By Jared Newman | Monday, August 31, 2009 at 2:31 pm
Microsoft’s never been particularly forthcoming about the Xbox 360’s hardware issues. The company said earlier this year that the worst troubles are behind us, only to see new problems spring up. We’ve never heard an official failure rate (estimates vary, wildly), and after all this time, there’s no way to tell whether a working console is destined to get the dreaded Red Ring of Death.
So Eurogamer did the logical thing and asked a third-party console repairman, and learned that a major problem in today’s console failures is “cumulative damage.” In other words, the longer you own and play a console, the more likely it is to die.
Sony fanboys shouldn’t be laughing: Engineer Darren Thickbroom of Colchester Computers told Eurogamer that he’s seeing more and more Playstation 3 consoles come in for the so-called “Yellow Line of Doom.” Sure, Thickbroom is just one engineer, but his analysis does check out with my own Xbox 360 experience. After almost three years of use, my console suddenly and inexplicably stopped working a couple weeks ago, flashing the three red lights I’d heard and written so much about.
Of course, you can’t blame the console owner for playing the console. What’s really problematic, according to Thickbroom, is the general design of the latest machines, which pack powerful hardware into a tiny container. “Everything’s combined into such a small space, the heatsinks on the GPU are relatively small, there’s a lot of heat to dissipate and it can’t do it,” he said. Over time, the trapped heat warps the console’s motherboard, eventually hitting a breaking point.
Maybe instead of wishing for ultrathin consoles, we should by lobbying for the Playstation 3 Big and the Xbox 360 Fat. I’d rather have a fully-functional colossus in my entertainment center than a slim and sexy brick.