After Hours compare

PS3 Super Slim teardown reveals hardware changes, but no real upgrades

Bill Detwiler cracks open the PlayStation 3 Super Slim, shows you how Sony redesigned the popular gaming console, and compare the new machine to older PS3 models.

With the PlayStation 4's launch still at least a year away, Sony wants to squeeze every bit of profit out of the PS3 it can. And, what better way to do that than release a redesigned version, that's slimmer and likely cheaper to make.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the PlayStation 3 Super Slim

When launched, the PlayStation 3 Super Slim was only available as part of two bundled packages. The first bundle ($270) shipped September 25 and included a 250GB console, Uncharted 3, and a voucher for the download-only game Dust 514. The second bundle ($300) will go on sale October 30 and will contain a 500GB PS3 and Assassin's Creed III.

As of publication, Sony hasn't said if the PS3 will be sold as a standalone console, but it's highly likely given that the outer sleeve on the Uncharted 3 box can be removed to reveal a plain PS3 box.

For real-world tests of Sony's redesigned console, check out Jeff Bakalar's full CNET review of the PlayStation 3 Super Slim.

Smallest PS3 yet

The PS3 Super Slim is 20 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than the previous model. It measures 11.4" (W) x 2.36" (T) x 9.05" (D).

Like its predecessor, this PS3 has two USB ports and a hard drive activity light along the front. Around back, you'll find the same Ethernet, HDMI, optical audio, and PS3 AV ports found on the previous model.

Cracking Open Observations

  • Redesigned Blu-ray drive: The new machine's optical drive has a manual sliding disc cover instead of a motorized slot-loading mechanism. This design likely helped Sony cut both costs and save space, but it just feels cheap and as Bakalar wrote, it's "ultimately a step back."
  • Repositioned HDD: The original PS3's hard drive was accessed through a panel on the side. Sony moved that access point to the front on the PS3 Slim. And now, they've gone right back to the side. But on the Super Slim you remove the whole side panel and not just a small cover.
  • Smaller power supply: Like the optical drive, the new machine's power supply is smaller than the PS3 Slim's. It's also rated for fewer Amps, so the new console appears to be drawing less current than its predecessors.
  • Smaller fan that's more difficult to remove: Unlike the PS3 Slim you can't remove the fan without removing the whole motherboard assembly and then separating the shield from the motherboard. Given the Super Slim's more compact design, it's not surprising that the cooling fan is smaller than the one in the larger Slim.
  • More compact motherboard, new components, same overall specs: Compared to the PS3 Slim's board, the Super Slim's board is smaller and the chips are placed closer to each other. Sony also removed the heat spreader from the Reality Synthesizer package, swapped Marvell's discreet wireless board for a newer Marvell WLAN/Bluetooth SoC, and went with two 1Gb XDR DRAM chips for the machine's main memory instead of older machine's four 512Mb chips.

Why launch a redesigned PS3 now?

After cracking open this console, it's clear, and a bit disappointing, that Sony wasn't trying to upgrade the PS3 line with the Super Slim, merely refine it. I relaize that radically changing the hardware could compromise game compatability, but I would have loved an extra 512MB of video/system RAM. So that begs the question, why would they do this

I think the decision comes down to the unit's production cost. The new optical drive, redesigned motherboard, and all the other changes likely make the console cheaper to manufacture. And, given that Sony hasn't lowered the price (at least not at launch), they're making more on each unit sold. If they do lower the price later this year or definitely once the PlayStation 4 is released, the lower production cost let's them keep making money on the PS3.

Internal Hardware

Our PS3 Super Slim had the following internal hardware components:

  • Sony Cell Broadband Engine CXD2996BGB
  • Sony RSX CXD5302DGB 220B25NA "Reality Synthesizer"
  • Hynix 64MB (536,870,912 bits) H5RS5223DFR-14C GDDR3 SDRAM (x4)
  • Sony CXM4027R MultiAV Driver (CXM4027R 221N26E)
  • Panasonic MN8647091 HDMI transmitter
  • Marvell 88EC060 Fast Ethernet PHY transceiver
  • Samsung 1Gb K4Y12324TE-KCB3 DRAM (x2 for 256MB)
  • Sony CXD9963GB Southbridge
  • Sony CXD5132R-1 Blu-ray drive SATA controller
  • Spansion S29GL128P90TFIR2 NOR Flash
  • Marvell Avastar 88W8782 WLAN system-on-chip (SoC)
  • Panasonic CR 2032 3V system battery
  • Sony IDT 9277BNLG 1133L
  • Winbond 25Q16CVY05 1221
  • Fairchild FDMF6823C Extra-Small, High-Performance, High-Frequency DrMOS Module (FDC25AV FDMF6823C)
  • Sony SW3-302 system controller
  • BD7761EFV 224 T76
  • 217 3536A
  • Texas Instruments PS53123
  • Intersil ISL6332 2 Phase VR11.1 Buck PWM Controller with Integrated
  • MOSFET Drivers with Light Load Efficiency
  • Sony IDT 4227ANLG
  • Texas Instruments PS53123
  • Sony Model APS-330 12V, 18A power supply
  • Delta Electronics KSB0812HE DC12V 1.65A fan
Updated Monday, Oct. 15 1:42 PM ET: Added information about hardware and game compatibility.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

17 comments
netsameer
netsameer

HI, I just received a PS3 Super Slim 250 GB (New Oct 2012 model) from US. It also reads 120 Volts as power input. From what I read hear PS3 slim was compatible with both 120 and 240 volts, does the same hold true for ps3 super slim also, please respond, I have this new super slim model and i haven’t plugged it in yet for three days into the 220V power supply in India for the fear of frying it :(

MrElectrifyer
MrElectrifyer

It sure looks like a big step backwards; looking like cheap plastic now. Oh well, what are companies built for besides making profits (regardless of product quality).

jelabarre
jelabarre

So they don't plan on reducing the price? Well, I guess I'll continue not to buy one. Because, after they kneecapped the PS3 by removing Linux boot and PS2 compatability, the unit is priced about 5X more than it's worth. About the only thing I'd want a PS3 (or suXBOX360) for is as a media center & internet terminal at this point.

