Having owned a PS4 for around 5 years now (and with it fortunately still being the same one) I can say that in terms of durability, it has proven (to me) to have been a bit better put together than the PS2 or the PS3. Both systems which I, incidentally, ended up having to replace due to various faults.
So, on the whole, I have largely been more than satisfied with my PS4 and how well it is holding up. There has, however, been an issue with it that over the last 2 years has become more and more irksome. Namely, that whenever I started to play a game, the fan would rev up to levels that made me start to consider whether it was attempting to achieve flight.
To say it was getting noisy would be an understatement. It was like having someone inches away from my ear going ‘shhhhhhhhhhh’ as loudly as possible.
I was, of course, initially open to the prospect that after several years of work, it had probably gotten a little dusty inside and, as such, I regularly gave it a clean in the hope that it would at least be a little quieter. Sadly, however, that came to little (if no) improvement.
Things finally came to a head last week when, as my wife way playing God of War (probably on her 9th attempt to try and get into the game) she was having to crank the TV volume up to ridiculous levels to counter the racket that the console was making.
Enough, was enough!
I, therefore, decided to take a decision that seemed very drastic, but ultimately necessary. One that I had, in truth, been putting off for as long as I dared. So, what did I do? Well, I decided to take it all (mostly) apart and replace the thermal paste to the APU. Pretty drastic stuff, but something had to give here!
I had heard for many years that the manner in which Sony applied the thermal paste to their PS4 models wasn’t particularly good. Rumours, however, differed between poor application to them simply using a cheap product.
I therefore got out my TR9 screwdriver set (amongst some other tools (possibly a hammer at some point)) and decided to get in there and finally determine what was going on. I had, quite simply, had enough and was willing to risk ruining my PS4 in order to find out what the hell was happening!
There are a few points I should make clear. I own an original design PS4. Not the slim or the pro. I only mention this as I understand there are some differences in how they are put together. In addition, it should be noted that you enter your PS4 at your own risk. You will 100% entirely void any warranty you may have left on it! – Remember that!
Given that my PS4 was 5-years old, however, whatever warranty it did have had clearly expired and as such, I was willing to take the gamble.
While I won’t bore you with the details, accessing the APU within the PS4 (at least without smashing it to pieces) isn’t easy. You have to remove part of the outer case, then the hard drive, then the power supply, then the blu-ray drive, then the hard drive mounts, another case covering etc. just before you can finally have a look at the motherboard. All of which can clearly go badly wrong at any stage if you’re not careful or a little hamfisted.
The good news was that I managed to get inside without any heart stopping moments and was able to finally take out my motherboard and have a look at exactly what was going on. I was not disappointed…
Upon getting a look at the thermal paste this is what I discovered. This is (or more accurately, was) 100% legitimately my PS4’s processor chip.
In retrospect, I wish I had taken more (and better pictures), but as you can clearly see, the application was just terrible. About half the paste had smeared off the edges with less than a third of the processor having a coverage I would deem ‘barely acceptable’.
I could see the writing on the chip and even the QR code in the corner! No wonder my PS4 fan was running like the clappers, it was essentially working overtime to help keep what little of the processor it had good contact with cool.
Even my colleagues here at eTeknix could barely believe that this was how it left the factory. Initially, they thought this was some kind of 2nd-hand reconditioned bodge. Nope, this was how it left the Sony factory!
After applying some brand new thermal paste (although many brands are available, mine was from a company well known for their brown and cream coolers), I went about reassembling the system full in the knowledge that I may have broken it entirely, but feeling somewhat validated that my exploration did at least yield some purpose.
The good news is that when I turned it on, my PS4 firstly did not explode. Better still, the PS4 menu appeared, the disk-drive worked, everything seemed good! The major point, however, was that it was entirely transformed. It was quiet! -For the first time in years, my PS4 was quiet!
Even when playing games (which usually started the jet engine sound effects) my PS4 barely broke a sweat. The fan runs (practically) at idle all the time now! – I honestly could not believe just what a huge transformation this had made.
At this point, you might be wondering why I recanted this tale to you. Well, put simply, I suspect that many of you are in exactly the same boat I was. You want to play your PS4, but are getting sick and tired of it sounding like a Harrier jet during VTOL.
Well, the short version is, based on what I have seen the chances are that your PS4 may be struggling too with an exceptionally poor thermal paste application. Should you try it yourself though? Well, firstly, I would never recommend poking around inside an electronic device unless you are a qualified electrician. If you do, however, decide to flagrantly disregard this truly excellent (and legally binding) advice, then there are some key things you must accept.
I approached this as a ‘kill or cure’ scenario and, I think that’s how you should look at it too. You don’t attempt this because you want to, you do it because you feel that you need to!
For me, however, I have zero regrets (which is unusual for a ‘Mikes Rant’) and if you’re getting near the end of your tether too, then the video above is about as good as it gets for a ‘how to’.
Did you enjoy Mikes Rant and want to check out more? – Well, for all of his rants you can check out the link here!
Which one is your favourite? – Let us know in the comments!
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