The Xbox 360 video game console is subject to a number of technical problems that can render it unusable. Many of the issues can be identified by a series of red lights flashing on the face of the console; the three flashing red lights (nicknamed the "Red Ring of Death" or "RRoD")[1] being the most infamous. There are other issues that arise with the console, such as discs becoming scratched in the drive and "bricking" of consoles due to dashboard updates. Since its release on November 22, 2005, many articles have appeared in the media portraying the Xbox 360's failure rates,[2][3][4] with the latest estimate by warranty provider SquareTrade to be 23.7%[5], and the highest estimate being 54.2% by a Game Informer survey.[6] There has been legal action taken attempting to hold Microsoft responsible for the Xbox 360's failure rate and provide compensation for those affected.[7]

Three flashing red lights


Three red lights on the Xbox 360's ring indicator representing a "General Error requiring service of the Console or Power Adapter," nicknamed the "Red Ring of Death" or "Red Lights of Death"

Three flashing red lights around the Xbox 360 power button (nicknamed the "Red Ring of Death" or "Red Lights of Death" or "Red Ring of Doom"), instead of the one to four green lights indicating normal operation, represent an internal problem that requires service.[8] Warning signs may include freeze-ups, graphical problems in the middle of gameplay, such as checkerboard or pinstripe patterns on the screen, and sound errors, and the console only responds to pressing the power button to turn it off.[citation needed] These events may happen once or several times until the hardware failure occurs, or not at all. If the console freezes occasionally, the error will not necessarily follow.

This error code is usually caused by failure of one or more hardware components, although it can indicate that the console is not receiving enough power from the power supply, which can either be due to a faulty power supply or if the power supply cable is not fully inserted into the console. The 3 flashing lights can also be caused by power surges; if the console is connected to an outlet that receives a power surge, it may have a failure and the 3 lights will appear as long as the console is plugged into the outlet. Turning off the console, unplugging all power cables and plugging them back in, and restarting the console will fix the issue in this case.[9][10]

Distinct from the General Hardware Failure is a similar-looking error warning where four red lights appear, in which case the console does not detect an AV cable is plugged in.[11] The four lights can sometimes also be seen when power surges or very brief power outages occur while the console is running, in which the console needs to be unplugged and plugged back in again to reset the error. Two red lights appear when the system is overheated.

Response to rate of failure

In the early months after the console's launch, Microsoft stated that the Xbox 360's failure rate was within the consumer electronics industry's typical 3% to 5%.[12][13][14][15] Nevertheless, Microsoft has not released its official statistics on the failure rate of the various versions of the console; the company's press relations policy is to focus on the prompt resolution of any technical problems.[16]

On July 5, 2007, the Vice-President of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business division published an open letter recognizing the console's problems, as well as announcing a three-year warranty extension for every Xbox 360 console that experiences the "general hardware failure" indicated by three flashing red LEDs on the console.[17] A source that has been identified as a team leader and key architect in the creation of the Xbox and Xbox 360 and a founding member of the Xbox team[18][19] provided insight as to the high rate of failures. The interviews suggest that Xbox 360 units that fail early in their life do so because of problems in the system design, parts supply, material reliability, and manufacturing issues as well as a system not tolerant to faults. These issues were alleged to be the end results of the decisions of management in Microsoft's Xbox team and inadequate testing resources prior to the console's release. A second source cited that, at one time, there was just a 32% yield of one of the test production runs. 68 of every 100 test units were found to be defective.[20][21]

On the 8th of February 2008, during the Game Developers Conference 2008, Microsoft announced that the "Failure rate has officially dropped", but without mentioning any specifics.[22] The same month, electronics warranty provider SquareTrade published an examination of 1040 Xbox 360s and said that they suffered from a failure rate of 16.4% (one in six). Of the 171 failures, 60% were due to a general hardware failure (and thus fell under the 3 year extended warranty). And of the remaining 40% which were not covered by the extended warranty, 18% were disc read errors, 13% were video card failures, 13% were hard drive freezes, 10% were power issues and 7% were disc tray malfunctions.[23][24] SquareTrade also stated that its estimates are likely much lower than reality due to the time span of the sample (six to ten months), the eventual failure of many consoles that did not occur within this time span and the fact that many owners did not deal with SquareTrade and had their consoles repaired directly through Microsoft via the much publicized extended RROD warranty.

