Since I posted my PS3 YLoD DIY Reflow article, there has been an onslaught of messages to my inbox from people concerning it, and the many facets of what that entails… so I decided to compile the most-asked here and to maybe give some more quick answers to people desperate for information.
Please, please… I urge you to take any of my advice with a grain of salt, and always get a second opinion. Also don’t forget to actually contact Sony and see if you are still under warranty before attempting a reflow like this. You will void your warranty and may ruin some perfectly good hardware in the process. Anywho, on to the questions…
My PS3 constantly has strange dots all across the screen. As I go through the menu the screen freezes up but I can still hear sound. Would a reflow help?
Yes, this is classic behavior of a GPU’s solder connections going bad. A reflow at this stage may yield better results considering that the solder from the GPU has not completely separated yet.
If I pay for shipping will you fix it for me?
I’m sorry to say that you’ll have to pay for a bit more than that. In order to keep demand down, I have begun charging $80 before shipping and possibly parts for a PS3 reflow. All I can guarantee is that it will work when you receive it — There are no guarantees on time as it seems that each model number takes to the reflow differently… (small hardware revisions are the culprit IMHO) so to be blunt, I think you should learn to do it yourself… and then do it for your friends for a bit of dough!
I’ve tried the reflow a few times now, and it worked the first time. Since then the PS3 has died and I think I’m doing something wrong. Any suggestions?
My suggestion for you would be to get an infrared non-contact thermometer (home depot, 30 bucks) and use that to tell how hot your getting the board during your reflow. Solder melts at about 410-420 fahrenheit, and you’d be surprised how cold the board is during most reflows. Once I got mine, it was quite eye-opening.
I’m overseas and my PS3 broke, who do I contact?
Just contact Sony USA by phone. You will end up paying $169.99, which is an outside of the US cost. You are paying for international shipping rates three ways + labor charges + cost of the item that needs to be repaired. It’s a bit ridiculous, but they will do it. Also, I’m not sure on international calls to 800 numbers, but I wouldn’t think that you’d be charged.
I don’t think I’m applying the Arctic Silver 5 correctly. Have some tips?
Well, the thing to keep in mind here is that less is more. Use a small dab about the size of an uncooked grain of rice, and spread thinly and evenly with a card. It’s not really rocket science.
I don’t have an infrared no-contact thermometer, is there any other way to judge how hot the board and components are?
You might try leaving a bit of solder somewhere that’s not important, and where no circuits lie… but still near the gpu and cpu in order to gauge when the solder points are hot enough underneath the chips to reflow. Don’t forget to level out the board first!
Do you have to use a heat gun, and where can I get some thermal compound?
Thermal compound is carried by most any computer shop. Radioshack also carries Artic Silver 5, it runs about $10 for a small tube. Don’t use generic products or “thermal grease”. They aren’t as good. Also, for this method a heat gun is essential, and only $20 from Home Depot. Some have used their ovens, but I would never do that myself and I don’t recommend it.
Can I use a hairdryer instead of a heat gun?
The burning point of hair is somewhere around 140°F, so I assume the average hairdryer does not even get that hot. Solder in general will not even begin to soften or melt until about 190°F, and that’s for cheap stuff. Alloys that melt between 180 and 190 °C (360 and 370°F) are the most commonly used. Basically, no.
So I hope some of this helps, and drop a comment here if you have any other questions!
Whaddup kids, Mic-B here back with another slick fix. I had one of the many 360′s I’ve fixed from the RRoD come back to me with the dreaded E74 error. I had already previously done the X-Clamp fix on this beast; so voiding the warranty wasn’t a problem — sadly, out the window was sending it to Microsoft as well. I was already in knee deep on this box, so I had to finish it out right.
Be warned… this error *can* be caused by a faulty AV cable; but if you can see the error code on the screen when you turn it on (see the first photo below) then the cable is definitely not to blame. At this point, it’s either a pin of that scaler chip itself that has become unseated or a broken trace between the GPU and the ANA/HANA chip. If you’d like to see the forum thread I gathered information from, you can check that out on xbox-scene.com. There really is a scarce amount of information on this fix at the time of this writing.
In order to make sure that I did it up right, I went out to trusty ol Home Depot and purchased a Ryobi Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer. This thing is cheap, wicked, and I highly recommend it to anyone attempting ANY reflow as it takes all of the guesswork out. Before, when I had to play it safe and would try two or three times on some units, I can now know when the solder has reached its melting point, exactly how hot the board is and whether or not the board is heated evenly, etc… it’s awesome to say the least. Wordemup.
So, this fix is pretty straightforward, with a few exceptions. Instead of reflowing from the top, you should hit this one from the bottom. Ensure that you clean off the thermal paste and remove the heat sink from the GPU (the short one — on elites and 2nd edition hardware, this heatsink also has the secondary sink with the copper pipe attached to it) so that your work area is clean. Thermal paste, on average, will melt at about 248F, whereas the solder will start to melt at 423F. If you don’t take that heatsink off and clean the chip you’ll definitely fry it playing games afterward.
For where to reflow, check the video below. Ensure that you remove all of the cables (SATA and power for the drive) and the little cushions on the four black chips you see in the photo above. Also, after your done, ensure that you play test your unit extensively because these can slip back into submission much like the PS3s with the YLoD.
Hope this information helps, and if you need some advice, drop me a comment on this article or snag my e-mail from the “About Mic-B” page.