It is said that the problem of 'ring of death', faced by many Microsoft Xbox 360 users, is due to overheating of the system. While rendering the detailed graphics for the video game you are playing, the CPU and GPU has to work hard, which causes heat to build up inside the console. It is also said that the design of the Xbox 360 is faulty, and does not provide for the proper ventilation of the console. Overheating causes the solder joints connecting the vital parts of the system to liquefy, which ultimately disrupts the connections and leads to a crash. This is the cause of your console freezing and flashing 3 red lights on it.
The crisis demands immediate shutdown of the console and a call to the Microsoft customer care service for help. The customer care rep may solve your problem, or, more likely, advice you to take your Xbox to the service station for repair. This takes a considerable amount of time, and costs a few bucks. If your console is still valid for warranty, then you should choose this option and suffer the absence of your console with grace, because you don't have to pay for the repairs. However, if the warranty is no longer applicable to your machine, you will have to do something about the problem on your own. Getting the job done from a professional is probably the better course of action, but it can be done on your own as well.
Fixing The Ring of Death on Xbox 360
If you search on the Internet, you may come across various solutions advising you to use wet towels to cool your game console, buy a new one, or play less graphics-intensive games.
If your warranty period has not passed, do NOT attempt to do repairs on your own. Opening up the console for repairs voids the warranty, and, unless you are an expert, you may end up causing even more damage. If you are hell-bent on doing it yourself, or if the warranty period has run out, here's a handy guide. You will have to have an Xbox repair kit for this.
- Remove all the cables attached to your console, and remove the Face plate.
- A latch is located just behind the ventilation grill on the upper left side. Insert a flat-bladed screwdriver to release it.
- Perform the same operation on the latches located top center and top right of the grill. Treat the grill on the left side in the same way and remove the face plate.
- Remove the 14 screws (#8 screwdriver) located under the bottom shelf.
- Pull off the outer casing of the console, and undo the screws (#10 screwdriver) on the back panel. Pull off the two plastic inserts and the back panel.
- Pull off the metal plate after undoing the screws (10# screwdriver) on it.
- Detach the plugs on all the drives inside the Xbox 360, undo the screws around them, and remove the drives.
- Using a flat-headed screwdriver, remove the clips on both sides of the heat sink.
- Clean the area around the computer chips that are located under the heat sink, apply thermal paste to it, and leave it undisturbed for 2 hours.
- Unscrew the motherboard and lay it face down on the surface covered with a cloth.
- Remove the 8 screws from the area opposite to where heat sink was.
- Replace all of these 8 screws after placing a metal and a nylon washer on each of them.
- Turn the motherboard over without upsetting these screws. Place another set of nylon and metal washer on each of the screw.
- Tighten each of these screws into their washers from beneath the motherboard.
- Replace the motherboard, heat sink, and drives by fixing them in their proper position with the help of screws. Remember to replug the drives.
- Reassemble all the covers, grills, and panels, in the correct order and place. Take your time with this step.
The ease with which you carry out this solution depends on your experience with the machines and your dexterity. At no point in time hurry the dissembling or reassembling of your console. If you have any doubts, you may refer to a downloadable repair guide. Take it easy, and take a pause before acting on the intermediate steps. If this does not take care of the ring of death, let the service center take care of the problem.