Replacing a Faulty Xbox 360 DVD Drive – Firmware Flash or Circuit Board Transplant?

Xbox 360 BenQ Replacement DVD DriveMy Xbox’s DVD Drive has been playing up for a while now. I install all of my games to the hard drive so it is rarely used.  However I need to at least read and recognise the disks to be able to start any retail games. For the last month or so I’ve resorted to hitting it squarely on the head a few times to get it to read the disks. I’ve not uncovered the exact cause of the problem but this rather noisy solution at least works 95% of the time.

Thank you Youtube.

Whilst over at ours recently, Rich finally convinced me to actually try and fix this bloody thing. So, after failing to transplant the circuit board from my old drive to another working spare – and breaking both of them – I looked into recovering the firmware from my original drive and ordered a refurbished replacement for £20 from eBay. After a few days waiting for it to arrive it only took 30 minutes to flash my original firmware on to the new drive and put it all back together. My baby is finally back.

This article is here to point out where I went wrong along the way to save heart-ache and, more importantly, money.

The DVD Drive I have is the BenQ model (VAD6038 – firmware 64930C) which is one of the newer drives in the non-slim Xboxes. You can use this image to identify your drive without even opening your console:

Xbox 360 DVD Model identificationThe problem with replacing your Xbox DVD Drive is that all DVD Drives are locked to their respective motherboards. This is done using a secret key that only that motherboard and that DVD Drive have. If you use another Xbox DVD Drive in your Xbox it will still read disks but will deliberately recognise Games as DVD Movies instead.

One of the easiest ways to replace your DVD Drive and get around this issue is to swap out the circuit board from your faulty drive into a new drive. However, you need to make sure that you use exactly the same model of DVD Drive as the one you own. They key is kept on a chip on this board, so as far as the xbox is concerned nothing has changed. Whist this is a very simple procedure for the Hitachi and Samsung/Toshiba Drives (you only need to disconnect two ribbon cables and then reattach them) in the BenQ drive you need to de-solder and resolder 9 wires too. Again this isn’t particularly difficult and I am fairly comfortable with my soldering skills but somehow I managed to mess it up!

I suspect that I either damaged the lens during my soldering or caused heat damage to components on the circuit board. Both units now seem to be mechanically sound and also seem to have all data connections intact but will not read any disk. After testing and fiddling about for hours I managed to eliminate everything else – but I can’t work out what isn’t working correctly with the DVD unit itself.

I gave up on that route and then proceeded to recover the key from my DVD drive. This required reading the firmware from the drive. Jungle Flasher was the key to this process. A wonderful piece of software created to bring all of the DVD modding tools for the Xbox 360 under one GUI controlled umbrella. After a few false starts I ended up using this PDF guide to get me to the point where I could read my firmware. I highly recommend it.

Things that you will need to read (and then write) your firmware:

  • Jungle Flasher Software
  • Power for the DVD Drive (either your Xbox 360 or a kit from Team Xecuter)
  • A SATA port (ideally an external VIA VT6421 – they are cheap on ebay)
  • A SATA cable

I highly recommend using the VIA card (if you have issues) as that is what everybody else uses and has the most success with. Make sure you do not install the drivers for it (or un-install them if you are already using them) as they get in the way of JungleFlasher.

Connect your Xbox’s DVD Drive to your PC, power it on and start up JungleFlasher – then select the MTK Flash 32 tab. From this point on I will assume that the DVD Drive is a BenQ as I have no experience with any other drives. However this should still be helpful no matter what drive you have.

If at any point JungleFlasher ask you if you want to auto-load or use iXtreme firmware say no! This is custom firmware for unlocking your xbox and if you want to keep a legit box you want to stay away.

Jungle Flasher - MTKflash 32 (in Vendor Mode)

Jungle Flasher - a DVD Drive on a VIA VT6421 in Vendor Mode via MTKflash 32

After choosing your drive via the I/O Port drop-down you are ready to get your drive’s key.

