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Reporter gets stonewalled by Microsoft when asking about Xbox 360 hardware failures

Dean Takahashi, San Jose Mercury News reporter and author of two books on Xbox and Xbox 360, published in his blog a question and answer session with Todd Holmdahl, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Gaming and Xbox Products Group. Takahashi describes Holmdahl as “ultimately responsible for the quality of the game console, having spearheaded the hardware side of both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360.” Holmdahl was previously a part of Microsoft’s hardware division, which designs the company’s branded mice and keyboards.

A hot topic ever since the launch of the Xbox 360 is the seemingly high defect rate of the console. Takahashi poses question after question regarding Xbox 360 failures to the man who ran the design and manufacturing teams for the console, only to be stonewalled on the topic of hardware yields and reliability.

On the anecdotal evidence that the Xbox 360 quality isn’t up to par, including a user who went through seven machines, Holmdahl responds, “We’re very proud of the box. We think the vast majority of people are having just a great experience. You look at the number of games they are buying, the number of accessories they are buying, the Live attach. They love the box. They continue to buy the box. That said, we take any customer issue very seriously. We continue to look into these things very deeply. You have seen we have made some changes to our customer service policy.”

Holmdahl then sidesteps a question about a normal return rate for the console by saying only, “We continue to say the vast majority of the people are really happy with it.” Asked differently about whether or not the Xbox 360 falls into the ‘normal’ three to five percent return rate, Holmdahl said, “We don’t disclose the actual number,” and “We don’t comment on that.”

Moving away from sensitive percentages, the interviewer suggests that the Xbox 360 has a higher rate of user complaints than the PlayStation 3 and the Wii, to which the Holmdahl responds, “I would go back and say the vast majority of people love their experience. We continue to go back and address all of these issues on a case by case basis. There is a vocal minority out there. We go off and try to address their issues as quickly and as pain free as possible.”

Relentless in his questioning, Takahashi poses that a high defect rate could ruin Microsoft’s business model and profits. Holmdahl retorts, “I would say we don’t have a high defect rate. The vast majority of people are really excited about their product, and that we are targeting profitability for next year.”

Regardless of what the official line is on the reliability of the Xbox 360, many of the console’s potential owners are waiting for a chip die shrink to 65nm in hopes of improved reliability. Moving from the current console’s 90nm to 65nm should mean a cooler running box that is less prone to heat issues.

Holmdahl refuses to acknowledge any reliability benefit from moving to 65nm, saying: “Whether it is 90nm or 65nm, we have a high quality bar we target... The quality is good at both of those... We continue to redesign the box, continue to drive costs out. We don’t talk about the specifics of it.”

One of the last attempts at cracking the issue of Xbox 360 hardware failures, the interviewer asks what the top reason is for a hardware return. Holmdahl parrots once again, There are no systematic issues. The vast majority of the people just love the product, have a great experience with it. When there is an issue, we get on it and address it as quickly as possible.”

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By mdogs444 on 6/19/2007 7:26:02 AM , Rating: 5
Moving away from sensitive percentages, the interviewer suggests that the Xbox 360 has a higher rate of user complaints than the PlayStation 3 and the Wii

Im not a fanboy of any system, and do not even own one anymore. However, I'm not so sure this is a fair assessment. Being that one system has been on the market for a year longer than the two, and the total amount sold is much more, seems kind of wrong to compare rates.

However, it does seem the xbox has certain overheating issues that need to be resolved, and i havent heard anything similar for the PS3 or Wii. However, we all know the Wii is not processing or graphics intense and therefor would not overheat easily. Perhaps the PS3 was designed much better - after they saw the Xbox's flaws since the 360's were out on the market 1 year earlier.

I wish they would have gotten a bit more specific about the types of complaints. I wonder how many of those complaints fall under the category of "i tried to mod my 360 to play hacked games and now its dead" because of the updated dashboard that feels out the mods, or because they didnt know what they were doing and they broke the system.

RE: Quote...
By awer26 on 6/19/2007 8:09:38 AM , Rating: 2
Good point, but the fact that the 360 has been out an extra year is just another reason that there should not be widespread hardware failures. With a new system its more understandable, but with a non-upgradeable console, there's just no reason for so many.

