Fixing an XBOX I just bought off eBay
June 15, 2013 9:27 AM   Subscribe

So after years of using roommates' machines, and having finished a well-paying highly stressful recent job, I rewarded myself by buying an XBox Slim off of eBay. Which I guess was foolish of me. The thing arrived with only the 4GB hard drive, so I had to buy a decent-sized one in order for it to do anything, and even then it started freezing nearly constantly. If left off overnight it will start up and work for maybe an hour before freezing at first, and then quickly degrade to the point where it can't even start up properly.

1. It does not seem to matter which disc is in there.

2. It is in a free, well-ventilated place.

3. I have cleared the system cache, game caches, installed the games instead of playing them off of the disc, and everything else suggested.

4. I got the "red dot" once, but only once so far.

5. I am extremely frustrated by all of this.

6. This being under warranty is pretty much out of the question.

7. The games will freeze and be entirely non-responsive. When it happens on the "home" screen I get visual digital errors and it is also completely non-responsive.

Any thoughts on what I can do to salvage this? This really is insanely frustrating to me and I just want the thing to work.
posted by Navelgazer to Technology (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As a quick test to see if it's overheating, point a fan at it from very close by while it's running.
posted by Solomon at 9:40 AM on June 15, 2013

Response by poster: I don't understand. What kind of fan and what am I looking for there?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:41 AM on June 15, 2013

Probably it's just choked with dust internally, causing it to overheat (I know you say it's in a clean and cool place now, but the previous owner may have kept it standing vertically on a dusty carpet).

Opening it can be done with only a small flat bladed screwdriver, and it's easy to clean the fan assembly and the heatsink. Just google some guides on opening and which screws you should remove to open the inner metal case. When you're opening it for the first time, it's a lot easier if you have a second pair of hands to keep pressure on the case to avoid the tabs snapping back in (this will happen).

I disagree with Solomon's idea of a fan - the thing is in a sealed case, the extra internal cooling from a fan pointed at the outside will be nothing.
posted by samj at 9:49 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you worked through the trouble shoot on the xbox web site? I would start there.
posted by BenPens at 9:52 AM on June 15, 2013

Response by poster: BenPens: Yes.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:53 AM on June 15, 2013

Yep, you'll need to crack it open. Plenty of detailed guides with pictures available (Google 'xbox slim disassembly'). Could well be full of dust - every PC and console I've ever taken apart has had a fair amount of the dreaded grey insulator inside.
posted by pipeski at 9:55 AM on June 15, 2013

I'm talking about something like this pointed at the device. I've noticed a significant difference in the internal temperatures recoded on my laptop when I do this, compared to when I don't. It has to be quite close, though - 2-2" away.
posted by Solomon at 9:55 AM on June 15, 2013

Oh and if it does freeze up again, try and turn it off and on again before it has chance to cool down. If it was overheating it should show a red ring of death error. You can get the exact error code by following the procedure on which might confirm overheating.
posted by samj at 9:56 AM on June 15, 2013

What do you mean by "red dot"? There's 4 lights in a ring, it's used to signal error codes. Here's one decoding source I quickly found; can't vouch for its accuracy.

I'm sure you're aware, but Xbox is notorious for the "red ring of death" problem. The system dies, shows 3 of 4 lights red on the ring (the 4th picks up light from the other 3, so it looks a bit like a full ring). The underlying problem is heat; solder joints get cooked. The slim model addresses some of the worst of the thermal engineering problems but it's still flaky hardware. You might have been screwed, the seller may have known it's a bad unit.

Microsoft does have a repair program; I think it's $79 to get it fixed.
posted by Nelson at 9:56 AM on June 15, 2013

Response by poster: By "red dot" I mean the dot in the center went red, as opposed to the ring. Apparently this is a common (though symptomatically very vague) indicator of problems with the Slim.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:59 AM on June 15, 2013

Best answer: 6. This being under warranty is pretty much out of the question.

Have you considered filing a case with eBay over the defective product? eBay's buyer protection is pretty good for stuff like this.
posted by jon1270 at 10:34 AM on June 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Oh dear. I'd take jon1270's advice and file a case with eBay if the seller you purchased from won't accept a return. Xboxes, and the slim in particular, are notoriously frail, and if you want to buy used I'd highly recommend you do so not through the internet but via Gamestop or some other brick-and-mortar so you can get a warranty on a refurbished console. (Also, don't buy a slim.)

Also, the single red light of death rather than RROD is unique to the slim, and indeed signals serious hardware problems. I'm sorry, but you've purchased a dud and I promise that trying to disassemble and fix will be much more trouble than it is ultimately worth.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 10:46 AM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Note: *DO NOT CRACK IT OPEN IF YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO FILE WITH EBAY.* This will just cause you more hassle down the road, and may void your buyer protection.

This is what eBay buyer protection is for (in theory). Contact the seller, tell him it is not as described (nonfunctional), and give him/her a chance to fix, unless you purchased it as-is, in which case you're likely OOL. Otherwise, file with eBay, and let them do the work.
posted by liquado at 11:03 AM on June 15, 2013

Have you considered filing a case with eBay over the defective product? eBay's buyer protection is pretty good for stuff like this.

Indeed, eBay heavily favors the buyer these cases. Absolutely open a case and return it.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:20 PM on June 15, 2013

Best answer: unless you purchased it as-is, in which case you're likely OOL.

This isn't even totally true either. Items sold as is can often still be disputed as being not as described. If he said it was working perfectly, but as is then it isn't as described.

Speaking from experience here, as I've sold a lot of as is items on eBay and had several buyers come back and try and split hairs. eBay will side with you. Even when it comes to things like "you listed these boots as a 12 and I'm a 12 and they don't fit. Therefor you obviously described them wrong and I want a refund". Still mad about that one, but I knew they would win even though I said no returns. "Not as described" is very easy to sell to eBay, and hard to defend against.

Go on there and send the seller a message to get the ball rolling right now. You might only have a day or two left.
posted by emptythought at 2:16 PM on June 15, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I sent the buyer a message and am waiting on a response (he's been pretty responsive throughout this pain-in-the-ass process from the beginning, thankfully) and the item was definitely described as working fine in the listing, so I know to a 99% certainty that eBay will side with me if it comes to that, which is comforting even if I can't play my damn games right now.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:23 PM on June 15, 2013

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