PS4 Red Light, Overheating Due To Thermal Paste Lead Sabotage?

Yes, the headline may read like tin-foil hat conspiracy theory jargon, but things readily become a lot more real once the information rears its head. Of course, everything you gather from here is still rumor at this point and should be taken as such.

Following all the discussions that sprouted up thanks to alleged claims of sabotaged PS4 units on the assembly line, one user on 4Chan made a comment in a deleted thread that contains some interesting info on the issue of some PS4s coming out of the package with red lights and overheating, writing...

“A chinese guy posted on here like 2 weeks ago in really fractured english or translation, I can't remember and even had an image.“He mentioned "PheonixStation 4" and that they have put a trace amount of lead in a good majority of the thermal paste used in the PS4 batches. He said this will mean heat won't dissapate quick enough for standby mode when the fans are programmed to a low RPM, and this will degrade the life of the CPU/GPU dramatically and also raise temps during operating by a few degrees more than normal”

Most people would scoff and say “pfft, 4Chan” and click out of here faster than Christian Bale packing up his bags and walking away from Zack Snyder's Batman vs Superman movie.

However, someone further down the thread made a very observant comment in response, although he dismissed the above comment as just a left-field, tin-foil hat assumption and not to take it to heart. Still he had this to say, which sparks further curiosity...

“... indeed there was a diagram with a clear mention of lead + thermal grease, which is obviously a bad fucking thing. Ideally, a genius thing, as the problem won't arise in QA shotgun tests of consoles as they're built, as the individual systems would need to be tested for more than an hour to really notice a difference in temps “

For those who don't know, lead has been barred from a lot of “economic operators” when it comes to electronic component manufacturing, as noted in the 2006 legislation by the European Union Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive.

Using lead in the thermal grease during the assembly would essentially work as a corrosive agent to dissolve the silver in the compound. This would essentially dry out the thermal paste faster than usual and result in the hardware overheating, as mentioned in the 4Chan comments above. You can read more about the effects and threshold of the thermal grease in this Science Direct thesis.

So what does this have to do with the comments above and how does it apply at all to the PlayStation 4 potentially being sabotaged at the Foxconn plants? Well, many individuals have been posting videos, like the one below, about their PS4 coming straight out of the box and red-lighting, or being put in use for a very short amount of time and ending up with the red blinking lights. It's a similar issue to the rarely reported YLOD issue that the PS3 suffered, which some managed to fix by replacing the thermal paste in their units.

We've already been publicly told that the red lights blink when the PS4 overheats. As noted on PSU and IGN, users should supposedly wait it out and let it cool down. Except, this issue shouldn't be occurring at all for anyone who hasn't even played on their PS4 unit and are getting red lights straight out of the box, as noted in some of the angry 1-star reviews over on Amazon.

At this point, it's easy to brush off this instance as feckless forum chatter from 4Chan, however all of the above gathers immense weight when proof of faulty thermal pasting was discovered in a day-one unboxing and thermal grease replacement video from YouTube user Rick The Electronic Guy.

While replacing the thermal grease from his brand new PlayStation 4 in a lengthy 33 minute video, he notes...

“All right guys, to be frank, I was very disappointed with the thermal paste. The thermal paste was already a little hard and that's not good. [Because] that just means we're going to have problems right off the bat. So I'm actually very happy that I took mine apart.”

You can watch the video and see where he takes the PS4 apart and makes the note about the thermal paste and you can see it for yourself at the 15:35 mark.

Also consider that Rick's console is day one. He did the video right after he received the unit. So it wasn't like the PS4 was put under any sort of operating duress. The paste was faulty out of the box, thus supporting the above claims about the thermal sabotage with lead.

Rick also notes that...

“i knew sony was going to go cheap on the thermal paste it was already hard on the inside, now there already having gpu issues on day one”

The reason some people believe these issues exist (and persist) is that interns claiming mistreatment under the employment of Foxconn, as reported by VG 24/7, led them to revolt by purposefully damaging PS4 units on the assembly line.

You may have read about our recent article about intern students working at the Yantai Foxconn plant in China and how they went to a forum where college interns regularly congregate to denigrate Foxconn and express their disapproval of the inhumane treatment by the corporate giant? Well, they also admitted to purposefully sabotaging the PS4 throughout the assembly process.

The user who originally brought the information forward had his thread shutdown on IGN, as the moderators didn't feel the discussion needed to go on for any longer than its brief run of two pages. The information let loose by the user was exceptionally informative, though, and caught the attention of Reddit and Corrupted Cartridge.

The user later went back to IGN to further explain his stance and the information gathered from the Club TGFC forum, as reported by Attack of the Fanboy, noting that...

"As of whether the content in that thread is genuine, I cannot gaurantee that. But I can tell you where that thread was posted. The largest search engine company in China, Baidu, runs a forum system called Baidu Tieba. Any registered user can set up a tieba for a specific topic and other users can post threads on this topic in the same tieba."However, unlike some of you may have guessed, that thread was NOT posted in Foxconn Tieba. It was posted in the Tieba for the college which sent intern students to Foxconn. So, although I cannot gaurantee what the OP said was true, I am assured with 90% that the OP was a genuine student who took intern in Foxconn. Regardless of what I am assured, only Chinese law enforcement, with the help from Baidu, can determine who is really the OP and question him about what he said. But that is far beyond our concern."

According to Sony, these “defective” units account for less than 0.4% of the total units shipped, of which Sony has admitted they have sold more than a total of a million PS4 SKUs.

Gamespot tried finding out a bit more about how widespread the issues are, but they were unable to get concrete numbers from Amazon, in which the retailer seems to be on the brunt end of many of the complaints about defective PS4 units. Some individuals speculate that a lot of Amazon's shipments may have come directly from the Foxconn plant that allegedly produced the sabotaged units, but those rumors are still unsubstantiated at this point.

Given some of the evidence now available and the claims of international sabotage at play, it's an unfortunate thing that Sony seems to be caught in the cross-hairs of what could potentially be a human rights issue.

And just so this article doesn't end on a sour note... for those with a PS4 suffering from red lights, and if you have a modicum of tech-savvy knowledge flowing through your veins, you can follow the steps in the video of the previous page to take apart your PS4 and clean out and replace the thermal paste with something sturdier. If you don't want to risk opening up and voiding the warranty of your PS4, just call Sony's support at 1-800-345-SONY for additional help.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.