RE: Quote...
By mdogs444 on 6/19/2007 8:25:31 AM , Rating: 3
I agree. Im not defending any of the manufacturers one bit. Im just simply stating that the word "complaints" is too general in this case. It can be anywhere from "I can't get this third party USB wireless module to work" to "This system sucks because I cannot play copied games", etc.

I think everyone is right that the 360 has hardware issues that need to be reworked, and its unfortunate that many people who bought the system when it came out got burned.

However, most of us, if not all, are techies here. And we know that if you buy the 1st or 2nd Revision of anything - especially NEW hardware. You are asking to get burned - and willingly taking your chances - because you are the BETA testers!

RE: Quote...
By Christopher1 on 6/19/2007 9:26:39 AM , Rating: 2
That's the reason why consoles when they first come out should be warrantied for a year or two: because you are beta-testers, as you said.

RE: Quote...
By mdogs444 on 6/19/2007 9:33:46 AM , Rating: 2
From a buyer perspective, I agree. From a corporate perspective, that could be a very costly decision. So I could se both sides.

But yes, 1 year should be standard. I dont know why anyone ran out to purchase a $400 console with only a 6-month warranty. That just screams "stupid!" to me.

RE: Quote...
By colonelclaw on 6/19/2007 11:13:54 AM , Rating: 2
i did a double-take reading this post

do i understand correctly, from reading this, that the standard guarantee on electrical goods in the US is 6 months? if so your consumer rights are being abused.

here in UK (and all over Europe), where we get ripped off by double-prices for every type of electrical goods known to man, the minimum guarantee covered by law on absolutely any kind of electrical goods is 1 year. for once you guys are getting the short end of the deal

getting back to the OP, since the internet became widespread many software companies have taken the attitude that it's better to get a product out the door early and fix it later than it is to release a fully working product late. this trend seems to have now slipped over into certain types of hardware, games consoles being among the more visible. a depressing trend indeed

RE: Quote...
By darkpaw on 6/19/2007 11:39:01 AM , Rating: 2
There is no standard garuntee here, although that may vary from state to state. Many electronics items come with 90 day warranties or less. Heck, even low end PC's from Dell and others only have 90 days now.

RE: Quote...
By mdogs444 on 6/19/2007 11:41:24 AM , Rating: 2
Goods here have various warranties by the manufacturers.

For example, then Xbox 360 when it first came out, was only a 6 month warranty. Then after all the problems came out, they did extend it to 1 year, but not until after quite a bit of fuss by the consumers.

But there are many product, like Audio/Video receivers that I have seen have 90 manu. warranties on parts, and 30 days on labor, etc. It really all comes down to the specific product & manufacturer.

RE: Quote...
By SigmaHyperion on 6/19/2007 12:44:33 PM , Rating: 1
The reason you're getting a longer warranty is because you're paying anywhere from 50-100% more for those electronic goods; and the government realized that having people pay thousands of dollars in taxes and just plain high prices, only to buy a crappy product was a bad idea and could lead to consumer backlash against the VAT. So, yeah, you better be getting something for all that extra dough. But paying all that extra money on everything you purchase it what I would call the "short end of the deal", not a warranty that's a few months shorter.

RE: Quote...
By omnicronx on 6/19/2007 12:42:42 PM , Rating: 1
well i dont know about you but if i purchased the 360 1 year warrenty from bestbuy, it came to something like 175 dollars.. now why if i were to buy a 500 dollar system would i pay over 1/3 of the price "just in case".
i would rather take the chance, and if my 360 plat dies.. go buy the core system for 400 (or cheaper) and just switch in the HD and use your previous controllers...

to me paying an extra 175$ for a woulda coulda maybe is stupid.. and ive seen cases of people buying warrenties like that and having their product die within a week or two after the extended warranty ended..

in then end electronics are always a gamble .. anyway you look at it

RE: Quote...
By mdogs444 on 6/19/2007 1:00:02 PM , Rating: 2
Although i agree they are stupid, and bigtime money makers for the retailers...

the 2-year replacement or gift card extended warranty on xbox at Circuit City is $120. So basically isntead of microsoft sending you a refurb within 1 year, you can exchange it for a brand new in the box one from circuit city.

RE: Quote...
By Hemipower on 6/19/2007 1:12:40 PM , Rating: 2
My BB product replacement was only 50 dollars. I dont know where you live but it looks like your getting ripped.

