by using a X Clamp replacement kit.  I sell a few varieties of these kits on my website and they start at £4!

Here’s how to fit the basic kit…

To Remove the X clamp

Looking at the bottom of the motherboard you will see the 2 ‘X-clamps’. Be very careful at this point as one slip with the screwdriver may cut a track and kill your xbox. To help prevent this, use 2 layers of selotape and make a selotape square around the xclamp so if you do slip you will catch the tape and protect the board.

Use a small flat screwdriver and prise one corner off. Insert the screwdriver as shown below. Twist anti clockwise to push out the bottom tab. That corner should spring off. The next one should be easier and so on. Remove both x clamps.

Now gently push the studs through the holes and the heat sinks should just drop off.

When you have removed the heat sink use a pair of pliers or a 10mm spanner to remove the 4 studs from each one.

Remove the old thermal paste from both the processors and the heat sinks. To do this you can use a match stick or a plastic card, or a cotton bud with the cotton removed. Use either of these to scrape as much of as you can as the alcohol wipe is only to polish up at the end. There seems to be 2 types of paste that MS used. Either really hard, brittle paste or nice soft paste. As you can guess the softer one is much easier to remove. The processors should be nice and shiny now as shown below.

Apply a thin layer of paste to the processors, only to the shiny metal part. It’s difficult to get the thickness right. You only need a thin layer of paste, about as thick as a layer of paper. The paste supplied with my kits will not conduct electricity and so will not affect any other components if it comes into contact with them.

Put a small amount on the processor and spread thinly and evenly with a credit card.

Apply a very thin layer to the heat sink. As per the pictures below. On the heat sink we only need enough to fill the tiny pits and grooves, to make a nice even surface for the processor to make contact with. The excess will be pushed out so we need as little excess as possible.

The pictures above show the old paste I used to use. This was a lot thinner and more difficult to spread evenly. The HY810 Silver/Graphite paste is much thicker and easier to work with. You still only need a thin layer of it though.

Your GPU heatsink may also look like this, if you have a newer console...

With the paste on the chips you are ready to put it all together.
We’re not going to use the old x clamps.

Set 4 screws with a nylon washer on each. Put them through the 4 holes surrounding a processer. You could hold them in place with a strip of tape or hold them with your fingers from underneath.
This is the tricky part.

Put a nylon washer followed by a metal one on each screw poking through the board as shown
Place your heat sinks onto the screws and hold them in place with one hand while carefully putting a couple of turns on each screw to keep the washers from falling off. I place the unit on the edge of a table and from below poke my screwdriver through the tape and turn the screw in a few threads.
Do not tighten any of them completely yet.
Push the heat sink down onto the processor and hold it there square. Turn each screw gently until you feel a little resistance. Do this to every screw before actually tightening them down.
With each screw thumb tight, tighten the screws ¼ turn at a time in opposite corners. So start top left, then bottom right. Top right then bottom left and repeat until the screws are fairly tight. Tightening down one side and then the other can result in a cracked processor die or bad solder connections on one corner.
Put the board back in the metal case. – Rear first.
Plug in the power button/ring of light board.
Plug in the DVD drive.
Plug in the fan.
Place the fan as shown in the picture below.

Now for the most important part...
This step requires you to overheat the GPU. The temperature sensor for the system is in the CPU, the one with the tall heat sync on it. To get the GPU to reach a high enough temperature so that the broken solder joints under it melt and reform, we need to cool the CPU so it thinks that it is at normal operating temperature, while the GPU has no airflow and is allowed to get hot.
With the console on a firm level surface, power on your Xbox 360. Some boxes may now work because the solder joints are touching with the pressure from the new screws. You still need to follow this step to make sure the solder melts and reforms properly. It will last longer this way.
Other boxes will still be getting 3 red lights. Don’t worry this is fine.
Heat the console for 30 – 40 minutes. Don’t move the box as when it is hot the solder may be
liquid and shock may move the solder.

Remember if you have 4 red lights the console will shut itself down.
If the fans don’t come on or come on and then stop, release all of the heat sink screws by ¼ of a
turn and try again.
When the time is up, power down your Xbox. Leave it perfectly still and wait for it to cool. 10 – 15 minutes should be enough.
Unplug the fan and put it in it’s right place.
Plug it back in.
Replace the white duct.
Replace the drive.

Full instructions, including how to take the Xbox apart, are provided with our kits at


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