How to Tell if an Xbox Is Fried
By Brianna Gunter
Updated September 22, 2017
Problems with a video game console often seem to come about suddenly. One day your Xbox 360 works fine and the next day the images won't even appear. There are various issues that can cause this, and a common one is an overheated or "fried" console. You may suspect this is the case already, but there are a few steps you can take to determine this for sure.
Turn on the Xbox and try playing a game. If you are already in the middle of a game and experiencing problems, turn off the console and let it cool off. After it has cooled, turn it on again and try playing the game again: sometimes just restarting the Xbox will fix the problem. Make sure all cables are connected securely. If the system does not turn on at all, it has probably burned out completely.
Look at the images on the TV screen. Blurry, melted-looking, jagged images or other forms of distortion are all signs of an overheated or "fried" graphics card -- also known as a graphics chip or video card. Lines across the screen or in some cases, an entirely black screen are also signs. In this case, the graphics card has become loosened from its surroundings because of high temperatures, or the card itself has been damaged due to heat.
Place your palm on the top of the Xbox; If it is standing upright, place your palm on the side. The heat may be intense and it will be almost difficult to keep your palm down.
Look at the back of the console and listen for the fan. There will be a faint whirring sound if it is running. A broken fan is another sign of overheating.
You can also open up the Xbox to look at the inside parts to see if they are fried, or even to attempt repairs. Unplug the Xbox and wait for it to cool. Flip it face-down on a flat surface. The side with stickers should now be facing up. Peel off the stickers.
Use the Size 20 Torx driver to remove the six small screws on the back. Four of them are under the rubber pads in each corner, but use the driver to wedge these pads up to expose the screws. Flip the box upright and shake it gently holding the sides until the bottom drops away from the cover.
The hard drive and disc drive are now exposed. Locate and remove the three small screws holding them down. Unplug the dark IDE cord from the hard drive and loosen the power cord that sits on top: It is not necessary that you unplug it. Lift out the hard drive.
Removing the IDE cable and the yellow cord from the now-exposed motherboard. Unscrew the two screws at the front of the disc drive. Lift out the disc drive.
The entire motherboard is now visible. Look around for heat damage, such as loose parts or even melted-looking areas. Look for a loose or damaged graphics card, as this will probably need to be replaced. The motherboard itself may need to be replaced. Make a list of the damage areas, so you know what parts you will need to fix it.
Contact a game system expert or technician for further help. The Xbox website also has a troubleshooting section where you can describe the problems you are having.
Be aware that replacing the motherboard will reset all of the settings on the Xbox back to default.
Do not open the Xbox or attempt repairs if you plan to have professionals repair the system under a warranty. Doing so will void the warranty and any further damage you may cause could even prevent technicians from being able to perform necessary repairs.
Brianna Gunter has been writing since 2007. She has bylines in both print and online media, including TheCelebrityCafe.com, Kiwibox.com, "The Robbinsville Advance" and "The Hamilton Post." Gunter has a B.A. in journalism and professional writing from the College of New Jersey, where she was also the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, "The Signal."