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The Yellow Light Of Death (Playstation 3)

John McLaggan
Features, PS3

It's no secret that the Xbox 360 has had a dismal failure rate, with the fabled "red ring of death." The current estimates point to over 50% of Xbox 360s having been afffected this issue and it eventually forced Microsoft to extend the warranty to three years for this problem. Recently, BBC1's Watchdog presented a PS3 article highlighting the 'yellow light of death,' prompting Sony to respond even before the program was aired. Is the PS3 destined for a similar level of failure as the Xbox 360?The Yellow Light Of Death (Playstation 3)

What causes a yellow light error on the PS3?

The yellow light on on the PS3 indicates simply that something has gone wrong with the hardware and is not specific to any particular fault.

If the PS3 is terminal and won't boot up after a couple of hours, it might be likely to be a fault with the solder points between the PS3 mainboard and either the Cell processor or the RSX graphics card. The BGA (Ball Grid Area) packaging used by the PS3 parts is more vulnerable to breaking under thermal stress, although it's a minor disadvantage as BGA technology is in widespread use with low failure rates.

Is there is a design flaw with the PS3?

The Yellow Light Of Death (Playstation 3)

Sony are currently claiming 12,500 PS3s have been affected by this issue, which when measured against the total number of PS3s sold, is a low failure rate.

Currently, the original 60GB model appears to be more commonly affected than later models although the later versions can also suffer this type of failure. When Sony removed backwards compatibility and some other features to produce the 40GB PS3, they also changed to a new version of the processor (a 65nm version of the Cell, the original uses a 90nm Cell). This version uses less power and generates less heat, which should reduce the chance of this type of problem.

Similarly, the new PS3 slim uses a newer 45nm version of the Cell which again lowers power and heat allowing the console to use a smaller cooling system without increasing the possibility of overheating. Currently the two 60GB models here are both working fine despite one of them running noticeably hotter than the other. Based on unscientific anecdotal evidence, a failed blu-ray drive appears to be a more common cause of failure.

How can the problem be fixed?The Yellow Light Of Death (Playstation 3)

It is possible to repair the fault in a similar manner as shown on Watchdog by disassembling the PS3 and using a heatgun to reflow the solder points. There are online guides for this type of thing, for example here on youtube. This is only a temporary repair though and it's likely after applying this fix the problem will occur again, within a few months.

Sony are currently charging £128 for the repair, claiming that unlike third party repair services they are repairing the fault and not simply heating up the two processors. However, they are only offering three months warranty on the repair.

Some people have reported success with Sony repairing "out of warranty" consoles for free, but there's no sign of a similar service for the RRoD fix from Microsoft. Given that the original PS3 was the most expensive and bought by many of the most loyal fans, it looks much better for Sony to repair these consoles out of warranty for free.

It's worth bearing in mind that Sony do offer excellent back up tools on the PS3 allowing the entire console to be backed up, or individual items to a standard FAT32 formatted USB drive. Putting this specific fault aside, it's never a good idea to rely on a hard drive for all those precious saves and any other data being kept on the hard drive. To back up the entire PS3 hard drive, browse to System->Settings->Backup Utility and then Backup choosing where you want to back up the data. Alternatively if you only want to back up certain files such as game saves then browse to the game tab, choose game saves, press triangle and choose the copy option to back the game save up to an external device, the same procedure can be carried out for most of the data stored on the PS3.

Update: Watchdog have given this issue a brief mention on tonight's show (25th September) mentioning the high cost of a Sony refurbishment again , an additional 400 complaints they've received from viewers who have had this type of failure and a brief mention of the limited legal options as currently the cause of the failure has not been demonstrated to be an inherent fault with the design. Despite also referring back to the successful repairs made to viewer's PS3s, no mention was made that the repair was almost as expensive as the Sony option and was only temporary.

The Yellow Light Of Death (Playstation 3)

Add a comment41 comments
cotty  Sep. 19, 2009 at 15:48

but here in the uk, sony provide u a refurbished 1 for exchange to ur broken 1.