Usually you should be able to press the BenQ UnLock button and JungleFlasher will send 32 magic keys to your drive and put it in vendor mode so that you can get the firmware (I think it even does it for you automatically). However this didn’t work for me so here is the alternate method.

Click  the Intro / Device ID button to attempt to introduce Vendor Mode. This will fail and you will be prompted to press yes to try again. Press Yes and then whilst the dots are moving across the dialog at the bottom of the form you need to power-cycle the drive. Pull out the power cable from the DVD Drive and quickly plug it back in again. Your Drive should now have entered Vendor Mode. Now you can click the Read button and then save your firmware to your Computer somewhere.

If you have any problems in this area (I certainly did) then here’s what I would recommend:

  • Have you got a video cable plugged into the xbox (if you are using that for power)? This can cause the Xbox to turn off after about a minute. Plug in a cable to the back of the box – it doesn’t need to be connected to a TV or whatever.
  • Are you using a VIA VT6421? If not consider buying one as they are about a tenner. Or maybe a teccy mate has one.
  • Are the VIA Drivers installed? I could enter vendor mode but couldn’t read my firmware until I removed the drivers.
  • Is the UnLock button not working? Try the Intro / Device ID button and power cycle the DVD Drive as detailed above.

You now have the secret key that can make any DVD Drive work with your Xbox. Either get another drive the exact same as your current one (including the firmware revision) and write your saved firmware to the new drive. Or you can extract the key and inject it into the firmware of the new drive. I figured that using the same drive would ensure that Microsoft won’t have anything to complain about – so that’s what I went with. As before this guide will now assume you are swapping a like for like drive.

After the drive was delivered I first tested it in my Xbox to make sure it could read disks. All was good so far. I then plugged it in to my PC as I had with my faulty one and fired up JungleFlasher again.

You need to get this new drive into vendor mode too. This time the BenQ UnLock button worked for me. Once in vendor mode I took a copy of the current firmware just in case.

To write your original firmware to your new drive you need to switch to the FirmwareTool 32 tab and click the Open Target Firmware button. This will allow you to select you firmware that you saved to your computer. Once loaded go back to the MTK Flash tab and after ensuring you are still in vendor mode click the Write button. This will write and then check the firmware is OK. It may inform you that you haven’t spoofed your drive – you don’t need to so proceed forward. If it is all right then click the Outro / ATA Reset button and you are done.

Place your DVD Drive into your Xbox boot it up and you should now be able to play a game again.

In short I would recommend the firmware route first. See if you can read your existing firmware. If you can then you should be able to write to another drive just as easily. Only then should you risk the fragile insides of your DVD Drive.  I expected the firmware route to be messy but it was actually relatively painless. I would definitely recommend spending money on a VIA SATA card before buying a soldering iron – but if you have the iron then the decision is yours to make. If I had been unable to recover my DVD Key I would have been forced to attempt a motherboard recovery of the key (I’ve been there, burnt that on the original Xbox) or to buy a whole new 360 for ~£120.

Consider this potential cost before you solder up – especially if you think you are better at soldering than you are – like me.

A few interesting links to help broaden the subject if this wasn’t exactly what you were looking for:

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93 thoughts on “Replacing a Faulty Xbox 360 DVD Drive – Firmware Flash or Circuit Board Transplant?

  1. Pingback: Benq drive software mod xbox

  2. hi guys, had a disc read error on my xbox, thought it was as simple as replacing the disc reader, bought a rrod xbox off ebay and swapped the disc reader over. I then kept getting the error ‘to play this disc insert it in an xbox 360′. Reading your page made me realise about the secret key, as luck would have it, the one i ordered happened to have the same philips drive as mine, so i switched circuit boards in the drive (and my soldering skills not all that) and all is working perfectly. A big thanks for getting me back in the world of xboxing

    • i recently discovered my disk drive wasnt working , i just bought a new drive , first , i bought a toshiba drive where as my original was a Phillips light on does this matter or will it still work?

      • It matters. Toshiba and Phillips make different drives. The Xbox 360 sees this new drive, and thinks you did something, then will not work. It NEEDS to be exactly the same as the old drive!

