Sony has been installing different cooling fans on the PlayStation 5 (PS5), French tech website Les Numériques reports. The outlet noticed a difference in the noise exhibited by two different PS5s, one being a review unit Sony provided and the other a unit they purchased. Les Numériques proceeded to disassemble several PS5s and found five different fans in five different consoles.
As seen in the image below, the cooling fan on the left is reportedly from the retail PS5, and the one on the right is from the review unit. The noisier fan (left) includes 17 blades that extend to the center hub. The one on the right has 23 blades that are slightly less thick.
When it comes to air coolers, many factors dictate airflow, CFM and noise. However, the rule of thumb is that the fan with more blades will require less power to move more air, thus providing better cooling. With the differences in fans here, it could be assumed that the fans with fewer blades are ramping up more to provide more cooling and, thus, producing more noise.
This discovery is alarming and puts existing PlayStation 5 teardown cooling tests into question in terms of how much they'll match the experience regular customers can expect. Furthermore, this difference in fans could contribute to the PS5's less than stellar cooling. For what it's worth, our PlayStation 5 review unit wasn't quiet.
It's possible that Sony realized this when providing different fan models in its consoles. Additionally, this slight variation doesn't appear to enough to warrant major concerns. Still, most would assume that all PS5s use the same fan. It's troubling that Sony didn't make this discrepancy apparent.
While it may seem unethical, this practice is, unfortunately, something that companies have utilized for years. We’ve seen this with monitor panels, memory modules and, more recently, in the SSD market, where it's become controversial. As long as the part, which is the cooling fan, performs up to spec, it is within their right to provide a different part.
If you’re the owner of a slightly noisier PS5, you can verify the fan installed by simply popping off the side panels, as this doesn’t void the warranty. But note that as long as the fan is providing ample cooling to the system, it's unlikely Sony will replace it or your console. And we don't recommend you get handy and try to replace the fan yourself because you'll void the warranty. Seeing how scarce the PS5 is right now, perhaps it's better to deal with the noise.