How To Deal With A Ridiculously Loud PlayStation 4

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Photo: Keystone/Stringer, Getty Images
Photo: Keystone/Stringer, Getty Images

The Last of Us Part 2 might be the loudest PlayStation 4 game ever made. I’m not talking about the sound design, impressive as it is. I’m talking about what the game does to basically any PlayStation 4. Boot up Naughty Dog’s latest masterpiece, and you can barely hear the sound of clickers clicking over the endless scream of the console’s fan. It’s like trying to game with an airboat in the room.

You’ll never be able to make the thing whisper-quiet, not with the massive, resource-heavy games of today. (The Last of Us 2 is bad. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is also a notorious culprit. Who knows what the generation-bridging games, like Cyberpunk 2077 and Hitman 3, will sound like.) Beyond investing in a military-grade noise-cancelling headset, there are a few measures you can take to deal with the sound. Here they are. As always, if you have any genius tricks up your sleeve, please do share.

(Disclaimer: There are some methods that require disassembly and reassembly of your console. These void your warranty, and can cause irreparable damage to your PS4, so consider yourself warned.)

Screenshot: Naughty Dog, Sony

Lift up your console.

Yes, some of the sound you hear is your PS4 going into overdrive. But some of it is a vibratory side effect. When you’re playing a game that pushes your console to the limit, all that machinery whirring around inside doesn’t just shake the PS4. It also shakes whatever piece of composite wood you’ve placed it on. Creating some distance between your console and the shelf it’s on can work wonders.

One way to do so is to get a vibration-dampening pad. Anyone who owns a counter-top dishwasher will be familiar with these, but for everyone else, they basically prevent your machine from shaking like an N64 rumble pack. Just put it under whatever thing you need to quiet down and walk away. Some pads are thick, unseemly slabs of foam. Others look like little more than a rubbery piece of construction paper. They’ll all get the job done. You can find decent options anywhere from $US20 ($29) to $US60 ($88) (or more) online.

For a more decorous option, stick some felt pads — the same things you’d affix under the legs of a dining room chair — under the four corners of your console. You won’t get the dampening effects of a full-sized pad, but at least you won’t lose décor points by sticking a giant rubber pad in the centre of your living room. And you’ll still minimise vibrations somewhat.

Another option is to invest in a wall mount. The PS4 might look unnatural in a vertical position, but it’ll still function. And unlike the tabletop vertical stands, the best wall mounts — stuff like Hideit’s standard-issue offering — don’t block up any of the ventilation pathways. So there’s really only one issue: trying to square your mind with the idea of a non-horizontal PS4 (a mental hurdle that’s insurmountable for this writer).

Dust often.

Dusting may be the most obnoxious chore, but it’s still something you should do regularly. And if you won’t do it for your respiratory system, at least do it for your gaming system. The maths is simple: Dust forces your PS4’s cooling fan to work twice as hard, which generates no shortage of noise. (The cooling fan is just one aspect of the PS4’s cooling system. For those seeking an in-depth explanation of how things work under the hood, this video, from TronicsFix, offers a terrifically clear, concise look.)

You can also snag a dust cover for your console (something like eXtremeRate’s horizontal covering). Just remember to take it off every time you turn on your machine. Otherwise, you run the risk of overheating your PS4 — a mistake that surely won’t do anything to quiet things down. In fact, in the name of extra caution, you should power down your console completely before slipping a dust cover on. Even in Rest Mode, your PS4 gives off heat, albeit at a far reduced amount than while fully on. Better safe than sorry.

Get a long HDMI cable.

Your PS4 needn’t be directly adjacent to your TV. Stick it in a closet, or the guest room, and run a hilariously long HDMI cable to your TV, making sure to tape it against baseboards wherever possible. (Even if you’re only friends with heroically well-balanced gymnasts, someone’s bound to trip over a wayward cord.) A 15.24 m HDMI cable should run you about $US25 ($36) or so at most online retailers.

Note: This won’t work for those who live with kids, pets, or major klutzes.

Consider replacing the thermal paste.

Inside every PS4 is a small globule of thermal conductive material called thermal paste. This stuff, in short, helps keep your console cool by efficiently transferring heat, and relieves some of the workload from the cooling systems. After years of use, thermal paste can wear down. Replacing it can ease the pressure on those cooling systems — thereby reducing how loud your console is at max power — but it’s a precarious process.