People who experience the problem will find that they have to send the Xbox 360 away for repair or replacement and it may take up to 3 weeks to repair or replace. During the time of the Xbox being replaced, Microsoft and UPS will keep the client(s) updated with the current status of where the Xbox is and whether it is being repaired or replaced.

On October 17, 2008 a class action lawsuit was filed in California against Microsoft over the RROD problem.[7]

On August 28, 2009, SquareTrade published a report saying that "early indications point to the problem abating in 2009", projecting that 1-year failure rates with the Jasper chipsets might be below 4%.[25]

In June 2010 Microsoft released a new "slimmer" Xbox 360. These models indicate hardware failure differently from the original; The outer ring segments cannot turn red anymore. Microsoft has said that henceforth errors will be displayed by the center of the power button changing from green to red.[26] Additionally Microsoft will no longer give a 3 year warranty for "general failure" errors, because the Xbox 360 slim "constitutes a whole new design". Microsoft now only offers the obligatory one year warranty.[27]


Electronics industry newspaper EE Times reported that the problems may have started in the graphics chip. Microsoft designed the chip in-house to cut out the traditional ASIC vendor with the goal of saving money in ASIC design costs. After multiple product failures, Microsoft went back to an ASIC vendor and had the chip redesigned so it would dissipate less heat.[28][29]

One possible cause of the General Hardware Error may be cold solder joints. The added mass of the CSP chips (including the GPU and CPU) absorb the heat flow that allows proper soldering of the lead-free solders on the motherboard, therefore, the solder has not properly melted underneath these chips, which can lead to voids (air bubbles) and weak spots in the solder known as cold solder joints. Because of prolonged constant temperature changes inside the console, the voids cause cracking. Some officials claim this issue does not exist, and claim it is caused by a confusion over this issue. They have suggested that the dull appearance only suggests that the joints are cold soldered, as lead-free solders, even when properly soldered, take on a dull appearance that non-professionals might mistake for a cold solder joint (as the older lead/tin solder solder-joints became dull when not heated sufficiently). This suggestion is, however, rejected by the majority of experts. Lead-free solder requires a greater amount of heat (213 degrees celsius) to solder properly when compared to older lead/tin solders (185 degrees celsius).[30] The Nyko Intercooler has also been reported to have led to a general hardware failure in a number of consoles, as well as scorching of the power AC input.[31] Microsoft stated that the peripheral drains too much power from the console (the Intercooler power cord is installed between the Xbox 360 power supply and the console itself) and can cause faults to occur, and stated that consoles fitted with the peripheral will have their warranties null and void. Nyko has recently released an updated Intercooler that uses its own power source. Nyko claims this problem no longer occurs with new versions of this cooler. However, Microsoft still considers it an unlicensed add-on and will void the warranty of machines showing signs of its use. There is no data available to indicate whether the Intercooler decreases the chance of hardware failure.[31] However, if the Intercooler fails, it can hinder rather than help the overheating problems.The Intercooler can also melt itself onto the 360, melt the powercord inside of itself, or make itself extremely hard to come off.[citation needed]

The game console heats up during use, and given enough time, the temperature inside can reach very high levels due to insufficient cooling. An overheated Xbox 360 is indicated by both left quadrants lighting up red. Because of the way the Xbox 360 is constructed, this may result in stresses building up between the delicate ball grid array solder joints of the CPU and GPU and the motherboard, causing them to break. The problem is exacerbated by the specific type of lead-free solder used, a type which is more brittle than the older tin/lead solder that was used in the past and the GPU's location directly underneath the DVD drive.[32] Microsoft needed to make room for the DVD Drive, so it shrank the heat sink.

German computer magazine c't, in an article titled "Jede dritte stirbt den Hitzetod" (tr. "Every third One Dies of Heat"), published in July 2006, blames the problems primarily on the use of the wrong type of lead-free solder, a type that when exposed to elevated temperatures for extended periods of time becomes brittle and can develop hair-line cracks that are almost irreparable.[33][34] Also, according to the same article, Microsoft has created an internal account, funded with more than $1 billion, dedicated to addressing this problem. The fund would only be fully depleted by $100 in repairs to every existing Xbox 360, or complete replacement of every third Xbox 360 ever made.[35]

The article also revealed that representatives of the three largest Xbox 360 resellers in the world (EB Games, Gamestop and Best Buy) claimed that the failure rate of the Xbox 360 was between 30% and 33%, and that Micromart, the largest repair shop in the United Kingdom, stopped repairing Xbox 360s because it was unable to fully repair the defective systems. Because of the nature of the problem, Micromart could only make temporary repairs, which led to many of the "repaired" systems failing again after a few weeks. At that time Micromart was receiving 2,500 defective consoles per day from the U.K. alone.[33]

