Sony PS3 Yellow Light of Death (YLOD)

So the BBC Watchdog TV programme did a piece about PS3s being less than bulletproof. The claim is that half a percent of PS3s fail. And as they sell in the millions this is still a lot of machines. Once your PS3 is more than a year old Sony charge about £120 for fixing it, whereas Microsoft, with their Xbox 360, give a three year warranty. But Microsoft were pretty much forced into this when earlier 360s showed a far higher incidence of Red Ring of Death (RROD) than the half percent we are talking about here.

These game consoles contain a lot of electronics, especially early in their product lives. Later models contain progressively fewer components as the semiconductors are developed. These electronics give out a huge amount of heat and as the consoles are built to a price this can sometimes become a problem. Users make the problem worse by putting their machines in confined or hot places or by unknowingly blocking the ventilation. Heat damage takes two forms. The sheer intensity of it can fry components, then there is the shrinking and expanding of everything as the machine is switched on and off, which is cyclical damage. And which is why some people leave their computers permanently switched on. Another problem is dust build up inside the machine over time, which can prevent the cooling system working.

Whilst for most owners this is pretty much a non story it must be pretty infuriating for those that suffer it. The only real answer is to put more engineering into manufacturing these machines, but then they would become more expensive to buy.


  1. I’ve also read about PS3 owners having problems with the Bluray drive (admittedly early on) and terrible customer support from Sony. The most reliable console of the three? The Wii; however, that doesn’t help if you want to play Resident Evil 5. Even though the 360 has the highest rate of failure, I still prefer it due to its extended window of support, no install time (some notable PS3 titles have to stop and perform an install due to the shortcomings of the Bluray drive), and significantly better online experience (which you pay for, of course). It also doesn’t hurt that several of the titles look and play better on the 360 (of course, this should change in the future).

  2. 360 owner myself and on my second machine (thought I had left it long enough for the more stury revisions to be released), so know how frustrating this can be. Hardware failures havent been such an issue for Sony as M$, although after the PS2 debacle years ago when it was released, you would think they would have upped their after-care policies. The PS3 slim should address all this (as Bruce said, fewer parts, Sony vaunting how much less heat it generates/power consumption etc.) and I cant wait for this time next year it finally drops to that sweet £200 mark.

    I do wonder how console manufacturers can carry on like this, what with the tight-margins they run, especially on the first two years of a consoles life-cycle, and the hope that software sales will cover the cost.

    Imagine if they allowed a third party to make a machine that was cheap to develop for, and was made from stadardised parts. They could then just concentrate on delivering content . . . . . .. Oh no, wait, thats called a “PC” . . . . . . . .Damn you piracy.

  3. When Sony has lost all the money they made on the PS2 system by bringing out and supporting the PS3 throughout it’s fail-years, who cares at this point?

    The PS3 slim is coming out, that too will fail. Gamers are starting to understand that the PS3 is ass…and so are the developers.

    When Japanese companies like Square-Enix start moving to support an American system + the Xbox360 outselling the PS3 in Japan…i think we all have our answer on how well the PS3 is doing.

  4. This BBC episode greatly overstates the problem. But I do agree that the extended warranty for Microsoft Xbox is a great help. In general, the PS3 is still a more silent and reliable machine.

    Xbox outsell PS3 in Japan? Which world you live in? unless you are referring to the week before the release of the PS3 slim when the Japanese gamers are holding back buying the PS3.

    Why are you hating the PS3 so much? Relax, lie back, buy 1 and enjoy the games:)


  5. Terrible customer support with PS2s also, with a huge failure rate.
    SCEA fails in all aspects.

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