  3. i bought a refurbished xbox 360 and i think that they might of thought that they could just put a functioning dvd drive in an console, so it doesnt read games. i want to flash the dvd drive but i wont be able to get the original key like you said. what can i do?

    • hook the motherboard of your xbox360 with a sata cable to your computer. with a program (forgot what its called, look it up) you can set the key on your motherboad to accept the one on your drive now. :)

      • This is not possible. You can do this but this requires a Glitch/JTAG hack not plugging a SATA cable between the XBOX Motherboard and your PC.

  4. Say I ordered drive that wasn’t the same as the one in my 360, can I still replace the faulty drive and have it play my games?

    • yes however you will have to flash that drive look on youtube to learn how to do so, u can not just unplug the drive you have in now and plug in the new drive and play games on it. :)

  5. OK, so i got the new drive in, i loaded the ofw from the bad drive into the target, what do i load into the source if anything. The drive does not read the game and disconnects me from live when i try to load it up and then kicks me back to the dash. What did i do wrong?

    • Sounds like you flashed it wrong.you need to load the ofw of the bad drive into the source(because that’s where your ofw key is), then load the ofw of your new drive into the target, then spoof source to target, save file, write new firmware to drive.done

  6. my jungleflasher wont open says all in one flashing utility for 360 drives has stopped working
    any help would be appreicated

    i have vista and service pack 3.5

  7. so if i buy the phillips disk drive from amazon because that’s what mine is and put it in will it work or do i have to put in the key or that chip

  8. even more simple fix, i simply swapped over the laser itself, from the good drive to the bad one, fixed my problem, I assume the laser is what actually goes out in the first place since its what does the reading and is under the most constant stress

  9. i have a liteon drive 16d2s and it wont go into vendor mode, my old pcb is burned so i need a new drive (or a new pcb) ,help and thanks for a platform to share our problem.

  10. ebay has them for around $20, got mine with free shipping in close to 3-5 days, other than that if you try gettin a parts 360, it seems the Lite on drive isnt very common, so itll be more miss than hit on that front

  11. Hi.

    I’ve been given a Japanese xbox to fix as the drive doesn’t work. The owner wants a UK dvd drive so he can play English dvds, would this procedure work if I transferred the firmware to the new drive if they are different regions?

    Or can I do it like for like and then modify the region after the ‘operation’ is complete?

    Thanks.

  12. Why don’t you instead of soldering the 9 wires why not just cut the wires in the middle and splice them? That avoids heat, a mess and you don’t need soldering skills. No heat equals no bad board…a little easier to cut wires and strip a lil of the wire then to do all this isn’t it?

  13. Hi i have a benq vad6038 drive it just fails to read discs etc can i simply extract my dvd key off of this drive using jungle flasher and replace the key into a totally different drive maybe samsung for example and have it load up fine if so can you give me a little help please ;)

    • not sure you can do that, infact everything ive read so far says you can’t, just replace the laser reader module, simple easy fix, no soldering or splicing of wires, and exact same tear down mostly, as desoldering and resoldering a board, so if your board isnt burned up, that should fix it

  14. hi guys ive bought an xbox from ebay tried to install battlefield and came up with an e66 so this means the disc drive is not the original one that was in the xbox so how do i find out what the original one was what do i need to do noob at this so simple instructions would be great ?
    thanks again!

  15. ok getting really annoyed now, i got the disc tray error and researched how to fix it and decided to go with the PCB swap..all went to plan soldered all connections back easily and i STILL have the open tray error with a perfectly working drive AFTER the motherboard swap? so surely the problem is in the board not the actual drive? HELLLLPPPP this is driving me nuts!

  16. I dont have my original xbox 360 disc drive, is there anyway i could still get the dvd key or do i have to buy a brand new xbox?

  17. have a benq drive that works fine without case but when it is put together will not open anyone having these problems thanks j

    • there was no need to replace the drive, if banging on the top gets it started, this means the laser needs to be readjusted. open up the disc drive and you will see two screws on the back of the laser. turn the screw on the left to the left in very small increments then test if failed give another turn. i promise this will work. google how to adjust xbox 360 laser

    • Well, you will need to copy the encryption key from the old drive to the new drive using one of the methods discussed here.

