Guide: How to Fix the PS3 Yellow Light of Death (YLOD)
This is a few months old, but it's just now making its rounds so here we go!
The PlayStation 3 Yellow Light of Death (YLOD) is a general error and can be one of many things.. Users have reported receiving a PS3 YLOD in the following ways, to name a few:
- Trying to install a game onto the HDD, harddrive failure YLOD.
- Power surge can be a possible cause of the YLOD.
- If the inside of your PS3 is very dusty it can cause a YLOD.
Obtaining a security driver and replacing the PS3 thermal paste with a high quality paste like arctic silver is one remedy. This fix has worked for a huge amount of people, albeit it is only .3% of all PS3 owners. If you are a 60 or 20GB owner you may also want to change the paste for the emotion chip as well.
I had paid handsomely for the 60gb PS/PS2 b/c model a while back. It YLODed on me of course (Wiki never mentioned YLOD like it did with the 360) only after 2 weeks. In an effort to make sure this doesn't happen again, I was going to make some adjustments to my new cash burning baby
Let me know if there's anything else i can add to the list, or should/ shouldn't do, etc etc... I want this guide to help others who seek to ward the satanic YLOD.
This *shouldn't* be needed for the slim models in anyway, as I'm sure their redesign and size reduction (45nm processor not 90nm...) cuts out at least %30 of oldschool PS3 heat that could bake turkeys, if you could fit one right above the processor. Anyway...
PS3 with warranty
+ Buy a Nyko or Pelican intercooler.
I'm thinking Pelicon because it has it's own external power supply, and I read Nyko had a defect pulling power out of the USB on 360's. Burning USB ports and stuff trying to pull too much amperage. Though the Nyko does cover more area of the PS3, and has a custom speed setting for it's fan. That's something I'd really like to have.
I guess I'm feeling more Pelican because I've heard launch PS3s often have power supply units break down, and I don't really trust Nyko's product acting as a go between for my PS3's power
Though a fan setting would be really nice....
Anyone use either type? Care to elaborate on it's effectiveness?
+Remove the internal HD
I'd like to get a SATAtoSATA connector somewhere, and take out the 2.5 HDD. I plug in the cable to the PS3, and on the other end goes the HDD. Sure, it'll look really stupid having the HDD laying outside exposed to the world, but that should do wonders for generating less heat, as it's a very cramped area in there. Also, hopefully it should give better airflow, or at least reduce conductive heat. Wish I could do the same for the PSU and keep my warrenty! Oh well...
Now this *might* be a bad idea, as I know the "cooling system" of the PS3 is suppose to be suction driven, and giving it that extra open air space might hurt the amount of air flow the fan is pushing up to the mainboard, since the suction might not work as well. Just an idea if anyone wants to debate this, but I'm pretty sure removing the HDD is an AWESOME idea.
+Turn the console on it's side
Ok, I remember when my first PS3 died, after taking it apart I said something like "What dummy managed to get a job at sony and design this". The PSU goes on top of the HDD, both which generate a considerable amount of heat. They have little breathing room and are rather close to the CPU and GPU chips, which at 90nm, also generate a lot of heat.
Also, to make matters worse, the chips are facing downwards with a very crappy 2 heatsinks pressed up against it. Now, if I was in a complete and utter hot box, I'd like to be facing UP as fundamentally HEAT RISES, but I guess it doesn't matter in this situation as the only thing that could save you is a lot of wide open air flow, which of course the PS3 seems to lack.
Anywho, if you ever touch the bottom of the plastic case your PS3 is in, it should feel pretty warm. You should also gasp in horror, as this is quite a few layers away from the main board/PSU/HDD, as this is where all the heat is coming from. This means that the warmer the bottom of the case, the more likely it is that it's going to be at least twice as hot inside.
And we wonder why these things melt down... By being on it's side, the bottom of the case should have a little more exposure to somewhat cooling air, and more importantly, not let all that heat on the bottom conduct to the carpet/table under it, which in turn would just help the bottom stay hotter.
This should really help if you also...
+Get a big fan!
One of those fans that drown out all sound and help you sleep better at night? Yeah, that's what we want. If you place the PS3 on it's side, and hit the bottom side of the PS3 with that fan, about maybe 1 / 1.5 ft away, that should help keep the external part of the case a little cooler, which should also help keep the inside a little chiller.
+Trying to figure a way to add ice to the PS3...
