Inside the PS3 Slim

Well I was at Best Buy today looking for Compact Flash cards to use on the new Atari 800 laptop, and I figured while I was there might as well ask about the new PS3 Slim.

A PS3 Slim, on the rotating work bench disc of death.

Turns out they got 40 in last night so I decided to buy one. “Would you like a warranty?” they asked, unlike Circuit City would of. “No, I’m ripping it apart”. I love saying that – it’s not a lie, and it stops warranty upsells dead in their tracks.

Ran it for a little while – it’s very quiet, in dashboard mode you can hardly hear it running. During a game you can hear the Blu-Ray making random access motions (if you turn off the game sound) but still, a fair degree less noise than the PS3 “fat” and several chainsaws of decibels below the Xbox 360.

Of course the next thing to do was rip it apart. Check out the rest of the article for in-depth analysis.

(Note: I know this info has already been on the web, but I wanted to take one apart, naturally, and I felt I may as well share my opinions on the unit as I do)

Here’s the hard drive. It’s not a Hitachi “Death” Desk-star, that’s good. It’s probably 5400 RPM like most of the consoles, but I couldn’t gather that info from the label.

Usual Sony “screws under feet” method. There’s a long Phillips screw under all the feet except one. At least Sony is consistent.

You know, I talk about the Xbox and Microsoft a lot on this site and the podcast, but most of my stuff is Sony. Like this photo. It was taken with a Sony camera, and as I type this my Sony 5.1 desk is playing…. the Carpenters. And when I went to buy the PS3 I was listening to my Sony car deck. Maybe I’m a snob, but I’ve just always preferred Sony. (Except during the N64 years)

I find this humorous. Apparently as long as a screw is covered by something (such as a rubber foot) it can be a plain Phillips, but if it’s visible, it needs to be a security screw? You don’t even need a special bit to open these, just a very thin flat head screwdriver. Well, to each engineer his or her own. (Non-sexist version)

Last screw is hidden under a warranty-voiding sticker. Darn, can’t return this thing to the store – guess I’ll just have to make a laptop out of it!

FOXCONN – they’ve been making parts for consoles since the dawn of time. The cartridge slot on the Atari 2600 was a FOXCONN, and 32 years later (god has it been that long?) here they are keeping the faith on the PS3. Go FOXCONN! Hopefully they never… FOXDIE!

Speaking of that, was the main character of “inFamous” trying to do a Solid Snake impression the entire time or was it just a gravely voice coincidence?

This is different! Fan’s on top instead of the bottom. The rear portion really impressed me – it has a Sony logo and some text, as if they expected someone to open this sucker up. Very car-engine like!

The Wi-Fi connections go to this pair of metal brackets at the front of the unit, forming  a pair of antennas. Interesting.

Not sure how legible it is, but it says “Sony Computer Entertainment”, and then there’s a PlayStation logo on the far right. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a company bother to make the inside of a console look this cool before, so my hat is off to Sony. Asthetics aside, this black portion is the power supply.

After pulling out the PSU it resembles a toner cartridge from a printer/copier. Still, it’s interesting how modular this part of the system is. Also of interest is the fact the system fan blows the heat off the CPU/GPU and then THROUGH the PSU assembly, and finally out the back of the system. Again this reminded me of a car, where often the electronics are in-line with the air vents to keep them cool.

The area that contained the PSU. We can see the Blu-Ray connections and the exhaust port of the CPU/GPU fan. The fan / radiator is still quite large, but not nearly as massive as the original PS3.

The CPU/GPU fan output on the right, the PSU input on the left.

Here’s where the fan sits. As with the original PS3, there are a series of metal plates connected to heat pipes for cooling purposes. This model appears to use a lot less copper than the original, probably as a cost savings.

The Blu-Ray drive is a bit smaller – and more traditionally shaped – than the model in the fat PS3. It’s held in place by 1 screw, which seems wimpy but of course the Xbox 360 DVD is held in by none! Mechanical retention – the cheapest fastener of all!

Holy cats – a very reasonable connector on the Blu-Ray player. This looks to be a 24 pin connection, plus power.The original PS3 has a 90 pin connection on the Blu-Ray. No, seriously, I counted – it was nuts! Granted, this isn’t as simple as a SATA connection, but it’s a fair sight better than it used to be!

Here’s the main portion with the Blu-Ray and fan removed. The motherboard is enclosed in a metal cage, much like the original PS3.

The clamps for the CPU/GPU are the same as the original PS3.

This part seems kind of weak. The clamps have plastic tabs that press against the main motherboard.

This part is always disconcerting – pulling the heatsinks free of the IC’s. You never know if it’s the thermal transfer material holding it in place, or some screw you missed. Luckily this pulled apart fine to reveal the same thermal pastes we’ve seen since the PS2.

Most of the cooling posts are on the GPU, with a heat pipe connected to the CPU.

Here’s the motherboard with everything off. Click here for a larger version.

Well, that’s about it for taking apart the PS3 Slim. Overall impressions:

  • It’s certainly thinner than the PS3 fat, but the X and Y dimensions are just about the same.
  • New “PS3″ logo appears on the “wave” during system boot.
  • Internals are much simpler and cleanly laid out compared to original PS3.
  • Sony released a new PS1 after 5 years, a new PS2 after 3, and a new PS3 after 3. Interesting curve…

I guess we’ll have to see what happens next!