The console's design utilizes heatsinks, vented openings, and fans to aid in dissipation of heat, but the potential still exists for excessive heat buildup inside the console if these measures become insufficient. Users are advised not to obstruct air flow to the enclosure vents or power supply. Problems associated with overheating include reduced system performance and instability that may result in crashing or hardware failure. Xbox 360s with "Falcon" motherboards, which use the smaller device geometry 65 nm CPUs, are reportedly less susceptible to these failures.[citation needed]

According to the October 2007 issue of The Official Xbox Magazine, there are reports that new Xbox 360 Elites and newer Premiums, as well as officially refurbished units, have replaced the old GPU heatsink with a newer model with a heat pipe. It has yet to be determined how far this fix has gone in alleviating the issues.

Some third-party manufacturers have also introduced external cooling devices that attach to the console, and claim to help prevent the console from overheating.[36] However, reports indicate that some such devices can do exactly the opposite, including the attachment melting on the console itself, possibly damaging the internal microprocessors, and voiding the product warranty. Also, when the attachment is powered by the Xbox 360's power brick, it might overheat the power brick, causing even more problems. Third-party cooling devices are available which use their own power sources.[37]

Scratched discs


Almost at the same time the Xbox 360 was released in late 2005, customers began reporting rounded scratches found on discs used in their Xbox 360 consoles. Almost two years later, in February 2007, the website "The Llamma's Adventures" investigated the matter and concluded that some Xbox 360 drives lack a mechanism to secure the disc solidly in place.[38] Tilting or moving consoles with these drives, when operating with a disc spinning inside, can potentially cause damage to the disc, in some cases rendering the disc unusable.[39] Discs have also been scratched by stationary consoles during normal use.[40] One side of the disc can also be scratched by the disc tray if it malfunctions by closing with the disc in an odd position.[citation needed] Also, technical engineers already knew about the problem before release confirm this with Microsoft with a list of solutions.[citation needed] According to Microsoft, decreasing the disk rotation would take too much time to load a game and bumpers in the disk tray would cost 25 cents per console—a total of about 11 million dollars and a delay of the Xbox release.[citation needed] In 2005, they were accused of many technical Xbox 360 problems and a poor lack of solutions and warranty.[citation needed] According to reports in news media the new Xbox 360 Slim still scratches disks when the console is moved while spinning the disk, however the 360 S ships with a sticker informing owners that moving the console while powered on risks this.[41]

Disc replacement

Although this problem is not covered by the warranty,[42] Microsoft's Xbox Disc Replacement Program[43] will replace a limited range of scratched discs that are published in countries where the Xbox was originally sold, for a $20 fee,[44] and released a list of games that qualify for replacement.[45] Halo 3 Limited Edition was replaced at no cost until February 1, 2008 according to the Xbox Disc Replacement Program's main site. Other publishers can be contacted directly for a disc exchange, but it is unclear whether they will replace discs at no cost. Game publisher Electronic Arts details a specific program for this problem which requires the disc and original receipt, also the game must be purchased within 90 days of the request for a replacement disc, or will request a replacement charge of $20 or $25.[46]

In December 2005 (shortly after the Xbox 360's release in the United States and Canada on November 22, 2005 and around its release in Europe and Japan in early December 2005), reports of unintelligible noises from the Xbox 360 were appearing on Internet message boards.[citation needed] In response to the problem, Microsoft offered in December 2005 to replace only the Perfect Dark Zero video game "even if it was not the game that was scratched."[47] The scratched disc problem reportedly affected only a small percentage of Xbox 360 units,[47] however it became apparent in December 2005, through message board reports and growing media coverage.[48]

Kassa’s February 2007 investigation

The Xbox 360 scratched disc problem received little media coverage in 2006;[49] however, in February 2007, the Dutch television program Kassa investigated several complaints from Dutch consumers about circular scratches made in their Xbox 360 discs.[50] Some of these consumers claimed that their discs became unreadable.[50] Kassa investigation traced the problem to a design defect in which the Xbox 360 optical lens was not restrained sufficiently.[50][51] In asserting that Microsoft or at least its chain of suppliers was aware of this problem, Kassa noted that Microsoft's "TSST"[52] versions of the Samsung DVD-drive lack rubber cushions around the optical lens while identical Samsung drives sold for PCs did have these rubber cushions.[50][51] Kassa also noted that the affected Xbox 360s all seem to have been produced towards the end of 2006.[50][51]

