Print 112 comment(s) - last by nanogeektech.. on Mar 31 at 1:39 PM

Xbox 360 failures are on the rise since the launch of the New Xbox Experience

A known Xbox 360 hardware issue is beginning to surface in significant numbers recently based on research conducted by video game site Joystiq. Tentatively called the Xbox 360 E74 error, one of the lights on the “Ring of Lights” on the front of your Xbox 360 console flashes red and you receive the error code and message: "E74. System Error. Contact Xbox Customer Support". The symptoms involve the bottom right portion of the indicator ring repeatedly flashing on and off and lines or snow will become visible across the screen.

According to the initial Joystiq article posted on March 13, the Microsoft representative Joystiq contacted told them she wasn't familiar with the problem and that they were looking in to the issue. The E74 error is a known issue that is recognized by Microsoft and is documented on Microsoft’s own support site complete with diagrams. The support site has a last revised time stamp of March 3, 2009 as of this writing, predating the Joystiq article that broke the story.

Microsoft’s support site provides no explanation for the error other than to state, “This behavior occurs when the Xbox 360 console experiences a hardware failure.” Joystiq theorizes the E74 error is related to a hardware video problem where the ANA/HANA scaling chip on Xbox 360s equipped with HDMI functionality has come loose.

The main theory put forward that tries to explain why this particular hardware issue is being seen more frequently is the increased graphical stress caused by the introduction of the New Xbox Experience. The New Xbox Experience was launched on November 19 and provided Xbox Live users with a complete rework of the user interface.

One of the significant changes introduced by the New Xbox Experience was the removal of the blade interface. The blades allowed users to access pages of information and features quickly due to the fact they are stacked on top of each other. The new interface uses full windows to spread out the screen.

Another significant change introduced by the New Xbox Experience was the implementation of a graphical avatar system. Users are allowed to choose their avatar from a large group; each avatar is dressed differently, has a unique hair style, and skin color. Once you have chosen your avatar, you are allowed to customize it with new clothing, accessories, and hair. The stress caused by these visual changes may be what is taking many Xbox 360s to the breaking point for unlucky customers.

An interesting pattern can be seen on a Google Trends chart that shows a noticeable spike in users researching the E74 error in November 2008 right around the launch of the New Xbox Experience.

Joystiq’s analysis of survey respondents show a similar pattern of increased E74 failures starting in November of last year. A conspiracy theory making the rounds speculates Microsoft may have changed the system diagnostics test to report Red Ring of Death error as E74 instead to save money. For errors reported as E74, it would force customers to pay $100 for the repair if the error occurs later than 12 months after purchase. The E74 error is not covered under the 3-year extended warranty set in place for the Red Ring of Death malfunction. Joystiq points out that this theory is unlikely because survey respondents are still reporting Red Ring of Death errors after the launch of the New Xbox Experience.

On March 19, Joystiq posted Microsoft’s official response to the E74 issue where they stated:

E74 is a general hardware error on Xbox 360 indicated by a single red flashing light in the Xbox Ring of Light and an error message visible on the television. This error is unrelated to the three flashing red lights error and there is not a single root cause. We encourage anyone who receives this error to contact Xbox Customer support through or 1-800-4-MY-XBOX. The majority of customers who own Xbox 360 consoles continue to have a terrific experience from their first day, and continue to, day in and day out.

As pointed out by Joystiq, Microsoft’s response fails to adequately answer what causes the E74 error, if there has been an increase in incidents, and why it is not covered while the Red Ring of Death is. The evidence is mounting as Joystiq has posted an update on March 23 showing E74 errors have definitely increased since the introduction of the New Xbox Experience. It remains to be seen how long it takes Microsoft to acknowledge there is an issue and deal with in a way that satisfies their current customers. As past history shows an adequate response may take time.

Microsoft’s top game executive, Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment & Devices group, said at a dinner in July 2008 that Microsoft’s own research shows that gamers have largely forgiven the company for defective Xbox 360s. Depending on how this issue is handled current customers may not be so quick to forgive.

