You may have read earlier in my blog that I had purchased a used xBox 360 from Gamestop and modified it to play 'archival' copies of games. The model I had was an original version (i.e. not a Falcon or Jasper chipset) and did not have an HDMI interface- so I was using component output. Being an older, hotter running chipset (both CPU and GPU are 65nm) I decided that it would be a good idea to install an auxiliary cooling fan. I found one from Koing Gaming that incorporated cooling, VGA/Component/S-Video/Composite video output, Optical audio and a 4 port USB Hub:
This solution was awesome as it provided cooling, a USB hub and reduced cable clutter; I was very content.
In December I came across a used MadCatz xBox 360 HDMI Conversion kit for about $20- so I decided to give it a try. To use the HDMI conversion kit I needed to remove the Koing cooling kit- which didn't seem like an issue as I was removing the need for component cables; all I was 'losing' was the USB hub.
The xBox worked Ok for about a weeks after installing the HDMI conversion kit and then I noticed that the console was freezing up a few minutes after starting; this seemed odd. Within 3 days I had my very first RROD. Do'h!
Searching the web I found several 'solutions' for the RROD issue- most of which involved replacing the CPU/GPU clips with a more traditional mount- such as using individual 5mm screws and nylon washers (for spacing). If all was done correctly, the modifications on my system should have resolved any GPU/CPU heating issues.
Current theory is that the initial xBox cooling solution caused pressure on the motherboard; when the GPU heats up, the board slightly warps from the combination of heat and pressure. The GPU gets so hot in places that it can partially liquefy the solder- which combined with the warping of the board can 'desolder' pins the GPU from the motherboard- causing the RROD.
Normally when you pull an xBox 360 from the case one would expect to find 'x-clips' on the bottom of the board that hold the CPU & GPU heatsinks in place:
Upon opening my xBox 360 and turning the board over, I was confronted with a different landscape:
This indicated to me that the CPU/GPU heatsinks at one time had been removed and the system was 'fixed'. Since this was a refurbished system from Gamestop I cannot be sure if it was the prior owner or Gamestop that made the modifications.
But in this case it was not done correctly (or I would not be writing this blog); when the heatsinks were removed, the old thermal paste on the CPU and GPUs were not cleaned- rather someone slapped some extra heatsink compound on top of the existing and put it back on (the original thermal compound was black, the newer compound was ceramic white). The old compound helped serve as an insulator and prevented some of the GPU heat from transferring to the heatsink for cooling- so the GPU was pretty much fried at this point.
I still tried to fix it so I cleaned the CPU/GPU (I hade to use PC board Flux remover as the thermal paste was so firmly caked on) and replaced the screws- but to no avail. I did manage to get the RROD to turn into an E74 error, but still no boot. Since it was pretty much dead, I even went so far as to try the 'RROD Fix via Towel Rap' with -also no luck.
In the end, I was (luckily) able I was able to use the dead xBox 360 as a trade-in against another used xBox 360.
For my 'new' system, I chanced on getting a newer system with a Falcon chipset (with newer 45nm CPU) and HDMI output. Using a lookup on the xBox DVD Drive Database I determined that I had a BenQ drive in my new system.
Further research showed that there are now firmware patches for the BenQ drive:
I opened the system in about 10 minutes (being careful not to leave any marks by using my Xacto knife to open the back) and immediately saw a BIG difference; the GPU heatsink was much more extensive in the Falcon system while the CPU heatsink was reduced (a 45nm processor produces less heat than a 65nm processor).
Above: Older chipset; small aluminum heatsink on GPU, nice copper heatsink on CPU.
Above: Falcon chipset; Improved copper heatsink with heat-pipe for additional cooling on GPU, aluminum heatsink on CPU now feasible due to newer 45nm CPU.
I tired to use the DOSFlash method but ran into issues with my system having Buffer issues when the xBox drive was powered on. I looked into native Windows flash options and came across JungleFlasher; this is available for direct download or through the XBins Downloader.
JungleFlasher is a windows based utility that makes it VERY easy to flash xBox 360 DVD drives:
- Install JungleFlasher
- Connect the xBox 360 DVD drive to a PC (using a SATA cable and a VIA VT6421 SATA controller)
- In JungleFlasher, under the 'MTKFlash32' tab, unlock the Drive (for Ben-Q and Samsung)
- Select the Device ID for the drive
- Read in the drive serial number/key
- Move on to the FirmwareTool 32 tab, load the iXtreme Firmware from your HD.
- Copy the serial number/key to the iXtreme firmware
- Save the modified iXtreme formware.
- Go back on the MTF Flash 32 tab and write the modified iXtreme firmware back to the drive
Once I started the actual JungleFlasher process my drive was done and the xBox 360 sealed back up in under 5 minutes.