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Haxan avatar 9:30 AM on 03.28.2009
Does the Wii have RROD-type issues of its own?



Roughly a month ago, my Wii started acting very odd. While popping in Resident Evil 4 for the first time in ages I was greeted with flickering green pixels bouning across my screen. It wasn't too widespread, just isolated to a single ares on the back of Leon's coat. I assumed that it probably wasn't a big deal, maybe a dirty laser lens. I'd have to remember to take a look at it.

When I did finally get around to searching for a fix, I found what turns out to be quite a widespread problem. One which is showing up on message boards all across the internet. It's apparently most noticeable in games with heavy 3D rendering like Resident Evil 4 and Call of Duty 3. What I've learned from all of these internet searches is that it seems to be a problem with the Graphics Processing Unit overheating. Perhaps Microsoft doesn't have a patent on widespread overheating consoles.


Image courtesy of skesslerster's post on Fixya.com.

In every thread I've come across, the blame seems to be placed on WiiConnect24 being turned on. The theory is that when the system is placed in standby mode, the console isn't completely off and is still generating heat. The problem is that the fan isn't running to help dissipate that heat, and can cook the GPU over time.

This seems to be a problem that has been going on since launch, with people giving instances of this problem as far back as early 2007. The strange thing is that it isn't just a few examples here or there. A google search of the following terms will bring up pages of results: Wii green pixels Resident Evil 4. They're all across the message boards, yet there's never been a story on a single gaming site. So, it's obviously not as widespread as the Red Rings of Death, nor gaining that level of notoriety, but still a significant problem..

Running a lot of tests on various tvs, with different cables, and using the same RE4 disc on different Wiis, I've determined that it is an issue that rests squarely on my Wii. On a high def display it is completely obvious. But on a standard def tv with composite cables, it's hardly noticeable. I wonder if that is the reason why this issue hasn't made news. Maybe it's that most people who are affected aren't realizing that there's even a problem.


There's even YouTube videos like this one about the issue.

Lucky for most of these people in these threads, their Wii's were under warranty. Mine wasn't so lucky. It's going to run me $85. Still, now that I'm liking my Wii again, I need to get it fixed. Yesterday, I called up customer support. I could tell the support person was annoyed with all of my questions. I wanted to know what the cause of the issue was and how I could prevent it from happening again myself, or for my little brother on his Wii. I got zero information aside from being told that sometimes electronics break down and need to be replaced. WiiConnect24 is perfectly safe, I was told.

To me it seems like an odd explanation. The system is only a couple years old. Some of the instances I've read about happened after just a couple months. Compare that to my GameCube that's been played like mad for 10 years. I guess I'm not at all satisfied with that answer.

I'm emailing Nintendo today to see if they can tell me more (the customer support person said that every one there has the same information when I asked if I could speak to anybody else, perhaps someone who does the repairs). I'm hoping that I'll have more information to give back to you before too long.

In the meantime, it might not be a bad idea to turn off WiiConnect24 just to be safe. You'll still get all of your messages once you turn your Wii on. Granted, I think I will miss that slow fading blue light that I get every so often.

 
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