The Xbox One can tell when things are getting too hot to handle and knows what to do to stop it.
One of the very real concerns fans have regarding the Xbox One is rooted firmly in the Xbox’s past: The Red Ring of Death. Fans who have been through two, three, five, or more systems can’t help but wonder if Microsoft’s new system will suffer the same fate as their current one.
An interview by Gizmodo with Xbox’s General Manager of Console Development Leo del Castillo reveals that Microsoft is, in addition to building a bigger, more open box, adding measures into the Xbox One to help compensate for external problems they can’t control.
“We can’t prevent misuse of the product, but we can certainly anticipate it,” del Castillo said. The system is never intended to go full throttle–people who have played it in a quiet room report that it’s almost disconcertingly quiet. But the fan can go much faster to the point where users should be able to hear it.
“We’ll allow the fan to go all the way up to maximum speed. They might notice the extra noise, and that will help self-correct the condition,” he says. That means if you decided to pack the system into a cramped entertainment center and then bury it under your collection of games, it’s going to use the fan to scream at you and let you know it can’t breathe.
That’s not all, though.
“We can dial back the power of the box considerably,” he says, noting less flexibility with the Xbox 360. “If we couldn’t dissipate the heat, there wasn’t a whole lot of leverage we could pull to keep the heat from being generated.”
The Xbox One, on the other hand, can spin down to a state of lower power consumption which, del Castillo says is “so low in fact that it… uses virtually no air flow.”
del Castillo doesn’t know, however, exactly how this will manifest in daily use, either with regard to applications or overheating. Will apps like Netflix use a lower power state, for example? Netflix can run fine of a Klondike-bar-sized Roku box, so it’s conceivable that the Xbox One could power down a good chunk of the system and run silently.
And then when the fan isn’t enough to keep the system cool or signal the user into finding the wad of cat hair stuck to the system vent, “we have the mechanism, the interface to deal with that,” he says. As Gizmodo notes, this likely means a pop-up alert of some kind.
Ideally users will never see or deal with these messages, but it’s better than losing hardware or having to turn your console upside down to use it like we did with the first generation PlayStation.