After seven long years, the Sony PlayStation finally gets a 4 on the box. Join the iFixit team as they tear it open and see what’s changed – and if it was worth the wait. Working in partnership with their pals at Chipworks, they snagged one of the first North American consoles for a tag-team teardown.
STEP 1 (see image 3)
Here at iFixit, we’re stalwart opponents of the black box mentality. What goes on inside consumer electronics should not be an incomprehensible (nor non-repairable) mystery. That being said, we must concede that the PS4 is one darn good-looking black box. Seven years of design innovation bring the PS4 a distinctly more geometric body, an indicator light bar and more subtle logo labelling than last time round. We also find:
● Slot-loading Blu-ray/DVD disc drive
● Two powered USB 3.0 ports
● Some ne print touting the PlayStation’s pals – HDMI, DTS, Dolby and Blu-ray.
STEP 2 (see image 4)
Out comes the 5 400 r/min, 500 GB, SATA II mechanical hard drive, provided by HGST (a Western Digital subsidiary). With just a single screw securing the caddy, replacing this drive is easy-peasy. Not only is this hard drive user-replaceable, but it’s a standard 2.5-inch (aka laptop-sized) SATA drive, meaning you can replace or upgrade your storage with any off-the-shelf drive you like, so long as it meets these standards: no thicker than 9,5 mm and no smaller than 160 GB. Users rejoice!
But this is a bittersweet expansion win; the PS4 will not support external USB storage, drastically limiting the console’s usefulness as a media centre.
STEP 3 (see image 5)
We interrupt this teardown to bring you a special news bulletin: The dreaded anti-repair Empire has issued some propaganda against your rights to disassemble, modify, hack, improve, individualise and do-whatever the-bleep-you-want-because-it’s-your-device. It’s a trap!
This propaganda claims to be green, but we have doubts about just how recyclable this device is. We want you to rise up and revolt! Repair is the future. It is your right. Raise your manifesto high and join the Repair Alliance! And now, back to your regular scheduled programme…
STEP 4 (see image 6)
You haven’t escaped this teardown, yet, power supply. Time to divulge your juicy secrets. Ridding the power supply of its housing reveals just what we expected: big capacitors, none of which gave the flux we were looking for. It looks like this power supply is only moving forward in time (sigh). Now that the power supply has been removed, you can finally clean your fan. Having an internal power supply means that the PS4 will need to keep its cool, making fan cleaning important maintenance.
STEP 5 (see image 7)
The Blu-ray/DVD drive is our next target, held in place by a couple of screws. Unfortunately, the PS4 is not backward-compatible with PS3, PS2 or PS1 games. This drive may spin your old discs, but it won’t play them. Oddly enough, it won’t play music CDs, either, although this appears to be a mere software limitation that Sony plans to fix in a later update.
But who needs an optical drive at all any more, now that we’ve harnessed the power of the cloud? That being the case, Sony plans to launch a game-streaming service in 2014 powered by Gaikai tech, which will let you play PS3 games on a PS4. All the processing will be done ‘in the cloud’ by Sony’s servers, with just the video transmitted to your actual console. That’s all well and good, but let’s get down to what we really care about: can we play Crash Bandicoot?
STEP 6 (see image 8)
At long last, we get to crack open that glorious briefcase of brainpower and withdraw our treasure. Unlike the motherboards we see in ever-slimming handheld devices, the PS4’s motherboard aunts uncluttered, rolling green plains of glass fibre.
STEP 7 (see image 9)
Fields of fresh ICs ripe for the picking!
● SCEI (Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc.) CXD90026G SoC (includes AMD “Jaguar” Cores and AMD Radeon Graphics GPU)
● Samsung K4G41325FC-HC03 4 Gb (512 MB) GDDR5 RAM (total of 8 x 512 MB = 4 GB)
● SCEI CXD90025G Secondary/Low Power Processor for Network Tasks
● Samsung K4B2G1646E-BCK0 2Gb DDR3 SDRAM
● Macronix MX25L25635FMI 256Mb Serial Flash Memory
● Marvell 88EC060-NN82 Ethernet Controller
● SCEI 1327KM44S
STEP 8 (see image 10)
The case is starting to look sparse as we evacuate the EMI shielding. Determined to stay connected, the heat sink clung to the EMI shielding for dear life. It would not come apart. Believe us. We tried. It fought back. Band-aids don’t make for the prettiest of teardown photos, but we wear our repair scars with pride! Our honourable teardown martyr commented: “This EMI shield is great, as in cheese grater.”
STEP 9 (see image 11)
Teardown finally complete, we throw the pieces down on the table in victory. And then neaten up the pile a bit, because our moms are watching. Hi, Mom!
Our thanks to iFixit and Chipworks for allowing us to use this deeply satisfying extract.