The Red Ring Of Death Is What Made The Xbox One So Huge

The Red Ring Of Death Is What Made The Xbox One So Huge
Image: Supplied
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

This week Microsoft released the Xbox One S. It’s pretty cool. It’s smaller, leaner, lighter — all the things you expect from a console redesign. It’s also technically superior. Apparently games will run with a 10 per cent improvement in frame-rate on the Xbox One S. Pretty cool.

But the original Xbox One was huge. Ridiculously huge. Especially when you sit it next to the comparatively diminutive PlayStation 4 and the stupidly tiny Wii U.

Which begs the question: Why the hell was the original Xbox One so big?

There are a few good reasons.

Carl Ledbetter’s official job title is Executive Creative Director, but you might know him better as ‘guy who decides what the Xbox looks like’. He helps oversee the aesthetics of each console, the controllers, the design — all of that stuff.

According to Carl, decisions made regarding the original Xbox — and more importantly its size — were the result of a number of factors. First and foremost: Making sure the goddamn thing worked.

“We all want a product that works,” explains Carl. “That’s the number one principle.”

Understandable, particularly since the Xbox 360 — which was successful by almost every possible metric — was notorious for, um… not always working.

“With the Xbox 360, when it had the red ring of death — that was a big deal,” said Carl. “It was a big deal for our business, it was a big deal for our customers. It did matter. Our response was: we make sure our products work.”

That’s one of the reasons why the Xbox One was so big: Safety. The last thing Microsoft wanted was another console that had issues like the Xbox 360. Reliability was a high priority.

“When we were designing the original Xbox One you have to remember it was all brand new. We had to start from a new chip, a new board lay out, all-new thermal behaviours and characteristics – running an all-new higher resolution games. So we really had to design to the best of our abilities what we thought was gonna be a super reliable and consistent performing console.

“We didn’t really have the luxury of time to iterate. That’s why the Xbox One is what it is.”

The ‘red ring of death’ has changed pretty much everything Microsoft does in terms of consoles.

“Did it impact what we did on Xbox One? Absolutely. It impacted what we’re doing with Xbox One S. It impacted what we did on Xbox 360 S. These are things we learned from.”

By contrast, the Xbox One S is small. Much smaller in fact, and the changes made are changes that might have been risky for the Xbox One upon launch, given the time frame and the new chipset. The power supply unit is now internal (thank God) and — like the Xbox 360 — it’s a console designed to stand vertically or horizontally. I’d have been afraid to stand the Xbox One vertically lest the thing collapse beneath its own weight.

Would I replace the old Xbox One with a new Xbox One S? It’s hard to tell. Depends on budget and how much space you want to free up in your entertainment unit. Given that the Xbox One S has a performance boost, I’m tempted.

This story originally appeared on Gizmodo


  • Honestly when I saw they were making it comically huge I was kind of relieved that they were putting reliability ahead of aesthetics

  • Non Issue of the generation, it’s not like it took up any more meaningful real estate in an entertainment centre. Mine sits in the exact same spot the 360 did.

    • Yeah. I actually like it. Looks better under my TV than my PS4 or Alienware Alpha.

      I suppose the power brick was a bit large. But meh.

      This white box, on the other hand, would look terrible under my TV.

    • I still don’t get the complaints about the power brick.

      It sits on the floor behind your television/entertainment unit. You’ll see it once… when you’re installing the damn thing.

      • Reminds me of my other favourite non issue, when Sony didn’t show what the PS4 “Looked Like”. As if it was ever going to be anything aside from a black plastic box that sat around as part of the furniture inside a week.

      • Plus power brick dies, easy replacement. PSU internally dies, and it’s a warranty refurb console.

  • I don’t get the complaints about size. It’s a console. On the few occasions where I’ve taken my XBOX One with me somewhere it hasn’t been a bother (or at least no more than my PS4 or Wii U). Other than that it sits under my TV in a space that’s designed to handle a large VHS player with room to spare.
    The power brick is in a similar category. I can’t imagine caring enough about it to complain but not enough to put some planning in and conceal your cables. It’s slightly more annoying to set up, but fiddling around behind the TV is always annoying.
    I feel like people complain about the size just because they’re used to smaller tech = newer tech.