      Either flash, replace the laser or replace the circuit board.

  18. Hello everyone. Read this article to hopefully fix my xbox. Matched up the disc drive model, swapped the boards, and still having the error. As I read above someone else had the same problem. Last resort for them was flashing the code on the new board. My error code happens to be E66 or 1002. Just wondering if it the actual disc drive is fine and maybe the actual problem is the update they put out in 2011 that changed the reading format. Plays all the old games just fine but not the new Mass Effect 3. This xbox has been collecting dust for about 4 years on my friend’s shelf and it is a 2005 model. Any thoughts or opinions would be appreciated.

  19. ok i have 2 xboxes one is benq which i found a relacement for on ebay and transfered the firm board and my soldering is ok this didnt work so if i can buy a replacement circuit baord for dvd drive and flashthis were do i get the program to do this ie jungle flash???? there is a second xbox with reading difficulties just keeps saying open close trys to read but no go !!????

  20. Hey my xbox 360 dvd drive is a liteon and it is having read issues. i can get a replacement for 10 but he only has benq. as long as i replace the keys will the benq work or does it have to be a liteon?

  21. The LIte-on Drive is VERY easy to swap if you have even moderate soldering skills. Since most of the connections are ribbon cables, the only soldering that needs to be accomplished is at the power supply distributions. Those connections are far enough away from the sensitive components that there is very little danger of damaging them with heat. I set my iron to 650 degrees F. and worked quickly. Just remember which of the same colored wires (two yellow, and two white) go where, and your in there. Swap the board from the good drive in place of the board from the bad drive and resolder the wires exactly where they came from. This took me 30 minutes and my xbox is up and running perfectly. Good luck.

  22. Thanks for a great post. I was a bit worried about this task as everyone I spoke to told me it was difficult to change drive and that I would end up breaking something. With your post I was able t swop drives on the first go thanks

  23. you can do this in a MUCH easier way if you buy the exact model and brand as a replacement. you can actually remove the entire internal components of your origional dvd drive with about 8 screws and place the components of the new drive inside your old casing which still holds your circuit board (which contains all your drive keys and serials ect..). here is a video showing the process and it takes less than ten minutes. This video saved me- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCEbjsOuRws&feature=related

  24. Just to add to my above comment. This can be done with NO SOLDERING what so ever. All you need is a T8 Screw driver in some cases its a T6 Screw driver. Hopefully i saved someone from going through the extensive flashing process

    • It should be pointed out that this method DOES NOT work with the BenQ drives. I’ve just found this out the hard way, and now have two drives to re-assemble and a flashing process to go through, since I’ve never soldered in my life, nor do I have the equipment to do so.

  25. Hello,
    I have just bought a replacement Hitachi dvd drive and when I hook up a sata cable to my computer I do not see the drive on my computer. can I just hook a sata cable right from the dvd drive to the computer, and still use the xbox as a power source? can anyone help me do this. Oh and I have tried to do a board swap and get the “play dvd” and can not play games of any type. I would be hooking right in to a sata port on the motherboard.
    Thank you

  26. How do you connect the xbox dvd rom to a PC, the connectors don’t fit, I can connect the sata cable but the power connector is different

  27. Guys, Guys, Guys, Crack open the drive, undo the cables from the laser lens assembly, then replace the laser lens from your bad drive, with one from your new drive, I have personally done this (didnt have the chipset to flash) and it works perfectly, The laser is what quits reading the disc in the first place, fix that one simple problem and you dont have to flash security keys, easy peasy lemon squeezy

  28. Thank you for this post i put a new dvd drive in my 360 but had no idea about the swapping of the board so i did that and now works great so thanks again :-)