RE: Quote...
By mdogs444 on 6/19/2007 1:15:07 PM , Rating: 2
I dont own one, so I didnt personally get ripped.

However, the price i got was from Circuit City online. Best Buy's web site did not even offer any extended service plans on any of the Xbox 360's.

RE: Quote...
By Hemipower on 6/19/2007 1:47:07 PM , Rating: 2
Well if you ever get one, please do go and get one from BB. Its only 50 bucks for the 2 year on the regular 360 not the elite junk, and it will save you a ton of headache. Let BB deal with the headaches, if you don't like BB like a lot of other people, than just buy from there to screw them when your 360 breaks. I don't think any electronics store is as lenient when it comes to returning products.

RE: Quote...
By Samus on 6/19/2007 12:44:56 PM , Rating: 2
But there are no 'widespread' hardware failures. I haven't met someone who's had an XBOX fail yet, and I know half a dozen people with one, not including myself.

I'm kind of tires hearing about this, truthfully.

RE: Quote...
By hr824 on 6/19/2007 3:19:33 PM , Rating: 1
I know 3 people with x box 360's 1 has been replaced thats a 25 % failure rate. I'm just going by your.... things that happen to me in my little universe apply to the whole world...perspective on this problem.

RE: Quote...
By hrah20 on 6/19/2007 7:46:20 PM , Rating: 2
My x360 failed last saturday just like the photo on the top of this page, it shows the ring of death, I don't play that much, always have a big stand fan next to it whenever I play, I took a lot of care for my x360 and still it failed, I can see that your view of things is very different, how lucky is the people you know!, but I can't say the same around me, 5 friends had the same failure on their systems, and we're not kids anymore, I'm 37 years this july and I know how to hadle electronics,bought my X360 last november, and only took 8 months for my 360 to fail, how do you think I feel???, the only thing I can say is that this is not a Myth.

RE: Quote...
By SigmaHyperion on 6/19/2007 8:14:58 PM , Rating: 2
One of the downsides of having a big fan right next to your 360 is that you're blowing dust, and dirt, and hair, and any pethair you might have -- all right at your Xbox. You're sucking it up from all around the room and blowing it all right into the 360 which has no filters at all on it. Anything sent towards it gets sucked into it and most is deposited there inside the box never to leave again.

RE: Quote...
By hrah20 on 6/19/2007 10:28:18 PM , Rating: 2
your right on that, I wish there was an easy way to open the X360 and clean up the dust,then again I don't wanna mess with my warranty, the worst thing about it is that I bought 4 new x360 games and 3 xbox live games and never had a chance to play, well... at least I tried the first level of classic prince of persia, then the image frozen and, here I'am, taking my frustrations out on the net

RE: Quote...
By Proteusza on 6/19/2007 8:12:44 AM , Rating: 1
From the reports I've seen, 99% seem to be from people who just play their consoles normally. It also seems that people who send their consoles in are morel likely to have to send them in again. That is, if you have a broken one, and you send it in, you get another broken one back.

Also, they can compare rates, because they can compare percentages. So even if there are only 100 of console Y in the wild, if 20 of those go belly up in a week, you know there are serious problems with it.

RE: Quote...
By mdogs444 on 6/19/2007 8:21:46 AM , Rating: 2
99% seem to be from people who just play their consoles normally

Can you provide a reference for that? Im not trying to call your bluff, I am actually just very interested in the actual figures.

RE: Quote...
By Proteusza on 6/19/2007 8:31:01 AM , Rating: 1
I dont have a reference myself, but there is a site called

There is a sticky thread with tons of anecdotal evidence, and 3 polls (not stickied unfortunately). First one asks, do you own an XBox 360, second asks has it ever broken down (I think the question is a little more specific but I'm not sure), third asks the user to rate MS' customer service out of 10.

RE: Quote...
By porkpie on 6/19/2007 11:00:29 AM , Rating: 2
Those sites are useless for statistical data, just as are Internet polls. Anyone mad or upset enough to even visit such a site is already in a special category. Furthermore, its natural human nature to exaggerate. There have been people who claimed they're on their fifth, sixth, or even seventh Xbox 360, which is obvious nonsense. Even if the failure rate was an astounding 10%, the chances of having 7 in a row blow would be one in 10,000,000.

