The yellow light of death - that's what most people unofficially refer to the light situated in front of the PlayStation 3 console on the extreme right (there are two lights side by side; here, we are referring to the one closest to the edge of the console) which occasionally blinks and is most often accompanied by your precious PS3 playing the truant while starting up or freezing mid game.
In these cases, it is not uncommon for the console to elicit 2-3 beeping sounds as well. So why does this happen? What causes this excellently smooth gaming console to experience these performance hiccups? Well, let's take a look at what causes the YLOD situation before we move on to disclosing a PS3 YLOD permanent fix.
PS3 YLOD - Who's the Culprit?
So why does the PS3 freeze mid-game or while attempting to start up? Why does it sometimes refuse to start altogether? What's the meaning of that accompanying yellow light and those beeps? Well, the answer is simple - overheating of the hardware. When the hardware gets overheated, the various components get detached, leading to startup failure or making way for the abrupt freezing. Being such a powerful piece of entertainment technology with tremendous number crunching rate and capability, the PS3 is prone to get overheated if it is run for hours on an end, be it for playing games or watching movies.
The solders that attach the CPU/GPU to the motherboard get distorted due to this high intensity heat and this often does the mischief with the components' attachments, leading to a temporary disruption in the internal hardware wiring and connections. When the solder melts due to the excessive heat, the electric circuit become incomplete as the CPU/GPU get detached from the motherboard, leaving your hardware in a hung state and playing tricks while startup. If you're wondering why the console would overheat during startup itself, the most probable reason is that there wasn't a sufficient time gap between the last switch off and the startup.
Fixing the PS3 YLOD problem
Coming back to the PS3 YLOD permanent fix part, since you are now aware of the root cause of the PS3 YLOD problem, it should be easy to embark upon the repairing process. Since, the mischief is caused by heat, logic says that the fix lies in allowing the hardware to cool down sufficiently. Here's the tech specs on how to go about it.
- Switch off and unplug the PS3 console completely;
- Using the smallest screwdriver from your toolkit, open up the console so that you get a clear overview of the inner components;
- Now, using a soldering gun, very carefully apply slight heat to the solder connections so that they soften and direct the heat appropriately along the solder connection lines so that they resume their original layout;
- Keep the console in this open state till the reset solder connections are cooled down;
- Apply thermal grease to the GPU to increase and improve the conductivity of heat;
- Using a soft cloth, clean the insides using a delicate hand and very little pressure to do away with any sort of dust that may have accumulate while the console was kept open;
- Reassemble and screw back the console cover.
Allow the console to remain switched off and unplugged for about a couple of hours after fixing it thus to allow for better cooling down and resetting of the solder connections attaching the CPU, GPU and motherboard the way they originally were. For PS3 owners who are not so hardware tech savvy, I would suggest that you refer to a pictorial PS3 repair guide or download a step-by-step PS3 repair guide video and follow the graphic instructions provided therein to avoid messing up your console.
In case you don't have experience using a toolkit or feel hesitant about your mechanical capabilities, it is best not to take a chance and contact Sony or get a professional repair person to fix the issue for you. After all, spending around 150 bucks for repair is way better than messing up this expensive and amazing entertainment utility for free!