Kassa’s April 2007 investigation

During the February 2007 investigation report, Kassa stated that either not all Xbox 360s without protective pads would spontaneously scratch discs, or that the complaints were from Xbox 360 users who had moved their Xbox during use, or who used an unstable setup.[50] Kassa's February 2007 investigation left open the question of whether consumers contributed to the rounded scratch problem by moving their Xbox 360 (TSST version) during the playing of a disc.[53] This resulted in Kassa receiving an additional 1,000 complaints over the subsequent two months, with many consumers denying the Xbox had moved when the scratching occurred, or that it had been placed in an unstable position.[40]

Prompted by consumer reaction to its February 2007 report, Kassa performed several tests with Xbox 360 units from consumers who claimed their Xbox had the problem. Kassa stabilized these consoles and positioned them at a location remote from contact by anyone. The results of the laboratory conditions test revealed that one of the nine tested Xbox 360 units had spontaneously scratched a disc after five hours of gaming. The consoles were also tested standing upright, and the test revealed that three of the nine tested Xbox 360s significantly scratched discs. The video of the complete investigation, meticulously documenting the methodology, and all the relevant details of the tests, was made ready to be aired in April 14, 2007. The videos (also with English subtitles) can be found here:[54] Weeks before it aired, however, Kassa solicited input from Microsoft Netherlands.

One day before the airing of the April 14, 2007 show, Kassa received a response from Microsoft Netherlands stating that "as a result of regular use it is possible that scratches on discs can arise",[55][56][57] and that Microsoft Netherlands "would seek a solution for the Dutch customers with this problem".[58][59] Additionally, Microsoft released the following statement ten days after the show, on April 24, 2007:

"Due to the fact that we did not participate in the experiment done by Kassa and have little insight into the methodology that was used, we cannot comment specifically on the outcome. While we are aware that discs can potentially be scratched through normal wear and tear, we have not received any widespread reports of the issue highlighted here. That said, it is important to us that all of our customers have the best gaming experiences possible, and these claims are obviously very concerning to us. We encourage any Xbox customer who believes that their discs have been scratched in the same manner as identified by Kassa, to contact us. We will examine the console and make appropriate repairs if necessary in order to restore the console to full working order, as well as provide customers with information on how to obtain replacement discs should they need them." [60]

Microsoft Netherlands now accepts these complaints from users (while within the warranty period), and offers to replace the Xbox 360 free of charge. Whether Microsoft Netherlands will also replace scratched discs is still unclear. After the official broadcast, (in a continuation of the show which can be viewed on-line, about 28 minutes into the show) a customer is shown calling the Microsoft help-desk, who is told Microsoft will replace his Xbox 360 but is denied a promise to replace his scratched games.[61] Template:Nl icon There are reports from some other regions that Microsoft will replace scratched discs if published by Microsoft.[62]

The European Commission’s June 2007 investigation of disc scratches

On June 1, 2007, European Commissioner for Consumer Protection Meglena Kuneva, after talking with the producers of "Kassa" and other Dutch consumer organizations,[63] announced that the European Commission would investigate the Xbox scratching problems, and would ask Microsoft for an Xbox replacement program for the whole of Europe. She expected Microsoft’s answer within a week.[64] Informal sources now say that Microsoft’s response was to deny the problem exists, stating that "the users are to blame".[65] But Kuneva did not react to that response, and 18 months later (4th quarter 2008) the EC’s (Meglena Kuneva’s) news site was still silent about Microsoft’s response, or about the result of the "investigation". [66][67] [68]


A man has sued Microsoft claiming the Xbox 360 scratches game discs, saying the consoles are "negligently designed and manufactured." In the lawsuit filed on July 9, 2007 in a Florida federal court, Jorge Brouwer says Microsoft has received thousands of complaints but has not replaced all scratched discs. The lawsuit seeks class-action status.[69]

Three law firms in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Los Angeles, California; and Seattle, Washington are investigating consumer complaints regarding the Xbox 360. The law firms have filed lawsuits in the United States District Court Western District of Washington at Seattle on behalf of a proposed nationwide class of customers who have suffered scratched game discs while using their Xbox 360. The lawsuit seeks class certification and reimbursement for customers for the cost of games damaged by the console; reimbursement for customers who have paid a $20 fee to Microsoft Corporation under a limited disc replacement program offered on ten Microsoft games; repair of consoles free of charge to prevent further disc scratching; and/or reimbursement for customers who have paid for an aftermarket repair solution.[70]

BBC Watchdog Investigation of Xbox 360 disc scratches (2009)

On March 23, 2009, the BBC's consumer interest program Watchdog performed an investigation into how the console scratches its own discs, after Microsoft found no issues with multiple reportedly defective consoles. A sealed test, protected from any outside interference beyond accessing games, found no problems with either console. However, a further test which attempted to simulate normal household vibrations produced a disc scratch on the previously problematic console.

