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Microsoft has finally explained what caused Xbox 360's red ring of death

Microsoft has finally explained what caused Xbox 360's red ring of death

Xbox 360 fans will know exactly how painful this infamous error was.

The Xbox 360 was a simply magnificent console, but it was always haunted by the spectral 'red ring of death'.

This error code saw three lights on your Xbox 360's power button flashing red to let you know that it had a fatal error, and for many people it was the death of their console.

It could be repaired, and many people did send their consoles away for that process, but the issue was so widespread that it basically entered into folklore.

Koichi Kamoshida / Staff / Getty

For the longest time, there were loads of rumors about what exactly caused the problem - these often came with nonsense solutions you could try, like wrapping your console in towels before turning it on.

In 2021, though, a documentary series looking at the history of Xbox included a snippet that actually explained the real cause of the problem.

The documentary was called Power On: The Story of Xbox, and featured loads of the people involved in the console's design and marketing, and the red ring of death couldn't not come up.

Most people thought that it was basically an overheating issue, but the reality was a little more complicated than this, it turns out.

Former head of Xbox Peter Moore clarified that it wasn't so much purely overheating - rather, the problem arose when the 360 got very hot and then cooled down too quickly. This would put a heavy load on the system and it could just die, displaying the red ring of death.

More detail came from hardware engineer Leo Del Castillo: “The breakthrough came when we understood that the connections that were being broken were not located on the motherboard, but they were actually located inside the components.

"The reason it was breaking was thermal, but it wasn't because of peak temperature. It was because when the unit would get hot and then cold, hot and then cold, every time it did that it would stress the connection".

Now, depending on your interests that might either be a fascinating explanation or a little difficult to get your head around, but it's great to finally know what caused this infamous issue.

Microsoft did get a handle on the problem decently at the time, too - multiple versions of the Xbox 360 eventually came out, getting smaller each time, with the red ring of death becoming less and less common.

Some of us were lucky enough to never have it happen - something we remain grateful for to this day.

Featured Image Credit: Ardaqe/ Emanuele Cremaschi / Contributor / Getty