The red wreath of death

A few days before Christmas my Xbox 360 decided to pack up. The blessed thing couldn’t have picked a worse time – I’d just bought Call of Duty 4 and have been looking forward to giving Mass Effect extensive play over the festive period. After hearing the horror stories of Microsoft taking up to five weeks to return faulty consoles I thought I’d have a look on the internet for a solution.

It turns out that the ‘red ring to death’ is caused by solder coming loose from the graphics chip and CPU – apparently Microsoft use lead free solder, which is more brittle than the older tin/lead solder. Rather than get my soldering iron out though, a few ingenious people have managed to find a cure that doesn’t even involve opening up the white beast. In fact, all you need is a couple of towels.

The most amazing thing is that this solution actually worked – the idea is to place the Xbox on its side then cover it with two towels and switch it on. After fifteen minutes or so it’ll become so hot inside that the solder will melt and, hopefully, restore a connection between the CPU/GPU and motherboard. Just remember to let it cool down for another fifteen minutes before switching it back on, so that the solder can set.

If this quick-fix fails, you could always try this more physical approach.