Identifying the Red Ring of Death

I am the current dissatisfied owner of an x-box 360 elite. If you are reading this, you probably are, too. Why am I dissatisfied? Well… I’m dissatisfied because my x-box is no longer a wonderful piece of disc-reading, entertainment-providing, stress-relieving technology. It is now a giant paperweight. With a fancy-schmancy “X” on it. Sitting on my living room floor and waiting for me to decide its fate.

The first step, of course, is to decipher what this horrible red mark means.

So. Lay your x-box down on its side. This is the proper orientation for identifying the red ring of death. Your power button has a circle around it that is divided into four quadrants. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to label them. The top left is quadrant one, top right is quadrant two, bottom left is quadrant three, and bottom right is quadrant four. Got it? Good. Hit the power button.

Now… What do you see?

1. Green lights on any or all quadrants – This means your xbox is functioning properly. Put in a disc and see if it randomly has started working again. Stranger things have happened. But most likely the disc will cause your red flashy lights to come back.

2. Quadrant 4 is flashing red – Hardware Failure. I’ve found very little information about this particular error. It is not as common as the other errors. Microsoft’s website says to unplug everything, pop out the hard drive, wait for a while, and then plug it all back in. If that doesn’t fix it, the next solution is to send it in for repairs.

3. Quadrants 1 and 3 are flashing red – Your unit has overheated. Leave it alone to cool down. They say five minutes, but do you really want to risk it? Leave it for at least 20 minutes, and find a place with better airflow to put your machine.

4. Quadrants 1, 3, and 4 are flashing red – General Hardware Failure. This most likely means that a hardware component has actually become disabled. This is, a lot of the time, caused by the cold solder on the graphics chip cracking due to the dramatic temperature fluctuations inside the machine.

The three flashing lights can also mean that your console is not receiving all the power that it should from the power supply. Make sure the supply is all the way inserted into the machine. Check that the light on the power supply is green when the console is turned on. If it is red, you may need a new power supply. However, before you run off and purchase a new one, try unplugging the supply from the wall and from the console. Let it sit for 20 minutes or so and then plug everything back in. If it worked… great! If not, find a new cable. Maybe from someone else who lost their x-box to an untimely red ring of death.

5. All quadrants are flashing red – AV Cable Error. This warning actually does not show up on systems that have an HDMI connection. But if you don’t, and this shows up, double-check that your AV cables are fully inserted into each connection.

So… now you at least know what kind of red ring you have. That’s about where I am right now. Since I don’t have any desire to send my box away and pay $150 to have it fixed, I’m researching my other options.