RE: Quote...
By aniemma on 6/19/2007 11:17:58 AM , Rating: 2
You obviously do not own one, and do not know what you are talking about. Do a little investigating into this and you will find that the problem is a lot bigger than Microsoft will lead you to believe.

RE: Quote...
By grenableu on 6/19/2007 11:25:02 AM , Rating: 2
he's right, its human nature to exaggerate. The 360 is certainly a little less reliable than it should be, but most of the horror stories you read on the Net are bull. Some are "M$" haters, and some are people who had a problem, and think it'll get more attention if they say they had it fail ten times in a row.

My 360 has been fine since Day 1, and of my circle of 7 or 8 friends who own one only one had any problem at all.

RE: Quote...
By dubldwn on 6/19/2007 12:40:10 PM , Rating: 2
*queue person with 8 friends who are all on at least their third 360*

RE: Quote...
By porkpie on 6/19/2007 1:03:33 PM , Rating: 3
And I have 126 friends who all baked their 360 in the oven, dunked it in the bathtub, dropped it off their roof, then shot it with a GAU-17 Minigun, and all theirs still worked fine.

See? We both can make up unbelievable stories and post them on the Net.

RE: Quote...
By Hemipower on 6/19/2007 1:29:12 PM , Rating: 2
i already forgot how many i have had to return! And im not talking about returning for a refurb. Im talking about the BB prp where they give you a whole new one. Of all the 360 i had, im going to say at least now like 5 i will blame only one braking because i tried to use the SATA thing to update rosters through the computer. Even than the thing should not have broken but whatever.

Other than that, the 360 sits next to ps3 and wii and its been the only one so far to brake. I have friends with the ps3 that have not broken, and the same friends that have had the 360 brake. I do play the 360 more than the ps3 because of the games but than again i dont use the 360 as an hd dvd player and i do with the ps3.

everyone has different experiences with launch systems. My ps2 launch is still functional, although a recent ps2 slim silver purchase broke on me, go figure. My halo edition xbox still works 100%, heck my sega saturn launch system still works if i ever wanted to play it.

You saying people lie about the failure rates of the 360 is like me saying its impossible for the ps2 to have had such high return rates just solely on my experience with the ps2 ( i still have the launch one modded with the hd and hd advance). I have posted picture of my return receipts from BB for proof in other posts. So it is not an urban myth that people have had extreme bad luck with their 360.

RE: Quote...
By porkpie on 6/19/2007 2:16:32 PM , Rating: 2
> it is not an urban myth that people have had extreme bad luck with their 360.

Thats the point. It can happen to some, but its bad luck, not a systemic problems. If the failure rate is around 5%, then out of ten million consoles, half a million people will have at least one failure, and quite a few will have 3 or even 4 fail on them. Simple statistics.

But people claiming that "they and all their friends" have all had 5, 6, or more die are just lying, plain and simple.

RE: Quote...
By Hemipower on 6/19/2007 3:20:25 PM , Rating: 2
Theres the problem again. I think its your wishful thinking that the failure rate is 5%. If some people are having 5 to 7 failures than I believe the rate is a lot higher than 5%. One day we might find out the truth.

RE: Quote...
By aniemma on 6/19/2007 11:16:04 AM , Rating: 3
Just look in the Xbox forums under Technical Issues for yourself, and determine for yourself whether or not there is an issue. If you read through some of the threads you will find many that have used there systems on a normal basis and have gone through 6 or 7 systems, and we are talking about one individual.

I am one of these gamers who bought a system that I used on a normal basis. It has never been modded but upon Microsoft introducing its Spring '07 update, I began having problems with Xbox Live. I am no longer able to get online nor are several others, and let me tell you, if you think Dell's customer service is awful, Microsoft's is even worse.

On top of this, I am out of warranty, but I believe Microsoft should be liable for fixing my Xbox 360 since it was of there own doing that got my Xbox 360 into this state. They have history of releasing faulty or buggy software updates, just look at there Windows line for evidence.

I also believe Microsoft determines the number of Xbox Live accounts, Silver & Gold, by those who log into Live with GamerTags. Those GamerTags have to be linked to one, and only one, Windows Live account. I bring this up because whenever someone has an issue with either their Xbox Live account or gets a Red Ring of Death issue, it seems Microsoft asks the user to create a new GamerTag and have them try that, at least for those cases where it is the Live account, hence creating the illusion that there are more users using Xbox Live than there actually is.

