Fix a Yellow Lighted PS3 with the Gilksy Method

By Mike on 10:51 am

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I love to rant about the poor quality of modern consumer electronics. They have horrendous failure rates. Especially today's modern game consoles. Up to a third of original Xbox 360s fail in their first year, while 10% of fat PS3s will bite the dust. I just had my second "Yellow Light of Death" on my 60gb PS3 in less than a year. Since it's out of warranty, I decided to repair it myself this time.

Here's an easy way you can correct the Yellow Light of Death, using the Gilksy method.

Skill level: Intermediate to Advanced
Time to Complete: 1hr - 1.5hrs

Tools You'll Need:
-T10 Torx screwdriver
-Phillips #0 and #1 screwdrivers
-Heat gun capable of at least 350 degrees Celsius
-Flat-head screwdriver or plastic spudger
-Several plastic containers for keeping track of screws, large pill boxes work best.
-70% or higher isopropyl "rubbing" alcohol
-Cotton balls and a lint-free cloth
-Sheet of scrap drywall or other heat resistant surface
-Good quality silver-based thermal paste such as Arctic Silver

Before you begin, keep in mind that this repair will void any warranties. Sony will also refuse to repair and out-of-warranty consoles with seals broken. MMNTech is not responsible for any damage. If you have no experience in electronics repair, let Sony fix it for you. Be extra cautious with your heat gun as it can get hot enough to ignite paper.

Step 1: Disassembly

Follow Gilksy's guide to taking your console apart. Take your time, making sure to keep track of all parts and screws so they don't get lost later. This is a complete tear down. Need to get the motherboard out of its metal case for this task. Make sure to also remove the rubber heat pads from all chips as they will melt when heated. Take special care not to loose these.

Once you've got the motherboard exposed, you'll need to clean the old thermal paste off the cooler, Cell, and RSX (graphics) chips. Put a little rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and gently wipe all the white paste off each component. Let everything dry completely before moving on. If the cotton balls left any lint behind, use your cloth to gently remove it.

Step 2: Heating

Locate the RSX, Cell, and the four memory chips located above them. You'll need to heat each of these components individually.

Place the motherboard upside-down on your sheet of drywall. Make sure it's level. Since drywall is heat resistant, it will prevent damage to your work surface.

Now locate the backs of the Cell, RSX, and RAM. Turn your heat gun on and set it between 350C and 450C. Let it warm up. Now you're ready to start repairing the console. Heat the backs of each component individually for 30 seconds, keeping the gun a few inches away from the board. This is enough to melt the solder without damaging anything else.

Start with the RAM, them move to the chip below it, RAM again, chip below it. If you hear a cracking sound, this is just the silicon expanding due to the heat. It's no cause for alarm.

Once that's done, leave the board alone for at least 15 minutes. This gives the solder time to cool and solidify. Make sure it's not disturbed or else the components will shift and your PS3 will be unrepairable.

Once that's done, flip the board over, once again making sure it's level. Heat the same components from the top side in the same order. Then leave the board again for another 15 minutes.

Step 3: Reassembly

Once everything is cooled, you can start putting your PS3 back together.

Take your silver-based thermal paste. Put a little zig-zag over the Cell and RSX chips. Use an old credit card to spread a thin, even layer across the top of both components. Make sure the entire top is covered. Don't leave any bare spots. Also make sure not to get any on the board itself as silver conducts electricity, and could shot things out.

Reinstall the metal shields over the board first, then take the cooler and fasten it back on.
Reassemble your PS3 by working backwards from what you did before.

Now you can fire it up. If the repair worked, the PS3 should start right back up with the yellow light gone. Let it run idling for a few hours to allow the thermal paste to set. The silver paste will conduct heat better than the cheap ceramic stuff Sony uses. This "burn-in" will fill every nook and cranny, preventing hot spots.

That's it. All components for this repair should set you back less than $100. That's half of what Sony wants to fix them. Plus, if it yellow lights again, you know what to do. Your PS3 should now be back to only doing everything.

2 comments for this post

I like your blog very much. The consent of this blog is no doubt super. I will visit again to see something new.


Rajesh Bothra

Posted on 22 May 2012 at 08:42  

Good guide except the video guide calls for 15 seconds of cooking while you said 30, the Gilksy video guide worked perfectly in conjunction with your text guide. Thank you very much!

Posted on 30 December 2012 at 17:24