Hardware PS3 Launch 60GB Modding

DemiseScythe

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So I turns out I have an launch PS3 model CECHA01 from 2006 and it still works. It survived dust, time, flights, xray machines... you name it but I am afraid that after 14 years I might lose it. Value wise I'd say it is worth at least $500 to me, after all it has very special features so investing a little bit to keep it going might be worth it. We all know the PS3 will eventually fry itself and get YLOD. Fat models, specially the original ones with big dyes and inefficient PSUs are more prone to failure. At the moment, I can play on it for 5+ hours without it turning off, I've never seen a temperature error and the worst is a lightly loud fan when playing and hairdryer warm air blowing out the top since I keep it vertical.

At start, the air blowing out is cool and temps are 45C CPU and 38C RSX(GPU), they slowly climb a degree at a time while on the menu, in like 5 minutes of not doing anything, I am up to 60C CPU and 50C RSX, air blowing out is no longer cool, it feels neutral. This is all in a 71F controlled room. After loading a NFS game and doing a couple of 5 minute races, I am looking at 74C CPU and 58C RSX, air is a bit warm. If I were to play for 3+ hours, I'd be getting heat vent temp air and probably 85-90 CPU and 80ish RSX and I find that unacceptable for such a wonderful little computer.

The goal is to keep the PS3 alive and cool under load even if I have to cannibalize it a bit or spend my entire 1650 Super budget on it.

iFixit tear down of PS3 for reference: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/PlayStation+3+Teardown/1260
ATX PSU Mod: https://quade.co/2017/ps3-pc-power-supply/
Banana Connectors https://www.ebay.com/itm/4-AMASS-XT...590955?hash=item58dd38856b:g:WW8AAOSwM4xXbnRK

The plan is to open it up and do as follows:

Clean all the dust from the inside

This is free, should have all the tools necessary, possible R&D cost (see below) to avoid breaking something.

Replace the 15 blade fan with a 19 blade version [Fan upgrade]
I might already have a 19 blade fan, my PS3 might be Japanese before they moved production to China, can't seem to find new/clean 19 blade fans, see lots of 15-17 on Ebay so unless I can find and need, won't spend $15-20 upgrading it. I'll just clean it and keep the original that probably has way less wear than anything on ebay.

Replace the 14 year old Factory thermal compound with MX-4 thermal compound on the CPU and RSX [Thermal upgrade]
This seems to be the best upgrade I can do to control temps but also the most risky upgrade as there is a risk of cracking the dyes when wiping or taking it apart. I am considering blowing $30-50 dollars on a broken PS3 on ebay to practice on. Problem is that most of those have probably already been taken apart so I won't get the same resistance when removing the motherboard from the metal plates. If I get a unit that hasn't been messed with and has the same guts, I can use the guts of the other system to finish the case mod. Spending close to $100 at Gamestop on a working PS3 just to possibly kill it is a hard sale but then again, my PS3 is irreplaceable to me so it might be worth it and I could flip it and get some money back, i really don't know on this part and would appreciate suggestions. While I am at it, I will replace all the thermal pads with new high performance thermal pads. The pads I can get for about $15 and cut to size, the MX-4 would set me back another $10.

Replace the 14 year old 66.5% efficient Factory 380W PSU with an external ATX 90 Plus Bronze 450W PSU [External PSU mod][ATX PSU mod]
The only thing just as bad as 14 year old thermal paste is a 14 year old PSU that is probably creating as much heat as the CPU creates under load. It's location behind the CPU and RSX doesn't help things. I won't just take it out of the PS3 casing, I will replace it entirely with a Corsair CX450M ($57). I should be able to follow the linked PSU mod with my knowledge and skills. I'll pick up what skills I don't have as I go. Before I throw out the original PSU (380W), I'll cannibalizing it for the cable connector. I plan to use the linked Banana plugs on the PSU prongs instead of soldering directly to them to make the mod removable and safer. I would buy $10 of shrink tubing and if I can't borrow a heat gun, I'd have to buy one off Amazon for $25 which is a shame but I want to do things properly, without electrical tape. Add $20 for a soldering kit and a little extra if I want real solder and not what is included.

