We hear this one all the time...things like "My PS4 won't turn on, is it from bad thermal paste?" or "Will old thermal paste cause my console to not show a picture on the TV?". These are just a few examples of things we have heard. Now please keep in mind that I'm not putting anyone down or making fun of them for asking the question. I highly encourage people to ask questions until they are comfortable with the answers. Unfortunately, we live in a world where anyone with a camera and internet connection can make a video, blog post, or website about whatever they want...and, even more unfortunate, many people believe them. I want to take some time here to talk a bit about thermal paste and clear up some of the myths floating around.
First of all, please know that I do not pretend to be an expert on the science of thermal paste. I don't make it or study it and I don't even know that much about the paste itself. I do, however, know what it's for and what needs to be done to make it work correctly. I'm coming from the angle of an experienced repair person. We've repaired hundreds of PS4's and Xbox One game consoles and in most of those repairs we've removed the old thermal paste and applied new paste when reassembling the device. Everything written here (and on most of our website) comes from our experience.
Thermal paste really has one job. It's there to transfer heat from the APU to the heatsink. The main chips in computers, game consoles, etc. generate heat... lots of heat. If they were not cooled they would simply burn themselves up. It's like the coolant (anti-freeze) in a car. It's just there to transfer heat.
If the PS4 thermal paste was bad (and it does happen) then it would not be able to transfer heat correctly and the device would likely turn the fan all the way on and eventually most devices would just shut themselves down. Most computers and game consoles these days have a safety that will cause them to shut down in the event of overheating.
Thermal paste really only causes one problem in the game console world and that is overheating. Even this is a rare event though. Sometimes it can dry out so much that it actually can't transfer heat anymore. Keep in mind while thinking about this that manufacturers probably do not usually put the best or most efficient paste in their devices. They likely just put in the kind that will keep their machines "cool enough". This means that you can usually upgrade the thermal paste to help your game console run cooler. This is especially helpful for custom built computers that generate a lot of heat.
Other than overheating, you can bet that your problem is NOT caused by the thermal paste. There are a lot of people out there who claim that it causes all sorts of problems, but it doesn't. Out of the hundreds of consoles and computers that we have fixed exactly 0 have been fixed by replacing the thermal paste. Here is a list of things that are definitely NOT caused by thermal paste:
Thermal paste alone is very, very rarely (if ever) the cause of overheating on a PS4 (or Xbox One for that matter). Most overheating problems are caused by dirt and debris built up on the heat sink. With the heat sink plugged there is no way for the fan to push the air through it to help it remove the heat. The other really common cause is a faulty fan. Many, many people blame their overheating game console on the thermal paste when that's not the actual cause of it.
Just because you heard it from someone you think should know, or a Youtube video, or a blog, etc. does not mean that it's true. It sounds like a great answer to your problem and an easy fix (which is probably why a lot of people believe it) but it's much cheaper and faster in the long run to figure out what the real problem is and fix that!
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