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The most common Xbox Series X problems and how to fix them

Like any other consoles, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S aren’t without issues. Even after several years on the market giving Microsoft time to push out updates and fixes, there are still some issues that can crop up.

In this guide, we’re going to cover the most common Xbox Series X problems, as well as how to fix them, including:

  • Disc issues: Discs getting stuck in the disc drive, clicking from the disc drive or fan, or discs not playing at all.
  • An Xbox Series X console that won’t turn on
  • No signal to TV or corrupted image
  • Console displaying incorrect resolution
  • Audio crackling while playing
  • Xbox 360 games not launching
  • Inability to connect to your controller

You can also keep up with all updates, known issues, and potential fixes directly from Xbox.

Get in touch with Microsoft

Before getting to any fixes, take note of the different contact options for Microsoft and Xbox support. There’s a robust support system in place, and for certain issues, you’ll need to contact Microsoft for a repair or replacement. If you have a smaller issue that we haven’t covered in this guide, you can ping us on Twitter @DigitalTrends so we can add it to this guide, as well as tag @XboxSupport. That seems to be the fastest support route.

Method  Contact
Support site Website
Forums Website
YouTube Website
Phone Request a call: 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, daily
Twitter @XboxSupport

In addition to keeping support options handy, we recommend checking the Xbox Live status page frequently. You’ll find all online issues for the Microsoft Store, games, movies, apps, and more there.

Problem: Discs getting stuck in the disc drive

Some Xbox Series X units have a disc drive problem (the same problem responsible for the next two issues we’re going to discuss). The most concerning of these issues is the disc getting stuck halfway in the disc drive, sometimes accompanied by loud clicking sounds or grinding noises.

I have an even worse problem :( What would be the best way to get a replacement

— drknickel (@drknickel) November 11, 2020

Potential solution

The problem here is with the disc drive itself, not with whatever disc is getting stuck. Because of that, we recommend getting in touch with Microsoft for a repair or replacement using the contact methods above.

Thankfully, the issue doesn’t seem too complex. An early Reddit thread showed multiple Xbox Series X users having the same issue, attributing it to the dust cover that protects the disc drive. Users report that a small amount of force with the palm of your hand is usually enough to loosen this cover and allow the disc to slide in.

We haven’t seen any videos of this fix working, and we haven’t encountered it ourselves. To be clear, we don’t recommend forcing a disc into your console. If it messes up anything in the disc drive, it’ll almost certainly void your warranty, and it may leave you with a broken game disc, too.

Problem: Clicking from the disc drive or fan

Discs getting stuck is the main issue Xbox Series X owners are experiencing, but some also are reporting a clicking sound from the console after inserting a disc or while installing a video game.

Potential solution

If the clicking is coming from your disc drive, the solution is simple. Some discs may cause a clicking sound in the disc drive when loaded. A good way to test if your disc is the problem is to insert it into another Xbox console — an Xbox One will work — and see if the issue persists. If it doesn’t, there’s a problem with your disc drive. Contact Microsoft to arrange a repair or replacement.

If the sound is coming from the vent at the top of your Xbox Series X, we have some bad news. After experiencing a clicking sound from the fan, a Reddit user opened their Xbox Series X and found that a cable was hanging close to the fan, causing a clicking sound when the fan started to spin.

Like the issue above, we don’t recommend taking your Series X apart. It will void your warranty, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could get hurt, too. Contact Microsoft using the methods above to arrange a repair or replacement instead.

Problem: Discs won’t play at all

Some Xbox Series X units won’t recognize discs at all. Note that this issue applies to all discs you insert, regardless of if they’re Xbox One games, Blu-rays, or DVDs. If you’re having trouble with a particular disc, we recommend cleaning the disc with a damp microfiber cloth, letting it dry, then trying it on a different Xbox console.

Potential solution

If your console won’t recognize a disc when you insert it, or it tells you to insert a disc when you already have one in, there are two possible problems. Either there’s an issue with your power mode — which, according to Microsoft, affects a small number of consoles — or there’s a problem with your disc drive.

You can solve the power issue yourself, thankfully. You need to change your power mode and perform a hard reset, which you can do by following these steps:

  • Press the Xbox button on your controller.
  • Select Settings (cog icon).
  • Follow Profile & System > Settings > General > Power Mode & Start-Up.
  • Under Power Mode, select Energy-Saving. 
  • Hold the Xbox button on your console for 10 seconds until it has completely shut down.
  • Power on your Xbox Series X and try the disc again.

If that doesn’t solve your problems, there’s an issue with the disc drive. Contact Microsoft to arrange a repair or replacement.

Problem: Xbox Series X won’t turn on

Xbox top holes
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If your Xbox Series X won’t turn on, there’s probably an issue with the internal power supply. Microsoft says these issues usually come up after a power surge where the power supply will reset itself. Thankfully, there are some troubleshooting steps you can take to solve this problem before contacting Microsoft.

Potential solution

Before resetting your power supply, some standard troubleshooting is in order. First, make sure that the outlet the console is plugged into works by plugging another device in. If the outlet isn’t the problem, you can perform an internal power supply reset by unplugging the power cord of the Xbox Series X for 10 seconds, then plugging it back in. If that doesn’t solve your problem, and you’ve confirmed the outlet isn’t the issue, try a different power cord.

If you still can’t power on your console, there’s an issue with the power supply that requires servicing. Contact Microsoft using the options above.

Problem: No signal to TV or corrupted image

The Xbox Series X supports 4K HDR at 120Hz with a variable refresh rate, which is enabled by the HDMI 2.1 standard. The included cable supports HDMI 2.1, along with its resolution and refresh rate features, but it may cause issues on your TV. In particular, if you have a TV that supports variable refresh rate from LG, Samsung, or Vizio, you may not see a signal or the signal may be corrupted.

