Sunday, January 09, 2005

I was going to do a how to manual for repairing your XBox DVD drive, but I see now that others have done a better job of this than I could. So I figured I will try and pull together some of the information that I gathered spread on forums, bulletin boards, and my own personal experience. I hope that this helps you in your quest of fixing your XBox. Good luck, and have fun.

About a year ago I had my DVD drive for my XBox start to make a vibrating sound. Eventual it would no longer read any of my game disks. I had not purchased the extended warranty, and getting it serviced would cost almost as much as a new XBox. So I figured I would give it a shot myself. I figured if I fried something, nothing lost. I went online trying to find any info I could. I found out a few things, and even found a few places that sell parts and drives.

First thing’s first. Opening your XBox voids any and all warranties you may have on it. As with any electric item, be careful of electric shock and electrostatic discharge.

Microsoft used three different companies to make their drives. The early XBox had a Thomson drive, apparently they had a lot of problems with it and it was the least reliable and damage prone of all the drives. Phillips drives later replaced them and were more reliable as far as data reads and were less prone to faller. Samsung drives are the most resent drives and are the best of the three. They are faster and have fewer data read errors. Apparently if you want to upgrade to one of the other brand of drives it is possible to do so according to this guys experience.

Microsoft prevents you from just using an off the shelf drive. One thing their drive does different is the game disks read by spinning in the opposite direction as a regular DVD. This, I suppose, helps prevent piracy of their game disks. So their drives are able to spin clockwise and counter clockwise for the games and the movie DVDs. The other method is their BIOS only recognize specific drives without installing a mod chip. XBox drives also have a different power cable than the standard PC drive power cable.

One drive that many people started to use was a modded Samsung 616T drive. It is a direct plug in requiring no modifications to the cables. It has a faster read speed and will read burned XBox disks without having to install a mod chip. I found there are a few problems with going this route. The XBox case has to be modded by cutting a few brackets that secured the original drive. Some screw holes have to be drilled to hold the new drive in place and the front XBox face plate has to be glued on. When the disk is ejected something does not quite register right and a disk not found screen will come up. This did not affect game play or anything else that I could see, it was just annoying. I am not sure if it will play movie DVDs, I did not test that out.

If you are comfortable with opening up a DVD drive and tinkering with it, than replacing the laser assembly is the cheapest way to go. The disk drive is one of the few moving parts that can wear out and replacing it should fix any read errors that you have. This is essentially what I ended up doing to fix my XBox. There is a break down guide offered here for all three drive types here at llamma.com. If you are no MacGyver than maybe buying a whole new OEM replacement drive would be money better spent. You can find both on EBay or searching the internet for stores.

You could always try to sue to get your Xbox fixed. Just remember Microsoft has some of the best lawyers Satan, I mean money, has to offer.


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