The first hardware revision of the PS5 looks like a step backwards
We recently reported about a new PS5 hardware revision and how units with a new model number popped up at Australian retailers about a week ago, as well as speculation over how the lighter weight was achieved. It seems now that “removing unnecessary materials” was right on the mark — at least, if Sony counts a significant amount of the cooling assembly as unnecessary materials.
YouTuber Austin Evans was able to get one of the new CFI-11-series PlayStation units imported from Japan to compare it with a launch model (watch below), and while it sported a lighter weight and a new hand-adjustable stand screw as expected, a cursory test also found that temperatures at the rear exhaust were consistently 3 to 5°C hotter on the new model.
After opening up the console itself, the reasons were quickly made evident: besides the change in fan design, the fin stack was significantly smaller on the revised version and the heatsink seemed to have been switched from copper to aluminum.
Other components may have also been changed — Evans noted a difference in Wi-Fi antenna setup, although the two models weren’t tested on that front — but the difference in cooling setup was substantial.
Sony recently shared that the standard edition of the PS5 had reached profitability, but it also stated that the all-digital edition (the model bought by Evans) was still being sold at a loss, and it looks like the company is looking to trim off any fat it can in order to lower production costs.
It’s worth noting that the thermal testing conducted by Evans was fairly limited — a thermal camera pointed at the exhaust doesn’t compare to the more robust testing conducted by Gamers Nexus when they called out the launch PS5 for already having a weak cooling solution, and were able to identify its memory modules as an issue. Still, less fin surface area with a less conductive heatsink generally isn’t a recipe for better thermals.
Either way, it feels a little mercenary for Sony to be skimping out on cooling like this; since the PS5’s processor variably boosts depending on headroom (as opposed to the fixed-frequency Xbox Series consoles), it might end up simply throttling back performance in order to mitigate heat issues brought on from inferior cooling.