Comments

  1. exciting. sounds like turning this into a laptop won’t be nearly as painful as the original PS3. I’m curious to see how long this one takes.

  2. Hey, Ben.

    I’ve got a question for ya about this new PS3. I’ve been considering buying one, since I first heard about them, around a month ago, and was wondering how much cooler do you think it runs than the bigger PS3s. My friend’s 80 GB PS3 makes more heat than my PC, so I was hoping for something considerably cooler.

    Thanks in advance,

    Dave

  3. Yo! Ben. I am kinda wondering if there are possibilities for a laptop? Unlike the fat PS3 version as you said made the world’s heaviest laptop record. I hope there’s gonna be a slimmer one this time but make sure it’s not upside down.

  4. Ya know i saw the teardown on ifixit and they actually opened the case to the PSU. all of the capacitors are mounted flat. As soon as i saw that i said to myself “wow ben is going to love this, they flattened the circuits for him”

  5. Holy crap this looks amazing how they design it. Looks like this job is going to be easier way to make a small ps3 laptop and not as big as a xbox 360?

    PSU sounds like it can be use like a power brick of a xbox 360/laptop.

  6. That power supply… it looks to be as though you could “cover” that that a case (like the one that the 360 uses)… and have it as an external PSU.

    Then make the PS3 slim run off a battery… then make it so the power supply can charge the battery (or ditch the PS3’s PSU and use a “standard” charger like the ones used on laptops)… rearrange the mobo so that the components take up less space (I saw a portable N64 like that… the modder reduced the size while keeping all of the components)…

    Basically make as much of it “external” as possible to turn the PS3 slim into a mini-laptop. A small 15″ screen that supports 720 res (obviously the pixels will be quite compact).. while making it so the PS3 can still hook up to an external display. You could use a much smaller flash card that the PS3 can store all it’s data on, as opposed to a full-size HDD.

    I don’t really know what I’m talking about on a technical level, but basically, this looks like it could be turned into a laptop that’s about the same size as any ordinary netbook.

  7. “Hitachi “Death” Desk-star”

    That was the IBM devision, Hitachi is actually quite a good and more well known HDD manufacturer than Toshiba. (I have a 320Gb Hitachi drive myself, as well as two Seagates and two Samsungs.)

  8. Yeah, I’ve taken apart a few playstation systems in the past. Sony is completely vain, but in a good way.

    It doesn’t surprise me that the have their name on the inside. The PS2 is littered with Sony logos inside. I was surprised to see how nicely designed this logo on the inside is. Normally it is just their name, but it is everywhere and on everything.

  9. Hi Ben!

    My main project now is to mod my ps3 slim, but it’s very hard because there’s no space in it! I wanted to cut off parts of the upper case and replace them with a clear plexi pannel, then put iside some neon, but I don’t know how to do, because every consolle is made to stand a specific voltage… I don’t know if neon will damage it… And I also wanted to cut off the blueray case to see the disk while the ps3 is reading it (like in some modded 360), but I’m not sure this is possible… what do u think about all of this? lol XD (sorry my english is not perfect XD)

  10. re: Brutuz

    Hitachi bought the entire IBM HD setup.

    It was cost cutting by a sub-sub contractor that destroyed IBM’s once mighty HD biz. The chip fab sub-contracted the resin for the chip packages from a company that cheated on the fire retardant so the plastic was not thermally stable. After many heating & cooling cycles, the chip would split where the legs entered and let in air which would cause all kinds of crazy behavior ranging from random errors to the heads gouging the platters. By the time IBM found the culprit, it was too late – nobody would buy their HDs any more.

    Know your supply chain & use quality parts. They’re cheaper in the long run.

  11. It would way cool that sony sold this models

    Men you are a genious, I been obseced with the idea of a ps3-laptop since i saw it from you

    I would love to have one of those

  12. hey i would like a ps3 slim laptop i pay you $3000 if you make me one that shit look hot man u a genious

  13. My PS3 Slim makes random clicking sounds. Even when it’s not on. Only it kind of always is on because that red light is on. It seems to be the HDD. It makes random clicking sounds when it’s loading or writing. I guess that’s normal, but sometimes it’ll be turned off for like an hour. Then you’ll hear a random click sound. I think it’s alive. PS3 Slim doesn’t really make much noise other than that HDD sound I mentioned. That is until I played Uncharted 2 for 6hrs straight. Then the system got really hot and sounded like a vacuum cleaner. I turned it off for the rest of the day. It hasn’t done it since, but I then again I haven’t played a game that long again.

  14. hi can someone email me the dimensions of just the ps3 mainboard i cant find them anywhere (for slimeline version plz.) thanks !

  15. just started modding my ps3 and was wondering if it was possible to use an alternative power supply rather than the one that comes with the ps3 i cant seem to find the specs anywhere. any help would be appreciated

  16. Useful concept. Tough to enjoy, being that the entire video has gone out of focus. Or can it be that I’ve had one way too many beers? Dominga Burpee

  17. Quick question, hopefully you can help. I am actually planning a mod similar to this but inside a PC case (Antec 900) and am planning on putting a 360 slim in there as well. Before I go buy parts and start randomly cutting holes and screwing up my case, I am drawing all the parts in 3D with AutoCAD. Is there any possible way you can get me the dimensions of the motherboard for the PS3? I am sure the rest of the parts will fit just fine, I just want to know if I can in fact stick both 360 and PS3 boards into my case while maintaining a nice look. Thank you.