Repair: Sony PlayStation 3 console

Status: Failed on 1/5/2020. Console is now a parts donor.

I owned a launch day 20 GB Sony PlayStation 3 where the cooling fan was starting to run on high speed all the time. Cleaning the heat sink and replacing the heat sink thermal compound didn’t resolve the issue.

Research revealed that the thermal compound Sony used between the CPU die and lid would dry out, causing the console to run hot. The GPU had the same problem. It was possible to “de-lid” the CPU and apply fresh compound, but the lid was glued on and had to be removed carefully.

First I disassembled the console:

Sony didn’t kid around with the build quality on these early units-getting to the motherboard is like peeling an onion!

Finally the top of the CPU and GPU lids was revealed. The bottom chip is the PS2 Emotion Engine that was included in the early PS3 units for backwards compatibility.

It was now time to delid the CPU. Following a tutorial I found online, I used a hot air station to heat up the lid first to soften the glue. Then I used a thin prying tool to carefully pry on the corner between the CPU and lid.

The lid came off the GPU easily, but my prying tool slipped with the CPU and chipped the corner of the CPU die.

Unfortunately that ruined the CPU beyond repair. The console is now dead unless an economical way to remove the damaged CPU and install a fresh CPU becomes available some day. For now, this console is a non-functional parts donor.

Ugh, we can’t learn without mistakes I suppose. At least it was my own console and not someone else’s.