PS5 USB ports reportedly fail at EVO 2023

Sayem Ahmed
PS5 USB broken with console next to it

EVO 2023 attendees claim that some PS5s at the tournament are failing, with USB ports melting, likely caused by high heat output at the rear of the console.

EVO 2023 has recently wrapped up, with the fighting game community coming together from across the globe to duke it out in games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and more. However, some tournament-goers reported that the PlayStation 5‘s rear USB port melted, causing the plastic connector to get stuck inside their controllers. 

The Evolution Championship Series tournament is owned by Sony. As such, many of its main tournaments were played on Sony’s latest and greatest games console. With over 10,000 entrants into its 2023 edition. Thousands of players plugged in their controllers to the tournament’s PS5 setups to duke it out in heated tournaments in Las Vegas this past weekend.

The rear USB-A failures have been widely reported by users across social media, including CEO founder Jebailey.

There were several factors in play here: One is the extremely heavy usage of the PS5 USB ports, and another potential cause is thermal dissipation issues, causing the IO ports to heat up.

One player claimed the PS5’s blue portion of the USB port at the rear of the console is heating up enough that it is melting and fusing with plugged-in peripherals. As competitor Cloudraven experienced while he was using his Hori Fighting Commander Octa at the tournament. He further comments to Dexerto: “Tubazo1989 rescued me with a brook adapter and I could keep playing.”

Is the PS5’s thermal design to blame?

A PS5 disassembled with a man sitting by it

A quick look at iFixit showcases how the PS5’s heatsink runs very near to the IO ports on the rear of the console, as the fans push air out, heat rises through the heatsink and surrounding areas. It is possible that the PS5’s internal temperatures are reaching such a point that it’s affecting the IO, and causing the USB ports to fail.

But, not all PS5 heatsinks are built the same. Not every PS5 will have the same heatsink as earlier models, with Sony constantly making internal revisions to the console as time marches on.

Redditor Xeleion claims the ambient temperature at EVO 2023 was around 22 degrees Celsius. According to GamersNexus testing, the PS5 can reach up to 71 degrees on its SoC chip.

This in itself will not be enough to melt ABS plastic, which has a 105-degree melting point. If the material used on the ports is the softer PE plastic, then the melting point is similar, at around 105-115 degrees.

It’s possible that the USB IO pins are specifically heating up through the PS5’s heatsink dissipation. Pushing a high heat for a prolonged amount of time through a low area of thermal density, like a USB pin, could potentially raise temperatures further, and cause this issue. This would make the plastic decouple from the USB pins, and result in the plastic portion snapping off into a plugged-in peripheral, as EVO attendees have reported.

Is USB-A durability a part of the problem?

Being a tournament with thousands of entrants, all bringing their own controllers means that you are using the console’s USB-A plugs almost constantly. With Street Fighter 6 alone possessing a bracket of over 7,000 players, that’s a whole lot of controllers and tournament setups.

USB-A is rated for a minimum of 1,500 mating cycles, with many being tested up to 5,000 in “high durability” builds. For context, USB-C is rated for 10,000 cycles. However, some modern USB-A connectors can reach up to 20,000 cycles.

It is possible that a heavily used PS5 at the event is having its USB-A headers fail, as it falls outside of the rated mating cycle range. But, the phenomenon of USB-A ports on PS5 failing is limited to the PS5’s back portion, lending credence to the idea that thermals are also a part of the issues observed.

How to avoid the PS5 USB-A port melting

ps5 liquid metal

If you’re a tournament organizer worried about your PS5 setup potentially getting ruined by this issue, the answer is simple. Use the front USB ports, and avoid the rear ports where possible. If the setup is going to be running for a prolonged period, you might also wish to pick up a lag-free USB-C to USB-A splitter. 

Do I need to be worried about my PS5?

This is a rather fringe issue that affects esports organizers, who are likely running the PS5s for 12 hours or more, with heavy usage of the USB ports. In order to avoid this issue, we recommend using the PS5’s front USB ports, as it is placed on a daughterboard within the console, and can be repaired. If the rear USB ports are damaged, it will require a total replacement of the connector itself, which may require a new motherboard. It’s likely that tournament organizers will need to use some form of USB splitter without adding latency to the console to avoid issues like this for players in the future.

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