Here is where I start to throw money at the problem

Replace the 600GB HDD with a 500GB SATA Evo 860 or similar SSD [Storage upgrade]
That hard drive is at least 9 years old and after spending so much time in that oven, it should be close to dead. It's gotten it's fair share of disk usage over the years so I think it is fair to replace it with an SSD. Even if I lose some capacity, the speed boost is definitely welcome. With games, it would be mostly reads, not so many writes besides game installs. I can get a 500gb 860 Evo for $80 or pony up $107 for 1TB 860 QVO if they are as good as the EVOs. It should run cooler than the HDD, I can also get a SATA/power combo extension cable ($10) and take the SSD out of the HDD cage completely. Keep it somewhere cool.

Jam the PS3 into a mid ATX PC case [Case mod]
I already have PC towers behind my TVs (Monitors) and you must keep the PS3 in open space to keep it from frying itself so one more PC case won't hurt if it can keep it cooler than inside the original shell. The motherboard must be assembled with both metal plates as they allow me to install the heat sink, radiator and fan. The plates also function as thermal masses that absorb heat from the ICs through the thermal pads they are in contact with it, I need the bluray drive so for better or for worse, I am stuck with everything besides the PSU. The PS3 Fat 60GB has the most hardware, it is also the heaviest at 11 lbs. Even removing the PSU weight, it might be too much to comfortably hang after I drill my own mounting holes. The fan would also be in the back so it can't go flush with the case wall. It needs to rest on the bottom and it must stand on it's own. My solution is to cut everything besides the bottom 1-2 inches of the outer shell, just high enough so I can screw it on and stand it on this section of black casing. The back black cover would be gone exposing the metal fins and the only black casing left would be in the front where the power button is and the base so it can stand on it's own. The part that has the USB ports must be cut for maximum airflow. My go to case for years was the Corsair Spec-02 but it appears it has been discontinued. I can drive two hours to microcenter and get the Spec-02 Redshift for $68 but since the PSU would be on the bottom, I can't really sit the PS3 in there. I need a case that fits ATX size motherboards (PS3 is 12.8 x 11.5 inches) with a PSU shroud or top-mounted PSU so the PSU is not on the way, lots of air filters for intakes and exhausts, preferably exhausts at the top of the case for fans, preferably meshed front with room for 2 fans instead of pretty but relatively useless glass front panels, it must have 2 5-inch expansion bays since it looks like I need at least a fan controller for the 6-8 fans and a USB hub that I can pass through the internal USB ports individually for easy access. I can turn on the PSU with this PC remote starter thing I bought a few years ago, I'll just leave it on the 24 pin cable and use the remote. The controllers can turn on the actual system and they can also turn it off, I do need to go into the case for the bluray drive so metal sides instead of glass would be preferable. After I stand the PS3 inside the case, I will drill holes on the case wall and anchor to the main metal plate holes using 40-60mm standoffs and screws. Just to keep the PS3 from tipping over, the spare system would help for this part. So far the lead belongs to the Corsair 88R ($60). It might fit the PS3 on top of the PSU and HDD cage but it might be too short especially with top mounted fans and with only one bay so I would have to use an internal fan controller. I like the airflow of it though: https://puu.sh/F6T6O.png

https://www.corsair.com/us/en/Categories/Products/Cases/Carbide-Series™-88R-MicroATX-Mid-Tower-Case/p/CC-9011086-WW

Ideally I want to try to find a case that is similar to the Spec 02 in features: Large enough to fit PS3 (ATX compatible) but mid-case instead of full-case, mesh front, top, bottom, lots of fans, 2 expansion bays

https://www.corsair.com/us/en/Categories/Products/Cases/Carbide-Series™-SPEC-02-Red-LED-Mid-Tower-Gaming-Case/p/CC-9011051-WW

I almost want to go grab another Spec 02, remove the HDD Cage and stick the PS3 right in front of two strong filtered intake fans with the PSU behind it, the PSU would be isolated and exhaust out the back. I just can't find comparable cases. Newegg had some nice designs with shrouds and 2 bays for less than $40 but off the reviews, the quality just isn't there. I don't want to spend $150-200 on a PC case for this either but around $75-85 seems appropriate. Just by standing the PS3 next to my PC's Spec-02 I can see that I can only use the top 5inch bay and I would need to control the fans internally.

