In an interview with Nikkei Xtech, PlayStation 5 engineer Yasuhiro Ootori notes that the PS5’s surprising size can largely (pun intended) be attributed to the size of its fan and internal cooling system.
Ootori (who many may recognize from his appearance in the recent PS5 teardown video) explains that the PS5’s 45mm thick fan actually draws in air from both sides of the console despite the fact that what Ootori describes as the “B” side of the console doesn’t actually feature the console’s chip or other notable heat-generating components. His hope is that this dual-intake design will help reduce the temperature of the “B” side which, in turn, raises the overall temperature of the console.
The side-effect of this design is that the PS5’s overall size had to be increased in order to properly incorporate the larger fan. Many of those who got their hands on the PS5 (or even just shared a room with an early model of the console) were taken aback by its size both in relation to previous PlayStation consoles and in comparison to the perceived size of the console based on early photos. While the fan isn’t the sole contributor to the system’s size, it does seem like the cooling system is the biggest “culprit” in this instance.
Interestingly, Ootori also notes that he had considered putting two smaller fans in the PS5 rather than one large one. However, Sony ultimately felt that method wasn’t cost-effective and that it would be more difficult to consistently regulate two fans rather than one.
So will this larger fan actually make a difference? We won’t know the answer to that question until we’re able to put the PS5 through its paces when it launches in November, but it should be noted that the PS4 suffered from noise and heat problems that became more pronounced over time. The PS4 Pro addressed some of those issues, but it’s interesting that we’ve heard so many fans talk about the PS5’s noise and heat management given that such topics used to be limited to detailed tech breakdowns of a new console.
For what its worth, some previews of the Xbox Series X noted that it also ran hot during tests of its backward compatibility features. Microsoft noted that their tests indicated the console was essentially performing as intended, so it could just be that we should expect next-gen consoles to run about as hot as higher-end PCs.