Monday, May 24, 2010

Adjusting the Aggressiveness of your PS3 Fan

Most people know that the PS3 has different speeds at which its fan can spin, resulting in varying levels of noise, from "is that thing even on?" to "omg, the house is taking off!" A lesser known fact is that you can adjust how aggressive the PS3 is with its fan. That is, what temperatures trigger different fan speeds.

If you're like me then, well, I'm sorry to hear that - but if you are, you use your PS3 more as a media device than as a gaming one. Consequently, you'd much prefer a quieter PS3 so that you can actually hear Rose whisper “I love you” to Jack (well over an hour after “the only part you want to watch again”, but you’re still watching, aren’t you? Aren’t you!?). To that end, you may need to ensure your PS3 has a less aggressive cooling policy.

Or maybe you freak out at the very thought of your PS3's electronic innards being ruthlessly tortured by scorching temperatures, while the fan watches on cruelly, doling out only just enough relief to keep its victim alive. Whether you’re into rubbish movies or personifying inanimate objects, this guide may well be for you.

First, some caveats:

  1. Your warranty will be voided.
  2. I won't be held responsible for any damage you do to your PS3, either in the process of making the adjustment, or as a consequence of any adjustments made.

Secondly, here's what you'll need to make the adjustments:

  1. A star screwdriver or attachment (size T10, whatever that means).
  2. A phillips head screwdriver or attachment (#2).
  3. Long fingernails, a flat-head screwdriver, or some other implement to pry the hard drive cover free.
  4. Patience. It can take a number of iterations to get it just right.

Now then, to the guide . . .

Step 1: Remove the top cover

Remove the warranty sticker from the side of the unit, and then pry out the little rubber plug. After doing so, you'll you'll see the head of a star screw. Use your star screwdriver or attachment to unscrew and remove it. Then slide the top cover out and lift it off.

Step 1

Step 2: Remove the inner casing

Using your phillips head screwdriver or attachment, remove all 7 screws holding the inner casing. One is shorter than the rest, and is marked by an “S” on the casing. With all screws removed, press in the tab at the back of the unit and then lift it off.

Step 2

Step 3: Remove the loose component

This step may not be entirely necessary, but I found it much easier to remove the bottom casing if the component on the left of the unit (when looking at it from the rear) is first removed because it is loose and prone to moving about, especially in the next step.

To remove it, lift it and unplug the wire from its right hand side. Then carefully lift up the plastic latch holding the flat cord down. It is now detached and can be moved to one side.

Step 3

Note: If you apply too much pressure to the latch it can come apart, so be careful. If it does, don't panic unless you damaged it (at which point, feel free to panic). If it's still undamaged, you can reattach it quite easily once you know how it fits together. Study the form of both parts carefully and you'll see it only goes together one way - the detached part kind of slides into and under the fixed part.

Step 4: Remove the bottom casing

Using your phillips head screwdriver or attachment, remove all 7 screws holding the bottom casing. Then remove the hard drive cover using a flat head screwdriver or other appropriate implement. Now, flip the entire unit over, being very careful to hold its innards as you do so - they will fall out if you don't. The bottom casing then lifts straight off.

Step 4

Step 5: Adjust the fan

Near the rear of the fan and off to the side is a little plastic casing with a tiny screw on top. It's not a normal screw in the sense that it never stops turning. You can turn it in either direction all day long without it tightening or coming loose. Tightening it (turning it clockwise) will increase the aggressiveness of the fan, whereas loosening it (turning it anti-clockwise) will decrease the aggressiveness of the fan.


If you keep tightening it you will eventually hear a faint clicking sound on every revolution. That means it's as aggressive as it will go. If you leave it in this position, your PS3 will always run its fan at full speed. Useful if you lack a hair-dryer in your household.

If you loosen it too much, your PS3 won't turn its fan on at all and will overheat within minutes. Note that the PS3 firmware has a fail-safe such that your machine will display an error message and automatically shut itself down if it becomes too hot (and it will, trust me).

What you need to find is that happy middle-ground where the fan isn't so aggressive that it is impractical as a media extender, but where it is aggressive enough to keep your unit sufficiently cooled whilst playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 18.

For me, it was 5¾ rotations back from the most aggressive setting. Your mileage may vary. Small adjustments really are significant - that final quarter of a turn tweak is what perfected it for me.

What's frustrating is that there's no easy way to test your adjustments. You have to put everything back together again and give it a whirl. I did this literally ten times before I got it just right. I skipped as many screws as I felt comfortable skipping, but always ensured that all cases were in place. I did this partly for safety reasons, but also because I didn't want extra airflow biasing my tests.

Putting everything back together is just the reverse procedure to the above steps.



asdfffdsa said...

Interesting to find all of these little features in the PS3.

Thanks for writing this up (saw your post on the PSU forums)

On a similar note, my PS3 just passed the 1 year warranty, so now I'm going to replace the thermal paste.

林純娟 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

Anonymous said...

something that had me squirming a bit was the first screwdriver. its a T15 security tourx screwdriver. its not too difficult to find, but helps to know what ur lookin for. thax for this though, needed this bad!!

A.Ruiz said...

Ive opened up so many ps3s and none have this screw that u have in yours, I think someone installed this part on your system after market.

Kent Boogaart said...

@Ruiz: It was purchased in the UK - perhaps that has something to do with it.