  29. My Xbox360 had a faulty Disk Drive, so my friend gave me a Xbox360 with E-74 and I just took the disk-drive out and put it in mine. My Original Disk-Drive was a Phillips-Lite, the one in the Xbox-360 he gave me is a Samsung-Toshiba. I understand to get the Samsung-Toshiba to work I would need to ‘Flash’ it, but if I was to purchase a new Phillips-Lite would I have to go through all the steps with JungleFlasher, etc.
    I’d appreciate a reply :)

    • Yes, I also had the Phillips drive, and I still needed to flash it, thats why i changed the laser lens reader, Thats the part that actually goes out when they quit reading

  30. hi guys heres something thats been bohering me about this whole process.. i have been collecting xbox’s for a while i have about 11 of the damn things abut 5 with faulty cd drives the rest RROD (mates broke them n i bought them cheap expecting a quick fix) but the more i read the more worried i become….. yh ok the rrod is easy to fix but the thing im concerned about is if you do the steps above ive been told that you still get banned from xbox live or is this a safe way to fix coz a pal of mine got his xbox flashed and he got banned…. someone help clear out the confused state of my brain please

    • my best guess if that your friend flashed with a custom firmware, and that is the cause of the ban. MS can detect custom FW and will ban you for it because custom FW allows the reading of burned disks. flashing with a standard/original (microsoft approved) firmware will not result in a ban because MS’s security is designed to look past it as it has no negative dollar signs for them. infact it means people are still buying their games so A-1 for them. hope this clears it up for you.

      • after further research: turns out you NEED to use the same make/model drive when doing a flash. if you put samsung keys on a benQ drive, for example, you may result in getting yourself banned. original FW or not. hopefully helpful. peace.

  31. I did a PCB swap from a red ringed box to a box with a dead drive on one of the BenQ drives a while back. i got the boxes for a total of $40 canadian. i was stuck with a netbook as my only pc at the time so flashing was just out and i had no idea about the lens swap option at the time. i had never soldered in my life, before or since, but it went pretty smooth. the new drive went in the dead-drive’d box and booted the only game i had at the time… and then every other game i bought or borrowed for about 2 years after. eventually it red ringed and i had to get a new box, but the point is that the solder method can be done by a complete noob as long as you research technique before you have at the xbox parts. keep rockin the good stuff.

  32. So, I pulled this off by removing the lens assembly from a functional drive and slicing the wires. Drive now reads discs!

    Only problem is that now, the drive doesn’t want to open and close if its empty. If you manually eject it, and insert a disc, it, reads, opens, and closes perfectly. But, if the drive is empty, it won’t open or close (it might for the first time or two after the disc is removed, but that’s it.

    But, a solid tap or two on the top after hitting the eject button will open it every time.

    Any ideas on what’s causing this and how it might be corrected?

    • Same here: as long as there is a disc in the drive, it opens, reads and works every time. But it won’t open if it’s empty. So you need to always have a disc in there: you have to be ready and quick when you swap discs; otherwise it shuts empty and you can’t reopen it.
      This seems to indicate that the lens has got nothing to do with it.
      And indeed, when the drive is out of its metal box and connected, it opens or closes every time you action the button, whether it’s empty or not.
      It looks as if it’s the round top, (the mobile cap that comes above the disk in the upper metal cover) that blocks the tray itself when you press the eject button..

    • That might be the band that powers the gear to open the drive. I had the same problem, replaced the band and it opened perfectly. As long as you don’t stand it up..
      Best of luck.

  33. I have a RROD xbox 360 and a nice working Halo 3 360 Both Benq drives. can i use the rrod xbox as power for cloneing the halo 3 drive to the rrod drive? then can i flash the cloned drive to CFW and still keep my orig halo drive as offical?

    • Yes, you should be able to use the power from the RROD xbox to flash the drive.
      Your second question sounds like it would work, as long as you make sure the CFW drive never connects to live. I don’t know much about that sort of stuff for Xbox 360 so I can’t tell you for definite.

  34. Basically,i brought a Hitachi DVD ROM, and the original one i had for my 360 was a phillips.. So i was wondering if i brought a new Phillips drive could i just install it into my xbox straight away and play?