Microsoft has acknowledged that there is an issue with my Xbox, as well as those of several others, but when asked if they should have to fix those Xboxes that are no longer in warranty, we get silence. What do you all think, should they have to fix this issue?

Here is the acknowledgement:

Here is the thread with my problem:

RE: Quote...
By mdogs444 on 6/19/2007 8:39:27 AM , Rating: 3
Also, (just to play devils advocate) I would have to assume that 99% of the people who called into Microsoft to fix their Modded 360's, would tell Microsoft that they used it normally, correct?

RE: Quote...
By FITCamaro on 6/19/2007 8:45:32 AM , Rating: 1
Exactly. People aren't going to admit they were an idiot and trying to mod it unsuccessfully. They'll just blame Microsoft for not letting them do it easier and expect their console to be fixed.

RE: Quote...
By Hemipower on 6/19/2007 1:38:36 PM , Rating: 2
I have a friend just like you, the biggest sony hater and just because of that has a 360 and a wii. Every little news that comes out about the ps3 sucking or the 360 being good, he is the first one to call me and brag. Even though I own all the systems that have ever come out except the psp because i think the ds is way better, he still thinks im a sony fanboy just because i am disgusted with the 360's quality. This is even though he likes apple and I refuse to buy that apple crap and am a loyal windows customer.

Well the like a month ago his 360 gave him the ring of death. Guess what i haven't heard from him since! The only thing he called me for was to find out about the BB prp, because he was going to try and get another 360.

RE: Quote...
By mdogs444 on 6/19/2007 1:41:48 PM , Rating: 2
I have a friend just like you, the biggest sony hater

Who are you referring to? I hope not me, becuase I dont own ANY consoles. I am not partial to one or the other. Or bashing one more than the other.

So i hope you are referring to someone else.

RE: Quote...
By Munkles on 6/19/2007 6:09:16 PM , Rating: 2
I cannot speak to wide-spread numbers or comparisons, but from my personal experience I would say the 360 is built like a brick.

Before the 360 Elite was ever announced I started a little mod-project on my 360, (not for the purpose of changing software or firmware strictly visual mods). I have blown out the fuse in my rear usb, and repaired it, ive started an electrical fire in my 360, ive spliced into the power and added fans, and lights, and still it works perfectly. Never have I experienced the ring of death, never have I had it act eratically.

I also tend to forget to ever shut it off so it runs pretty much 24/7, oh and ive had it since launch.

So while they may not be as well build at they should be, in my personal experience they have worked flawlessly and I was and AM proud to be the owner of my 360.

RE: Quote...
By Drexial on 6/20/2007 12:59:52 AM , Rating: 2
its not the total returns its the rate of returns, like they said there is a standard of 5% i believe the article mentioned and they sidestepped the figures.

Worse than Iraqi Defense Minister
By xuimod on 6/19/2007 7:48:32 AM , Rating: 2
This guy's case of denial is just as bad if not worse than the Iraqi Defense Minister.

RE: Worse than Iraqi Defense Minister
By mdogs444 on 6/19/2007 9:10:59 AM , Rating: 2
As our political leaders would call it: Plausable Deniability.

If they dont know about it, it doesnt exist.

RE: Worse than Iraqi Defense Minister
By deeznuts on 6/19/2007 1:31:02 PM , Rating: 2
It's not plausible deniability ... because they know about it. Plausible deniability is where MS wouldn't know about and is actively ignoring it. Not what's happening here.

It's advice from their lawyers. Ignore what you think Hearsay means (i.e. how you hear non-lawyers or TV stars use the word). Hearsay is an out of court statement used to prove the truth of the matter. INOW, if an MS employee were to say "Yes the 360 failure rate is higher because of heat."

Well, generally you are not allowed to introduce this statement into court to prove that the 360 failure rate is higher because of heat. But there are exceptions, one is "admission by a party-opponent." In this case, if you were suing MS, they are the opponent, and you can introduce this statement from the blog to prove that there is a manufacturer defect.

Sorry for the law school evidence course but this is what I see happening here.

By mdogs444 on 6/19/2007 1:37:35 PM , Rating: 2
It's not plausible deniability ... because they know about it. Plausible deniability is where MS wouldn't know about and is actively ignoring it. Not what's happening here.

