PlayStation 5 And Noise: Not All Consoles Have The Same Fan
Several tests of the console, including ours, have stated it outright: Sony’s PlayStation 5 is a remarkably quiet gaming console. However, since the console’s public availability, some dissenting voices have been heard on social networks. Some users are reporting a significantly higher operating noise than they were told.
One of these users is none other than… the humble author of these lines, who, after spending three weeks with the Numerics’ test console, was very upset to find that his personal console, received on November 19, 2020, was undeniably louder than its twin. So, what could be the cause of this? We investigated, and didn’t have to look far to find the answer.
Different Fan Models, Different Noise Profiles
It was only after a few minutes of disassembly that the secret was revealed: the two machines simply do not use the same fan model. The differences between the two models are far from trivial: the shape and density of the blades show pronounced variances. It is therefore not surprising that their acoustic performance is not similar.
In fact, while on our test console we measured a noise level of 39 dB(A) at the air inlet, the noise emitted by the second console rises to 43 dB(A). So the difference is not monumental (in any case, the console remains infinitely less noisy than an original PS4 or a PS4 Pro!), but it is not anecdotal either. It’s the difference between a console that is technically audible, but that knows how to be totally forgotten once you’re immersed in your game, and another one that reminds you as soon as the soundtrack of the game becomes quiet.
Moreover, you may have noticed the kind of small squeaking noise (probably generated by the fan motor) that is added to the blast noise. It turns out that this squeaking noise is also significantly less pronounced on the fan of the first console (which we will call fan A from now on) than on the fan of the second (fan B), even when the fan is running at very low speed. This is particularly the case when the console is in standby mode and a background task is in progress (downloading, updating a game, etc.). In this case, the fan B still emits this little noise, albeit with a very low intensity, but still quite audible. This can be particularly disturbing when the console is placed in a room.
A Lottery For The Consumer, But Sony Is Within Its Rights
Of the five machines we have been able to examine so far – the test console and four consoles ordered personally by members of our editorial staff – two are equipped with the quieter fan A, and the other three with fan B. Note that there is even a third fan model that some users might find in their console; which we will be talking about soon.
After all this, it would be understandable for the consumer to want to make sure, at the time of purchase, that the console he or she is buying is equipped with the quietest fan. Unfortunately, this is not possible: the only way to know is to take the console out of its box and remove at least one of its side panels. The console’s model number, which is identical on all the machines we examined (CFI-1016A), is of no use.
The situation is obviously very frustrating, but Sony is not committing anything illegal here. The manufacturer is perfectly entitled to use different parts on different copies of a commercial product, provided that these parts do their job – in this case, cooling the console properly – without any problems.
So, for the most zealous users, there is only one possible solution: simply replace the fan yourself. The good news is that as long as you have a Security Torx T8 screwdriver at your disposal, the operation is extremely simple and can be carried out without touching any warranty seal – we were able to swap the fans of two consoles without any difficulty. Now we just have to wait for the A fan to appear in the shops as a spare part.
A Question About The Power Supply
The fan is not the only source of variance in noise pollution that we have identified. The personal machine of yours truly, decidedly poorly off, also has a power supply that is very prone to the coil whine phenomenon, or to use its strict name, electro-magnetically induced noise. Well-known and feared by PC gamers, this phenomenon occurs most often at the level of graphics cards; it then translates into small high-pitched whistles. But it can also occur at the level of the power block. In this second case, it is expressed by a hoarse clicking sound, the pitch and timbre of which vary according to the current delivered. And that’s exactly what we hear in this PlayStation 5.
Again, the impact of this noise should not be exaggerated: on the whole, it remains quite bearable. But it is an additional element that tarnishes the console’s reputation for silence. Unfortunately, we have no data to date that would allow us to estimate how widespread this noise is. We will of course continue to investigate this problem and hope to be able to share more detailed conclusions soon.
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