Ylod  Sep. 19, 2009 at 16:14

If your PS3 is over a year they don't give you anything in the UK you have to pay for it just like everywhere else. £125

Look Here -


fuck microsoft  Sep. 19, 2009 at 16:22

How much money does microsoft pay you bitch!!!
This article and BBC channel suck!!!!

Darkie  Sep. 19, 2009 at 16:25

Sony should be making these repairs free of charge, these are issues that are design flaws, these issues are not the fault of the consumer. Come on Sony, take a lesson from MS on this one and extend the warranty.

This article should be calling for a warranty extension, instead of downplaying the severity of this issue by saying things like this "Some people have reported success with Sony repairing “out of warranty” consoles for free, but there’s no sign of a similar service for the RRoD fix from Microsoft." Consumers should not have to get repairs out of warranty, Sony should just extend it.

bollix'd cechc03  Sep. 19, 2009 at 16:45

They offered me a refurb of the same model I had for £145 odds with 3 months warranty.
There's no way I would want the same bloody model number again for £145 and crap warranty when I could sell this busted 60GB for about 60 70+ quid on ebay and stick that to a brand spanking new one. :~/

John McLaggan  Sep. 19, 2009 at 16:58

I don't receive money from Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo (quite the opposite sadly) - I thought the Watchdog article was poorly presented as the information given was misleading particularly in regards to repairs. Hence I wrote the article to attempt to clarify the current situation more in defence of the PS3 as currently at least I don't think this issue is that widespread nor going to be nor is it the main cause of failure with PS3's.

There is no downplaying of severity either, I think the issue extends beyond the PS3 and consoles in general in terms of what is an acceptable length of the time for a part to last. Many other high end parts in all different areas outwith consoles can have a similar failure rate outside of warranty but there's no calls for warranties to be extended automatically for them either. In the PC world this type of issue affects graphics cards particularly but again aside from a manufacturing defect which forced Nvidia to extend the warranty on particular ranges of their graphics cards there is no call for warranties to be extended there either. This is where the Sale of Goods Act should come in and is certainly the approach I'd be taking if my PS3 develops this issue although that can be a long drawn out process.

gameplayer  Sep. 19, 2009 at 17:34

You say Sony offer tools for backing up data.

How can I get these? :)

TeRRoRoFdEaTh  Sep. 19, 2009 at 17:43

Yellow Light of Death... at least its not red.

hjjn  Sep. 19, 2009 at 18:26

lol those pics.
sony should replace the ps3 for free, as it cost 425£ when it came out. or cheaper.
but anyway the new ps3's are reliable and the only probs ive heard of are disk drives not working.
all i say is keep it well ventilated, dont play too long, and dont kill it! its a good machine, and as long as you dont play it excessivly, it probably wont die.

well i did that with my xbox elite, which got E74-lasted 7 months. all good condition, then brakes, eh thats microsoft for you.

Dave  Sep. 19, 2009 at 18:45

You may want to add to your article, anyone who has a broken product, they can take it back to the retailer they bought out of warranty for up to Six years under EU legislation in England and Wales in the UK, it's 2 years minimum.

If you want the actual information it's EU directive 1999/44/EC you can read about it here http://ec.europa.eu/publications/booklets/move/64/index_en.htm anyone paying £128 quid is silly to, when consumer protection would prevent that. This covers anything you buy in Europe.

It will cover your console be it PS3 or Xbox 360.

Tom  Sep. 19, 2009 at 19:42

What I want to know is when you send you broken 60GB in for repair and get a refurb, is there anything different about the refurb that will keep the same thing from happening again?

wibble  Sep. 19, 2009 at 20:05

I just don't get this. So your piffling single year warranty has expired, and then a couple of months later your machine goes belly up? Ummmm, tough luck Sony, you're going to have to repair it anyway. Haven't any of you people noticed that the consumers rights dont necessarily end after 365 days? If you can show that the fault was there at manufacture, and the sheer number of failed units goes a fair way to demonstrating that, you can still demand a fix a couple of years later. No joy from Sony? That's what the County Courts are for! Modest outlay, no risk of any more to pay, and Sony wouldn't dream of letting it get into court for fear of losing - expect a 'goodwill' replacement the day before you're due in court, probably with a gagging order attatched. Robert's yer mother's brother...

