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Fat PS3 ReliabilityFollow

#1 Aug 31 2009 at 5:51 PM Rating: Good
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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):



---begin excerpt---

"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."

---end excerpt---



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?
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#2 Aug 31 2009 at 6:19 PM Rating: Good
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I was actually afraid that the Slims would have more cooling problems because of the smaller case, but I guess the hardware has been adjusted to allow for that?

I honestly don't know, but I do know that cooling is the make or break for most consoles, and I will get whichever one has the least cooling problems. I think it'd be a good experiment to test both systems on their interior temperatures running in the same environment.

Personally I keep my place 65 degrees which helps with cooling a lot (hurts on my utility bill in the summer though). I also open up my consoles and clean out the dust periodically. My PS2 works fine even after all this time.
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#3 Aug 31 2009 at 7:09 PM Rating: Good
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I think in light of the cooling problems that consoles have these days, there should be some way for the end user to open and clean their system regularly without voiding the warranty. That is really something that should be considered for the next generation of consoles especially, as the heat generation issue will likely only get worse.
#4 Aug 31 2009 at 7:25 PM Rating: Decent
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Personally I often wonder why they don't put slats on the top of the cases to let the heat escape more easily. Perhaps it would increase dust accumulation, but I'm sure there are filters that they can use to prevent that. I figure it's probably a mostly aesthetic decision.
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#5 Aug 31 2009 at 7:33 PM Rating: Decent
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General airflow and heatsinks in the PS3 and especially the 360 are pitiful, considering that it's impossible to clean the hardware without breaking warranty.
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#6 Aug 31 2009 at 7:39 PM Rating: Decent
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I wonder if using a notebook cooler on these consoles will help with overheating.
#7 Aug 31 2009 at 8:22 PM Rating: Excellent
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FYI

Eurogamer in the past is notorious for being anti-Sony.

YloD is nowhere near as bad as RRoD. Yes it exists, but you can prevent it easier than RRoD with basic care.

Also the fat has some pretty intensive fans. Just keep a can of air that you can blast the inside with if you see dust building up.
#8 Aug 31 2009 at 8:52 PM Rating: Decent
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I didn't say this before because I didn't want to dig up a source, but just to throw it out there, I read pretty recently that the failure rate on 360's was over 50%, where it was closer to 10-15% for PS3's. Wii's had the lowest.
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#9 Aug 31 2009 at 8:54 PM Rating: Excellent
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Eurogamer Article wrote:
...In terms of failure rates, the 60/40 split between Xbox 360 and PS3 they experience is remarkable in that it does prove pretty conclusively...


There's no way it's (normally) a 60/40 dead console split between 360 and PS3.
#10 Aug 31 2009 at 9:36 PM Rating: Good
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SexyHumeTiberius wrote:
There's no way it's (normally) a 60/40 dead console split between 360 and PS3.

Well it makes sense that an independant shop would see more PS3s since many 360s are still under warranty when they break. The 360 has a 3 year warranty, the PS3 only 1 year.
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#11 Aug 31 2009 at 9:41 PM Rating: Good
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A lot of tripe and misinformation being reported in this thread. The 360 does not have a 54% failure rate. A game magazine asked in one of its issues for people to voluntarily answer its monthly poll... which was about console failures. Lo and behold, it seems that a higher ratio people who had dealt with console failures were likely to voluntarily respond to the questions than those that hadn't.

The result? All 3 consoles come up with failure rates twice as high or higher than the the figures industry analysts commonly use for comparison. Not to say that analysts are perfect... but even a moron could see this isn't a scientific poll, and to hold it as more true than the professionals paid to know about such things is silly.

So no. I don't believe the 360 fails 54% of the time. Nor do I believe the PS3 fails 11% of the time, or the Wii 7%. Analysts have long stated the 360 failure rate for all models combined at around 12%, with the current models being more reliable than earlier incarnations. The analyst numbers for the Wii and PS3 have both stood around the 3% failure number that is often associated with most consumer electronics. Every time some 14 year old fanboy with a broken console, a predilection for using all capital letters, and a summer vacation's worth of free time on his hands gets a broken console we all hear about it. That doesn't make the hype true.

For the record, I have a launch PS3 (the ones that, even by common sense , should be experiencing the most issues) and have had zero issues. Most of my friends bought one of the launch models, or the model that followed in summer '07 (NA 80gb with partially emulated BC). To this point, one person had a failure on a PS3, and one just now started having problems reading discs, though the console still functions aside from BluRay. In both instances where a problem has occurred I've noticed 3 common variables. 1: Cats (not even just one cat... a small apartment with 2 and a house with 5). 2: Smoking (actually mutiple smokers around the console commonly) 3: (and somewhat related to 1 & 2) a very very dust/dander/soot filled console. These are the kinds of conditions we are cautioned to keep our computers away from, and the PS3 is nothing more than a computer.

