I'm seeing lots of broken (first model) PS3s on Craigslist. So much that there are more broken/not working ones then that are working ones!

The price for a broken one isn't that much less than a working one, which leads me to think it must be a common failure that is easy to fix, but I can't seem to find anything about it.

If it's an easy fix, something like bad capacitors like some other console, I'd rather buy a broken one and attempt to fix it myself - rather than betting on my inexistent luck...

So what's the deal with the PS3 dying?

  • This is too broad.
    – zero298
    Jul 20 '15 at 1:12
  • question is more to know if there is a widely common cause, like with tgfx cd. i wasn't looking for a comprehensive list
    – gcb
    Jul 20 '15 at 2:47

Most of the original PS3s suffer from the 'Yellow Light of Death' (YLOD) issue. You'll know if your console is suffering from the YLOD when:

  • You power on the console.
  • The console starts up normally for about 2-3 seconds,
  • The console beeps 3 times while flashing a faint yellow light,
  • The console continues to flash a red light.

The YLOD is a 'Major Hardware Failure' signal, of which the most common cause is:

Cracked Solder

There are balls of solder that hold the GPU and the CPU to the motherboard. Due to lead restrictions in electronics in the EU, the PS3 uses a non-lead-based solder (even in the US). As it turns out, this has a tendency to crack after long periods of heating (Call of Duty Marathons anyone?) followed by rapid cooling - the solder joints physically crack & break. When they break, the chip isn't communicating with the board and hey presto! Hardware Failure!.

This can be fixed by reflowing the solder. The easiest way to accomplish this is to oven-bake the PS3 motherboard (yes, really). If you're capable with a heat gun, then this is the more professional way of fixing it. There are more in-depth guides around the web, such as the Instructables one, but the basic premise is:

  1. Take apart your PS3
  2. Take out your PS3 motherboard
  3. Wipe off all the old Thermal paste from the chips
  4. Wrap the capacitors & other heat-averse parts in sticky-tack
  5. Put it in a cold oven (along with an oven thermometer) and set the dial at 260°C (500°F)
  6. Watch as the oven heats up to ~237°C (460°F). Turn it off when it does and open the oven door.
  7. Set up a fan to blow sideways along (not into) the oven. This will aid the cooling process.
  8. Take the board out, re-apply thermal paste and put the PS3 back together.

The YLOD has also been known to be caused by:

Power supply capacitor/diode failure

A similar problem to #1 but a lot harder to diagnose and fix. You will probably need a heat gun for this one, plus

Blu-Ray drive failure

Can be solved by swapping out the drive with one from another PS3

Hard Drive Critical Error

Replace the hard drive. By far the easiest to do, as the Hard drive is easily accessible. The PS3 takes a laptop-sized HDD.


  • +1, I have seen the exact symptoms of the cracked solder issue myself. A friend of mine played Gran Turismo 5 on B-Spec (for those not familiar, B-spec is a mode of the game where you are the manager of a racing team, not an actual driver -- the only way to advance in this mode is spectate your AI drivers and give them commands) for over 18 hours at once. Surprise surprise, the next day his system YLOD'd. Don't allow your PS3s to render graphically intensive games for long periods of time. Jul 20 '15 at 18:15
  • @LucasLeblanc - At the very least, give the PS3 plenty of ventilation, and potentially open it up to clean it out of dust every now and then :)
    – Robotnik
    Jul 21 '15 at 1:08

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