A national UK newspaper has indicated that the Xbox 360 Elite could be suffering from the same 'red ring of death' overheating problem as earlier models of the console, despite protestations to the contrary from Microsoft.

"Microsoft sets aside huge sum to fix infected Xbox Elite consoles," consumer editor Ruki Sayid writes in the Daily Mirror.

Hundreds of angry owners

According to the report, "hundreds of angry owners are sending back their £290 consoles, which are being shipped to Germany for repair. But the fault remains a mystery.

"Jamie King, 16, from Gomshall, Surrey, said: "I got my Xbox in September and it packed up eight months later in June. First, it kept freezing, then it developed the red ring of death."

The Mirror goes on to (misleadingly) report that a "£500 million repair fund has been set up for Xbox 360 Elite consoles suffering the 'red ring of death' fault."

Misleading report

While this line could be down to poor sub-editing over at the Daily Mirror - as it's well known that the whopping £500 million repair budget was allocated back in the early summer of 2007 - it is still worth noting that, at the time, Microsoft's Robbie Bach did go on record to state that the new Xbox 360 Elite console would not suffer from the well-documented red rings overheating problem that dogged earlier batches of the machines.

Microsoft told the Daily Mirror: "The majority of Xbox 360 owners enjoy a great experience with their console. Anyone with a problem should call Xbox customer service."

Elites are fine

Geoff Croft, customer service manager at the UK's leading console repair service Micromart told TechRadar:

"We don't deal directly with the three red rings problem any more, although we would still have heard from our retail clients if it was becoming an issue with the Xbox 360 Elite.

"I can't really comment on that story in today's Daily Mirror. All I can say is that we have had very few Elites in for repair since they launched last year."

So from Micromart's point of view there is no widespread or 'endemic' problem with Xbox 360 Elites overheating and suffering the dreaded three red rings.

Video card issues

However, Micromart has been experiencing another growing problem with the original models of the Xbox 360 – the failure of the video chip.

"We are getting around ten 360s a week in with this problem – which when you consider is around 500 a year –is quite a major problem," Croft told us. "So we are telling customers to send them directly to Microsoft."

If you didn't take out an extended warranty with your original Xbox the cost to replace the video chip is in the region of £60 to £80

TechRadar has contacted Microsoft and a number of leading UK games retailers for further information on the reported 'red rings' problems with Xbox 360 Elites and the apparent growing problem with the original video cards in earlier 360 models. We'll bring you further updates as we get them.