360 Temp Tests, An Editorial

Sorry, lots of text and no pics.

As someone who’s had 6 red rings in one year, I’ve earned the right to be angry at the Xbox 360. I love the games, the online service, and the experience it brings…but can’t stand the console. Calling it one of the worst designed pieces of tech is being too nice. It is straight up trash.

Like a crack addict, or in this case achievement whore, no matter how bad it treats me I keep coming back. I wish I didn’t have to, I wish that there were other, less abusive alternatives, but against my better judgment I always come crawling back, hoping that my 360 will change. It doesn’t.

It’s no secret that the 360 over heats, and that this causes a 4-6 week vacation from gaming. And since Microsoft isn’t capable of finding an acceptable solution to their problem (I’ve had my 360 return, only to brick again), I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.

With the help of some insane tech head friends of mine, who basically did all the work while I supervised (I’m the last person you’d want messing with a screwdriver, much less an open and exposed naked 360), we ran some temperature tests to see how best to tackle this issue.

Please note: I’m sure that these are not 100% official MS approved measurements, but we did the best we could to get untainted results.

For our little test we used four separate Xbox 360s. We let them run for an hour, in a completely open space, each running a copy of PGR 4, and then measured the GPU’s temperature using a multimeter, which should have given us precise readings. Why the GPU? Because that is what over heats and causes the RROD. And is also why the new Falcon boards, with smaller and more efficient CPUs, may end up dieing in droves. I digress.

In these tests we ran one 360 as is out of the box, one with the cover removed (lying horizontal, all the goods exposed), one closed and with two internal after market fans (the “Whisper Fan” and the “XCM Add-On“), one exposed with the same fans. How did we get the internal temps of the closed 360s? The cover was snapped on, not screwed, which allowed us to quickly remove it and take the temp before precious heat was lost.

Xbox 360 setup and GPU temp after one hour:

  • Stock 360, no added fans: 80 C
  • Open 360, no added fans: 70 C
  • Stock 360, whisper fan + xcm add-on: 54 C
  • Open 360, whisper fan + xcm add-on: 44 C

We were surprised that after only one hour (and who only plays one hour?) the temperature was so high. Add dust, enclosed entertainment sets, and prolonged use to this and suddenly all those red rings make sense. Horrible design confirmed. The additional fans were quite successful in lowering the internal GPU temp, meaning less/no more red rings. It should be noted that the fans, despite being advertised as “whisper quiet”, are anything but. Thought that the 360 was loud before? Try adding more fans to it.

So what’s the point of this very long write up? If you’re tired, like me, of MS support spending more time with your 360 than you, then tossing in a fan or two might be a good idea. That is, if you know what you’re doing, since cracking that thing open voids the 3 year warranty.

I feel like I wrote a science report.

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  • Kosamus

    I live in an ice box of a house, maybe that why my launch console hasn’t hit the red death. Great story and really kept my interest. Its scary voiding that warranty for a safegaurd though. Do those 3rd party cooling rigs help the temperature remain any less hot? That may be a safer solution if it prevents the 3Rings.

  • For Americans those temps are
    80 C = 176 F
    70 C = 158 F
    54 C = 129.2 F
    44 C = 111.2 F

    but instead of measuring the temperature of the GPU’s which is not where the “Red Ring” problem is. could you measure the temperature of the solder joints where the GPU is soldered to the motherboard?

    as pointed out by numerous sources the issue that causes the RROD is that they used “the wrong type of lead free solder was used, a type that when exposed to elevated temperatures for a long time becomes brittle and can develop hair-line cracks that are almost irreparable.” from a German magazine that also did similar tests.

    And I would like to point out that almost all lead free solder has a melting point of at or above 200 C = 392 F. which is not close to the temperature recorded.

    Where these 360s plugged into a surge protector or direct to outlet? were all plugged into the same surge protector?

    Also you had them on for an hour, my last 360 that RR was on for 5 seconds and went to the RR . So while heating up is probably the main reason for this I can’t believe it is the only reason and i’ll save that conspiracy for another day.

    Good experiment! and thanks for trying to get to the bottom of all our issue. god knows MS won’t tell us..

    & I feel for you that you lost 6 360s this year, i lost 2 this year and 3 total since launch. and i’m the last guy thats going to make excuses for MS but like you say we keep coming back… its a conundrum!

  • TeeTocks

    Hmmm, maybe Microsoft could’ve run similar test before they sent these radioactive puppies to the market. But then again, that would’ve wasted precious ‘beat the other consoles’ time.

    Oh well, I love playing musical 360s. It’s like having parental controls on me, if M$ sees that I’m gaming too much…flip a switch and brick my system, I need the break.

    My NES is still running strong…darn this next gen overheating gaming crap.

  • Thrillhouse17

    Infected, you pretty much answered your own question. Your 360 was on for 5 seconds and it ringed? Because “when exposed to elevated temperatures for a long time becomes brittle and can develop hair-line cracks”.

    I checked back, and the high melting point is a mute point, since while lead may not melt and can take the heat, it’s surroundings can’t. Heat is the 360s issue.

  • K how does “5 seconds” turn into “long time”? and what “elevated temps”? in 5 secs i doubt the CPU has enough time to reach a “elevated temp”.

    “and the high melting point is a mute point, … Heat is the 360s issue.” can you contradict yourself anymore in a sentence.

    The high melting point of the LEAD FREE SOLDER (if there is lead in our 360s we are seriously screwed) is totally the point. the solder is made to start melting before “its surroundings”. if it didn’t solder would not be able do its job of joining to pieces of metal together.

    and What does “i checked back” mean?

    I totally agree that heat is the issue, but it is not the CPUs heat that causes the RR, it is the solder loosening up and making the CPU separate from the motherboard. been proving already and i like your experiment and hypothesis just needs to be a little refined and tested again.

    For example, as asked before where were these 360s plugged in at? power strips are known to cause electrical flickers that could cause issues.
    The power supply made for the 360 is only designed for the stock components in the 360. adding this fans, will not only void a warranty, they will change the power requirements the 360 needs, possible making it draw more the the 203watts the original power supply supplies, which would make them heat up even faster.
    if you notice on the new falcon chips the 360 only needs 175watts, which is going to further reduce the heat produced inside the xbox. AND WILL ELIMINATE THE THREE RED RING ISSUE, except in the instances that people keep putting their consoles inside a closed area with no ventalation. there is no help for these people, as they will never understand.

    and if you look up the operating temps for the Xenon or “waternoose” processor you will find your temps are well within its specs.

  • i forgot a question. sorry..

    Are these PAL or NTSC 360s?

  • Wes

    Pshhh… This isnt a problem for me… I repair consoles and with MY MODS I get the GPU to run at 41.2C with my NEVERFAIL Cooling System…

    I also built custom 360’s with even lower temps then that without watercooling..