I know this, I was just being sarcastic when I said it. Of course they know what's going on, but are choosing not to speak publicly about it - probably with fears that it will deter future sales of 360's & HD DVD drives

While I love my 360
By FITCamaro on 6/19/2007 7:28:01 AM , Rating: 3
They should just come out and admit theres been some issues. Their current language just makes them look like, well, Sony.

That being said. Still no issues with heat or noise here.

RE: While I love my 360
By SeanMI on 6/19/2007 7:38:21 AM , Rating: 2
At this point, I don't think it would do much damage control to admit there have been issues. Fix em and forget em.

I'm with you heat or noise issues on my 360. I've had it almost a year now.

RE: While I love my 360
By zombiexl on 6/19/2007 9:09:10 AM , Rating: 2
I love my 306 as well, but their are problems.

My first one was DOA and my current 360 doesnt always start up the first time (have to turn it off an back on again). I have a MS extended warrenty (through Jan 2009), i've just been too lazy to call.

I have a few friends who have the occasional wont start up the first time issue. Other than that they've had no problems. Although not starting up is a problem.

By crystal clear on 6/19/2007 10:02:24 AM , Rating: 4
A hot topic ever since the launch of the Xbox 360 is the seemingly high defect rate of the console. Takahashi poses question after question regarding Xbox 360 failures to the man who ran the design and manufacturing teams for the console, only to be stonewalled on the topic of hardware yields and reliability.

I ask these question as I own a PS3 that works damn good.

Ignore that M.S. guy on what he says/claims about the Xbox,
& come to the point.

Defect rate-

Can you list in detail where/what the problems are ?

1)Is it the design of the Xbox itself that is faulty?

2)Are the components of the Xbox made out of substandard material & or not designed correctly or poor workmanship.

Do the components undergo quality checks before assembly.

3)Is the assembly of the Xbox & its components faulty & or of poor quality.

4)Is the Xbox tested for quality control before they leave the factory.

5)Which components are problematic/faulty, is it one specific part or all the parts or sometimes this or that part.

6)Is there a software problem/failure ?

Stop beating around the bush,come to the point !

Identify the problems-Cpu-Graphics-memory-storage-cooling-noise etc.

Be specific & dont give statistics

By omnicronx on 6/19/2007 12:51:31 PM , Rating: 1
haha ya right.. you live in a dream world if you think a corperation is going to release that data.. while your at it you should be hounding barry bonds.
1) where how and when did you do steroids
2)what kind
3) name the dates where you doped up
4)while your at it, gimme all the other players names that did steroids

you should face the fact these consoles probably cost alot more to make than what they sell them for and they haev to cut corners somewhere to make money..

sony has done it.. (ps2 fiasco, 360 has done it) and many many many other electronics companies have done it.

i know it sucks, but it happens and if you really care that much.. just dont buy a console and your problem will be solved 0% defect rate

By crystal clear on 6/19/2007 3:37:02 PM , Rating: 1
I clearly write the following in my comment-read it carefully.

Ignore that M.S. guy on what he says/claims about the Xbox,
& come to the point.

Can you list in detail where/what the problems are ?

I ask these questions to the author of the article & or the commentators.

Here we go again....
By kilkennycat on 6/19/2007 1:05:19 PM , Rating: 2
(My comments from a previous DailyTech Xbox360 article, updated here )

The fans in the Xbox360 have no lint filters. (And if they had who ever would clean them !!?) Thus the CPU and GPU heatsinks readily clog with lint, fur, dog-hair causing the CPU and or/GPU to overheat. Also since these heat-sinks are jammed right up against the DVD-drive, guess what other critical electro-mechanical component can overheat?

Microsoft in their anti-mod paranoia have provided no user-accessible way to clean out the heatsinks and air-passages within the Xbox360. The Xbox360 CPU heatsink is a high-density design. Those of us familiar with modern PC servicing are very aware of the appearance of the high-density CPU heat-sink after 6 months in a typical user-environment -- clogged up with junk and possibly causing the PC to shut down by tripping the temperature limit set in the PC BIOS. The addition of the extra GPU heat-exchanger in the Xbox360 Elite will have near-zero benefit once the CPU heatsink fills with lint since little or no air will then get to the extra heat-exchanger.

