A reader explains the problem of coil whine and how it got so bad with Horizon Forbidden West that he ended up selling the console.
It’s well over a year since the launch of the PlayStation 5 and while you don’t hear stories about people being desperate for it so much now, it’s still very hard to get hold of. So I felt very lucky when I managed to get one for Christmas. That is until I hit a major problem: coil whine.
If you’re lucky enough not to know what coil whine is it’s pretty straightforward. There’s a coil in the PlayStation 5’s GPU that vibrates the more strain you put on it. So if you’re just on the dashboard, and haven’t got a game open, you won’t hear it. But if you start an intensive game then, if you’re unlucky, you’ll hear a buzzing sound that will get louder the more is going on, on-screen.
I’m sure there’s many PlayStation 5 owners reading this right now who are saying, ‘Well, mine doesn’t make that noise!’ Well, good for you. Mine does. Or rather did. It’s not uncommon either, so it won’t take much googling to find other people complaining about the issue. It’s nothing to do with the fans either, which I understand is also a relatively common issue.
I can only assume it’s the same problem that was much more common, and much louder, on the PlayStation 4. Or at least my one used to howl like a banshee if it tried to play anything more advanced than an indie game. Which is pretty disappointing if that means Sony knew the problem existed for that long and never successfully fixed it (it can also happen with PCs, apparently).
In normal times, with the console easily available, I’d look to replace it, but Sony has made it clear to me that they can’t do that at the moment. They offered to fix it but that will take weeks and with Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring coming out I wanted to play them first, rather than be late to the party and get everything about them spoiled online.
Both are terrible though. The noise is constant throughout Elden Ring, even though I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily the most graphically intensive game I’ve ever seen, but the second I turn on Horizon Forbidden West it’s like a hornet’s nest is in there. It’s very distracting and, of course, now I’m looking for it, I hear it even when it’s not that loud.
It’s ruined my ability to concentrate and I just haven’t enjoyed either game as much as I knew I would otherwise. So I decided to sell it.
My only options were to send in the console for who knows how long and hope it’s fixed by the end or just get an Xbox Series X instead. I won’t be able to play Horizon Forbidden West at all now but at least I’ll be able to enjoy Elden Ring without the risk of getting tinnitus while I play.
Considering I thought the size of the PlayStation 5 was specifically to prevent this sort of problem it’s extra disappointing. I got £600 for it even used and, yes, I did mention the coil whine, but I guess the guy didn’t believe me/didn’t care (I’ve got a feeling he was just going to sell it on to someone else, for even more money, but maybe that’s just me being cynical).
So now I’m looking to get an Xbox Series X, as soon as I find it in stock somewhere, so I can see what can go wrong with that. I haven’t heard about any hardware problems with it, but I seem to always be unlucky with these sort of things, so who knows. I’ll sell the PlayStation 5 games at CeX while they’ll still worth a lot and try and try and put all this behind me.
Coil whine might not be a big scandal like the Red Ring of Death but it’s ruined my experience with the PlayStation 5 and I doubt I’ll be back unless they have a hardware update that can guarantee it’s got rid of the problem.
By reader Carbon
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