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RE: Not Suprised...
By omnicronx on 3/24/2009 11:39:34 AM , Rating: 0
Personally I blame the added heat of people running games off their hard drives. Unless you are throwing your 360 around, nothing should cause the interconnects to became separated. Also being dusty and dirty should not have anything to do with this issue.

I have heard of countless reports of games freezing and being glitchy when playing off the HD, not to mention how hot the console seems to get compared to using the DVD drive.

RE: Not Suprised...
By 4runnerxp on 3/24/2009 11:43:33 AM , Rating: 2
I play cod4 off my hard drive all the time and I never experience any problems with it. Sometimes though I play fifa 08 off my dvd drive and it freezes up. Shouldnt it be the other way around with your theory, or my 360 is just screwed. I never had this problem with either of my ps2's and ive had them for 7 years now, and I have never heard of this many problems with a ps3. I just think its microsoft being microsoft.

RE: Not Suprised...
By quiksilvr on 3/24/2009 1:33:58 PM , Rating: 2
I cannot condone the fact how much Microsoft has messed up the 360 with respects to its hardware and now even its software. How do you take out a 150 W to 200W ac adapter OUT of the console and it STILL has a horrible failure rate? I just cannot comprehend it for the life of me. HOW DO YOU MESS UP THAT BADLY?

Another huge mistake was wasting time and money with NXE. I would have much rather had a revamped blade interface and a cleaner xbox live marketplace like how the PS3 did with theirs. There is no need for avatars and all the ungodly amount of advertisements sprinkled all over the damn place, which leads me to my final point.

I am personally against having to pay to play online. I'm already paying for the high speed internet (which is not cheap). Now if there were NO advertisements I'd be ok with it, but given the fact that we now have MORE advertisements AND we still have to pay $50 a year, I call bullsh|t. It should either be free WITH advertisements or you pay to REMOVE advertisements.

RE: Not Suprised...
By nmyron on 3/25/2009 2:28:11 PM , Rating: 2
Kudos to you sir... I fully respect and back up your post. I mean, honestly, I have 4 friends that have purchased X360s, and every one of them has had their device replaced at least once for various errors over the years. One person spent almost $300 getting his fixed, before MS acknowledged the RROD issue. Luckily he kept all repair reciepts, and Microsoft refunded all service charges incurred due to the RROD issue, after he had it for a 4th time when MS had finally acknowledged it and extended the warranty. But, at the same time, I've got 6 other friends, all with PS3's, and NONE of those have had issues since purchase, and most of us purchased our PS3's after launch, to get the 60GB console for full backwards compatibility.

As far as online service, I feel that it is crap to force a consumer to purchase a way to connect your console to the internet and play online. With my PS3, I play online whenever I like, all I purchase is my internet service. I have no ad's, unless I go into the PSN Store, and the only adds there are for other PS games. I'll admit, MS had the one up with the ability to stream movies to the console, and they still do in the fact that they have partnered with Netflix to allow online play of many of the Netflix features. But, with some of the more recent updates to the PS3 software, I've become able rent and stream online movies in HD or SD formats. So, the PS3 is catching up there. But, all in all, I've played the PS3, the X360, and have to say, I wouldn't purchase the x360 for any reason. I'm a die hard MS fan, I love their software. But, I think that they've a lot to learn in building a console that will last, and building one tailored for the user and how it will be used...

RE: Not Suprised...
By ExarKun333 on 3/24/2009 11:47:37 AM , Rating: 2
LOL, are you serious? Dust-filled consoles choked with dust and possibly cigarette smoke doesn't matter? Have you ever cleaned out your computer before?

RE: Not Suprised...
By 4runnerxp on 3/24/2009 12:05:44 PM , Rating: 2
yea i understand that I also fried a laptop after 2 years of constant use from dust build up it was gross. I just think that the 360 having this many problems is suffering mainly from design flaws, you do not hear about any playstation products having these problems.

I think my 360 is on the verge of breaking again and it was just replaced last july, and I keep it on a glass table off the ground and do what I can to keep it from getting dust in it.