Currently, Microsoft still maintains that it is the user's fault when discs are damaged, because it "makes clear with multiple warnings not to move the console with the disc inside." It also maintains that only a minority of customers are affected by this issue. However, the company did not comment on the lab tests.[71]

November 2006 update

An update patch released on November 1, 2006 was reported to "brick" consoles, rendering them useless.[72] The most obvious issue occurs after the installation of the patch, after which the console immediately reboots and shows an error message. Usually, error code E71 is shown during or directly after the booting animation.

In response to the November 2006 update error that "bricked" his console, a California man filed a class action lawsuit against Microsoft in Washington federal court in early December 2006.[73] The lawsuit seeks $5 million in damages and the free repair of any console rendered unusable by the update. This is the second such lawsuit filed against Microsoft, the first having been filed in December 2005, shortly after the 360's launch.

Following Microsoft's extension of the Xbox 360 warranty to a full year, from the previous 90 days, the California man's attorney confirmed to the Seattle Post Intelligencer that the lawsuit had been resolved under confidential terms.[74]

Video failure

In mid 2007, technology and gaming blogs began reporting about new problems with the Xbox 360 losing video output.[75][76] The problems are characterized by a blank, staticky, or grayscale video output with a proper functioning audio output and no flashing red lights on the console. The complete video failure is sometimes preceded by other graphical glitches such as an irregular saturation of green and/or red colors.[citation needed]

Others complained about not being able to view certain movies/DVDs on their HDTV using the HDMI cable. This is more likely caused by the HDTV as non-HDCP compliant.[citation needed]

E74 error


An E74 error is indicated when the lower-right quadrant of the ring indicator flashes red and displays an error message in multiple languages: "E74 System Error. Contact Xbox Customer Support". The error is caused when there's a video problem, because the Xbox 360's hardware scaler chip is damaged.[77] As of April 14, 2009, the E74 error is now covered by the three-year extended warranty, and customers who previously paid Microsoft for out-of-warranty service to correct the E74 error will receive a refund.[78][79]

It is worth noting that the E74 error is displayed in the Screens of Death article as a "Green Screen of Death" and a "Black Screen of Death" because early versions of these errors had an almost jet-black background with a hue of dark green. Later versions would show a completely jet-black background. Reports of impending Q4 red-light failure stem from users who report an abnormal display with poor, grainy video as well as black dots/artifacts appearing on the screen.

"New Xbox Experience" update issues

On November 19, 2008, Microsoft released the "New Xbox Experience" (NXE). This update provided streaming Netflix capability and avatars; however, some users have reported the update has caused their consoles to not properly read optical media.[1] Others have reported that the update has disabled audio through HDMI connections.[80] A Microsoft spokesperson stated the company is "aware that a handful of Xbox LIVE users are experiencing audio issues, and are diligently monitoring this issue and working towards a solution." Microsoft released a patch on February 3, 2009 for the HDMI audio issues.[81]

"Open Tray" error

When an Xbox 360 cannot read a CD/DVD or game disc, it may not recognize that it has a disc in its drive. Instead of "Play Game" or "Play DVD", an "Open Tray" option appears. The issue is linked to a dirty laser in the DVD drive, a magnetic problem that prevents the drive from spinning, or insufficient lubrication of the drive motor. However, disconnecting and re-connecting the Xbox 360 sometimes works. Taking out the disc, closing the tray, then re-inserting it can go around this problem, as the opening and closing of the tray tells the Xbox to read the tray for content. Also, putting in a different game/DVD may work. Lately some cases in which the Xbox 360 can not read any more discs reporting this error all the time have appeared.[citation needed] This issue can be removed if the Xbox 360 is opened and the laser is cleaned.

Also, this error can be caused because the laser travels too far on the guide rails and tries to read the center of the disc where there is no information. This can be fixed by opening the console and placing a spacer on the rail to prevent the laser from traveling too far.


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