Potential solution

Before doing anything with your Xbox, make sure your TV is updated to its latest firmware. Updates like these bring official support for external devices, and with the Xbox Series X using the latest tech, there’s bound to be some issues. A firmware update should solve this problem for most users.

If you’re still having trouble and you can’t make out options on the screen, you’ll need to boot your console into safe mode. If you can see enough of the screen for navigation, you can skip this step. To put your console into safe mode, do the following:

  • Eject any discs from your console.
  • Press the Xbox button on your console for 10 seconds.
  • Press and hold the Xbox Eject buttons until you hear two beeps (continue holding until the second beep, which happens 10 seconds after the first).

At this point, your console will be in low-resolution mode. Open the Settings menu and follow General > TV > Display Options > Video Modes. If you booted into low-resolution mode, change the resolution to match your TV.

This issue comes up with 4K at 120Hz with variable refresh rate turned on. Microsoft recommends changing one of these to solve the problem. Potential compatible solutions include 1440p at 120Hz with variable refresh rate, 4K at 60Hz with variable refresh rate, and 4K at 120Hz without variable refresh rate. Any combination works, but you can’t have all three, at least right now. You’ll find the resolution and refresh rate options under the Display Options menu and variable refresh rate settings under Video Modes. 

If issues still persist, turn off variable refresh rate on your TV. Each TV is a little different, so consult your manual for the correct instructions.

Problem: Console displaying incorrect resolution

Depending on your TV or monitor, you will want to set your Series X to display at the best resolution possible. A wrong resolution can either fail to display an image or show you an image that is below the quality that you should be getting.

Potential solution

The only solution offered at the moment is to restart your console by holding down the Xbox button, shutting the system down, and turning it back on.

Problem: Audio crackling while playing

Some users report hearing a crackling or static-like sound while playing on their Series X. Usually, it occurs when using headsets, specifically when playing in parties and talking with friends over voice chat. There are two ways you can attempt to get a clear audio signal.

Potential solution

  • Press the Xbox button to open your guide
  • Select Profile & System > Settings > General > Volume & Audio Output
  • Lower the Other sound option to around 50%

If the issue persists, it may be related to your hardware rather than a setting. In that case, you can try:

  • Disconnecting and reconnecting your headset cable.
  • Checking for obstructions in your controller audio port.

If neither is successful, or you are using a wireless headset, you may need to contact the headset manufacturer for repair or replacement.

Bug: Xbox 360 games not launching

Certain Xbox 360 games will either not launch or immediately return players back to the home screen after launching. Note that this problem and its solution are exclusive to Xbox 360 games. If you’re having problems with Xbox One or Xbox Series X games, refer to the solutions above.

Potential solution

There isn’t a set reason for this issue, but it generally comes up with Xbox 360 games installed on an external hard drive that was used on an Xbox One. To solve it, you’ll need to clear your local Xbox 360 storage. Make sure you have an Xbox Live account and that your saves have been backed up before performing the reset.

After your saves are secured, perform these steps:

  • Open the Settings menu.
  • Follow System > Storage. 
  • Select Clear Local Xbox 360 Storage. 

Bug: Can’t connect controller

Xbox X Controller

The wireless controller that comes with your new Xbox Series X may not connect to the console. Before moving to the solution, make sure that you’ve replaced the batteries in your controller and that it powers on. We also recommend trying other controllers with your gaming console to see if they work.

Before getting to the solution, here’s a quick refresher on how to connect your Xbox Series X controller:

  • Power on your Xbox Series X by pressing the Xbox button on the console.
  • Turn on your controller by pressing the Xbox button on your controller.
  • Press the Pair button on your console until the Xbox logo starts flashing rapidly (button right above front USB port).
  • Press the Pair button on your controller until the Xbox logo starts flashing rapidly (button on the back of the controller, next to the USB port).

If all is working correctly, the lights on your console and controller will move from a rapid pulse to a slow one before turning solid white. If they don’t, proceed to the solution.

Potential solution

A hard reset of your Xbox Series X should solve any controller connectivity issues. Hold down the Xbox button on the front of your console for 10 seconds, waiting until you hear and see the console shut off. Wait a few seconds more, then press the Xbox button again to power on your console.

If your controller still won’t connect, use a USB cable to plug it directly into your Xbox using the USB port on the front. Your controller should power on and work, but if it doesn’t, there’s an issue with your controller. If your controller works wired but not wirelessly, and you’ve performed a hard reset and checked your batteries, contact Microsoft for a repair or replacement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my Xbox Series X not working properly?

If your Xbox Series X is not working properly, it could be a sign that some cached data has been corrupted and is slowing your performance. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix to clear the system cache: First, power down your Xbox. Next, unplug the power cord from the wall, and leave it unplugged for at least 30 seconds. Next, plug the cord back in, power up your machine, log in, and try using an app or a game.

Alternatively, it may be a specific game that’s causing you issues. In this case, you’ll want to uninstall and reinstall the offending games. If this also doesn’t get your Xbox working properly, the next culprit may be an external drive connected to your console. Try unplugging it and playing. If your slowdowns and issues are gone, you’ve found the source of your problems. Try formatting your external drive according to the Xbox NTFS file system before using it again.

Does the Xbox Series X have cooling issues?

The Xbox Series X, if used correctly, should not have cooling issues. However, if the top vent on the console is impeded in any way, the Xbox may overheat. That’s because the air flow through the system flows through from the bottom and is expended out of the top. Just ensure that the vents are clear of blockage or debris.

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