    • I agree on the console size. Its a lot smaller than the HTPC or the Amp thats in the same unit.
      The Power Brick though is a pain in the ass. Maybe its just me but trying to stuff that behind the entertainment unit to conceal it means rather than the unit sitting up against the wall, it sits the width of the power brick from the wall. Either that or you have a power brick sitting next to the unit in plain sight.

    • Yeah, power brick makes cable management an absolute pain. So much dust builds up behind mine and having all these bricks makes it harder to clean

    • I take my xbone every now and then to lan at a friends. it fits inside a backpack just fine (with powerbrick, controller etc)

      but the thing is, if you’re taking your console anywhere – you’re probably going to need to bring a monitor/tv with you anyway. which is a lot more difficult to transport than a console anyway.

      id take a larger console that runs cooler and quieter over a smaller one. no power brick would be nice though, wont lie. i know you don’t see it often, but it does make more mess etc behind the entertainment unit.

  • I got a 360 with recurring red ring of death problems and swore off Microsoft consoles since then, even if it is the size of a tank.

  • i call bullshit, there are PCs that are much smaller with way more specs that produce more heat and don’t die even back in 2006, its Microsoft cheapening out on what they use, there excuse for poor business work, especially what was the actual reason on the RROD happened

    • As someone who has repaired a few xboxes with rrod all caused by the same issue I’d like to hear what yours is.

        • I have heard of over heating in some but when you read them they seem a bit BS like boards warping. FR4 would take some serious strain to bend and heating wise it’s rated to 150 odd degrese the compontents would fail before the board did. in the ones ive come accross it Wasn’t overheating. With the bans on lead in Europe they had to move to a lead free solder. Lead free solders have a higher melting point than lead based solder. So during production some joints weren’t soldered correctly leading to “dry joints” and over time with thermal contraction and expansion the joints would Crack and go open circuit. Which people could perceive as becoming un soldered.

    • It was a generational thing. Sony had the exact same problem, except they were awful about it in regards to warranty. Everyone I know with a phat PS3 had YLOD.

  • We didn’t really have the luxury of time to iterate.

    Basically the #1 issue in the gaming industry. The rush to meet artificially set deadlines disallows proper testing.

      • I would say they were more reactive to Sony and trying to play catch up. Sony have clearly led the market this generation with clear visions and strategy. Microsoft didn’t even understand their target audience for their first xbone pitch.

    • That’s what I thought.

      “We didn’t really have the luxury of time to iterate. That’s why the Xbox One is what it is.” is basically an admission that they released a product to market knowing it wasn’t as good as it should have been.

  • If you have ever tried to use an xbox one with a GAEMS case, then you will know the pain of the massive console and power brick.

  • The Xbox One was also designed for media consumption, hence the gamer outcry of the “TV TV TV!” e3 debacle. It was designed as the centre of your AV system. Larger, more heat out of the box, quieter. I don’t want to be in a quiet scene of a bluray listening to fans whine away. The PS3 taught me that lesson.

    From gamespot in 2013
    As a result of the desire for the console to operate continuously for ten years, it would be required to function with adequate heat dissipation. The machine’s cooling needs has produced a unit that measures 34x26x8cm and functions “almost silently”.
    Fan noise would only be noticeable during gaming, when the AMD processor is under duress.

    In his interview with Eurogamer, Albert Penello was VERY careful to not say the One S is quieter or louder, just that people will be happy.
    ‘We applied the lessons we have amassed over the years in thermal and acoustic engineering and so we have a design that is not just more compact, but is reliable and quiet enough to blend into the background, whether you are playing a graphically demanding game or kicking back watching a movie. I think people will be just as happy with the volume level of the Xbox One S as they were with the original Xbox One.’
    So hopefully we see some dB noise test comparisons soon.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!