Red Ring of Death
The Xbox 360 had technical issues at launch, the most common of these being the "Red Ring of Death". Another common issue was an E74 error message that would appear on the screen when the console started instead of the normal console startup sequence.
Three flashing red lights around the Xbox 360 power button instead of the up to four green lights indicating normal operation and how many controllers are connected represent an internal problem that requires service for the console to work again. This error was soon nicknamed the "Red Ring of Death".
Warning signs may include freeze-ups, graphical problems in the middle of gameplay, such as checkerboard or pinstripe patterns, strange green blotches on the screen or the whole screen shutting down, and sound errors; mostly consisting of extremely loud noises that can be affected by the volume control, and the console only responds to pressing the power button to turn it off.
This error code is usually caused by failure of one or more hardware components, although it can indicate that the console is not receiving enough power from the power supply, which can either be due to a faulty power supply or if the power supply cable is not fully inserted into the console.
The 3 flashing lights can also be caused by power surges; if the console is connected to an outlet that receives a power surge, it may have a failure and the 3 lights will appear as long as the console is plugged into the outlet. Turning off the console, unplugging all power cables and plugging them back in, and restarting the console may fix this issue in some cases.
How It Works
There are four quadrant lights on the main power button of the console. They show in the order of how they are in, regardless of whether the console's orientation is changed. Q1 is the top left quadrant, Q2 is the top right, Q3 is the bottom left, and Q4 is the bottom right.
When the console is working perfectly, the quadrant light will be green. The number of quadrants lit indicate how many controllers you have connected to the console.
If a hardware component has failed, Q4 flashes red. A two digit code will be shown on the TV (like the infamous E74 error).
General Hardware Failure
If more than one hardware component has failed, then Q1, Q3, and Q4 flash red. Unlike the regular hardware failure, no error is shown on the TV.
If the console has reached an extremely high temperature, about 100 degrees or more, then the console will shut down the CPU and GPU, and the fan will run at full speed while the Q1 and Q3 are flashing. Players will have to wait for a while until the console has finally cooled down to a sufficient level to play again.
AV Cable Error
This error occurs when the AV cable hasn't been plugged in or if a serious error has occurred (such as the cable getting damaged). When this happens, all four of the quadrants will start to flash red. An error code will only be shown for consoles that do not have an HDMI connection, but not for consoles that do.
In the early months after the console's launching, Microsoft stated that the Xbox 360's failure rate was within the consumer electronics industry's typical 3% to 5%. Nevertheless, Microsoft has not released its official statistics on the failure rate of the various versions of the console.
On July 5, 2007, Peter Moore, the Vice President of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business division published an open letter recognizing the console's problems, as well as announcing a three-year warranty from the original date of purchase for every Xbox 360 console that experiences the "general hardware failure" indicated by three flashing red LEDs on the console.
- In Borderlands' DLC, Claptrap's New Robot Revolution, when the player destroys a Claptrap unit, the robot may say "I see three red lights." An obvious reference to the Xbox's red ring of death.