Friday, February 20, 2009

XBox 360 3 Red Lights Problem - Which Repair Option is Best For You?

So you're cruising along playing your favorite Xbox 360 "shoot'em up game" when all of a sudden "IT" happens! Bam! You've been hit with the infamous Xbox 360 3 red lights problem.

How can you tell? Well, your screen freezes, rebooting your xBox doesn't help, and you now have 3 red flashing lights on the front panel where you used to see 4 steady green lights. Your gaming has come to a sudden halt.

What you've just experienced is a hardware failure that has struck over 30% of all Xbox 360 owners. Those three flashing red lights indicate a hardware failure caused by overheating inside the GPU (general processing unit). You see, when the engineers designed the 360 they didn't design in enough cooling to dissipate the tremendous heat generated by the processors. So the result is with extended play or possibly defective chips inside your Xbox you end up with what has now been commonly known as the "Red Ring of Death". Now what do you do?

In the overall scheme of things what you need to do is improve the cooling inside the GPU. That means getting rid of the heat buildup faster.

Here's a quick rundown of your options...

1. If your XBox is still covered by Microsoft's extended three year warranty (which covers just the 3 red lights error) your only practical choice is to send the unit back to Microsoft for repair. The reason for this is that if you open your Xbox unit, you immediately void the warranty. So if you have any other trouble with your X360 Microsoft won't repair it for free.

2. If you are not covered by Microsoft's warranty any more, you have a few other options open to you. If you are not so mechanically inclined, your best bet is probably to send your Xbox 360 out to one of the third party repair services that have sprung up since this problem has become more and more common. I recently found a person on eBay who repaired 360's that specifically had the three red lights problem. The charge was around $45 with free return shipping. That particular unit has been working perfectly ever since.

3. If you are a do-it-yourself type person, there are several 3 red light repair guides available for instant download on the Internet. Just type in the "Xbox 360 3 red light repair guide reviews" and you will get a long list of websites that review the various guides. Be careful when using these sites for honest objective information. The majority of the sites are really just glorified advertisements for a specific guide that the website owner sells as an affiliate. In any case, all these guides now come with videos so that you really don't even need to refer to the manuals anymore. I recently repaired my son's Xbox using just the videos that came with a repair guide.

4. You're fourth option is to purchase a fan unit that you install right on the box. This fan add-on essentially sucks more air out than the simple convective cooling (i.e. heat naturally rising through the ventilation holes) that was designed into the original XBox. The fan add-ons cost about $40. They've had mixed reviews. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. If the chips inside the GPU have become damaged because of the excessive heat build-up, no amount of extra cooling is going to improve your situation.

Whichever option you decide on to get your hardware repaired, you will be playing again soon enough. Sure it's frustrating but then again the Xbox is a machine and machines to break so be patient don't panic and pick the repair option that best fit your situation.

After our evaluation, we've selected this one as the best XBox 360 3 Red Lights Repair Guide.

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