PS3 Repairs Part 2 – Disassembly
To expand our coverage of game console repair and maintenance, I’ve put together this guide to help those who want to maintain or need to repair their PS3. Part 1 covered opening the case. This installment will show you step-by-step how to disassemble your PS3 CECHAXX-PXX unit. The model in the pics is the CECHA01.
A general rule of thumb once you are inside the PS3: there are two kinds of screws, coarse-threaded Philips screws designed to fasten the motherboard assembly to the bottom half of the plastic case, and fine-threaded Philips screws that mount the power supply, wireless card, antenna and other parts to their respective metal mounting brackets. In some instances, certain screws go in certain spots and I’ve noted them in the steps below. Otherwise, most of the screws are of the two types noted above. Put the coarse-thread screws into the plastic case and the fine-thread screws into the metal brackets during reassembly. If you’re uncertain, as you take apart the unit place each component in its own area of the workspace and put the associated fasteners with it.
For those having a little trouble getting the top half of the outer shell off, if the PS3 is facing you (Blu-Ray drive on the right), there’s a plastic tab on the right rear of the unit that locks the top portion of the case in place even when no screws are holding it. Depress the tab with your pinkie finger or flat-head screwdriver and you should be able to lift the rear portion of the top half of the case free and swing it up and to the front of the unit. Important note: Some models have a multi-card reader fit into the top half of the case. There’s a ribbon cable connecting the reader to the motherboard. Be sure to check for this before you lift the top portion of the case free to avoid damage to this cable.
Once you have the top of the case removed, you should be looking at something very similar to the pic below. Please note, the order I’ve shown for removal of the components in order to get the unit entirely apart is not the only “right” way to do it, but works well and keeps other parts and cables from getting in your way.
Remove the PS3 wireless card. For models with the multi-card reader, remove the ribbon cable that connected the reader to the board by gently levering up the latch on the ribbon socket in the board, and removing the cable. Next, unlatch and loosen the ribbon cable for the wireless card from the card. Apply gentle pressure to the wireless antenna connector and remove it, moving the wire away from the card assembly. Remove the four screws (way more than enough) holding the wireless card to the mounting bracket, and lift the card up and free of the unit.
Remove the small control board for Power / Reset / BD Eject by pulling gently on the ribbon cable connected to the main board, and loosening the two screws that hold the control board to its mounting bracket.
Remove the Blu-Ray drive by first, disconnecting the power cable from the main board. This will allow you to tilt the drive up further and remove the large ribbon cable. To do this, very gently, using a flat-head screwdriver pry up the latch securing the cable to the main board. These mechanisms, because they are made of thin plastic and are quite wide, break very easily. Once both cables are removed, set the Blu-Ray drive aside and move to the next step.
Disconnect the four or five-pin connector running from the front of the power supply to the main board. Loosen the three or four (depending on model) screws that secure the power supply to its front mounting bracket. Spin the unit so the rear is facing you and disconnect the power supply from the main switch by depressing the tab on the rear connector and pulling it free. With those wires moved aside, loosen the ground screw and lift the screw (with washers) free of the unit. Remove the last two screws holding the power supply to the rear mounting bracket. Wiggle the power supply gently as you pull up; it’s seated on two prongs that feed current into the board – this connection can be tight if the unit has never been opened before but keep working at it until it pops free.
Remove the wireless antenna by loosening the single screw holding it in place, then set it aside.
With all the intervening parts removed, it’s time to go after the motherboard assembly itself. There are a total of nine screws h9olding the board assembly to the bottom half of the case – seven coarse screws and two smaller, fine-thread screws. As noted in the pic below, the two fine screws are located as follows: One about halfway down the left side, and one just to the right of center on the rear side. In addition, there is one long, coarse-thread screw that occupies the space beneath where the power supply was mounted.
Once you have all these screws removed, pick up the PS3 and, supporting the now-loose board assembly with one hand, turn it over so it’s bottom-side-up. You should now be able to wiggle the bottom half of the case and lift it free.
Remove the hard drive by loosening the blue screw that secures it, then pry the wire handle away from the cradle. Slide the drive to the right, then out of the unit and set it aside. Some models have an odd little telescoping bracket that moves the drive to the right as you pull it away from the cage.
Remove the plastic rear port cover by popping the five locking tabs loose and pulling it free from the board assembly. The AC In / Main power switch assembly is loose, so remove it from the rear cover at this time.
With the remaining parts oriented so the fan is facing up, unplug the fan from the motherboard and remove the two tiny screws that fasten the hard drive cage to the motherboard. Don’t forget these – if you fail to remove them, you will break the plastic piece on the board and may bend the hard drive cage as well. Turn the board assembly back over and loosen the two heat sink tension brackets, and remove them. Once you do so, you should be able to lift up on the board and its shields, and the fan assembly will come loose. Set it aside. Turn the board / shields over one more time and notice that at the rear of the assembly, the board heat shields are connected by a simple hinge. There are also a couple of guide pins that serve to align the two sides of the heat shield. You may have to wedge a small flat-head screwdriver in between the shields to get them to clear the guide pins, but do not push the screwdriver in any farther than you have to, doing so could shear off a delicate board component and leave you dead in the water.
Finally, locate the CMOS battery, which is a button battery inside a green plastic sleeve, and disconnect it from the board by removing the small wire harness from its socket in the board. Exercise caution, this connector is small and delicate.
And that’s pretty much it. Assembly of the PS3 “fat” family is the reverse of the above steps.
Once you have the unit entirely apart (which is only necessary for upgrading the unit’s cooling capacity or performing a reflow of the board, or in preparation to remove the CPU or GPU to reball those parts, you should take the opportunity to clean it thoroughly using a soft plastic-bristled brush and a portable vacuum.
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