If the CPU and GPU components in the Xbox360 have epoxy to hold the parts in place and the intent is to counter overheating.. that is like a little boy trying to stop a dike leaking with his fingers. The most likely source of the red-ring of death or chronic erratic operation is partial or complete overheat failure of the CPU or GPU silicon, due to ruptured silicon vias or damaged transistors and long before any external interconnect failures. And assuming silicon failure does not happen, the likely source of mechanical interconnect failure due to chronic overheating of the CPU and GPU are the tiny solder-balls under the high-density ball-grid arrays. The epoxy will not combat complete or partial-melting of the solder-balls ( they are tiny, with very low thermal mass ) and the resultant "open" or high-resistance connection due oxidation/crystallization of the solder in the solder-ball when the solder re-solidifies ( for those familar with soldering - think "cold-soldered joints" ).

When it comes to hardware-reliability, the Xbox360 hardware engineers are total babes in the wood. Shoddy electro--mechanical circuit-board design that should have been rectified at least a year ago. The potential thermal problems were immediately obvious from the pictures in the original Anandtech Xbox360 "dissection" article:-

Maybe now that the 65nm versions of the CPU and GPU will shortly be available, somebody at M$$ might just have the bright idea of commissioning a complete mechanical redesign of the Xbox360 circuit board, ventilation-path and case -- moving the CPU and GPU heatsinks far away from the DVD-drive, providing early-warning thermal-sensing (or airflow-sensing) in critical areas and providing user-access for the necessary cleaning of the internal air-passages and heatsinks.

BTW, moving to 65nm with no change to the mechanical design will be no thermal panacea.. failure due to clogged heat-sinks might take just a little longer......

RE: Here we go again....
By Smallies on 6/19/2007 1:22:02 PM , Rating: 2
To the person saying the chances of having 7 broken x-box's is one and 10,000,000... Guess I'm that lucky, cause I'm on number 7 right now. I just called microsoft yesterday after getting the wonderful red ring of death. I have yet to have a console last more than 2 months, and I do NOT play it all that often, maybe an hour a day. Furthermore, it's in a very ventilated area...

RE: Here we go again....
By dubldwn on 6/19/2007 3:30:21 PM , Rating: 2
Hey porkpie! We have the winner right here-1 in 10,000,000. What are the chances of 1 in 10,000,000 being on this thread? He only plays an hour a day in a well ventilated area. Maybe what Microsoft sends Smallies back has a much higher failure rate. Or maybe Smallies has an interesting definition of well ventilated. What city do you live in, Smallies? And can you tell us anything about all your friends?

Business as usual
By Proteusza on 6/19/2007 7:18:11 AM , Rating: 1
MS should realize gamers dont care what "good business practice" is.

While I agree that in the US they may need to be careful admitting about admitting responsibility, because of possible lawsuits, they need to address the problem better to let them win over more gamers.

Gamers dont care about the bottom line, about average user satisfaction and a PR monkey's inept responses to valid questions. MS needs to realize that the target audience of the box wants real answers, and would prefer an "We acknowledge that we are having quality issues, however we feel that we are doing everything in our power to overcome these, including having extended the warranty. We also feel that the figures speak for themselves - consoles and games continue to sell well, so we think the gaming community sympathesizes with us as we try to find a good solution to make an already excellent console better." to the drivel MS usually feeds us.

RE: Business as usual
By KiDDGuY on 6/19/2007 7:33:38 AM , Rating: 2
...the gaming community sympathesizes with us...

ask those people with burned down 360's, what kind of sympathy they carry for MS. :P
Either way, sh!t happens and you gotta deal with it one way or another

eh, What do you expect?
By Verran on 6/19/2007 9:36:05 AM , Rating: 3
Do you really expect M$ to come out and say "Yeah, the 360 platform is just pwned right now. It's screwed and we don't know what to do about it. Sorry."?

Of course not. They have to deny and deny and deny. That's just how it goes. But what's the difference? Any intelligent person can read this guy's responses and understand with a remarkable degree of certainly that there absolutely is a problem. The guy talks like he's standing in eggshells, because he is.

By psychobriggsy on 6/19/2007 8:07:43 AM , Rating: 2
We've all read the 10% figure, I've heard it from someone who works for a major UK retailer. We can all read between the lines as this guy is refusing to comment on the figure (although I can understand they don't want to give out detailed figures to the competition). There is an issue with a significant number of XBox360s - and it hasn't been fixed after nearly 2 years on the market as apparently the Elites are exhibiting red ring too.

