The Yellow Light of Death (often abbreviated as YLoD) is a common problem which affects all models of the PlayStation 3, more so the original phat models and early slim models (chech-20xxA and chech-20xxB to be exact). The usual cause for this light to appear is due to the NEC/Tokin capacitors on the motherboard degrading over time and no longer being able to provide enough power to the CPU or GPU. The degradation of these capacitors are greatly sped up when they operate in hot conditions. The NEC/Tokin capacitors were completely removed by Sony in later slim models and super slim models of the PlayStation 3 with much more reliable tantalum capacitors. The YLoD can usually be fixed in older PlayStation 3's that utilize NEC/Tokin capacitors by replacing them with tantalum capacitors. A temporary fix for the YLoD is simply heating up the NEC/Tokin capacitors, which helps restore their original capacitive properties.
For a typical case of a YLoD caused by a motherboard failure, the following happens when you touch the power button:
- 1. The green and or blue lights come on for around 1.5 seconds, and the fan turns on.
- 2. The fan and blue light turn off and the green light turns yellow for about a half-second.
- 3. The PS3 beeps 3 times and the yellow light turns blinking red.
- 4. The light will remain blinking red until you touch the power button again, returning the console to a steady red standby light (or you can hit the main power switch).
If the problem is related to the power supply, the fan will not turn on and the green light will last only about a half a second.
YLoD's often occur suddenly. Usually what happens is that the console shuts itself off during gameplay, resulting in a blinking red light. Attempts to turn the system back on result in a YLoD, although sometimes the system will come back on.
The YLoD most commonly affects all phat PS3 models and chech-20xxA / chech-20xxB slim models, due to the NEC/Tokin capacitors which quickly degrade when operated in hot conditions. This is worsened by the fact that Sony used very low quality thermal paste on both the CPU and GPU which in turn, increases internal operating temperatures.
- Fan blowing louder than normal: Sony designed the PlayStation 3 to prioritize quietness during operation. If you notice that the fans inside of your console run louder than usual, especially when the system isn't playing anything, then your system is most likely running at dangerous temperatures. While the PS3 does automatically turn itself off if ran hot enough, it's worth noting that this does not happen until the operating temperature of the CPU or GPU reaches over 90 degrees Celcius which is not safe at all. If your system has shut itself off in the past, then your system is definitely over heating and the only way to fix this is by replacing the thermal paste both under and over the heat spreaders that sit between the processors and heatsink.
The YLoD indicates a general hardware failure and could be related to anything on the motherboard, the power supply, or even the blu-ray drive (unconfirmed). It is most commonly caused by degraded NEC/Tokin capacitors.