PS4 noise: why Sony’s console gets as loud as it does

There are few things in life that can break immersion like a noisy console. Unfortunately for Sony fans, the PS4 has plagued thousands of players with the infamous “jet engine” spectrum of sound.

Running into the issue of a rambunctious sounding console isn’t a guarantee, but it’s enough of a risk to do your homework in order to minimize the annoyance.

Whether you’re buying a PS4 for the first time, looking to upgrade, or quiet an existing console, there are a few things you can do make the noisiness less maddening.

Why is my PS4 so loud?

No matter the model you own, chances are your PS4 will encounter times when it’s loud to the point of being annoying.

Why do the decibels tend to kick up?

There are several reasons why the PS4 (any model) tends to go haywire:

  • Build up of dust
  • Unseated thermal paste
  • Inefficient cooling solution
  • Incredibly taxing games
  • Uncapped framerates in the menu

How can you prevent your PS4 from generating too much noise?

It’s worth it to do things like keep your PS4 in a well ventilated area and regularly remove dust, but there will still be times you may run into noise issues.

Keeping your PS4 in a well ventilated area will not only prevent noisiness, but it will also increase the lifespan of the console itself. Heat is the destroyer of electronics.

A lot of what you’ll find online when it comes to people’s experience with PS4 noise levels is all over the place, and it’s going to be a bit of a gamble at the end of the day.

In my experience, it seems as though the PS4, no matter the model, gets quite loud during demanding games and/or taxing sections of games.

I’ve also found that the PS4 also takes off when in the menu of some games. The reason for this is because certain titles leave the framerate uncapped on the title screen.

Which PS4 model is the quietest?

For those looking to either upgrade or buy Sony’s machine for the first time, there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping around.

While much of the PS4’s noise issues are a gamble, not all models are created equally. For one, new models are almost always going to be better in this regard than used units.

Used units, while offering savings, have potentially been through years of dust intake and thermal paste breakdown. For you the buyer, this means that the odds of picking up a noisy console are exponentially higher.

Most find that the latest revisions of the Slim and Pro models are the quietest with the original PS4 following behind. Ultimately, there are still the elements of randomness, ventilation, dust, and ambient temperature at play.

Players report that of all the PS4 models, the original is by far the noisiest. In my experience, this holds true. I’ve played extensively with the original and Slim PS4, and the Slim is by far the quieter console.

While I don’t own the PS4 Pro myself, my experience around several tells me that it too generally offers a more low key experience. Anecdotally, quite a few players report that their Pro’s sound like a “jet engine” or “vacuum cleaner”, but if you’re just now looking to purchase a Pro, there is the added benefit of a quieter revision existing on the market (CUH-7200).

If your budget can swing it, definitely shoot for either the latest revision of the Slim or Pro (this shouldn’t be an issue if you are buying new). The Slim may make more sense at this point considering that PS5 is mere months away from launching.

Is some noise normal?

Just as with your laptop or desktop, the PS4 is always going to produce some noise in an effort to draw heat away from the internals.

If you’re lucky enough to have a quieter console, this may only be a quiet whir, and something you won’t notice unless right next to it. It’s also quite normal for your PS4 (original, Slim, or Pro) to kick up the noise in certain demanding titles or menus.

This is what I’ve seen across the PS4’s I’ve owned, my friends’ consoles, and anecdotally online. Generally speaking, the newest revisions are quiet so long as your console is well ventilated, not introduced to too much dust, and not exposed to high temperatures (such as lack of air conditioning in the summer).

Sony’s console does fall short overall, however, when compared to its competitors. There are times when, no matter the revision you own or precautions you take, the console will move into the infamous “vacuum cleaner” territory.

Why is the PS4 loud when playing certain games?

In most cases, it seems as though the loudness of the PS4 is correlated with how demanding any particular game is. In my experience, rendering many objects on screen, intensive networking, and cutting edge graphics are all things that can kick my PS4 Slim’s fans into overdrive.

In line with these observations, I’ve found that PS4’s fans punch it up a notch when playing:

  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Warzone)
  • God of War
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Fortnite

In one way or another, these games are incredibly demanding. They also seem to be common culprits of the PS4’s loudness for most players. Although there are benefits of developing exclusively for consoles, pushing a system to its limit is always going to demand a lot from the hardware (just as it would on the PC).

Is the PS4 louder than Xbox One?

Yes, the PS4 on average is louder than the Xbox One. This is what I’ve seen when comparing the base consoles and what most report as far as the Xbox One S and Xbox One X revisions.

I always thought that the original Xbox One was comically large, but it was also near silent at all times when I owned one. It didn’t suffer from the spikes in noise that I’ve seen in my PS4’s.

The engineering team over at Microsoft has done an amazing job of keeping their consoles silent this generation and it really shows when looking at the Xbox One X.

Not only is it a beast of a machine (and significantly more powerful than the PS4 Pro), it also boasts an aggressive cooling and thermal management system. The Xbox One X is a feat of engineering in many ways, but its ability to remain quiet while pumping out native 4K resolution in many games is incredibly impressive.

Will the PS5 be quieter?

Futuristic, sleek, and bold. It’s hard to say whether the PS5’s design is good or bad.

Theoretically, the PlayStation 5 should run quieter than the PS4. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Simon Rutter explained that “a great deal of effort” has gone into making the PS5 quieter than the PS4. It’s no secret that PS4 consoles, over time, tend to produce too much noise. It’s great to see that Sony is cognizant of this and has taken strides to develop hardware with silence in mind.

Will these efforts pan out?

While players should be able to tell if the PS5’s fans kick into overdrive when playing demanding games on day one, much of the noisiness of the PS4 comes from extended usage of the machine. We will have to wait and see how the internals age over time. As with prior Sony consoles, we can most likely expect a more energy efficient revision of the PS5 down the line as well.

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