My ill PS3 hasn’t arrived for surgery yet, but while I’m waiting for her to show up, I thought I’d do a guide on taking one apart. Taking the PS3 apart is an involved process, and we don’t want to rush, so make sure you have at least a couple of hours spare to do this if it’s your first time. Also make sure you have proper lighting and the right tools.

This guide is good for all versions of the FAT PS3. I disassembled a 60GB model carcass I had knocking spare that was still in one piece. It has a completely blown motherboard due to a power surge, so I’ve not lost anything, but you’ll want to be extra careful!!

NOTE: This guide DOES NOT cover YLOD fixes. I do not use “fanboy enthusiast”  reflow methods, and only use re-balling techniques, which involves specialist knowledge and expensive equipment. This article only covers teardown procedures.

You will need:

●     Torx screwdriver
●     Phillips head screw driver
●     Small flathead screw driver (for removing the rubber foot)
●     Somewhere with plenty of space that is well lit and that wont build up static electricity. (Mainly anywhere but carpet)

So, here’s my dodo-dead PS3…..all ready to be taken apart, for the third time, as it suffered two YLOD’s previously, before being professionally reballed by myself prior to its shocking total death and acquisition as scrap…..

On the left side of the console you will see some rubber feet. The first screw to be removed is underneath the rubber foot circled in red in the pic below. The warranty sticker covers it, so this will need to be removed (INVALIDATING YOUR WARRANTY, so be warned!) The foot can be pried out with a small screwdriver. Then underneath is a Torx security screw. You will either need a Torx screwdriver, or a flat head screwdriver that will fit in the screw. Once the screw is removed, set the foot and screw somewhere safe.

Once the screw is out, slide the top of the case to the left. It will require a bit of force to slide if you’re opening the console for the first time. After the top slides as far as it will go, lift the top and it should come off as below:

After the top is off, there will be another cover, the main system cover. You will need to remove the 7 long screws circled in red. Why Sony decided to give the PS3 a separate “top-hat” is beyond me, it would have been easier all as one, as with the PS2, unscrewing from underneath!

Once the 7 screws are removed (set them aside safe), gently lift up the back corners of the top half of the console. There are 2 small clips near the back you may need to undo with a small screw driver. Now the top of the console should just lift off (with a bit of gentle force) and you will see the guts of the PS3. The PS3 has a lot more guts than the 360, a bit way too much in my opinion, too much metal and plastic. Getting a 360 open is nowhere near as hard for me, it takes me less time, and the innards aren’t as cramped!

As you can see, and as I know from experience of Sony repairs, as with all their other consumer goods there’s tons and tons of metal, screws and ribbon cables! It’s as secure as GTA4’s Liberty City Penitentiary in here there’s so much metal, held down by so many screws!! Hence the weight! Wait till you see the cooling unit….

First, the power supply (The silver box on the left) has to be removed. Remove the screws circled in red, and take out the plug (next to the front left screw. See it?), the power supply will just lift out.

Also, take out the mains plug in the back of the power supply. The power supply should now be completely disconnected from the PS3. I like to disconnect the big rear cable first, I’m always cursing the thing when I do it last and I lift the PSU out without disconnecting it! It is tight, though, and probably easier to do after the screws are out so you can lift the supply out. I’m a glutton for punishment…..

After the power supply is removed, the Bluetooth board (in the 60GB models, it also has wireless) needs to be removed. Unscrew the 4 screws and unplug the ribbon cable and the board will just lift out. Note that you have to “flip” the brown tab on the ribbon socket, it isn’t a pull out type, so don’t try, you might damage it. Flip it up and away from you and the ribbon.

Now we need to remove the Blu-ray drive. This is quite easy. Lift the drive up about 2” and you will see a really wide ribbon cable, the data cable, connecting the drive to the motherboard. Unplug it. There will also be a plug near the front of the Blu-ray drive that controls the motors for the spindle and slot load/eject mechanism. Unplug it as well. The drive will then just lift out.

