Old Consoles Don’t Die Easily!

I’ve had my PS3 since release. I was a first adopter of the original 60 GB version, back when manufacturers believed in something called ‘backwards compatibility’. Tangent; I’m less sore about it now, but when Sony and Microsoft changed policy to remove backward compatibility (BC) from their console lines, I was pretty pissed! At purchase, my library of PS2 games was bigger and more near/dear to me than the paltry PS3 offerings. It was important that I could still play those older games that made up the core of my library. As an added bonus, the original firmware allowed Linux to be installed on the PS3, making it a full computer! My first year of programming was spent on the PS3 and Yellow Dog Linux! But, patches and ‘upgrades’ took that away, and hardware changes removed the Emotion Engine that gave the PS3 it’s hardware-based PS2 BC. Broken and scattered software-based BC did little to inspire me into buying a newer PS3 console; and besides, my original 60 GB was doing just fine. I upgraded it to 320 GB about 3 years after purchase so I could download more Rock Band DLC!

Years later, I’ve acquired a PS2, and have no ‘need’ for my PS3’s backwards compatibility anymore. In truth, I haven’t played a PS2 or PS1 game on the console in over a year… For my birthday, Sylvia got me Grand Theft Auto V and Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix. Reviews inbound soon! Unfortunately, while playing GTAV I began to notice flickering, texture glitches, and GPU spiking. These are typically caused by overheating due to dust and a bad heat-transfer between the CELL Processors and heat-sinks. If not taken care of, prepare for the Yellow Light of Death. I feared the worst…

There was little dust on the outside of the console, but to really know if it was a dust/heat problem, I’d have to go deeper! Never the one to be scared of technology, I dove in to the console; it was out of warranty after all. I’ve taken apart ‘Fat’ PS3s before, so I knew what I was doing (more or less). Dozens of screws later, and after significant dusting, I got to the processors. Upon removing the heat-sinks I found the thermal compound to be dried up and flaky. For those not in the ‘know’, that’s bad. I cleaned the heat-sinks and processors with isopropyl alcohol and applied a nice layer of Arctic Silver thermal paste. I noticed some burnt bits on the upper part of the mainboard; upon closer inspection it appears that it was blackened trace sealant instead of components (dodged a bullet on that one). Once reassembled I turned the console on and let it run for 10 minutes before jumping back into GTAV. Once in GTAV, I walked to a ‘safe’ place and let the game run for 30 minutes to ‘cure’ the thermal paste. ‘Curing’ is the process of bringing (and holding) a system up to optimal, and potentially hotter, temperatures so as to allow the paste to properly adhere to the components and heat-sinks.

Where once there was a glitchy, spazzing system, now there is fantastic GTAV goodness. After 3 hours of play, with no tears or spikes in sight, I deemed the operation a success! Old consoles don’t die easily! However, I still picked up a 160 GB Slim to replace the ‘Fat’ model. I’m preparing for the PS4, and do not need the PS2 functionality in my living room anymore. Data transfer, HO!