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Hardware revisions for video game consoles

Started by gameblabla, January 01, 2020, 04:49:48 AM

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Consoles over their lifetime are getting new revisions with often improvements or in some cases downgrades compared to their earlier motherboard.

For this thread, I thought I would take a look at several consoles and their hardware revisions.
Many of which had been infamous for these and I want first to take a look at the Playstation 3 first.
(Next will be the Megadrive/Genesis)

Playstation 3

The PS3 had many board revisions with 3 significant ones : "PHAT" models, Slim, and Super Slim.
We'll start with the PHAT models.

Phat / Fat

These were the very first major revision released by Sony and the first minor revisions featured some sort of backwards compatibility with PS2 games as well.
The downside is that the PS3 had enormous power consumption, even compared to the first Xbox 360.


This was the first model released in Japan in November 2006.
It features all of the bells and whistles : OtherOS support (until it was later removed), Full PS2 backwards compatibility, Super Audio CD support, onboard Wi-fi, 4 usb ports and an MMC reader.

It came with a 60GB hard disk that can be upgraded and has an onboard NAND chip of 256MB.

The Cell and RSX chips have a die process of 90nm. As a result, this is the most power hungry PS3 out there, which can max out at 380W and 200W in average.


Also released in November 2006, this is similar to the A revision but it does not have Wi-fi or an MMC reader and its HDD is only 20GB. Power consumption is similar. (if no Wi-fi is being used)


This is the PAL revision that appeared at the PAL launch of the PS3.
Gone is the Emotion Engine, which is now being software emulated instead.
These consoles are known as "Partial compatible" consoles and according to an analysis by My life in gaming, they feature better graphical output than the full backwards compatible models in PS2 games.
The downside is that more games are incompatible and flat out won't work or will have more issues.

These models still retain the MMC, Super Audio CD support, and other features from the A revision.

A later revision that came with a 80GB hard disk in North america and Japan. It is otherwise similar to the A revision.


This is the last major revision to the Phat models and features several changes.
Gone is the PS2 backwards compatibility, Super Audio CD support, MMC reader, and 2 of the USB ports.

The Cell processor die shrank to 65nm. (RSX chip still unaffected)

As a result, the power consumption drops to about 40W and much lower when in load (280W).

It also came with a 40GB hard drive and still comes with the 256MB NAND chip.


Similar to the G revision except that it now comes with a NOR flash chip of 16MB with most of the firmware now stored on the HDD.


Similar to the H revision but features a 65nm RSX chip. Power consumption drops by 50W in normal usage.

K revision up to Q are identical except for the HDD which ranges from 80GB to 160GB.

Slim Models

Sony then announced a new major redesign with a new case in 2009 : the slim models.
These models are overall more reliable (we'll go into details) and consumes less power than the phat models. None of the slim models feature OtherOS, SA-CD or backwards compatibility with the PS2.


Features a 45nm Cell processor, which significantly drops the power consumption to 100W in normal use. This is the last die shrink of the Cell processor.

It still has the 16MB Nor chip as well as 2 USB ports only.


The following year, Sony released another revision to the CECH-21xx.
This is the first revision to feature a 40nm RSX chip, which further drops the power consumption to 85W.

It was also later discovered that this was the very first Slim model to fix the YLOD issue for good by swaping them with different capacitors versus the NEC/Tokin capacitors which were found to be the culprit to the YLOD as they were defective (made during the Capacitor plague) and were causing unclean current to be provided to the chips.

The CECH-20xx can also suffer from the YLOD issue (it still uses the NEC/Tokin capacitors) but is less likely to happen due to the die shrink of the Cell processor. However, it can still happen and some people reported to have YLOD on their Slim models. (most of them 2XXX models)


A minor redesign change that caused power consumption to drop by 5W. For a while, all slims (and early Super slims) were using a similar motherboard.


Later released in 20111, this is the last Slim revision and is nearly identical to the 25xx models except for a different NOR chip.
This is the first model to disable analog output for blu-rays. This was previously used before as to go around HDCP being enforced and making screen capture of blu-rays disabled. It is still possible to play back standard BD-Roms via Analog however.

