Gentlemen, We can rebuild him[it]…Pt.1March 1, 2013
Cue the *whoawhoawhoawhoa* jumping sound of the Six-Million Dollar Man!.
In case you can’t tell what that is over there to the left. That is the Motherboard of my 1st generation CECHA model 60GB Playstation 3. It’s a beautiful and gut wrenching sight, isn’t it? You may be asking yourself: “Why, for all that is holy or unholy, would you rip apart such a beast, such a monument to modern gaming, you monster.” And I will respond with: “That’s hurtful… *sad face*” But I digress; the reason I took apart my PS3 was to bring it back from the brink of death.
I’m going to go through some of the things I did and how I took it apart to hopefully help others with the older model PS3’s in keeping their systems from uncertain death. While the PS3 didn’t have the same failure rate as the launch day Xbox360 models, it was still a hot running system that had it’s share of deaths. While Microsoft kind of manned up and handed out a 3-year warranty, The PS3 kept it’s 1yr warranty. What muddies the situation for PS3 owners is the fact that Sony will not repair these older consoles. If you are outside of the warranty, and frankly, if it’s a “fat” model, you are. You will be forced to pay a $150 fee to get a replacement or full price at a store. That replacement will be a slim model, no if’s and’s or but’s.
Saving these majestic creatures is our only hope for a rich and fulfilling future for our children and our children’s children.
What’s the big deal?
If you have an older model PS3, you’re likely already use to it’s sound. It’s never been a quiet system, in fact, it’s a bit louder than the older older Xbox360’s. The system has 5 fan levels that are set by the operating system to automatically increase the fan speed when the system reaches a specific temperature, and then it drops the speed when it drops below a specific temperature as well. The 1st two fan speeds aren’t noticeable at all, the 3rd is audible though, but only slightly so. You’ve have to have the sound of the TV or stereo system turned off in order to notice it. the 4th setting doesn’t require that kind of silence though as it’s pretty easy to tell that it’s a fan and it’s in the PS3. the 5th is quite loud and can easily overpower even moderate stereo sound levels. When a quieter part of a game or movie fades in, that fan is right there hammering into your head. Once the media of your choice fades back into a louder scene you will STILL notice a level 5 PS3 fan.
Here is the thing, a Brand new Fat PS3 didn’t hit Level 5 all that often. it mostly settled into a spot bouncing in between 3-4 (mostly 4.) Which is fine, it’s not exactly quiet, but it doesn’t sound like it’s being taxied to a runway for a take off for a trip to LAX. After 5+ years though, many of these older PS3’s sound like that all the time. Ramping up to level 5 within 10-15 minutes of use. If you are sitting back thinking that is normal you are wrong. You may not even consciously know that this is a cry for help from your system. After so many years it happens so gradually that you don’t realize it’s constantly at it’s highest speed all the time. Think of it this way. If it slowly started getting faster and faster and it’s been sitting at the highest speed for a year now, imagine the kind of heat that isn’t effectively being removed. It’s going up to remove heat and now it’s stuck at it’s highest speed…but the heat is increasing. That’s BAD! What happens, as it did with the 360, the incredible heat that is no longer being removed efficiently from the system is lingering and doing internal damage. The most common damage is the softening and melting of the solder holding the RSX chip to the Motherboard. Once you turn the system off, it cools and solidifies again, but over time it cracks the solder, and the chip uses connection to the board. When that happens you get a Yellow Light of Death (YLOD for short.) This lets you know there is something wrong with the PS3. Also, the fact that it won’t turn on should be a big indicator as well. Once that happens you will need to buy a new one or get it fixed from by a local repair guy. Get ready to cough up about $100+ to do so.
OMG! What’s causing all of this!?
The PS3 is a well constructed piece of tech, While most things in the system are interchangeable, which is great for people who like to customize things, there are a few things that are killing your PS3:
Power Supply: The PSU built into the 1st generation PS3 models are extremely inefficient, require a LOT of amperage and wattage that the actual PS3 doesn’t require to run, and outputs a lot of heat. These original models are ZSSR539IA and require 6A (6 amps from the wall.) in contrast, the newer models only pull 4A. Think about that; 2 amps being pulled from the older model power supplies aren’t need but still being pulled from the wall. That extra is just being dumped into the case as heat. Where else is it going to go?
Fan: The fan provided in the US release of the system is an oddity. The Japanese release of the system had a 19-bladed fan. When it was released to the US, that fan was replaced with a 15-bladed fan of the same size. Why does that matter? Many believe that the omission of those 4-blades has a huge effect on the airflow inside the system. It’s strongly believed that the 15-blade fan creates a small pocket of hot air that doesn’t fully escape with the rest of the exhausted air. While the 19-bladed fan, while not spinning faster or moving any more air, keeps this hot air pocket from forming all together.
Thermal Paste: This is not a defect per say. Possibly a lack of thinking ahead though and I believe this is why the 360 fails as well. Ok, maybe not a lack of thinking ahead, but definitely something that needed a better solution. Those who build their own systems know all about Thermal Paste. It’s a goopy, sticky material used on hot running computer parts and placed in between the component and a heat sink or heat spreader. without it, heat won’t effectively be transferred to the heat sink and the component, while living longer than not having a heat sink at all, will still die very quickly. Most “Home entertainment devices” that have components that need a heat sink use a heat pad, doesn’t work as well, but lasts far longer. That is the problem with paste, while it transfers heat way better, it will liquefy, dry up, or “age” and lose it’s effectiveness overtime.
Sounds like I’m going to have to “Do stuff”…
Exactly, Sorry to tell you, but a can of air stuck in the vents isn’t going to help at all. If your PS3 is ramping up to it’s highest fan level within 10-30mins and sitting there for the reminder of it’s time on if it’s just idling, then you have 2 options; Wait for it to die and buy a new one, or man up and take the thing apart to fix it yourself!. The 3 things I did to fix mine range in difficulty/effectiveness/price.
If you happen to find a fat model PS3 with Serial starting with CECHA. I highly recommend opening that thing up IMMEDIATELY and seeing what PSU you have. Changing this immediately may save you from having to do a full rebuild of it. IF you have a ZSSR539IA Power Supply. Change it ASAP!
*Sigh* Where do I start?