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Is the Xbox 360 getting any more reliable?

Our games console reliability survey threw up some interesting data on whether you can expect consoles bought in 2009 to be any more reliable than those bought in 2005

The Xbox 360 is less reliable than other games consoles, according to our reliability survey published last week. But the big question is whether consoles bought today can be expected to be any more reliable than the ones bought years ago. We broke out the office scientific calculator and took another look at the data we gathered in our survey to find out.

The bad news is that if you buy a new Xbox 360 now, it's still worrying likely to go wrong in the first year you own it. The good news is, if you manage to get that far without a problem, you're probably going to be fine.

In theory, Xbox 360s bought from 2008 onwards should break down less often, after Microsoft fiddled with the innards to increase the reliability. But whatever Microsoft changed here doesn't seem to have eradicated all the problems with the console.

Here's how we worked it out. We cross-referenced the year people bought their Xbox 360s with the number of consoles that broke down, along with how long they took to break. We've ended up with a graph that tells us what the failure rate of our sample was for each year of the console.

For people that bought their consoles in 2008, the proportion of Xbox 360s that failed in the first year actually went up very slightly, from 24 per cent in 2005 to 31 per cent. But the reliability of the console improves dramatically in the second year of ownership. The failure rate of the console had been running at 29-35 per cent here, but it dropped to a much healthier 9 per cent for consoles bought in 2008 (although obviously a full two years hasn't yet passed for those).

The failure rate of consoles bought in 2009 is improved, at 21 per cent (again, with less than a full year's data), but that's still a worryingly high number, especially when compared to the overall failure rate of the PS3 (16 per cent) and Wii (6 per cent).

Confused? Here's a graph to explain things visually (lower is better):

Xbox 360 failure rate

Microsoft had not provided a response to our figures at publication time, but we will update the story if they do.

What has your experience with the Xbox 360 been? Let us know in the comments.

Photo credit: drazz