This website is dedicated to the repair of broken Xbox 360′s due to the common Red Ring of Death (RROD). I have successfully repaired several Xbox’s with this method but as with anything, there are no guarantees. I will explain which tools are needed and provide step by step directions.
If you can’t find the parts in your local hardware store, you can purchase them here. If you are careful, and follow this guide closely, you should be on your way back to a working Xbox 360!
Note: Opening your Xbox 360 will VOID any warranty that you have remaining.
- (8) M5- .80 x 10 Hex Cap Screws(Lowes: H#880644 / 138240)
- (8) Flat #10 Nylon Washers (Lowes: H#881544 / 139065)
- (8) Flat 5mm Washers (Lowes: H#880765 / 138319)
- Artic Silver 5 Thermal Compound
- Cotton Swabs
- Tape (optional but helpful)
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Some type of cleaner: Windex, 409, Goo Gone, etc
- T8 Torx Screwdriver
- T10 Torx Screwdriver
- Small Screwdriver
- 10mm Socket
Step by Step Instructions:
Step 1 – Remove Faceplate and Hard Drive
Before you begin, make sure you have a clean workspace and that you are not on carpet. Place your thumb inside where the controllers plug in and pull the faceplate off. If you have a hard drive, press the button on the hard drive and remove it from the Xbox.
Step 2 - Remove Side Grills
The side grills can be slightly difficult to remove. If you look closely through the holes on the side of the Xbox, you will see three tabs on each side of the side panels. The tabs need to be pushed in and then the side grill should pop up. I have a pair of flat tweezers that fit nicely into the holes on the side of the Xbox. A small screwdriver or a nail should also work just fine. Do this for all six tabs on each side plate.
Step 3 - Remove Bottom Cover
At the back of the Xbox and in between the top and bottom covers, you will see 7 small slots. Each of these slots needs to be pushed in for the top and bottom covers to separate. Once you have all 7 slots pushed in, go to the front of the Xbox and release the 3 tabs that hold the top and bottom covers together. The bottom cover of the XBox should now be free to remove like a clamshell. If you have problems opening the case, you can purchase a special Xbox 360 opening tool here. Remove the DVD-ROM eject button by pulling it out of its slot.
Step 4 – Remove Case Screws (Silver) and Top Cover
Using your Torx T10 screwdriver, remove the six (6) silver screws from the bottom of the case. These are the screws that attach the top cover. I always mark the six screw holes with a black magic marker. This makes it much easier when remembering which six holes to put the silver screws back in. Do not remove the bronze screws yet or the black screws on the X’s. Now that you have removed the silver screws, the top cover should now be free to remove.
Step 5 – Remove DVD-ROM, thermal chute and cooling fan
Disconnect the two (2) cables from the back of the DVD-ROM drive (power cable and SATA cable). The DVD-ROM drive is now able to be lifted freely out of the case. The thermal chute is held in place by a tab on top of the cooling fans. Press on the tab and lift the thermal chute out. Disconnect the cooling fan power cable from the motherboard. Lift on the metal tab above the cooling fans and pull the cooling fans out.
Step 6 – Remove IR Receiver and Board
At the front of the Xbox, remove the white plastic piece by lifting it from the top. Next, using the Torx T-8 bit to remove the three (3) black screws holding the IR board. Finally, pull the IR board out from the mainboard.
Note: When reassembling, make sure the arrow on the white plastic piece is pointing up.
Step 7 – Remove Mainboard and X-Clamp Screws (Bronze & Black)
Now we are ready to remove the mainboard from the case. Using the Torx T-10 bit, Remove the nine (9) bronze screws from the bottom of the case. Next, using the Torx T-8 bit, remove the eight (8) smaller torx screws located in the center of the case at the tips of the two X’s. All visible screws on the bottom should be removed at this point.
Step 8 – Remove Mainboard
Lift the mainboard out from the case. Avoid working in carpeted areas because the mainboard is sensitive to static electricity.
Step 9 – Remove X-Clamps
The heatsinks on the CPU and the GPU are fastened to the mainboard using X-Clamps (which we will be replacing). On the back side of the mainboard, remove both X-Clamps by inserted a small headed screwdriver in between the screw the clamp. Gently pry the X-Clamps off, one post at a time.
It is very important to be careful during this step. You don’t want to slip and put a scratch on the bottom of the mainboard. Be patient. The clamps may be frustrating to remove, but they will come off eventually.
Step 10 – Remove Heatsinks and Heatsink Screws
The heatsinks can now be lifted off from the CPU and the GPU. Using pliers, remove the four (4) screws on both the CPU and GPU heatsinks (8 screws total).
If you have lint, dust, or hair in your heatsinks, now is the time to blow it out.
Step 11 – Clean Residue from Heatsinks, CPU and GPU
The remnants of the old thermal paste needs to be thoroughly removed from the bottom of the CPU & GPU heatsinks AND from the top of the CPU & GPU. Using an old credit card or a flat piece of plastic is a good way to remove most of the remnant thermal compound from the heatsinks. To get it even cleaner, use cotton swaps and rubbing alcohol. Goo Gone works very well also. The heatsinks may need some scrubbing but try to get all of the old residue off. The goal is to get the heatsinks looking like fresh metal and the CPU and GPU should have a mirror like finish.