Underneath you’ll see the main data ribbon cable. This time, not a flip and release job, but a pull out clip. Pull it towards the ribbon:

Now you will (hopefully) see the same as what is below:

Next, we have to remove the small Power\Reset & Eject button circuit board. This board is attached to a small metal bracket. Remove the 4 screws holding the board and the metal bracket and unplug the small ribbon cable (a flip top!). The board should now easily lift out.

It’s time to remove the motherboard! To get it out, remove the screws circled in red in the pic below:

Once you’ve removed the screws, gently lift out the whole motherboard along with the back panel like I’ve shown below. Start from the back, where the vents are, and lift towards the front (away from you if the rear of the console is facing you). Make sure you have taken out the plastic HDD cover with the HDD sticker on it! Otherwise the clips on it will get bent!!

Make sure to support the whole assembly, as the heatsink system is darn heavy, you don’t want to drop anything. I had a friend dropped his board assembly back onto the base, damaging it, because he was only holding it with two fingers!

After the bottom of the PS3 case is out of the way, you can admire the huge monster cooling system on the bottom of the motherboard.

After you’re done marvelling at the hugeness of the fan, remove the plastic back panel. The are 4 small plastic clips (2 on either side of the motherboard) that you need to lift to take off the back panel. then, unscrew the fan screws, unplug its cable, and remove the huge mammoth fan:

Check out the size of the fan! (It looks a lot bigger in real life.) The first time I stripped a PS3, I realized a flaw that most fanboys seem to miss. The fan seems more like a cheap laptop fan with sleeve bearings, rather than the quality rifle bearing fans with tough plastic frame in the 360. Take a look, it looks cheap:

Anyway, back to the article. Flip the motherboard back over. Unscrew the 4 screws (circled in red) holding the 2 metal heatsink support brackets down. Once these screws are undone, take off the brackets:

It will now look like this, ready for the heatsinks to come off, so be careful moving it:

After that, flip the motherboard over again. Now gently pull up on the heat sink. Be gentle here. The cooling system will lift up off the CPU and GPU and come off completely. A bit of force will be required here as the heat sink will be stuck down to the CPU and GPU with white thermal paste, which has possibly cured and hardened.

Here again, my keen engineer eyes noticed a flaw. Look how close together the fins of the heatsink are. The fan has to PUSH the hot air through the tiny gaps. The 360’s fans PULL the heat AWAY from the heatsink, not push through it. It’s alright blaming solder and the CPU die size for the heat, but it’s the efficiency and quality of the heat transport system that matters too. In the case of the 360, it was more the solder and die size that causes RRoD failures, but the PS3 in my eyes has this poor cooling too as well as the same die size and solder issue as the 360. Sony seem to have made it huge with a huge (cheap) single fan to compensate, but after a while of use, the failures start.

Anyway, convection lesson aside, on the bottom of the heat sink and on the CPU and GPU will be white thermal paste. This is used to help transfer heat from the chip to the heat sink. Do not touch or eat this stuff! You MUST clean it off and replace it! Do not listen to enthusiasts claiming you don’t. Once old bonded paste has its bond broken, it becomes useless, and will not cure or bond again, resulting in inefficent cooling, and another YLOD…. I recommend Artic Silver, silver based paste is the best, but don’t put too much on, as it can be capacitive, resulting in shorts of components if it gets near them.

After you get the heat sink off, you can lift up the metal heat transfer shielding. Be very gentle with this as it is very thin and bending it could possibly cause the shielding to short out something on the motherboard when the PS3 is reassembled.

Now flip the motherboard over again, and remove the metal shielding on the other side and you will
now see the naked motherboard:

Top Side:

Bottom Side:

That’s it! We’re done with disassembly! To re-assemble, just follow my tutorial in reverse, making sure you plug in all cables fully (ribbon cables are finicky, if inserted slanted, can cause short circuits), and be very very careful with the heat transfer shields so that you don’t bend them and short out or crush something.

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