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Old 05-01-10, 09:28 PM   #1
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PS3 Maintenance Series (Changing Thermal Paste)

All right we have now come to changing thermal paste in the PS3 Maintenance Series, the stock paste just does not cut it for whatever reason this is where Sony went wrong either there is too much or there is not enough to cover the Cell or RSX. I have notice that after sometime has passed let's say a year or two the paste looks dry and flaky. You should change your PS3's thermal paste after your warranty has expired.

Applying New Thermal Paste To My PS3

Published: February 25, 2010 Posted in: Tech

The warranty had run out a long time ago so I decided to open up my Playstation 3 (old fat 80 gig model) and put new thermal paste to make it run cooler. Benefits includes extending the life of the hardware and having the fan noise kick up less early and often.

You will need

Isopropyl alcohol – I bought a bottle from Walgreens with 91% alcohol content. The higher the better.

Q-tips or paper coffee filters –
Basically you’ll need something that is lint free to clean off the old thermal paste.

Thermal Paste –
I choose Tuniq TX-2 over Arctic Silver 5 because it is non-electrically conductive and has almost no cure time.

– If you’re like me, your first time assembling and dissembling the PS3 will take up most of your day since you want to get it done right.

What a Torx Screwdriver head looks like

Clear Plastic Wrap and something with a flat edge like a business card – You’ll want to use these to smother and then smooth out the thermal paste.

Torx Screwdriver
– You’ll need this to open up the casing. Just one screw needs this.

Phillips Head Screwdriver
- For unscrewing the rest of the screws on the PS3


The first thing you want to do is ground yourself to avoid electrostatic discharge. I have a wooden floor so I just walked around bare foot. This helps discharge static electricity from the body. But if you really want to be on the safe side, you can get an anti-static wristband. They’re pretty cheap.
Next, take off all the plugs on your PS3. Turn off the power switch in the back. Let the electricity dissipate from the PS3 hardware for a minute . Easily done.
The next thing you need to do is break off the warranty seal on the left side of the PS3. I would only recommend you do this if your warranty has expired. After you take off the seal, you will see a plug. Remove that to expose the hole its covering. In there is a Torx screw that you will need to remove with a Torx Screwdriver. Use a T6, T7 or T8 size Torx screwdriver.
When you unscrew that Torx screw, you will be able to slide off the PS3 panel. To make this post shorter, I’ll defer the disassembly instructions to a couple of guides to help you dissemble the PS3. Your main goal is to get to the heatsink and the Cell and GPU chips.

Pics of my Cell processor & RSX GPU chip

These are pictures of my PS3’s Cell processor and RSX GPU chip with the old stock thermal paste.

The RSX GPU had a lot of thermal paste on its sides. I used a small flat head to carefully pry that stuff loose.

The cell processor had a lot less thermal paste on it than the GPU.

Again, the Cell Processor on the left. And the RSX GPU on the right.

The heatsink was covered with a lot of crusted thermal paste.

This is how the RSX GPU chip looked after I cleaned it using the alcohol and the coffee filter paper

This is how the Cell Processor looked after using the same method of cleaning

Cleaned heatsink. Those aren't particles you see on the heatsink but imperfections showing up in the picture.

Added new thermal paste on the chips

Here I covered my finger with Glad Cling Wrap to smother thermal paste all over the chips. Yeah, believe me, that's a finger.

After smothering the paste all over the Cell and GPU chip, I used a thin card that I cut into a strip to smooth it out like a brush (sorry, didn’t take a picture for that) Then it was time to assemble the PS3 again.

Some Advice

Remember everything you did when you are dissembling so you can backtrack when you’re putting it back together. I used several coffee filters as cups to hold screws from each stage I dissembled. For example, the screws that held down the power supply was contained in one coffee filter and screws from the top cover in another.
When you’re screwing the heatsink back onto the chips, place all the screws in and tighten each one a little at a time so the pressure from the heatsink pushing down on the two chips is spread over more evenly.


Right now my PS3 is humming along well. As I’m typing this, I’m running it through Folding@Home. The fan cycles will still pick up, but not as early now. If you want to see if it makes a difference, play the Heavy Rain demo before and after applying new thermal paste. That game heats up the chips quite fast. Take your time when you are dissembling, that is the most important thing. Don’t use excessive force if you can’t remove something. You either missed some screws or you have to take it off by opening it as a lid or by sliding it. The same goes for the ribbon wires as well. Make sure you lift the little lever that holds down each ribbon wire to unlock them.

Source: sometimesgeeky

I thought I would add some video to the different methods used to apply thermal paste and how they spread.

Just a side note if you are going to use an Arctic Sliver product I would suggest to apply a haze to the chips first using the AS product, than apply whatever method you choose. You can use the haze primer method with any product this is something I would recommend doing.

Here is an example notice that you see no shine to the copper but you are able to still see through the haze.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Old 05-01-10, 09:38 PM   #2
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Re: PS3 Maintenance Series (Changing Thermal Paste)

Remember that all thermal pastes, no matter how good they are, are still poor conductors of heat compared to the surfaces of the semiconductors and heat sink. The film of paste should fill in the gaps and there should be as much surface to surface contact as possible. The reason that the paste is used is that it is a far better conductor of heat than air and there should be no air gaps that are not filled.

I usually work as much of the paste out as possible by sliding the parts together until I feel the surfaces contact. You want just enough to be sure the gaps are filled but not so much that you have a thick layer that can dry out and act as an insulator.

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Old 05-01-10, 10:38 PM   #3
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Re: PS3 Maintenance Series (Changing Thermal Paste)

Leonard I agree with everything you are saying, I wish we had the ability to slide the heatsink or the motherboard, but unfortunately when the board is on you don't have access to the heatsinks and in order to slide the board you would have to lift it over one little peg and even then movement is limited and there is a chance that the chip or chips would lose contact with the heatsinks. The best that could be done is to press the area where the clamps go before you tighten the clamps in hopes to remove any excess.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Old 05-02-10, 07:29 AM   #4
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Re: PS3 Maintenance Series (Changing Thermal Paste)

I would put them together then pull apart again to verify no gaps, and just leave the minimium layer possible. What we see all the time is dried out caked up heat sink grease that acts as an insulator. Many vendors just use too much.

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