Xbox Series X|S

Consoles are great because of their pick-up-and-play nature. No drivers, operating systems, or graphics cards to mess with. But things can still go wrong. Let’s take a look at some common Xbox Series X|S issues and possible solutions.

Make Sure Your Console Is Running the Latest Firmware

Assuming your console turns on and can connect to the internet, the first thing you should try when encountering an issue is updating your system software. This is because Microsoft routinely updates firmware to fix bugs and add new features

To do this, head to your console’s Settings and choose System > Updates. Wait a second for the console to check for updates. If an update is available, the first entry will read “Update Console” so select it and wait for the update to complete.

Update your Xbox Series console

If you’re having network problems, this may not be possible. Have a look at some of the solutions below and try again later.

RELATED: Internet Connection Not Working? 10 Troubleshooting Tips

TV Displays No Signal When Powering on the Xbox

There are a few well-documented issues where the Xbox Series X and S cause a “No signal” or black screen to appear on your display. This could be caused by a myriad of problems, starting with a loose HDMI cable.

Check around the back of the console to make sure your HDMI cable is still connected, and check the same cable is connected to the TV as well.

Another possibility is that your console is sending a signal that your TV cannot display, for example at a 4K resolution or 120Hz refresh rate. This might happen if you change the display connected to your Xbox without first adjusting the video settings under Settings > General > TV & display options.

Xbox Series refresh rate settings

Fortunately, you can start your console in safe mode, which defaults to a low resolution that should display fine on all TVs with an HDMI input. To do this, first eject any discs in your console using the eject button on the front. Now press and hold the Xbox button the front of your console for 10 seconds to shut it down.

To start the console up in safe mode, press and hold the Xbox button on the front of your console and the Eject button at the same time until you hear two beeps (the second beep should occur around 10 seconds after the first). If this has worked your console should now start up in low-resolution mode. Head to Settings > General > TV & display options to change settings to match those of your TV. We recommend setting the “Refresh rate” to 60Hz first.

If you don’t have any joy you can also try swapping out the HDMI cable. Make sure that you use a proper HDMI 2.1 cable if you want to use 4K resolution at 120Hz. The cable that comes with your Xbox is certified for HDMI 2.1, but cables can get damaged and fail so it pays to have an alternative that you can swap in if things aren’t working correctly.

In addition to updating your Xbox console firmware, we also recommend checking for the latest TV software update since manufacturers like LG, Samsung, and Vizio have previously addressed similar issues.

RELATED: How to Tell If Your HDMI Cable Is Faulty

A Game or Blu-Ray is Stuck in the Xbox Disc Drive

Some Xbox Series X consoles have encountered an issue where discs become fully or partially stuck in the disc drive. This issue may be accompanied by an audible popping or grinding noise, indicating the drive struggling to spin up or eject the disc correctly. You can see an example of this in a 2020 tweet from DomisLive NEWS.

If the Eject button doesn’t fix it, this is likely a problem that only Microsoft can fix so we’d recommend contacting Xbox support in your region to arrange a warranty claim or repair.

For discs that are halfway stuck, try placing a small amount of pressure on the disc to see if anything moves but take care not to apply too much force or you may end up in a worse situation. If the drive makes a loud noise while the disc is spinning, try ejecting it and checking to make sure that the disc is flat and not warped. Warped discs could potentially damage your drive.

Game Discs Are Not Recognized by the Console

The Xbox 360 had a lot of problems with optical media. While the issue is far less common on the Series X (so far at least), discs and the lasers required to read them are fragile so it can still happen.

The first thing you should do is remove the disc and inspect it for damage or dust. Any scratches or chips may make it hard for the console to read the disc. Try another disc to see if you have the same issue, or try lending the problem disc to a friend to see if their console can read it.

Hand holding a dirty and scratched compact disc
bhavit chawla/

If the problem appears to be limited to your console, we’d recommend reaching out to Xbox support.

In this generation, the Xbox is full region-free which means that games should work regardless of which country they were purchased from. You can rule out incompatibility due to region coding that may have tripped you up in previous console generations.

Xbox Wired Network Connection Is Unresponsive

Many users have posted about an issue that seems to only affect wired connections, where their console will either refuse to connect via Ethernet cable or drop after a few minutes.

Some have reported that the issue went away after fully power cycling their console, while Microsoft has previously acknowledged an issue with networking caused by storage expansion cards (though this appears to have been patched).

In any case, you can power cycle your console by pressing and holding the Xbox button on the front for 10 seconds to shut it down. Remove all cables and any expansion cards, then press and hold the power button for a few seconds to drain any remaining power in the capacitors.

Xbox Series X rear ports

Now plug your power, HDMI, and Ethernet cable back in and press the power button to start up the console. Connect any expansion cards you may have been using after the console has booted. Test your wired network connection again, and consider trying to update your console via Settings > System > Updates if you can maintain a connection.