Not to say that only dirty, dander filled homes will have a console failure. but worrying about the possibility of an electronic device going under is an exercise in futility. Keep it's environment clean, and if you can't sleep at night for fear of failure, get the extended warranty. Sure, they are a ripoff. But if this is a topic your mind can't file away with "We all Die eventually" "S*** Happens" just buy the thing and forget about it...
#12 Aug 31 2009 at 9:41 PM Rating: Decent
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From what I read it was not the lead free solder itself that causes the RRoD on 360s, but a manufacturing defect due to the higher heat requirements to properly melt and terminate the connections using lead free solder. Supposedly if more heat was used they'd terminate fine and not come loose as the circuit board warps over time due to the heat inside the console. Yes the boards should not warp that badly, but I doubt things would become detached if properly terminated, even using lead free solder.

I know first hand how easily 360s get the RRoD. I had one that was used rarely (less than an hour a day when averaged out), and never for more than 5 hours straight, yet it gave me the RRoD less than 2 years after purchase. I forget what part it is that separates due to the warping of the circuit board, but it sounded substantial, which would imply a combination of poor design along with manufacturing defect as the cause, not the solder itself.

That said, unless the PS3 suffers the same poor design combined with the same manufacturing defect the solder type shouldn't be the sole cause of console failures. When it comes to changes in product manufacturing process this kind of problem is common though, because the manufacturers fail to take into account the changes to parts used and therefore produce unreliable products.
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#13 Aug 31 2009 at 9:57 PM Rating: Good
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One other thing I'd like to point out for those concerned about the ability of the PS3 to run FFXIV without frying in a week: The console is universally viewed as superior in construction and reliablity to the PS2. Now, that's not all that impressive, seeing as the PS2was a famously buggy console. However, hundreds of thousands at one time or another played FFXI with their PS2, and we didn't hear of them failing at any greater rate than other PS2s. And that was a console that needed addons for both online connectivity and a hard drive....

Edited, Sep 1st 2009 2:09am by ascorbic
#14 Aug 31 2009 at 10:29 PM Rating: Good
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My PS2 was on for nearly four years straight with all of the overnight bazaaring/NM/HNM camping I did...still runs to this day. I'm hoping my PS3 can handle that sort of stress.
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#15 Aug 31 2009 at 10:40 PM Rating: Good
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yeah i believe the 54% failure rate on 360's is skewed

as stated above, people who answered that survey were more likely to have these issues because that survey actually affected them, people with working machines however are more likely to fluff it off.

also, 360 has been out quite a while longer than the other consoles... truth is how do you really know 40% of ps3's arent gonna go to ******* in 1.5 years. no one really knows, i know i don't.

i'm not saying ps3's will die, i'm aalso not saying xbox360's rrod isn't a problem ... i'm just trying to say that this survay this magazine did was skewed and people see the 54% and make judgements based on a number without thinking about it.
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#16 Aug 31 2009 at 10:43 PM Rating: Good
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I'm a PS3 60GB user and never had a problem with it, actually is pretty silent and doesn't restart like my xbox did. I'm glad it's coming for PS3 because is far more reliable.
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#17 Aug 31 2009 at 10:49 PM Rating: Good
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Kirbster wrote:
General airflow and heatsinks in the PS3 and especially the 360 are pitiful, considering that it's impossible to clean the hardware without breaking warranty.


The PS3 actually has a pretty good heatsink with several heatpipes and a giant radial fan:

http://www.llamma.com/PS3/repair/PS3_disassembly_tutorial.htm

Believe me, it can push some air when it kicks up to full throttle. (Which is very necessary. The 90nm Cell puts out some massive heat along with the RSX)
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#18 Aug 31 2009 at 10:56 PM Rating: Good
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Quote:
A lot of tripe and misinformation being reported in this thread.


While I appreciate that you took the trouble to break all that down, I'd hardly call this an accurate statement. The only mention of the article you're debunking at all was from me, and I merely said that I read it. The fact that I hesitated to share it and didn't bother to provide a source said pretty plainly that it wasn't particularly reliable.

And while it's hardly a scientific study, such a substantially larger number of respondents suggests that the 360 still has a significantly greater mortality rating than the PS3, which was the point of sharing it at all.