Be easier on the CPU and GPU and try not to get them too wet. Once again, this may take quite a few cotton swabs, but it is important get these as clean as possible. Symptoms of heat are the main reasons for an Xbox to fail. Applying new thermal compound PROPERLY can significantly reduce the normal operating temperature of your Xbox.
On some units, the old thermal paste had smeared so far that it was actually covering the circuitry on top of the GPU. If this is the case with yours, make sure you clean all of the old thermal paste off. Use your credit card and slide it between the chips to make sure the thermal paste isn’t connecting them. Thermal paste is conductive so you do not want it touching two different components on the chip.
Step 12 – Apply Artic Silver 5
Make sure both the CPU and GPU are clean, dry, and free from any fibers before proceeding.
Put a small dab of Artic Silver 5 on three areas; the single die on top of the CPU, and the two dies on top of the GPU. It is important not to put on too much thermal paste because it will have the opposite effect of its purpose. Using your finger, gently dab the thermal paste around on the surface of the dies until you have a nicely even, paper thin layer. Check for low spots and make sure the dies are completely covered. Adjust thermal compound if needed. Do not apply the thermal compound to the heatsinks! Wash and dry your hands.
Step 13 – Clean Traces
This step is optional but suggested. On some units, you will see what looks to be water stains on the mainboard circuitry. I am not completely sure what this is or what causes it, but I always use a cotton swap with rubbing alcohol to clean away anything that appears to be a water stain, especially if the stain is over the metal traces in the mainboard.
Step 14 – Insert New Screws and Washers
Insert your new M5- .8 x 10 screws into the mainboard from the bottom. Next, place a plastic washer on top of the screw threads so that the mainboard is between the screw head and the nylon washer. On top of the nylon washers, place a zinc washer. Make sure to only use two washers per screw because the distance between the mainboard and the heatsinks must be 2mm. Each washer is 1mm.
There should now be 8 screws coming up from your mainboard with the metal washers on top, above the nylon washers. It is helpful to put tape over each of the screw heads on the bottom of the motherboard. This will help hold the screws in place while you complete the next step.
Step 15 – Replace CPU and GPU Heatsink
Line up the holes in the bottom of the CPU and GPU heatsinks with their respective protruding screws from the mainboard. Tighten the screws from the back of the mainboard using your 10mm socket. The screws need to be tight, but not too tight. If you have problems getting the heatsinks back on without the screws falling out, remove either the CPU or GPU screws and do one heatsink at a time.
Make sure all eight (8) screws are tightened and the nylon and metal washers are all in place before proceeding to the next step.
Step 16 – Hook up for Testing
Place the mainboard back into the metal case. Sit the DVD-ROM drive in the case on top of the GPU heatsink. Hooking up the two cables for the DVD-ROM is optional. The only reason the DVD drive needs to be in is to cover the GPU heatsink, causing it to overheat faster.
Put the IR board back onto the front of the unit. Don’t worry about the plastic IR piece or the IR board screws as they are not needed at this time. Leave the cooling fans removed and disconnected.
Step 17 – Overheat
In this step we will intentionally overheat the Xbox. This will help the Artic Silver 5 settle in and will also help reconnect loose solder points on the CPU, GPU and memory.
Hook up the power cable and video cable to the back of the Xbox and turn your Xbox on. Push the small peg where the power button usually is to turn the unit on. You may notice that your Red Ring of Death is gone! However, it is important to continue through the rest of this guide.
Note: If you did not re-attach the two (2) DVD-ROM cables, the power LED will flash.
Leave the Xbox turned on until you see TWO FLASHING RED LIGHTS. This is the Xbox telling you it is overheating. Sometimes it may take 10-20 minutes before the two (2) red lights appear. Once you see the two red lights flashing, LEAVE THE UNIT ON FOR ONE (1) MINUTE AND THEN TURN THE UNIT OFF.
If you leave the Xbox running for much longer than 1 minute after overheating, you may cause permanent damage to your Xbox!
At this time, your Xbox is extremely hot. Avoid touching either heatsink until they are cooled down.
Step 18 – Sit and Wait
With the XBox powered off, wait one (1) hour to give the XBox enough time to thoroughly cool down back to room temperature. DO NOT put the unit in a refrigerator or freezer. If the heatsinks are still hot to the touch, let it sit longer.
Step 19 – Tighten Screws and Reassemble
During the overheating process, the screws may have loosened. Remove the IR board, DVD-ROM, and lift the motherboard from the case one final time. Tighten the eight (8) screws holding in the heatsinks if necessary.
Step 20 – Complete!
Re-assemble the unit by following the disassembly instructions in reverse order. Your Xbox should now be cured of the Red Ring of Death.
I hope this guide helps you. Feel free to leave any comments or suggestions. If this method works for you, please let me know!
- Chris Kirby