Super Slim

As the PS4 was approaching and the PS Vita being already released, Sony made the last redesign of the  PS3 series : the Super Slim.
It features a much smaller, compact case with greater efficiency for some of the later models.
The press was also hyping up a die shrink for both the Cell and RSX chips to 22nm/28nm respectively. However as it turns out, it was not really the case.


The first and most common model. Features either a 16MB Nor chip or a 16MB eMMC memory.
Also seems to feature a different PSU which is rated lower. (75W)
Some later models of the 40xx series also feature a die shrink of the RSX chip, down to 28nm.
As a result, consumption drops by 15W.


This revision features the die shrink of the RSX to 28nm.
Note that there seems to be conflicting information saying that only 42xx models featured the die shrink while others still used a 40nm RSX.
As a result, power consumption drops by around 15W and the RSX chip is noticeably smaller on the board. Those can be identified by the use of 2 chips on the RSX versus 4 on the 40nm ones.


This is where things really get strange. This model was released in Japan only.
Teardowns of the motherboard show that only the RSX had changed (still 28nm) : the planned switch to the 22nm process for the Cell never seemingly happened.

However, there are other reports that it did switch to a 22nm process.
It would mean that the chip size stayed the same but internally, the die shrank.

It's entirely possible that Sony did this as to not design a new motherboard while still shrinking the cell to 22nm but this is unlikely.
Nobody has measured its power consumption or confirmed it was a 22nm cell processor via a microscope or the likes.

If true, a 22nm Cell processor and a 28nm RSX chip would bring significant power saving and an overall power consumption under 40 watts.

This is the only model to completely close the Analog hole when it comes to blurays : Analog output is disabled for BD-ROMs. (in addition to standard blu-rays)

Best hardware revisions to stick with

Best power consumption :

The CECH-42xx is good too, especially if the 22nm bit turns out to be false.
Consumption for it should be less than 62W.

Best model for backwards compatibility with PS2 games :

The partial compatible PS2 models are also worth mentioning because they have sharper graphical output for PS2 games, especially with smoothing on.
However, make sure to do the NEC/Tokin capacitor repair even if you don't have YLOD because the caps are defective !

Best model for capturing blu-rays over Component/RgsB/D-terminal :

This is the last model that can do this and is the more reliable. The CECH-21xx can be used for this purpose too.
It's worth noting however that most people will just strip the HDCP signal from the HDMI port and that will get you better video quality. Just keep in mind that owning these devices can be illegal depending on legislation.

Models to avoid


These models are unreliable and don't feature backwards compatibility.
While they can be fixed like BC models, it is just not worth it to do it on those models as they have very high power consumption compared to Slim models.
You are better off using a Slim or Super Slim models if you don't care about PS2 games.


Despite being a Slim model (the very first slim revision in fact), it can still suffer from the YLOD issue due to the use of NEC/Tokin caps. This was only fixed since the CECH-21xx revision.
  • Calculators owned: None (used to own an Nspire and TI-89)

Dream of Omnimaga

It's interesting that so many major consoles released in the history of gaming had a major redesign and shrinking in size, near the end or at the middle of its lifespan. I'm thinking of the Atari 2600, NES, SNES, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis/Nomad/Mega Drive, Game Boy, All Playstation consoles, DS, 3DS, PSP, the Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One and now the Switch.
  • Calculators owned: TI-82 Advanced Edition Python TI-84+ TI-84+CSE TI-84+CE TI-84+CEP TI-86 TI-89T cfx-9940GT fx-7400G+ fx 1.0+ fx-9750G+ fx-9860G fx-CG10 HP 49g+ HP 39g+ HP 39gs (bricked) HP 39gII HP Prime G1 HP Prime G2 Sharp EL-9600C
  • Consoles, mobile devices and vintage computers owned: Huawei P30 Lite, Moto G 5G, Nintendo 64 (broken), Playstation, Wii U
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