  35. try to just take the drive apart and clean it out with a compressed air can like $10 at bestbuy. worked for me.. i also wiped the eye off with rubbing alcohol, not alot just a little wipe.

  36. To cut a long story short I have a BenQ drive in my Xbox with the pcb from my old drive soldered into it. I also have the original pcb on its own. Will I need to have the original circuit board inside a working drive to use it with jungle flasher or can i just plug the leads straight into it? Thanks.

  37. Thanks for doing all the foot work! That’s actually going to be my next step. I appreciate you doing all the work for us lost in “Microsoft Xbox bullshit land!” Here’s a beer to you!

  38. hi my dvd drive was playing up not reading discs so i bought a new one same make and model put in my xbox thinking it would work but no it wouldnt . so wot i did was take the broken dvd drive out of xbox opened dvd( 4 screws) up and removed the board out of it mine had 6 wires that needed to be un soldered black/red /white/white/yellow/yellow mark one white and one yellow wire so u know wot order they went .take then clip wires out be carfull not to damage . ok open new dvd drive and do the same thing remove board . now put the board. one you have taken out of the first dvd drive and put it in the new one re solder the 6 wires in same order and clip all the other wires in place (it may be different for your dvd drive board but the the same anyway ). ok put the new dvd drive back together put back in xbox put all wires in back of dvd drive and put xbox back together switch on and put game in and now it should work fine. anyway mine does no flashing needed as the board is from the same xbox :-) P.S this was done on a old xbox not new slim

  39. I’ve literally just taken apart my Xbox due to it not reading any discs, it just comes up with Open Tray. After a little tinkering, I’ve saved myself a tonne of money and time buy simply adjusted two little screw on the lens unit itself! I turned them left at first, no luck, then to the right past they’re original position, and now it works!!! I think they have something to do with the focusing of the lens.

    Anyway, give that a try before buying anything and you could save money!

  40. Hi there just had the same problem with 2 Xbox’s , and there is an easyer way to do this , its simple’s …

    So first off this will only work for disk errors or “Play DVD” error , it will not solve tray errors (Not ejecting or gets jammed).

    YOU MUST HAVE THE ORIGINAL DVD DRIVE OF YOUR XBOX FOR THIS TO WORK.

    What you need :

    Your ORIGINAL faulty DVD drive.
    Spare Xbox 360 (can have RROD it don’t matter) as long as the DVD drive is ok.
    About 25 to 30 minutes to spare.

    Im not going to go in to how to open your Xbox and remove the drive as there are plenty of good tutorials on how to do this just search Google.

    Once you have found a tutorial go ahead and open your Xbox 360 and remove your ORIGINAL DVD DRIVE.

    Get a permanent marker pen and mark your original DVD drive , put it to one side.

    Now get the spare Xbox open it up and remove the DVD drive.

    Turn the spare drive upside down and remove any screw from the outer shell , remove the bottom plate then remove the top plate.

    Unclip the ribbons that are attached to the laser in the center of the drive.

    There will be 2 steal rods one left one right , the right in some drives will be plastic , at the top of the steal rods there will be a small metal clip with a screw holding it in place , remove these to release the steal rods.

    Once the steal rods have came out you will be able to remove the laser , take the laser out and place it some place safe you will need it in a second.

    Get rid of all the parts from the spare DVD drive , pop em in a bag and get them out the way so you don’t mix things up.

    NOW GET YOUR ORIGINAL DVD DRIVE (the one you marked with a pen)

    Again turn it over and remove all the screw you see on the outer shell , remove bottom and top plate disconnect the ribbons attached to the laser , and stop we don’t remove both these steal rods , we just want to loosen 1 of them enough to slide the laser off gently.

    Once the original laser is off put the spare laser on and tighten up the metal clip so it holds the laser in the correct place , place the bottom and top plate back on and screw it back together with the screws you removed from the outer shell , pop it back in your Xbox , put your Xbox shell back on and power on your FIXED Xbox.

    No drive key required as you still have the original drive.

    This takes me 25 to 30 minutes to successfully complete , and have repeatedly done this on several Xbox 360 consoles.

    Hope this helps.

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