“Yellow Light of Death” Repair Kit

January 24, 2011 Hardware, Site News — Brett

Remember the feeling of starting your favorite video game console for the first time? Yeah, that was a pretty great feeling. Now, take the inverse of that, multiply it by ten, and you will understand how it feels when your favorite game console fails on you. And as game consoles get more and more complex, so do their failures. For Sony’s PlayStation 3 lineup, there is no failure more recognizable nor detrimental than the infamous “Yellow Light of Death.”

The famed "Yellow Light of Death"

The PS3’s Yellow Light of Death (YLOD) takes its name from the very brief, yet distinct  flash of yellow light from the status indicator LED, which heralds the console shutting down involuntarily.

Generally, the status indicator LED is green when the console is running, and red when the console is in stand-by. However, in a console with the YLOD, the status indicator starts green, switches briefly to yellow, and then quickly switches to flashing red. This is accompanied by three loud beeps and the console shutting down. It often occurs right at power up, rendering the console useless.

Usually either the power supply or the motherboard is the culprit responsible for the YLOD; however, it is far more common for PS3s to YLOD due to motherboard failure. To get a solid grasp of how to tell the two apart, check out iFixit’s PlayStation 3 Troubleshooting guide.

The main cause of motherboard failure is overheating; if the motherboard is not properly ventilated, or if the cooling system is not working properly, excess heat builds up inside the processors. This overheating causes the solder joints between the motherboard and the processors to either crack or melt, which, as you may guess, severely hampers the PS3’s ability to operate.

Reflowing the solder can revive a YLODed PS3

The Yellow Light of Death is not necessarily the end of the road for your beloved PS3. Whether it’s the power supply or the motherboard that failed, we can help you resuscitate your lifeless PlayStation 3. A faulty power supply can be remedied by simply replacing the old power supply with a new one. In comparison, repairing the motherboard is a slightly more involved process.

To repair the connection between the motherboard and the processors, the joints must be re-soldered. The trick is to use a heat gun to melt the already existing solder back into place. By simply “reflowing” the solder under each chip, you’ll reconnect the contact points and the motherboard should once again function properly.

The Contents of iFixit’s “Yellow Light of Death” Repair Kit

Our YLOD Fix Kit contains everything you need to repair the YLOD on your PS3:

  • A heat gun for solder re-flow
  • Fresh thermal paste to replace the factory thermal paste
  • Thermal paste spreader card to help you evenly distribute the thermal paste
  • Fresh thermal pads to replace the old PS3 pads.
  • All the tools needed to perform the repair (a 26-piece bit driver kit, a spudger, and a T10 Security Torx screwdriver).

You can purchase the kit right now from our store. Just make sure to follow the YLOD Fix Kit repair guide to properly mend your PS3!


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  3. You would think that ALL the overheating problems that have plagued the PS in the past, especially the small PS2s, overheating would be less common. Its neat that you can fix both the power supply and motherboard though, amazing how such a, relatively, easy fix can save so much money!

    Comment by Victor — January 26, 2011 @ 8:36 am

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  6. You suggest taking the feeling you had at the first launch, inverting and multiplying by ten – this yields one- tenth the original feeling. I can only assume that your intent was to magnify how awful the feeling is. The operations I would suggest are similar except you would multiply by ten then invert. That has the effect of yielding a value 100 times smaller than your (arbitrary) pleasure factor. Just my two cents.

    Comment by DamnItsHot — February 4, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

  7. Umm… there are more unsuccessful YLOD heat gun repairs than successful ones. We have had success doing the baking method instead. Keeps everything flat and even, just like in the factory production to begin with, you just need better quality paste.

    Any YLOD of death fix is generally not a long term fix, as it usually only gives you 3-4 months of heavy duty gaming again before you have to do it again, or get another PS3. If you replace the fan with a better one (assuming you have the original version fan), you may lengthen that time frame.

    But that’s just my two cents. ;)

    Comment by MeMyselfandI — February 13, 2011 @ 11:18 pm

  8. I find this article interesting as my previous job was Senior Laptop Engineer and Console Engineer.

    I used to use a BGA machine to reflow the PS3 GPU and 9 times out of 10 it worked successfully.

    The return rate of those which worked initially was about 60-70% so there is a change once its repaired that it may do the same again.

    One thing really really important was to put some solder flux (we used a watery based flux which could be squirted under the GPU and covering the pins).

    Good luck!

    Comment by honglong1976 — February 17, 2011 @ 9:10 am


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