Right now I would to hear suggestions/advice in regards to the mod/upgrades.
I need to decide if I want to spend $30-50 on a broken parts PS3 that might or might not help me.
Buy a "working" one from Gamestop, try not to break it, probe it and flip it instead of a parts system.
Any suggestions on cases that work for the project and beat the 2 hr away microcenter in-store only Spec 02

I need to decide if it is worth to try and link the case fan speed to the CPU temperature so it's automatic like on modern computers with PWM fans. Modders usually don't attempt this since it seems the Fan only kicks up after the CPU overheats but I should be able to tweak it to max out earlier. The tricky part here is turning the voltage given off by the PS3, range of 3.3V to 0.6V where 3.3V is 100% speed and 0.6V is the minimum to keep the PS3 from easybaking itself. I would have to turn the voltage gradient into equivalent duty cycles and connect the resulting PWM control signal into something like a DEEPCOOL FH-10 by using a 555 Timer IC in Astable mode.

Once I get through the planning stage, I can order everything I need and get to work. I'll add pictures as I go. I don't want to take the PS3 apart until I have everything because I want to be able to use it. In the meantime, I'll open up my DS3 and try to figure out why it is inputting random actions when turned on, my DS4 doesn't let me use the PS button yet which is kind of annoying.
 

jDSX

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I love LOVE reading projects like this and of the PS3 all the info and detail is what I like reading about. Thanks for sharing please keep us informed and add pictures if you can it would help :) Overall this is really cool
 

VyperS_702

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First thing I noticed is SSDs. The PS3 is SATA2 not SATA3, so you won’t get the full speed boost from the SSD. It is definitely faster, but not insanely fast. Secondly, the NAND flash for the SSD should be MLC not TLC. MLC is going to cost more than the TLC drives but they last twice as long (8k to 10k write cycles vs 3k to 5k for TLC). MLC SSDs are for gaming, TLC is for laptops. Don’t waste your time with SSHDs they’re crap.

Not all fats are the same inside. The only one comparable to the CECHA01 is the CECHE01, with the differences of the motherboard. The B01, while functionally identical to the A01 minus WiFi does have less parts (no card reader, WiFi). You can’t take parts from a G01 and put them in the A01.

Replacing the thermal paste is probably the most important thing you can do (besides cleaning the heat sink). I like Arctic Silver 5, you just have to be careful putting it on since it can cause circuits to jump. Personally I use painters tape to protect the board, them spread the dollop evenly for better coverage.

Replacing the power supply and fan is doable, but you have to check the part numbers to make sure they are interchangeable (I don’t know which ones are off the top of my head). You can also just clean them real well. I’ve found some pretty big dust bunnies inside power supplies and they ran much cooler after cleaning.

Your console should never have a CPU or GPU running over 80. That’s the danger zone. Even prolonged usage in the 70s is rough on them. Get it down to the 60s to keep it safe. Replacing the thermal paste helps a lot.

Finally, while you value the console at $500, the market price for a similar model is $150-300.
 

DemiseScythe

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The PS3 mod is now complete. Everything works correctly, I lost access to one of the 4 USB ports which I can get back with a right angle USB extension but it is not a big deal, both front panel USB ports work as expected. I can try weighing the whole thing when moving it to its final place. Configuring, updating, and reorganizing the storage is secondary at this time. I wouldn't do a guide as this thing is one of a kind but I can always show what I did it and how it works. I got lots of pictures and can answer a lot of questions. I'll document it properly somewhere else. The original PS3 was my birthday present for 2006. This mod/upgrade was supposed to be my 2020 birthday present and it took 2 birthdays worth of money and almost two years. This is my final update on this thread.
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DemiseScythe

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How are the temps? I assume it's running much cooler now.

