XBOX 360 Heatgun RROD Fix

I’ve been doing electronics for a long time and when a friend gave me a broke Xbox 360 with the RROD (Red Ring of Death), I jumped at the chance to try and fix it.

I googled the issue and found out it has to do with the use of Lead Free solder where the CPU/GPU/RAM/Bridge can develop broken connections. These chips are BGA chips, which mean they have the balls of solder under the chip itself so there is no way to visually inspect them. By searching, there seemed to be 2 ways to fix this, 1 was to replace the X-Clamps with screws and the other was to reflow the chips with a heat gun.

Replacing the X-Clamps

This way involves replacing the X-Clamp with bolts and washers so tight to warp the board/chip to make the connection. In no way do I recommend this to fix the RROD because by clamping the heatsink so tight, you can actually damage the chip. However, I do recommend replacing the X-Clamps with screws because trying to get these on and off can be a chore and one small slip with a screw driver, you can scratch a trace and damage the board. I used allen key (hex key) head screws, #10 x 32″ .

Heat Gun Reflow

DO NOT DO THIS! I will say this one more time, DO NOT DO THIS! We can, and do, learn a lot from the internet and I research things every day, but this is a bad popular myth. I do electronics all the time and design my own circuits, and this just does not make sense, but I figured why not try it anyway to see what happens. It failed, and failed bad. The traces bubbled and the chips fried even before I got the solder to melt. Lead free solder, on average, starts melting around 230C but a cheap heat gun runs at 300C (572F) on low (which is OK) and 600C (1112F) on high (which is just way too hot!). The bigger issue is applying that much heat to just the top of the chip will fry the chip. That big of a board really needs to have a preheater to heat the bottom of the board to around 170C and to just heat the chip itself to above 230C (until solder melts) from the top, so you’re only applying about 60C extra to just the top of chip. Also, you really need to monitor the board/chip temp with a thermocouple to make sure you’re at the right temp.

Conclusion

Pay someone to do a proper reflow or DIY it yourself with proper equipment. Make sure they use a thermocouple to monitor temps, a board preheater and a temperature controlled hot air reflow station. If I come across another RROD Xbox, I’ll try it on my reflow station.