The Red Ring of Death strikes again

The general hardware failure known as the Red Ring of Death has affected many thousands of consumers

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
The Red Ring of Death nicely accents the faux wood finish.

"On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero," wrote Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk. The same, it would seem, is true of Microsoft's Xbox 360 video game console. The general hardware failure known as the Red Ring of Deathhas affected many thousands of consumers (Microsoft won't say exactly how many), including nearly everyone we know in the video game industry (and that's a lot of people). However, our main Xbox 360 console has always been fine, and is arguably one of the oldest systems still in the wild, with a manufacture date of October 29, 2005.

That is, until this past Sunday, when after playing a little Call of Duty 4, our system froze up while on the Xbox dashboard. Rebooting the system led to the now-infamous red lights around the power button.

Fortunately, Microsoft has received reasonably high marks for its extended no-questions-asked warranty program for the Red Ring of Death, which started over the summer and will reportedly cost the company up to $1.15 billion. On the Xbox support Web site, the company says it has had, "an unacceptable number of repairs to Xbox 360 consoles," and the current three-year warranty is long enough to cover any system purchased since the system's launch.

We'll be packing our old Xbox 360 up for return this week, and hopefully it will go as smoothly as we've heard from our friends and colleagues.