Before attempting such a surgery, be fully aware of the risks. Since some disassembly and reassembly is required, there’s the very real possibility that you fuck something up in a way that can’t get un-fucked. (Yes, this is one of those aforementioned methods that sends any warranty directly into the Messier 87 black hole.) Proceed with extreme caution — and obviously don’t blame me for anything that goes wrong.

More often than not, thermal paste comes with anything needed for application. Sometimes, as with Arctic’s popular MX-4, they’re sold in hospital-like vials for easy injection. So you needn’t worry about tools on that front. All the other stuff you need — needle-nose pliers, a security screwdriver, possibly a small pick and probe set — likely already exists in your toolbox.

As far as how to replace the paste, there’s no shortage of guides on YouTube and various tech websites. But be careful in choosing whose instructions to follow. The guts of PS4 consoles vary from model to model; a walkthrough for a PS4 Pro won’t be exactly the same as one for a PS4 Slim. Don’t choose the wrong one. For video walkthroughs, read the comments. Make sure they’re all largely positive. With text-based guides, don’t trust anything without a thorough, step-by-step photo component. You don’t want to wing this. All in all, just be careful and exercise liberal common sense.

Of course, if you’re not 110 per cent comfortable (higher, honestly) with your skills, hit up your most technically savvy friend. They can talk you through it — or, for a six-pack and a pizza, they may even do it for you. (Make sure they wash their hands after the pizza.)

Get a Nintendo Switch.

You really want to shut your PS4 up? Get a Switch.

Comments

  • I’ve found that TLOU2 isn’t as bad as other games but it’s far more consistent.
    Some games go from 0-100 all of a sudden but this game seems to sit on 75 the whole time.

    • My Pro hasn’t been too bad, but I use headphones half the time. I find it helps maintain the suspenseful atmosphere, especially when I have other people in the house making noise in the background.

  • Sony are lucky they make kick ars games becuase their quality of design and manufacturing is trash. Worst and cheapest plastic controllers I’ve used, broken plenty simply through general wear. Loudest console ever which is actually more annoying than you’d think.

    • The PS4 controller is my personal favorite in terms of hand holding design – perfectly molded and ‘soft’ even for large hands.

      The analogue drift that inevitably develops though is a right unforgivable mistake though. I wonder if you can get a refund / claim manufacture fault for that sort of thing if you purchased a control <6mths ago?

  • Not even thermal paste replacement will help if you have a launch PS4 Pro, the fan in those is just loud from the get go, and games like Modern Warfare at the menu seem to just let it go nuts.

    • I have a launch PS4 Pro.
      I replaced the thermal paste and thermal pads in the system.
      It made quite a difference. Sure, it still makes noise, but it is considerably less and definitely within tolerable limits now.

  • I will say my 2013 PS4 definitely has jet engine sounds almost all the time (it’s in a cabinet which is open both front and back and is vacuumed frequently) while the 2013 Xbox one next to it is still super quiet 99% of the time. MS might have made the less powerful console but they made it quiet for sure..

    For me, the worst culprit so far was Red Dead 2, I had to turn subtitles on so that I could hear see what people were saying. That being said, even Far Cry 3 classic at the moment makes the fan constantly audible..

  • This is one of the things I’m looking forward to with the PS5: being able to play all my PS4 library, but with less noise.

  • I have my PS4 in a separate cupboard central in my home, split across a few screens. Imagine my shock when I set it up for VR for my boys in the same room I was in… The thing is proper loud! It was so distracting during FFVIIR I had to move it back.

  • I got a PS4 at launch and by the time I traded it away for a PS4 Pro during the 2019 Black Friday sales… it was so bloody loud. I never tried the replacing of thermal paste, though. I was a bit too scared to do that. I did take it apart as best I could to clean out the dust, from time to time.

  • I just changed the thermal paste on my launch PS4 Pro and it helped a little, but the more noisy games are still loud. I have also pulled the cover off and just let it sit on top and I remove it for the very noisy games. Dreams being the worst offender so far.

  • Oh yeah, just go and play The Last Of Us Part II on your Switch. That joke fell flatter than a pancake. Sheesh…

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