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Monday, October 30, 2006

PlayStation 3 = Power Hog

According to New Launches, the PlayStation 3 consumes almost twice as much power as the 360 and over four times that of the PlayStation 2. While they wonder how much this will add to your power bill (probably not much unless playing daily) - I wonder how they manage to shove a PSU that hefty inside the case without melting the casing or installing a massive fan.

Wow. This has actually gotten forum-bitten. So let me elaborate a little.

First, I just thought this was technically interesting. When I was wondering how Sony managed to get this kind of PSU into the PS3 case without melting the case or using a big fan - I was actually wondering how they went about it. I know, it's odd on blogs to say what you mean, but there you go. I don't assume PS3's will cook waffles, heat rooms or melt their casings.

Because Kotaku ran with that and suggested you could make breakfast on it doesn't mean I was.

Second, some have pointed out that a 380W PSU does not always generate 380W of heat ... that's merely it's maximum capacity. True, although I would guess Sony would be shaving this as closely as they could. Still, as pointed out the PS3 is a multi-functioning device and so it's hard to tell what would necessarily warrant that load. Do you have to be pulling HD movies into a game that's on Wifi? Who knows. I don't.

But the real point is that simply because a PSU generates 380W of heat doesn't mean that the console is the equivalent of a coal fire. Since the invention of fire, we've managed to find a few ways to distribute heat in ways outside of simply burning ourselves.

The fact that it's not a brick supply is a bit of a mixed bag, for instance. Because it's inside a chassis it will be more likely to retain heat within the enclosure - but at the same time has better access to whatever the chassis throws at it to cool it down. Brick supplies aren't necessarily the best route to keep things cool - but they are a cheap and easy one.

By comparison - your average Dell is probably using a 300W or 400W PSU. Course, your average Dell is a noisy bitch you wouldn't want under your television. My Mac Mini uses an 85W brick supply and generates almost no noise at all except for when under pretty high load.

The answer to this mystery, easily findable by anyone wishing to spend the five minutes to google something rather than debate it wildly, is that the PlayStation 3 apparently makes good use of heat sink and heat pipes to control the heat instead of a massive fan or fans. It's not exactly Star Trekkian by today's standards, actually, Zalman makes great CPU fans that utilize large copper sinks to require small, slower (quieter) fans.

It's not that it's wild high-tech stuff - it's just more expensive than the stock fans you usually get with your PC. Might even explain some of the PS3's price tag (and if so, hats off to Sony for spending a little more to keep the machine cooler and quieter).

OK - just wanted to clear that up. Sorry for not answering my own question earlier.

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Josh said...

Funny, methinks, that some link quite quickly to this ... but ignore the post about the 10 worst PS3 reports.

xemefex said...
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