WhatArePeopleSmoking  Sep. 19, 2009 at 20:27

1 year warranty is standard. It is legally impossible to get a company to cover a hardwar issues after the advertised 1 year.

The 360 has a 54.2% failure rate, that is a factual figure and still rising. They had a hardware defect that was the cause of their problems and so they HAD to icnrease the warranty to 3 years.

The PS3 on the other hand does not have such a problem, and these issues are not present across all 60GB PS3s. We have 50 of them running non-stop at work, none of them have ever had a problem.

Hardware failure exists in every product, even the Wii which features extremely old technology and should be easy practice. Sony is well under the standard failure rate of an electronic product, and they have no reason to fix the few consoles some people have had fail.

Part of the problem is that people decide to repair their consoles outside of Sony, even within the one year free period. These consoles will fail again because they were never fixed properly. Even BBC inadvertently let it be known that these repair centres see the same customers return many times. Don't let crackpots fix your electronic product.

loyal fan  Sep. 19, 2009 at 20:28

bullshit sony france refused to repair my jap YLOD ps3 and told me to buy a new one.

fernando H Weber  Sep. 19, 2009 at 21:26

there should be a 4th square in that comic, of them both crying

fernando H Weber  Sep. 19, 2009 at 21:28

sony Ecuador refused to fix or even touch my launch ps3 with ylod I even offered money and they refused I might sell all pieces online to get some money I can sell the thing alone

Gunn  Sep. 19, 2009 at 21:46

That Watchdog show was a joke, trying to compare PS3 issues to that of the Xbox was laughable. It's clear that if the PS3 was anywhere near as bad as the Xbox we'd all have known about it before Watchdog!

Posters above, what does the price of the ps3 have to do with it getting repaired for free??! Do you expect your £1000 plasma TV to be repaired for free once its out of warranty just because it cost you a lot. If you were so worried about it failing buy an extended warranty!

wibble  Sep. 19, 2009 at 22:04

Sony France and Sony Ecuador? Where the fuck is Ecuador? Get a grip, eh?
Right, now we're back in the real world, for the avoidance of any doubt, I'm referring to UK law - specifically the Sale of Goods Act.

If a product breaks down outside its guarantee period, you may think that you don't have any rights. But, depending on the product and its fault, you may have the right to compensation from the store where you bought it. Staff at most electrical shops we visited, though, would have you believe otherwise - that either the manufacturer is responsible or that you have to pay for a repair.

Under the Sale of Goods Act, retailers are responsible for faulty goods (that are not 'of satisfactory quality') for up to six years after you bought them. In Scotland the period is five years after something goes wrong. 'Satisfactory quality' covers various aspects that could be wrong with the goods, including whether they've lasted as long as you could reasonably expect. A 'reasonable' lifetime for different products is not defined in law and would ultimately be for a court to decide. But, for example, you might reasonably expect a £600 television to last longer than 18 months, but you wouldn't necessarily expect compensation if a £20 kettle broke down in this period.

Oh, but that's all bullshit, right? Okay, try this:
"If a store refuses to take responsibility for a faulty product, currently the only way to seek redress is through legal action, which involves proving the goods are faulty. And this is exactly what Which? reader Brenda Robertshaw did when electrical giant Currys refused to fix her £400 washing machine free of charge, when it broke down after only 18 months and ruined some clothes (see 'Currys taken to the cleaners', Which?, October 1999, p4). Brenda won the cost of repairs, compensation and expenses, totalling £190. The judge ruled that it was reasonable to expect a £400 washing machine to last longer than 18 months. "

Now, any more questions as to whether Sony would pay up rather than take a risk? No, thought not...

wibble  Sep. 19, 2009 at 22:06

"1 year warranty is standard. It is legally impossible to get a company to cover a hardwar issues after the advertised 1 year."

I *love* your screen name. It's a great question - what *are* you smoking to type such utter bollocks as that? LMFAO!

OFI  Sep. 19, 2009 at 23:28

wibble: Try putting any of that into practice and get back to us.