Blue_Oak
Blue_Oak

Embarrassing. Or at least it should be.

jimbobmcgee
jimbobmcgee

Consoles have to stay fully compatible with the entire line of games past, present and future. You can't expect them to upgrade, else they run the risk of splitting their games lineup into games that work on the new hardware and games that don't. Noone wants to see 'minimum specifications' notices on console games; compatipility is a massive driver in the choice for console gaming, after all. Really, the only way I imagine you could expect to see upgrades is if they also offerred them as user-installable bolt-ons to the existing models. Design/development of those would surely negate any perceived cost saving from the new model.

pallab1981
pallab1981

Hi Sameer...Did you test it or got any confirmation? I am on the same boat & got an US version new super slim 250G PS3 on last Blackfriday Deal. Please let me know Buddy.

TechDRepublic
TechDRepublic

You should be embarrased for commenting on something so irrelevant as that and NOTHING on the content of the article. I don't get why so many people just come online to criticize (especially on something as irrelevant as this). Do you not have anything better to do? This is not an 6th grade english essay where you're marked on spelling. The man is just providing us with content on the new PS3 super slim. I for one am glad to know its out because I have one of the original (HEAVY!) PS3s. I usually carry it over to my little brother's house or my cousin's house and it is a pain carrying something that heavy. The lighter the better.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Yes. I know the difference between "they're" and "their", but sometimes even the best writers and editors miss things. This was one of those times.

GAProgrammer
GAProgrammer

Really? It's embarrasing to make money now? The only embarassing thing here is your comment. You can't get paid if your company isn't making money. So they redesigned it to give them higher margins? So what? If you don't like it, don't buy it. I am so sick of hearing about "evil" companies simply because they want to make a profit.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

When PS3 first came out, it was understood that, unlike PS2, it would NOT play PS1 or PS2 games--and it never has (since an otherwise-necessary update the first time you go online). According to Sony, if you want to keep playing your PS2 games, then keep your PS2 console, too. It's equally 'unlikely' that PS4 will have any 'backwards compatibility', either; it's expected to only play DLC---no disk drive. What you called 'the games lineup' already *has* been 'split' between Sony consoles, and the 'minimum spec' for PS3 is that a game's box and disk read "PS3", and not 'PS2' or 'Playstation'. Sony gaming-console customers (and I am one) know that compatipility(sic) is *nonexistent*--not, as you claim, "a massive driver in the choice for console gaming, after all."

DLayfield
DLayfield

I think you are being short sighted on what can be constituted as actual hardware upgrades in regards to a gaming console. Actual improvements such as making the CPU / GPU die smaller to reduce heat and power consumption, adding heatsinks or better quality fans to improving cooling. These ARE hardware improvements that convert to the purpose of increasing longevity and reliability. Do I need to remind you how many different revisions there was to the Xbox 360 chipset be it Xenon, Falcon, Jasper, etc. Upgrading the Hardware does not always mean making it faster or adding more clock cycles to the CPU, especially in regards to a console. Many game consoles get hardware revisions without changing compatibility with software, It happened with the PS2, It happened with the PSOne, hell it even happened with the original NES back in 1994 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_Entertainment_System_%28Model_NES-101%29 And many others - http://www.digitalspy.com/gaming/news/a395003/a-history-of-console-revisions-psone-gba-sp-ds-lite-more-gallery.html As example with this breakdown there seems to be very little change for the remodel to make a substantial impact regards of buying a PS3 Super Slim over the standard Slim. In fact with evidence of potentially cheaper / flimsier construction such as the sliding door for the optical drive. This is clearly a case of hardware revision not for the sake of improvement, but revision for the sake to sucker consumers who don't know any better and always assume newer equates to better.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Give the line the Blue_Oak quoted, I believe he/she was making a comment about my missing a typo in the article, not Sony's PS3 plans.

andrew232006
andrew232006

It did play PS2 games when it first came out. That functionality was removed in later models. Compatibility within the console(PS3 games on ps3) is a major reason I play console games. When I purchase a new PS3 game, I don't need to check the system requirements. I don't want to get home and find that I need the faster PS3 to play it or that I can play it but it won't run smoothly. Every PS3 game works smoothly on every PS3, that's a lot of compatibility compared to PC.

Slayer_
Slayer_

But that is what Sony does, they love to crap on their customers.

Slayer_
Slayer_

A quick glance shows many games still only want cards from the 8800 era, According to Wiki, that card was released in November 2006, that's 6 years of compatibility so far. In 2007, I paid 100 dollars at best buy for my 9600 GT and it still plays modern games well enough.

andrew232006
andrew232006

You can't pick up a game off the shelf with confidence 6 months or a year after you buy your PC. The PS3 has been out for nearly 6 years and consumers can still play any game on it that would be released today.

Slayer_
Slayer_

PC's can still playing games from the DOS era with only a minor effort. I think people forget just how backwards compatible PC's really are.