RE: Not Suprised...
By callmeroy on 3/24/2009 12:13:04 PM , Rating: 2
I think you took his reply out of context (at least I hope you did anyone who thinks dust and dirt doesn't matter to the performance or long term health of electronics - let alone a computer or a console is just silly beyond all resonable doubt)....I think he meant the dust and dirt issue doesn't DIRECTLY have anything to do with the SPECIFIC issue stated, not that he thinks it doesn't matter at all.

RE: Not Suprised...
By 4runnerxp on 3/24/2009 12:21:53 PM , Rating: 5
I think i may have also oops...damn you microsoft for potentially creating a new problem that isnt covered under warranty. I cant wait to buy my ps3 and be done with it.

RE: Not Suprised...
By omnicronx on 3/24/2009 12:58:29 PM , Rating: 2
I think you took his reply out of context

Exactly, the particular issue should have nothing to do with dust, and dirt, at least not on the scale that is being reported.

(at least I hope you did anyone who thinks dust and dirt doesn't matter to the performance or long term health of electronics - let alone a computer or a console is just silly beyond all reasonable doubt)....I think he meant the dust and dirt issue doesn't DIRECTLY have anything to do with the SPECIFIC issue stated, not that he thinks it doesn't matter at all.
You hoped right ;)

I just don't see how a new ui would have any effect on peoples consoles when those same people were playing far more graphically intense games without issue long before the patch was released.

I don't have an HDMI capable 360, so I cannot really comment on this front, but I have definitely noticed my and others peoples 360's struggling and being a lot hotter when running from the HD.

And FT, I understand the HD is separately encased, but the heat has to go somewhere, and there is nothing pushing the air from the separate encasing. I only play newer games that are fully patched, NFL09 for one glitches every time you hut the ball, on my 360 and my friends (he has an hdmi model). The top and the bottom of the case get extremely hot compared to using the DVD rom which leads me to believe the heat is not being dissipated from the separate casing.

RE: Not Suprised...
By theapparition on 3/24/2009 11:54:42 AM , Rating: 2
Unless you are throwing your 360 around, nothing should cause the interconnects to became separated. Also being dusty and dirty should not have anything to do with this issue.

Higher heat can cause different materials to expand at different rates, causing undue stress in the soldered connections.

Not saying that's happening here, but heat can definately cause interconnects to fail.

RE: Not Suprised...
By omnicronx on 3/24/2009 1:08:07 PM , Rating: 2
I meant in terms of badly handling your 360, which is what the OP was mentioning ;)

Of course heat can cause interconnects to fail, but dust and dirt does not explain the high amounts of 360's failing at the same time. Even a dust filled heatsync (360 does not really have alot of fins or anything to get dust caught in ) should not cause the problems being mentioned, especially all at the same time.

RE: Not Suprised...
By FITCamaro on 3/24/2009 12:20:22 PM , Rating: 2
The hard drive is mounted outside the main system. It's doubtful that the little bit of heat transferred through the thick plastic would increase the temperature of the internal components to any significant degree.

As far as the glitches, that could just be from the fact that the games weren't designed to run off the hard drive and there is a bug from Microsoft's fix to allow you to do it.

Personally I don't see how the NXE could cause the system any real stress. The console is capable of HD graphics. How could a crappy avatar stress it out? It's doubtful that the console is rendering the avatar or anything else regarding the interface when you're in-game. Other than the menu that pops up when you press the Xbox button on the controller.

RE: Not Suprised...
By PAPutzback on 3/24/2009 2:45:02 PM , Rating: 2
I was wondering when someone was going to correct omnicronx about the HDD being on the outside.

But I do know there is something wrong with the NXE. It killed my brand new 360 the day I got it last December when it did its update. Before I even got to play it I had to send it back.

I do hit all my components with compressed air frequently because the fans pull some serious dust in over a short period of time.

RE: Not Suprised...
By FITCamaro on 3/24/2009 4:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
I believe there was a known software issue with the NXE bricking some systems.

They're saying this issue is caused by the NXE putting too much stress on the hardware.

"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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