Error Messages

2 Red Light Error

Your Xbox 360 Error Explained

Xbox 360The Xbox 360 is one of the bestselling gaming consoles in the world.  It's capable of producing some of the crispest graphics, the best sound, HD graphics and much, much more.  However, it's also plagued by problems.  The 3 red light (Red Ring of Death) may be the best-known error, but there are several others that can ruin your gaming enjoyment.  The 2 red light error is also one of the most frequently reported errors with console.

What Do the 2 Red Lights Mean?

The 2 red light error is indicated by the two left lights (in vertical alignment) on the Ring of Light turning red and flashing repeatedly.  This is a specific error code, with a known cause.  In fact, this is one of the few instances when Microsoft's documentation will actually tell you what is wrong.  The 2 red light error is due to overheating.  Most of the Xbox's errors can be trace to overheating problems, but this instance is one of the only cases where you can be certain, immediately.

What's Going On?

The Xbox is capable of producing enormous amounts of heat. However, Microsoft's unconventional design has increased the console's propensity to create system-damaging heat.  In addition, the use of inferior thermal compound, a lacking heat sink mounting method and heat sinks of insufficient size for heat dissipation also add to the problem.  To top the entire situation off, the lead-free solder used to hold the GPU, CPU and RAM into the motherboard is the incorrect type for the situation.  This type of solder is incapable of sustaining the type of heat levels generated by normal console operation.  This leads to hairline fractures in the solder.

As the heat generated by the console increases, the motherboard flexes, as with any other device, such as a computer.  This flexing forces the cracks in the solder apart, disrupting the flow of electricity. In extreme cases, the GPU or CPU can actually be pushed out of the mounting in the motherboard.

Additional Heat Problems

While the abovementioned conditions contribute to the 3 red light error and the 1 red light error, the 2 red light error can have other causes, as well.  As mentioned, the Xbox creates tremendous amounts of heat.  If the ventilation of the system is blocked, the console is placed on top of another device that generates heat or any one of a number of other criteria is met, the Xbox can overheat.

How Do I Stop It?

Before you contemplate removing the case and servicing the Xbox on your own, there are a number of remedies that should be attempted.  For instance, ensure that:

  • The cooling fan is operating
  • That the light on the power supply is green, not red or orange
  • That none of the ventilation panels are blocked
  • That the Xbox is resting on a hard surface, not a soft cloth surface
  • That the Xbox is not placed near any source of heat
  • That the Xbox is placed in an open location, not confined to a small space

A Warning about Hoax Solutions

The high incidence of overheating consoles has lead to a number of radical remedies.  Many of these hold the potential for benefit.  However, some of these remedies can damage your console further.  For instance, any remedy that states you should cool your console in the freezer or refrigerator should be avoided.  These methods can damage the Xbox beyond repair.

A Note about Warranty

If you have a warranty on your Xbox 360, it is highly recommended that you use it.  Return the console to Microsoft for repair or replacement.  This will help you save money, as well as keep the warranty intact.  Removing the case of your Xbox voids the warranty completely.

Can I Repair the Xbox?

If you do not have a warranty, or have chosen to void your warranty, you can repair your Xbox at home.  The best option for a long-lived repair solution is to replace the thermal protective compound applied to the GPU and CPU chips.  To do this, you will need to remove the hard drive and all peripherals.  Next, you will need to remove the case, followed by the X-Clamps holding the heat sinks in place (the motherboard must be out of the case for this).  Clean the thermal compound residue from the underside of the heat sinks, as well as from the top of the GPU and CPU chip.  Replace the old compound with the correct thermal protective compound.  Finally, you may consider modifying the X-clamp method to help dissipate heat more evenly.  Reassemble the Xbox and you should have a functional console.