All About PS5 Liquid Metal
Since the PlayStation 5’s release in 2020, you may have heard of something inside of it called “liquid metal”. What is this substance that tech gurus and gamers alike are talking about? There has been some controversy surrounding it, as well as some general misunderstandings. In this blog we will be discussing both, as well as how to diagnose and fix your system’s liquid metal if you are having problems with your system overheating or randomly turning off.
Common Questions and Concerns
1. What is it?
With the incredible graphics capabilities of the PlayStation 5, you can imagine that there would have to be a good cooling system to prevent your system from overheating. In the past, gaming companies have used various methods to keep their systems cool, like powerful fans, modifying the shape to have better air flow, and using substances like thermal paste. When Sony created the PlayStation 5, they had a better idea. They wanted to try using liquid metal, a substance that is much more conductive than thermal paste. Here are some interesting facts about this mysterious substance:
- The liquid metal used in the PlayStation 5 is a metal alloy called Galinstan, which is composed of gallium, indium, and tin.
- It is called “liquid metal” because it is a liquid at room temperature.
- It transfers heat at 73 W/mK, compared to thermal paste which transfers heat at only 8-9 W/mK.
- It fills the gap between the APU and the heat sink, allowing heat to transfer between the two surfaces.
- It hasn’t been used on any other gaming systems prior to the PS5.
Additionally, you can watch this YouTube video for more information on liquid metal in PS5’s, as well as how to open up your console to get to it and replace it.
2. Dry Spots in Liquid Metal on Chip
Unfortunately, sometimes the APU/heat sink chips can get dry spots on them where the liquid metal has oxidized. This can cause some major problems with overheating within the console. Here is how to check and see if this is happening within your PS5, and how to fix it:
- First, carefully disassemble your PS5. You can watch and follow along with this video to see how to get to the liquid metal. As you are disassembling, make sure to check the heat sink and power supply intakes. If they are clogged with dust and hair they will no longer be able to take in the air required to cool the system down, and this can even cause the liquid metal to not be as effective. If they are clogged you can easily clean them out with compressed air as well as a brush. The brush is good for removing large pieces of dust, and the compressed air is good for getting dust out of areas you can’t reach.
- When you get to the liquid metal you may see a spot that looks like this:
This is a dry spot, like we mentioned before, and it is caused when the area gets too hot and the liquid metal oxidizes. It is usually imprinted on both the APU chip and the heat sink chip.
- To fix this, you will need a precision syringe and a Grizzly liquid metal applicator (paid Amazon link). First, take the Grizzly applicator tip and rub it on the dry spot until the oxidation is removed. You will know that the oxidation is removed if the liquid metal sticks to the surface again and it looks shiny again. Next, take the precision syringe and suck up as much liquid metal as you can from the surface of the chip. Finally, reapply the liquid metal with the syringe onto the center of the chip, and spread it around carefully with the Grizzly applicator so it is evenly coating the surface. After doing this process with both of the chips, they should look nice, shiny, and free of dry spots.
- Carefully put the PS5 back together, and afterwards do a test run to see if the overheating problem has been fixed. For example, try running a game for a while that has decent graphics, and see if it is able to handle it once again.
- If you have done these steps and your system is still overheating, you may want to get it looked at by a professional.
3. Horizontal vs. Vertical PS5
Since the PS5 came out, there has been some controversy over whether you should store it vertical or horizontal. This controversy came about because of the fact that the liquid metal is, well, a liquid, and people were concerned that it could run and leak into the rest of the console if kept upright. While it is true that the liquid metal can move around on the chips, it is extremely unlikely that it will leak out. This is because Sony added a tight seal around the liquid metal that keeps it from escaping and going anywhere else in the device.
Even though the chance is very low that it will leak out, it is our opinion that the PS5 should be kept horizontal rather than vertical, as it does seem to stay cooler that way. That is because the liquid metal isn’t pooling to one side and is able to stay evenly spread out across the surface of the chips.
If you would like to learn more, this video about PS5 liquid metal problems has some very useful information about this topic at the 15:33 minute mark. But, overall, you can rest assured that your device is most likely safe from this issue.
4. Liquid Metal Leak
Let’s say that the worst did happen and that the liquid metal in your console leaked outside of the seal. This is a very serious issue and should be resolved as soon as possible. You will need to go into the device and clean up as much liquid metal off of the motherboard as you can, as any leaked liquid metal can cause a short on the board if it contacts the wrong two points. After cleaning off the motherboard, remove all other liquid metal you can see and reapply it with a precision syringe onto the chips. Make sure to also check the seal and see if anything is wrong with it.
5. Replacing Liquid Metal With Thermal Paste
After hearing about the risk of liquid metal leakage, it might be tempting to take out the liquid metal and put thermal paste inside of your PS5 instead. After all, thermal paste should be able to do pretty much the same thing, but without the same risks, right?
TronicsFix tested this theory for anybody who might’ve been wondering this very question. You can watch the YouTube video comparing liquid metal with thermal paste here. Essentially, it was discovered that thermal paste does not work as well with cooling the system down as the liquid metal, and it is probably safer and better for your system to just leave it the way it is.
If you are looking for more help or additional information, you can check out the TronicsFix Forum.
And we recommend ShaneFix.com if you want to send your PS5 in for professional repair.
About the Author
Kirstyn Bahnmiller is a writer, graphic designer, and video editor for TronicsFix who loves to share her ideas and creativity with the world. In her off time you will find her working on various crafts, making digital art, taking photos, and cooking delicious recipes she found online.