System Failure: Why PS3 and 360 drop dead for the same reasons
I found this blog article with some very interesting information coming from an independant console repair shop regarding the 360 and PS3. Here's an excerpt (Darren Thickbroom is the engineer of Colchester Computers):
"I just think that with all of these machines, the power and the heat they produce have long-term effects on the units," says Thickbroom, referring to both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. "It's also down to the solder being used on the units: it's a lead-free based solder. The consistency and quality of the joints with lead-free isn't as good as a proper lead-based solder. It's the law now, huge companies manufacturing these machines need to use lead-free, so the long-term reliability of the connections isn't so good."
While Xbox 360 in its earlier iterations has a pretty terrible reliability record, it is swiftly becoming apparent that the same core issue is also affecting the PlayStation 3. It is perhaps not surprising. While the Sony console has a whopper cooling system, the design of the RSX, especially in its original 90nm form, is to put it frankly a beast. Under the metallic heat spreader on the motherboard, you'll find not only the GPU, but also the 256MB of GDDR3 RAM. The 90nm RSX is much larger than the 90nm Xenos - indeed, it appears to be marginally larger than the Cell CPU in the launch units. The cooling challenge, especially in the launch units, is going to be considerable. Additionally, the GPU itself has remained on the 90nm fabrication process right up until the release of the new PS3 Slim, so assuming the problem is GPU-centric, it could potentially affect all the current "fat" models.
There's also the fact that both consoles are deployed in a huge range of different environments in gamers' homes. That being the case, it is almost impossible for the platform holders to ensure that the systems stay cool enough in all scenarios, especially bearing in mind the dust and fluff build-up that can occur over time. Certainly though, if you stick your console into a closed cabinet, you won't be doing it any favours. Smokers are more likely to end up with dead machines too - the tobacco finds its way into the console, making the innards sticky and thus more attractive to dust and debris that comes in through the intakes.
In terms of the scale of the problem, and failure ratios versus the Xbox 360, it is very difficult to put a number on just how many PS3s are malfunctioning. In the case of a relatively small-scale operation like Colchester Computers, working on average, they'll get 20 dead consoles to fix each day - 12 of them will be Xbox 360s, eight of them will be PlayStation 3s. But that's an average. As Thickbroom says, "sometimes, in a hectic week, we can have entire palettes of consoles coming in."
(one paragraph later)
"We really do see a lot of the 60GB launch PS3s which are a couple of years old now. Generally I think the faults there are down to wear and tear," he says. "We see a slightly smaller ratio of the newer 40GB machines with the smaller motherboard, but they still suffer from the same issues."
This sticks out to me as a potentially big problem for fat PS3 owners who plan on running their systems many hours a day or even 24/7 to keep their FFXIV characters logged on. If the original 60GB PS3s are dying after 2 years of moderate use, we could be looking at these PS3s dying in one year or less under heavy use with FFXIV.
The article goes on to say that "we can assume that the newer, smaller 65nm GPUs in both the Jasper version of the Xbox 360 and the new PS3 Slim will help to reduce the instances of console death". If so, perhaps future FFXIV players who own fat PS3s should sell them while they still work and pick up a PS3 Slim.
What do you think?