On the other hand I have not heard anything bad regarding the PS3 or the Wii.

I understand that a minority of annoyed users can make a disproportionate amount of noise regarding an issue, but when you spend $400 on a console you have a reasonable expectation that it will last 3 years or longer if well treated.

Quite possibly people should go via a consumer watchdog to get answer. In the UK that would be either standard Trading Standards, Which? and Watchdog.

It's really a shame that this dark cloud is lurking over the 360, because otherwise it is a great product. Here's hoping that 65nm cures all.

broken 360
By raphd on 6/19/2007 9:48:17 AM , Rating: 2
My 360 broke by itself, never opened just sitting on my desk. I started gears of war to play online with my friend. It froze I restarted it and got the 3 red lights. I got it as a gift, and to be honest its something I did not want. Anyhow, MS wanted me to pay $140 for the shipping to "possibly" get it fixed. No thanks, I had it returned and got a 8800gtx instead. They have lost me as a future customer.

Oh and I know they now offer free shipping, I rather stay away from problems then signup for a headache.

Defect Rate
By comradeiggy on 6/19/2007 10:31:53 AM , Rating: 2
Like someone said before, it's nearly impossible to find out the trued defect rate for a few reasons. First, none of the polls on the internet have authentic results because they don't reach out to everyone who has an Xbox 360. Second, those who do have them die are more likely to go looking for information on what happened, and if they see a poll are more likely to vote. Those who don't have problems will probably never see a poll. And the final reason is that Microsoft doesn't send back new units, just old ones that they have fixed, which are more likely to die than new ones.

By Emryse on 6/19/2007 5:10:07 PM , Rating: 2
Although I greatly enjoy reading DailyTech and I equally have enjoyed your articles, I must admit that I truly found this article to have too much a "drama" read.

Please attempt to refrain from reporting "news" in an "Action!" approach that is geared to spur up all this pro/anti-MS crap that I had to weed through for the few tid-bits of actually digestable information in the comments section.

I don't need to read verbs like "retorts" to describe the response of the person being interviewed. Please stick to doing the (usually) great job you do of reporting just the facts in news; allow us as the readers to interpret tone and intentions of the news topics and subjects for ourselves.


By Mithan on 6/19/2007 10:45:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, there is a lot of FUD out there but this is what I know:

I bought a system at launch and it failed in Feb of 2006 and was replaced by MS under warranty (very quickly I might add). I had played maybe 100 hours on the system at the time of failure.

I know 7 other people here in Regina who own the system, 3 of them have had to get warranty work on the system, 2 of those 3 are hardcore gamers who play an average of 20 hours a week on the console, 1 of the 3 probably plays like myself, meaning anytime a new release comes out they play through it and then the console sits again for a few months.

I don't have an axe to grind with Microsoft (I like their products) and the 360 is a great system with awesome features and games, BUT when you shell out $399 for a game system, you damn well deserve that it work without problems for a few years and if problems appear, that the company treat you with respect and fix those problems.

I don't know whether to blame this on idiots with class action lawsuit threats, our "throw away society" or poor Quality Control on Microsoft and I don't care, what I do care about is that my system work. Period. End of story.

The 360 has problems. Own up to it and fix the damn things and move on. Its that simple.

Can any say...
By paynestation on 6/20/2007 7:01:40 PM , Rating: 2
Can anyone say "class action lawsuit"?

you forget
By omnicronx on 6/19/2007 12:35:30 PM , Rating: 1
is it just me or does anyone remember a lil thing called the playstation 2 in the red box. almost every person i knew that bought the ps2 in the red box in the first year of production had to get a new one within a year because the discs would not read, yet the ps2 is still probably the most successful console ever and still currently has higher sales than the 360. So will this hinder the 360 in the end.. prolly not.. and i imagine things will get better once the 65nm process is in place.. ive even seen pics of special heatsyncs and pipes being used.

a bit off topic but i for one haev a broken xbox 360 that does not read discs, and actually spins at such a high rate the disc spins off the tray and scratches itself. do i blame MS.. no.. i blame my stupid friend for carrying the 360 around with the disc in the tray.. which is when problems started to arise..
i think alot of these cases (not including most overheating cases) are due to people plain out being stupid thinking they can just throw their 360 around not realizing it is a essentially a computer.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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