Monday, February 23, 2009

Xbox 360 "Black Screen, No Video, No Sound" Problem

Okay, so I think my Xbox 360 has died again. Far as I can tell, this is the exact same problem I encountered in December. I was playing a game and out of nowhere, the graphics got all weird and discolored, with phantom red and green shades of color added to everything (like when you change Windows to display in only 16 colors, but worse). For a few days, it would go through this routine and I could play for an half an hour or so before the graphics would go haywire again (on the dashboard, in-game, the works), like a precursor to the unfortunate events to come. Eventually the system failed to work at all, turning on and making the familiar hardware boot-up noises and spinning green controller lights, but showing only a black screen and offering no sound output at all.

I did some research online and found that this is some kind of new hardware problem, similar in nature to the infamous "Red Rings of Death" (RRoD), or "3 Red Rings" problem. Apparently the system gets so hot that over time the motherboard can bend and warp. This can cause the X-Clamps (pictured above) that hold the heat sinks in place to flex, popping off the soldering points and jeopardizing the CPU and GPU. I don't how this is different from the previous RRoD errors. Maybe the repairs Microsoft made have caused the system to be vulnerable to this new problem. Maybe they changed the way the hardware handles the RRoD error to some new symptom, saving them the costs of repairing the many overworked systems that still fall under the extended 3-year warranty.

Conspiracy theories aside, the hard simple facts are this.. My system was repaired once in the summer of 2007, after only 5 months of ownership. The system Microsoft returned to me was a refurbished 360 (not my original console), and it seemed to work for another 18 months or so, before giving up the ghost again. This new error I received was not the same RRoD-related problem, and so my now out-of-warranty system would take $140 for an official repair from Microsoft. Instead, I decided to get my system repaired at my local Play N Trade for much cheaper, and it worked fine for 2 months before succumbing to the same sorry fate once more. I am fed up with paying any more for repairs on a game system I enjoy using, but loathe servicing.

I have decided to roll up my sleeves and take the plunge into repairing the system myself using this free tutorial or others like it on the site. Since I've already had it repaired once and have probably already voided my warranty because of that, I feel like it's either this or buying a brand new system (cheapest model, 360 Arcade, costs $200), so I figure it's worth a shot. Wish me luck! I'll post more details as the situation unfolds.

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