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How to Fix an XBox 360 Screen When it Turns Black

by Contributing WriterUpdated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Xbox 360

  • VGA, composite, component or HDMI video connection

  • TV screen, high-definition or standard

One of the video problems associated with the Xbox 360 is random black screens. These indicate one of several problems, and can occur either on startup or when loading a game. There are things users can do to pinpoint the source of the problem, even if they do not represent a complete fix.

Make sure the console and TV are on to begin with—look for green lights on the front of both. Check the video connection from the console to the screen is securely attached on both ends. Then, double check whether the TV has the right input source selected—you'll need to be sure since current TVs have a lot of ports and possible video sources.

If using composite or component, check that connectors are in the correct sockets by color. Component cables also have an SD/HD selector on them. If on a regular TV, make sure the cable is set to SD, and if on an LCD or plasma, set it to HD.

HDMI users want to ascertain that their TV supports the HDMI version used by the cable -- but incompatibilities are rare.

Try connecting the console to the TV using a different cable type if available. If the black screen goes away, it means the cable or ports are at fault. If the problem persists, it may be the console.

If you do get video from another cable after experiencing a black screen, from the dashboard go in to console settings, display settings and check the resolution and input source are the ones you were trying to run.

PAL users may also want to check that the console isn't set to PAL 50Hz. Most games are tuned to 60Hz.

Keep an eye out for other symptoms, such as overheating and flashing red lights on the front. If the console is too hot or red lights are flashing, then the hardware itself is the problem. Keep an eye out for precursors such as the screen going green or displaying a meshlike pattern. These are indications that the graphics processor may be failing—which could result in a black screen.

Try detaching the hard drive if the black screen appears only when loading a game. Also, try loading different games. If the black screen appears from startup, listen for sound—if there is sound, it's a video problem. If there's no sound, the issue might be a wider hardware problem either in the console or the TV.

Tips

Don't worry about using third party cables—especially for HDMI, where any cable will do. Official Microsoft cables aren't better than any others, and just cost more. However, for composite and component, you need Xbox 360-specific kits, either Microsoft or another manufacturer.

Warnings

Refrain from opening the console or the cables provided yourself—they're very tightly packed and built; any meddling could cause further damage as well as void any warranties.

If all else fails, contact Microsoft at www.Xbox.com/support or 1-800-4MY-Xbox to initiate repairs.

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