CPU is 60C idle and 71C max when playing. I haven't played longer than 30 minutes but I seems 71C is what my PS3 is trying to keep the temperature at. I haven't seen it go above 71C.

RSX is 51C idle and 53-55C when playing.

The CPU doesn't have PSU behind it heating it up anymore. CPU is better at resisting heat so it is okay if it is warmer. so far everything was worth it. I'm only running case fans at about 50%, I can always cool it more.

Air goes in at 26-27C and comes out at 30-31C.
 

godreborn

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anything below 68 is considered really good, especially if you're playing a game. though, a part of that depends on how fast the fans are spinning. you don't want them up really high in most cases. I can sometimes hear the fans of my ps3, but usually only when it's quiet. my 360, on the other hand, with temp thresholds set at 60 is quite noisy after a little while. temps are about in the 50-55C range for both cpu and gpu on that system while idle, and 64C or so for both on the ps3.
 

DemiseScythe

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anything below 68 is considered really good

Even when copying files for hours, CPU stays at 70-71C and mid fan speed. RSX stays around 52C. If neither goes above 75C, that's wonderful. Since you are active in PS3, I got a few questions about how to finish configuring the mod.

I'm on REBUG 4.82 and already got all my QA flags and whatever setup as recommended when I upgraded before. Given that I can't find higher firmware REBUG anymore, at least not from them. Should I try to stay on 4.82 REBUG, find 4.86 REBUG from somewhere or just go to 4.88 Evilnat? I plan to play mostly PS3 and some PS2.

I already tested my wifi and BD drive and it all works so I won't get stuck updating. I'm set to CEX right now, idk if I should disable anything before upgrading. My current 640GB drive has very old files, many which might be junk/unnecessary. I got a 1TB WD black internal in the case ready to format. Given that I don't care about online play (is it even safe?), but would like trophies (if possible), max compatibility (with late PS3 games), maybe downloads/store (at the very least re-activate my PS3 since I removed PRAM). I saw a PS3UPDATE.PUP file somewhere in one of my USB sticks, it is probably 4.82 which I would need to swap drives. I'd love to checksum it to make sure but idk where to get the corresponding sum anymore.

I plan to play only ISOs from NTFS external if possible. Already converted my folder games to ISOs but since I cannot write to NTFS, I'd have to find Irisman or painfully transfer them out with FTP (heard Ethernet FTP is faster?). Then copy them to the external drive. I usually use Multiman although the version I have (Webman?) has a switch back to Multiman option which I need to do to read NTFS. It's been so long since I kept up with this stuff.

Which firmware do you recommend I use for my use case considering I'm fully backwards compatible? Do I swap drives, reinstall current CFW and then update or update, then swap drives and reinstall new CFW? Backup+Restore? Is there anything worth keeping/moving to the new system/drive besides keeping a full system backup for my PC which I guess I shouldn't restore from? I got a lot of DLC but idk if it is linked to my PS3 User or my PSN Account? If I move my ISOs to the new drive or external, will my PS3 complain it is not the User that saved them?

Update:

I was freaking out because my USB external wasn't being found but it turns out I never plugged it in, it was a pain to plug it thru small gap but it works, only Irisman reads it, Multiman doesn't but that's just the file manager part. I tried the FTP route but 1-2 MB/s was ridiculous. Irisman can copy the ISO to directly to the external which is great. It does about 10 MB/s which is perfectly fine. REBUG has a way to clone the PS3 disk to an external one using "Debug for HDD Exchange Utility", then I just connect to the new HDD and update if I want. A lot of homebrew just refuses to launch on my PS3 to maybe newer CFW will help with that.
 
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