People on blogs and forums misunderstand and misquotes the SOG act all day long on the internet.

The six year period you mentioned for instance, based on a lose precedent set some years ago by a single judge on an electronic item is it not? (as the rest of your para says actually)

If it really was that simple a company such as Microsoft who even admit the design flaws openly would have been sued several years ago. AFAIK not a single one of the class action suits brought against them have come to anything regardless of them extending the 3 year warranty.

jim  Sep. 19, 2009 at 23:39

my launch day console cost me 250 euros for sony to repair earlier this year .620 euro to buy 250 to fix one expensive ps3 i have

wibble  Sep. 20, 2009 at 00:24

OFI: Yeah, okay, I'll give you that - it *was* a 'loose precedent'. BUT, it wasn't set on the case of the washing machine - it happened prior to that, and Mrs Robertshaw was simply following along on its coat tails. AFAIK, it's not been tested since, and I think there's a reason for that. The county courts, using the small claims procedure, usually will not consider an award for costs on either side. I say usually - there are precedents for that too, but vanishingly rare, and as long as you're not taking the piss your potential losses are limited to the cost of bringing the action. So, your potential loss = £30 or so. Now, lets look at your opponent, be it Sony, Dixons, British Gas, whoever. What's *their* risk? You can forget thirty sodding quid... They're gonna send a legal team, who have invested dozens or even hundreds of hours beforehand. Cost of that? Let's be conservative - say ten grand. Then they've got the people behind you, with their own faulty x-box or microwave or whatever. All sitting waiting with their own claims ready to follow along behind. Finally, there's the press. Wanna take a guess how much coverage the gutter press would give to a judgement against one of the biggies? So, what's their total risk? Who knows, but its in the order of several thousands of times your claim value. I reckon, then, that the reason there are few cases awarded against Sony et al is that Sony et al decide its far far better for them to simply pay up with a scowl on their face. And yes, I fully take on board what you say about urban myths and misunderstandings online, but its not rocket science to do the maths behind that and work out which is the best one for the company involved, is it?
Finally, we don't have class action suits here in the UK, so I'm guessing your references to Microsoft are/were being fought in the States. Different rules apply there, so its not relevant to what I've said above.

Dave  Sep. 20, 2009 at 02:09

OFI, the EU directive states the minimum is 2 years, this is separate from the Sales of Goods act 1979 as amended. If your PS3 has broken you can take it back to the "retailer" you got it from and ask for a repair, if they don't wish to, or can't repair then you can ask for a replacement or a refund. Read the EU directive 1999/44/EC http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cons_int/safe_shop/guarantees/index_en.htm

Also google EU law 6 years and you will get a few interesting hits, at how people got their products replaced in the press/media using the EU directive. Your Local Citizens Advice and Trading Standards office will also inform you about it. They told me about it, just a lot of retailers hide it from you.

I'm going through a process at the moment to get a Sony Vaio Laptop repaired, because I bought that through PC world and it's out of warranty, I had to go through them, check your consumer law mate.

Watchdog was fair  Sep. 20, 2009 at 08:33

"John McLaggan"
You may not be paid by Sony or Microsoft but you cetainly come across as a PS3 fanboy..

Watchdog was right just Google the yellow light of death

Anyway I don't have a PS3 and this site has no unbiased news so it's a waste of space for me............

ArcticSilver  Sep. 20, 2009 at 20:09

"Currently, only the original PS3 60GB model appears to suffer from this fault."

This isn't true at all. It seems to be the most commonly affected based on anecdotal evidence, but it affects other models too, as does the other fault that can cause a Playstation 3 to become a brick - the BROD.

I don't believe Sony's failure rate statistics of 0.5% for a minute. Between me and 3 friends we have 4 PS3s. 3 of them have died, an 80GB unit (YLOD) and 2 60GBs (BROD). Maybe we've just been unlucky (there's a 1 in 8,000,000 chance of 3 out of 4 failing according to Sony's stats), but I think Sony are trying to pull the wool over peoples' eyes like they did with the PS2 and the hardware issues that plagued that.


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