Using Wi-Fi as a stop-gap might be a good idea until you can update your console. Remember that Ethernet cables can be temperamental and often fail with no warning.

If you have tried everything and nothing works, consider contacting Microsoft directly to arrange a warranty claim or repair request.

RELATED: Is Your Ethernet Cable Faulty? Signs to Watch Out For

Xbox Won’t Turn on at All

A console that refuses to power up at all could point to damage to the power supply, either because it has randomly failed or due to damage caused by a power surge. But all too often, there are other culprits.

The first thing you should do is make sure that the power cable is properly connected to your Xbox and that the HDMI cable is plugged into both your console and display. Try re-seating these cables to be sure.

You should also check that the outlet your console is connected to is working by trying a different device.

If the Xbox is exhibiting strange behavior, for example the light comes on and then goes off immediately, the power supply or another component could be damaged. We recommend contacting Microsoft for a warranty claim or repair rather than opening the console yourself (since this may void your warranty).

RELATED: Should You Repair Your Own Phone or Laptop?

Xbox Controller Turns on But Doesn’t Work

Your Xbox controller has two modes: Xbox mode and Bluetooth mode. You can switch between them by double-tapping the pair button on the back of the controller. This is handy if you want to use the controller to play games on a PC or smartphone, but it can be confusing if you trigger it accidentally.

If you turn your Xbox controller on by pressing and holding the Xbox button and your console doesn’t turn on, try double-tapping the pair button on the back. The console should automatically turn on when you return to Xbox mode.

Xbox Series S and X pair buttons

There may also be a pairing issue. You can solve this by turning on your controller and console manually using the Xbox buttons on each, then pressing the pair button on the front of your console. Next, press and hold the pair button on the back of the controller until the Xbox button flashes and wait for them to pair.

Xbox Series controller pair button

You can also pair your controller manually by connecting the two with the USB-C to USB-A cable that came with your console (or controller).

RELATED: How to Put Your Xbox Controller Into Pairing Mode

Xbox Game Captures Are Dark or Washed Out

You can capture clips of gameplay on your Xbox which you can view on your mobile device with the Xbox app or share with friends on social media. Unfortunately, some game clips appear dark or washed out. Microsoft has acknowledged the issue (and claim it has been fixed). Update your console under Settings > System > Updates if you haven’t already done so.

There are many threads on the internet of Xbox users complaining of this problem, and the issue appears to be game-specific when playing in HDR mode. Some users suggest disabling HDR altogether, but this is far from ideal if you want the best-looking visual presentation.

Forza Horizon 4 dark image issue

Auto-HDR, a machine learning feature that retroactively applies HDR effects to older titles, may be to blame in some instances. You can try disabling Auto HDR on a per-game basis to see if it helps.

Others have had joy by calibrating their HDR settings under Settings > General > TV & display settings > Calibrate HDR for games.

Xbox 360 Games Refuse to Run on Xbox Series Consoles

Xbox 360 backward compatibility is available for a limited number of titles on Xbox Series consoles. You may run into a problem where games refuse to run, particularly if you’re migrating a hard drive from an older Xbox console.

Clear Xbox 360 storage on Xbox Series consoles

Microsoft has acknowledged this issue and states that the fix is to clear your Xbox 360 storage under Settings > System > Storage devices > Clear local Xbox 360 storage. The next time you play an Xbox 360 title your console will check online to see if you have any cloud saves to download.

Older Games Behave Erratically on Xbox Series Consoles

Microsoft introduced two features to boost performance on older games: FPS Boost and Auto HDR. The first allows for the doubling of frame rate in some games without the developer having to intervene with an update, while the second adds HDR effects like bright highlights to games using machine learning.

These features can affect both Xbox 360 and Xbox One era titles, though not all games are compatible with both options. Some games are compatible but have the option turned off by default, potentially since these features can introduce issues.

If you notice problems with an older game that you suspect may be down to one of these compatibility options, you can disable it on a per-game basis. To do this find the game in your game library and press the More button on your controller (it looks like three horizontal lines).

Xbox Series Auto HDR toggle

Select “Manage game and add-ons” in the menu then “Compatibility options” on the next screen. You should now see toggles for both FPS Boost and Auto HDR. You’ll need to restart the game for changes to take effect, which you can do by tapping the More button and selecting “Quit” in the menu that appears.

RELATED: How to Enable "FPS Boost" for a Game on Xbox Series X or S

More Xbox Series X|S Tips

Microsoft’s latest consoles have a huge amount of appeal, from the industry-leading Game Pass subscription to true 120Hz gaming and their ability to preload titles before they release (whether you’re buying digital or physical).

You can even use your Xbox Series X and S to run emulated games using RetroArch.

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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