Haven't figured this one out yet... But I'm thinking some kind of liquid cooling, without voiding the warrenty. Maybe instead of putting the PS3 on it's side, lay it in a bed of ice cubes? Haven't figured out what, but there must be something...
PS3 without warrenty
Well, the options are pretty much limitless here aren't there? If you can't get a liquid cooling rig together, I'd recommend modding the case at least. There is practically no cool airflow incoming on the front (very small row of holes allow this) and 2 areas where the heat is expelled. This sucks, as the PS3 still acts like an oven, containing all the heat and barely releasing the amount it needs to in order to keep those processors below melting point.
I would vote yes to cutting out a large part of the plastic case on the bottom of the PS3, then positing a nice big fan below that, and blow air upwards at a high setting. That should do the job that the actual pathetic little tinker fan in the PS3 is suppose to do.
And if you really wanted to get serious, find a way to move the PSU (power supply unit) away from the mainboard. Maybe just take off the case alltogether and get a couple of fans blowing on it?
If you are one of the unlucky sods with a PS3 suffering the infamous YLOD syndrome, you might have heard of the Gilksy reflow fix. You might even have tried it, and actually brought your PS3 back from the dead, but chances are it's living on borrowed time. Read on to learn why.
In an earlier post, I described the infamous YLOD syndrome of the PS3. To recapitulate: Sony uses lead-free solder balls as per the RoHS directive. Lead-free solder has higher melting point, but is more sensitive to thermal stresses. The RSX and the CBE chips generate a lot of heat, especially in their 90nm incarnations. The PS3 cooling solution leaves something to be desired. The PCB will warp due to the heat and can cause the solderballs of the BGAs to lose connection. This manifests as the Yellow Light of Death.
Now, the Gilksy guide advices to use a heatgun to "reflow" the BGAs. This might sound good in theory and it might even work in practice, at least for a while. But you might be aware that this kind of fix is known to be temporary, and it's quite likely that the YLOD will make a reappearance in not too long. How come?
The sad answer is that the Gilksy guide most likely never really achieves a proper reflow. What's even sadder is that with each "reflow", the problem will become even more severe. Why?
It's because in order to heat the solder, not only the solder itself is heated, but also the BGA. In fact, the heat has to traverse the chip in order to reach the solder. On top of that, in these kind of guides, the internal heat spreader of the chip is usually still mounted, meaning heat has even more resistance. On top of that, lead-free solder has higher melting points, so in fact all that might happen during this kind of "reflow" is that the PCB warps and possibly connections that were broken come together slightly. Enough to make a connection but very fragile. When the console becomes warm again, and the PCB starts to warp, it is prone to break the connections once again.
Here is the really bad part though: solder that is going through a heat cycle will actually achieve an even higher melting point! This means that if the first fix didn't properly achieve a reflow, the second time will be even less likely to work! And the third time much more. And so on. In fact, solder will deteriorate through each cycle until it needs to be replaced. Without flux this is even more severe!
What's really bad is that the higher the melting point of the solder, the higher the BGA chip itself has to be heated in order for the heat to reach the solder. These chips will be damaged if the temperature becomes too high! In fact, manufacturers usually specify a heat profile that reflow ovens can be programmed to follow. There is a reason for this profile...
What can be done about this sad state of affairs?
Well, the internal heatspreader (IHS) on the RSX is very easy to remove. I think it's quite important to say that any "reflow" should NOT be attempted with the IHS still attached to the RSX!
There is actually a second reason for this, in addition to the heat resistence: The RAM chips underneath the IHS are epoxied to it, but the RSX die just has thermal paste. Applying heat to the IHS, in order to heat the BGA in order to heat the solder, will dry out the thermal paste that's attaching the RSX die to the IHS!
The proper way to fix the YLOD is to actually remove the BGA, reball it with fresh solder (preferably leaded) and then reflow it (preferably according to the proper temperature curve.) This is far from trivial.
If the solder has become damaged by repeated high temperature cycles, excessive temperatures might be required in order to liquify it in order to remove the chip. There is also a risk of pulling out pads off the PCB when trying to remove the BGA. Actually reballing the chip is not the really difficult part, with the proper tools, but putting it back on the board properly is no easy picnic! There are so many solder balls that have to be precisely aligned. There is a difference between a low ball count small BGA (<100 solderballs) and these fat chips with 1320 balls!