Fixing XBox error 0020 – On the cheap.


Having never owned an XBox, I jumped at the chance to have a peek into the guts of a friend’s broken machine.  It took all of 5 minutes to google the extended error code (0020) and no more than an hour to fix it without resorting to buying an X-Clamp fix kit, heat gun, ramming erasers under the chips or sticking the thing in the oven. As an added bonus, you can also do this without removing the heatsinks or having to re-apply thermal paste.

Officially, error 0020 (3 red lights) doesn’t seem to have a single, or apparently obvious cause but all the evidence seems to point to that annoying RoHS compliant solder on the motherboard losing connectivity – possibly around the GPU.

Unfortunately though, I couldn’t find the right Torx to unscrew the  bloody heatsink – meaning  no immediate access to the underside of the motherboard and that meant an amateur reflow (in the oven) was out of the question. Oh, and wrapping the thing in a towel to let it reflow itsself? Hell no.

The answer came surprisingly in the form of my girlfriend’s heavy duty hair drier!
In a last ditch attempt to get it to boot, I basically blasted the motherboard for 5-10 minutes with hot air – a reflow without the oven if you will. Anyway, straight to the point – here’s a quick rundown of the steps taken. You might want to check Google for more detailed disassembly instructions as there’s very little point in me replicating them.


  1.  Clip off the front and the two holed grilles.
  2.  Clip off the bottom plastic cover, and the one on the circuit board at the front  (not the front board its self).
  3.  You unplugged the X-Box right?
  4.  Unscrew the screws on the bottom (except the black ones surrounding the Xs in the middle)
  5.  The top plastic/metal section should now come off.
  6.  Carefully unplug the disk drive and  put it aside.
  7.  Pop out the plastic air funnel between the rear fans and heatsinks.

You should now have a metallic ‘tray’ with the motherboard sat in the bottom and screwed in place. The heatsinks should remain attached, and there’s no need to remove the front circuit board (switches/lights) or the rear fans. Now flip it upside down on a flat surface so it looks like a little box.

You see the gap where the disk drive was?
Fire the hairdier in there, and onto the Xs on top untill you smell the satisfyingly sweet aroma of melting solder.  If like me you’re doing this on the varnished floor, you’ll probably want to shuffle the XBox once in a while to avoid scorching .Be careful – a half decent hair drier will get the shell much hotter than you’d think.

Once it’s good ‘n’ burny, give it 10-15 minutes to cool down on its own. The heatsink will likely remain warm for much longer. Whilst ‘drying’ I heard a loud metallic “Ping!” and took this as a sign to stop before the expansion/contraction did even more damage.

And that’s about it!
Once it’s a bit cooler, plug the AC adaptor, disk drive, air funnel and AV (dont forget the AV cable) back in and check to see if it boots before screwing and clipping the whole thing together.

If it worked for you too, I’d love to hear from you!
Happy Hair Drying! 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *