Sony hardware seems to have a hard time of things in our house. I suspect that it knows that it’s not entirely welcome and that I’d prefer an alternate universe where Sega won the mid-90s console wars and Sony was a one-off flash in the pan sort of thing relegated to the dustbin next to 3D0 and CD-I.
Nonetheless, and I was going to try to work in some sort of weird Civil War Sega-Will-Rise-Again metaphor thing in here but ran out of inspiration, I do have an awful lot of Sony hardware around. Couple of PS3s, something like three PSPs – and I’m not sure how that happened, really – US and Japanese PS2s and I may even still have a PS1 around here that represents my first time really getting down and dirty with the guts of a console and a soldering iron.
The latest one that I needed to pull apart to fix was our launch 60GB. This isn’t its first time on the operating table – that was when it got its laser mechanism replaced last May – but it was certainly a more invasive session. Of late, the fan had started ramping up to full speed even when the console was just sitting around idling or when doing something – like downloading from PSN – that honestly should not have been generating all THAT much internal heat. It was clear that something was unhappy, either that it had a fan full of gunk and dust or that the thermal paste on the cell and GPU had died and it wasn’t properly transferring heat TO the fan for exhausting.
Either of these meant a complete teardown. The PS3 is assembled in a sort of sandwich design – when you get the top off it, you have the power supply and BD drive on top of the motherboard, which is mounted upside-down in the case with the processors facing the bottom of the case. The bottom slice in the sandwich is the cooling mechanism.
There are many, many, many screws and little fiddly cables between you and it.
It is very crucial that you keep track of all the screws and little fiddly cables.
Anyway, once I got the whole thing pulled apart, I found that the fan and heatsink were startlingly clean. I blew compressed air through them just because I COULD, but honestly it wasn’t necessary.
Then I pulled the heatsinks off and found that, as rather expected, the thermal paste on the chips looked quite a bit like old toothpaste.
10 minutes later, they were bright and shiny and ready for a fresh blob of Arctic Silver 5, and I could get started on trying to get all the screws and bits back in their proper places. I came quite close to assembling the unit without its power button installed, but I think that could have happened to anyone really, and the happy end result is that I have a PS3 that is much quieter and that seems to only run its fan when it actually needs to.
Next up is going to be replacing the drive in our slim model. Like I said, Sony hardware has a hard time of things in our house.