Thursday, October 13, 2016

Halloween Horror Show: The Playstation 3 Autopsy

You want to see something scary for Halloween? Here's something absolutely terrifying. Viewer discretion and a strong stomach are advised.

Around this time last year, I found a Nintendo Wii at a garage sale for ten dollars. It was in miserable shape, but it still worked, and a thorough cleaning made it not only functional, but presentable too. I was not as lucky with this recent find.

This Playstation 3 appeared in my yard a few days ago. My aunt brought it over in the dead of night, having absolutely no idea what it was but thinking it could fetch a few dollars in a yard sale. Under normal circumstances, sure, but in this shape? Not bloody likely! The system was caked with dust and faded Disney stickers, and a test run on my television had predictably disappointing results. Turns out the machine was just as much of a mess on the inside as out, as you'll soon discover.

Most of the screws on the underside of the Playstation 3 were missing in action, but the previous owner's attempt to repair the system was foiled by a trio of Torx security screws, hidden under the disc drive. They nearly stopped me too, but then I remembered that I could take them off with a strategically placed flathead. Jess one, vexing security screws zero!

What I found under the case was a whole lot of unpleasant-smelling dust. Perhaps the previous owner had a Playstation 3 for every room of the house and this poor soul was stuck with bathroom duty. Perhaps I shouldn't be breathing near this thing without a mask. I dunno. Anyway, this is what was waiting for me under the cooling fan...

Dig that dust bunny in the fan well! No wonder this Playstation 3 wasn't working properly... I wouldn't work under those conditions, either. 

Using the handy instructions on iFixit, I continued to take apart the Playstation 3, unplugging ribbon cables and removing screws, until I finally reached its creamy center.

Well, maybe not so much "creamy" as "creamed." The system's motherboard is a dust-covered mess, and the thermal paste on the processors has turned to silt. It's hard to believe this system was brand new in 2009... frankly, it looks like it's suffered decades of neglect. I've seem Atari 2600s in better shape. 

Unlike the Wii I mentioned earlier, I don't know if this system can be revived. A wiser man than I would likely dismiss it as a lost cause, but hey, at least a doomed attempt at a repair will distract me from all the ridiculous crap that's happening in America right now.

Oh yeah, there's one other thing I feel I should mention! In an amusing but not especially surprising fit of hubris, Sony called the graphics processor in the Playstation 3 a "Reality Synthesizer." I mean, sure, that's probably more accurate than calling the CPU in the Playstation 2 an "Emotion Engine" (what the hell does that even mean?), but it has an air of overreaching pomposity that makes you think Sega deserves an apology for all the grief it got for Blast Processing.

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