Tuesday, June 12. 2007
It looks like Microsoft has finally noticed that some of their 360 consoles seem to have a problem with overheating. Hmm, it's about time... the rest of us had that figured out over a year ago. It has been common knowledge on the internet that the consoles can run very hot, causing the gpu to warp away from the board. This is the main cause for a 360 to get the "3 red lights of death", which is a sight that can give a gamer nightmares and even cause mental trauma requiring weeks of psychological counseling (usually until the console gets back from repairs).
There are now a couple of reports from customers that sent their 360 in for repair, and have gotten it back with a new heatpipe attached to the gpu heatsink:
This should allow the gpu to run slightly cooler, hopefully preventing the console from overheating (again).
So what exactly is a heatpipe, how does it help to cool things off, and what does this new beast look like?
A heat pipe is a sealed metal container, commonly shaped into a long copper tube but they can also be made in a flat wide shape. Inside the container is a small amount of distilled water and a couple other ingredients that help with the heat distribution.
One end of the pipe is placed onto the heat source (cpu/gpu) and as it gets hot the water begins to vaporize and move as steam up the center of the pipe. As it reaches the top of the pipe it cools, condenses back into water, and flows back down the sides. This provides excellent heat dissipation, and can be combined with a heatsink at the top as well.
There is no risk of a leak, because of the low quantity of water and also if the container does rupture it will suck air in due to its low pressure. There is no need to clean algae or refill the pipe, as it is designed to run as many as 100,000 hours without service.
The Xbox360 already has a heatpipe built into the cpu heatsink, so this isn't exactly a breakthrough in technology. In this case, they have replaced the normal gpu heatsink with one containing the bottom end of a heatpipe. The pipe exits the front of the gpu, and ends in a small heatsink off to the side in front of the cpu heatsink.
(Photos sent to xbox-scene by =Ikari= )
Well we can be happy that Microsoft finally found a solution to keep 360s from coming right back to their repair shop. It remains to be seen whether they decide to start installing these in every console at the factory, but I'm guessing that they will eventually. I'm honestly surprised that they didn't start factory installing these on the new Elite model when they came out.
If they get around to reducing the cpu to a 65nm as rumored (down from the current 90nm) and start installing the heatpipe on the gpu, it's possible that we might have seen the end of the 360 overheating epidemic for good!