New Xbox 360 protects itself from overheating

The new, slim game console might not be experiencing the same number of Red Ring of Deaths as its predecessor did, thanks to a shutdown feature reportedly in its software.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Xbox 360
The RRoD might be gone, thanks to overheating monitoring. Microsoft, Jeff Bakalar/CNET

Microsoft's new, slim Xbox 360 not only ditches the Red Ring of Death, the console monitors itself to determine if it's starting to overheat.

According to an Engadget post, which posted pictures of a "red dot of death" on its site, the new Xbox 360 constantly evaluates itself for overheating issues. If the console doesn't get as much ventilation as it needs to operate properly, a red light is displayed in the middle of the power ring, and the console shuts down by itself. Upon doing so, a message is displayed on the users' television, alerting them to the overheating issue.

"The Xbox 360 is shutting down to protect the console from insufficient ventilation," an alleged screenshot of an overheating Xbox 360 error message says. "You can turn the console back on after the power light stops flashing."

Microsoft confirmed the existence of the monitoring function in an e-mail. The Microsoft representative said "the new console has safety mechanisms in place to shut down, if needed, including an advanced warning that the console will shut down."

Although the warning isn't something that Xbox 360 owners want to see, it's nice to know that Microsoft is doing more to protect its console. Previous versions of the Xbox 360 were rife with troubles that caused the infamous Red Ring of Death. Upon getting it, Xbox 360 owners were forced to send their consoles back to Microsoft for fixing.

I've experienced the so-called RRoD once. CNET writer Jeff Bakalar reported last week that he has sent back a whopping five Xbox 360 units due to the RRoD.

There's no telling whether the new Xbox 360 model will be more robust than the previous model, but protecting against "insufficient ventilation" is certainly a good first step.

Updated at 2:16 p.m. PDT to include Microsoft's comment.