The Truth About X Clamps
Back when the Xbox 360 RROD started consumers were looking for ways to get their consoles back to working order so they could enjoy movies or games. There was little information about why the Xbox 360 game consoles would RROD, eventually after a long drawn out process Microsoft started repairing or replacing these consoles under an extended due to the RROD becoming much more common. But for those Xbox 360 owners who had opened their consoles or were out of the extended Xbox 360 RROD warranty did not want to pay such a high fee to get their console fixed. Nor did they want to purchase another console.
Thats where the Xbox 360 X Clamp FIX was born. It involved removing the original clamping mechanism which was held by 4 studs on a heat sink and an X shaped clamp. The stock Xbox 360 clamps did not put enough pressure on the heat sinks thus causing the BGA chips to get very hot. The solder would crack underneath causing loose connections. Many consumers would replace the studs and clamps with bolts and washers which involved drilling, cutting and other modifications to the console. The aim was to put pressure on the chip so that it made better contact with the board.
This did work on some consoles, but calling it a FIX is not something we agree with. By putting pressure on the chip it did in fact help to create better contact and temporarily alleviating the RROD on the Xbox 360. However it caused further permanent and sometimes unrepairable damage to the board itself. Since these bolts and washers put pressure on the chip it causes flex in the middle of the board where the heat sinks are. The outer board would curve as a result. This is known as warpage or board flex, because looking at the board straight on it was curved and not flat the way it was meant to be.
When we replace a BGA chip on an Xbox 360 which had the supposed X Clamp FIX board, there is a 50% chance the chip itself is damaged as well as the pads on the board. There are hundreds sometimes thousands of little tiny pads on the board which connect to the pads on the BGA chip. When these pads are damaged, there cannot be a clean connection.
However replacing a BGA chip on an unmodified unopened console the chances of repair are 99% since there was no harmful pressure or warpage done to the board. The chip is removed very cleanly, all pads intact and well formed. Of course without the right equipment, those attempting this X Clamp FIX have no idea that they are actually causing harm to their console they are in fact trying to fix.
There are others who realize that the problem is in fact due to broken solder connections and know that solder needs to be heated to melt, by remelting the solder underneath the chip a stronger joint will be formed. This is in fact very true. However most consumers or repair shops in fact do not have the experience or equipment needed to repair BGA chips. Taking a look on YouTube you will find many TUTORIALS to FIX your console with search terms such as Xbox 360 RROD Repair or Xbox 360 E74 Fix. The majority of these tutorials list a heat gun or paint remover gun sold at Home Depot or other hardware stores as the solution. Now it may just be me but Home Depot is not a store where you would find things to fix electronics.
The tutorials show you how to take apart your console remove the heat sinks and proceed to heat up the BGA chips. Heat guns are used to remove paint and thus have no reason to be calibrated or precise. BGA work known as BGA reworking is very precise. The chips need to be heated to 217c which is over 400f. Not reaching the temperature will not give a proper rework, going to high will cause bridging, as well as component failure. With a heat gun this is simply not possible.
There are also roughly 12 BGA chips on an Xbox 360 board more or less depending on board revision. There are currently at this time 6 board revisions that we know of Xenon, Zephyr, Opus, Falcon, Jasper and now the Xbox 360 slim the Trinity. Any of these chips can cause the RROD and sometimes has nothing to do with a BGA chip but can be resistors, capacitors, mosfets, or other electrical components as well as surface mounted devices that have failed. The most common cause is the GPU BGA which is the graphics processing unit, however the GPU could have no issues with it and when being worked on causes it to fail thus resulting in several issues which may be the cause of the RROD.
We at XModdz have spent thousands of dollars on equipment and tools in order to be able to do BGA Rework, simply having the equipment and tools though does not qualify us to repair consoles. Background expertise in BGA reworking is needed as well. With these tools we are able to properly reflow the consoles. When that fails a reball will fix 99% of BGA related issues.
We have purchased used consoles as well as have had customers drop off consoles for us to repair, many of these have previously been REPAIRED or have had attempts. When we open these consoles we tend to find some really crazy things done to them, but we wont get into that.
The chances of repairing these consoles are quite low and sometimes require additional work due to damage caused by the previous REPAIR attempt. Sometimes we will refuse taking in certain opened consoles simply because its the chances of repairing them has decreased and we are not miracle works we are technicians and even if fixed the possible permanent damage caused by the previous FIX has degraded the components or board itself will eventually cause the board to fail.
We hope this is an informative article to those who are attempting a repair without the proper equipment or know how. If you do not have a repair shop who specializes in game consoles near by or cannot afford to have it repaired, then you are welcome to try the so called YouTube FIXES to try and get a few days or weeks out of your console.
Many so called technicians use the X Clamp method to repair your console. Be wary of those that do and ask to view their Rework Machine.