So I think that's a bit of an overreaction, but thanks just the same.
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Hyrist wrote:
Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#19 Sep 01 2009 at 12:07 AM Rating: Decent
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Both the 360 and PS3 have heat issues, we've known this from the start. Think about it for a minute, what are the two components that give off the most heat in a computer? The CPU and GPU. All a gaming console is, is a CPU, GPU and memory jammed onto a board and stuffed into a tiny package.

The biggest problem with console failure is the user not maintaining it properly by either placing it in a confined space, blocking vent ports, not keeping it clean or over use. I've had my 360 since early '06 and have yet to have a RRoD. Why, because it sits on top of my desk, not in a cabinet or entertainment center. When I'm not playing it I lay a piece of paper over it to block the majority of the dust from getting in the vents and I dust the top of my desk on a somewhat regular basis to keep the dust from getting sucked in. I also turn it off when I think it's getting hot or has been on too long. If it seems like load times are getting longer or the system is starting to slow down, turn it off. I live in a house that can easily hit 90+ during the summer if the AC isn't on. I also smoke and have a cat and a dog. With all those things going against me, I have never had a console fail, simply because I use the little bit of common sense it takes to keep my systems up and running.

I also hear a lot of people claiming they don't have their system in a confined space when in fact they do. Want to test it? After a few hours of gameplay, stick your hand into the area the system is in, if the air is warmer than the rest of the room, it's too confined.
#20 Sep 01 2009 at 12:24 AM Rating: Excellent
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Yeah, I've had my PS3 since about five months after launch, 60 GB model. No problems yet, thank god. I do keep it generally on top of a table and not in an enclosed space. So I can speak to my unit's reliability thus far. *knocks on wood*

Oh, and I can be pretty **** hardcore on the thing, but it does displace some air. It can get a little warm, or even make the surroundings a little warm, but that's usually about when I'm ready to stop playing. So it does make me wonder about leaving it on all day and night for days on end. The most I've done is maybe ten or twelve hours a day for a few days at a time maybe, but no problems.
#21 Sep 01 2009 at 12:51 AM Rating: Good
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One problem the PS3 seems to be developing is the optical lens not reading discs. Happened on my 60 gb version and I rarely used it for the first half of the year.
Saw a lot of people online with the same problem.
I was impressed with sony though. Was 13 months old and out of warranty and they still fixed it free.
Picked it up and returned it after 5 days. Had no problems with it since.
#22 Sep 01 2009 at 2:36 AM Rating: Default
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XBOX 360's have a 55% failure rate. PS3 has a 8% failure rate.
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#23 Sep 01 2009 at 3:38 AM Rating: Good
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360. Most RROD's are because the CPU heatsink X clamp is not seated. Causing the heatsink to shift sightly (not be level on the CPU). It happens when the thermal compound heats up and over time the heatsink loses it's contact on the CPU. This cause the RROD. It cost me $15 to fix mine 2 years ago over the course of 3 nights. Most of that time was getting all the old thermal compound off the heatsink and CPU. It was past warranty. I've never had any problem with it at all since then. I also hacked my fans to 12v and added an extra one to blow through the CPU heatsink. Yeah it sounds like a jet!

The link to take apart:
Taking 360 Apart

The initial Fix Video:
RROD Fix

My PS3 is still alive.
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#24 Sep 01 2009 at 5:59 AM Rating: Good
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Out of all my 7 friends that have a ps3, only one has ever seen a problem. No surprise it was around a smoker who had dogs. From my perspective, the problems do seem to be occurring based the environment the ps3 is in. I've had my 80g for 2 years and it rarely gets turned off. It still runs like a champ
#25 Sep 01 2009 at 2:50 PM Rating: Good
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Quote:
I didn't say this before because I didn't want to dig up a source, but just to throw it out there, I read pretty recently that the failure rate on 360's was over 50%, where it was closer to 10-15% for PS3's. Wii's had the lowest.


There were actually a very large amount of Wii's that were shipped with bad motherboards. Nintendo was very good about replacing systems.

Quote:
I also hear a lot of people claiming they don't have their system in a confined space when in fact they do. Want to test it? After a few hours of gameplay, stick your hand into the area the system is in, if the air is warmer than the rest of the room, it's too confined.


The fact remains that the 360 is a poor design. You don't get the reported numbers it does without it.

Edited, Sep 1st 2009 6:54pm by mpmaley
#26 Sep 09 2009 at 12:47 AM Rating: Default
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After a few hours of research I've gathered that the PS3 slim should work well in combination with FFXIV and that the PS3 slim does not have any major flaws to it's quality. Sources: CNET, Various YouTube reviews. Apologies for sp, first time posting on Allakhazam in a long time too.
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