Tearing Down the Original PlayStation on Its 25th Anniversary: 33.9 MHz CPU, 32-bit GPU


The FPS Review
Staff member
May 6, 2019
This week marks the 25th Anniversary of the Sony PlayStation, and what better way to celebrate than with a teardown of the legendary console? iFixit has done just that, disassembling the PS1's guts and showing just how far gaming hardware has come since the nineties. Back then, all that developers had to work with was a MIPS R3000 33.9 MHz 32-bit RISC CPU, 32-bit GPU, 2 MB of RAM, 1 MB of VRAM, 24 channels of 16-bit PCM stereo sound, and a CD-ROM drive that could only read at 2x speed.

It's amazing how far gaming consoles have come in 25 years. The PlayStation 4 has nearly 50x the processing power and 4,000x more RAM than this ancient fossil—and the PS4 Pro runs laps around the PS4. And we've already got a feeling 2020's PS5 will be even better.
I remember the Playstation port of Quake 2 looking and playing extremely good, all things considering.
This was the first console that I remember being a fanboy for during a console war lol!
I was really still just a child and I just remember arguing about this vs the Saturn so much with friends on the playground.
It was not my first console but it was a special one none the less.
FF8, Tekken, MGS, and so many more games I wasted hours on. I may not have beaten them all either ha.
I remember the Playstation port of Quake 2 looking and playing extremely good, all things considering.
Didn't that game also use the PS1 mouse? Or am I remembering something else entirely?

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4P multiplayer on PS1 as well? Well gawd ****. He does mention the PS1 mouse, but he didn't have one to test.

Aahh the PlayStation. I think that was the first system I bought with my own money, rather than getting a console as a gift. Or maybe that was N64. One of those two. N64 still hooked up in my gaming room today, as with most of my consoles, but PS1 is in storage. I usually just play PS1 games on PC or PS3. PS2 was the only hardware-based solution I used for PS1, but my PS2 Slim doesn't ****ing read discs now, so that option is out (been looking into repair or buying another unit when funds allow). I don't have a PS4 yet (missed a Black Friday deal to get a Pro for $250), but I've borrowed the system several times since 2013 and have already gone through a few of the exclusives.

I always really liked PlayStation 1's black CDs. I know that PS2 games that came on CDs instead of DVDs had blue discs, but I've never seen one in person. Now we live in an age where games don't have to come on any kind of physical media at all. Console versions that don't even have optical drives, like the second version of the XB1 S. I guess blu-rays have an interesting color of their own though, and those custom Panasonic/Matsushita discs the Wii U uses. Speaking of which, those Wii U discs, with their weird soft rounded edges, just feel so strange to the touch. Kinda hard to get a grip on actually, compared to most optical media.

I still enjoy hearing the sounds of the Saturn, PS1 and Dreamcast disc drives, the motors and the lenses. Never spent much time with a Sega CD Model 1 (the one that sits under the Genesis/Mega Drive rather than to the side), but the Model 2 was relatively quiet. Some of the other systems that had CD drives or CD add-on units I haven't yet personally used, such as the one for Jaguar, TurboGrafx-16/PC-Engine, etc. PS1 was CD, PS2 was DVD, PS3 was blu-ray, and PS4 kept the blu-ray drive but only used it for installing games to internal storage from the discs (or watching DVD/BD movies). I remember when Microsoft threw an HDD in the original Xbox and a lot of my homeys and I were like "finally!" Unrelated, but turning on a PC and not hearing floppy seek still seems wrong to me. Somehow more wrong than not hearing POST beeps anymore.

Never been a fan of the DualShock series, but DualShock 4 isn't too bad. I never had any PS1 controllers with analog sticks until I got a second PS1 that came with a DualShock. Always hated the DualShock series D-buttons rather than a normal DPad. Then again, could be worse. Like Xbox 360's DPad. DualShock 4 ain't so terrible as the past controllers in that regard either. I did think the use of two rumble motors was neat when DualShock first showed up, but during the same generation the analog thumbstick got introduced by Nintendo, which we were still trying to get used to, it was weird to see Sony slap two of them on a controller. Turned out to be quite helpful, as we saw over the coming generations.

Yeah my first PS1 had two issues that made me retire it. The drive motor wouldn't spin quite often, though you could sometimes get it started by spinning the disc by hand and then closing the lid. Then the memory card ports stopped working completely. That system was hard-modded to play imports and burned discs. Too bad I didn't just wait for the device that just plugs into the parallel I/O port in the back that accomplishes the same thing (which was also cheaper than most people were charging to mod systems). My second PS1 was a model that didn't have that port, so I got screwed there too.

The only PS1 memory card I had was a 24-in-1 unit. You used a button combination on the controller to change between the 24 memory cards. The PS2 did not recognize this button combination, so the only way to change between virtual memory cards was on PS1 hardware. This multi-memory card eventually malfunctioned to where to got stuck on one specific card (one of my brother's), and you could not switch to any other card. So yeah we lost all our data. Or rather, lost access to it. I didn't have anything like a Dex Drive back then to back up PS1 saves on PC back during those 5th-gen days. For PS2 I had multiple physical memory cards, for PS3 and PS4 I just used flash drives. I have no other memory cards for PS1, so I guess that's another reason why I never play PS1 games on the hardware anymore. They're not hard to find, even brand new ones, but eh why spend money when not absolutely necessary. Games look better on PS3 and especially PC anyways. I don't even use my PS1 game discs with emulators because just faster to load a disc image from HDD/SSD. So yeah, not really interested in grabbing PS1 memory cards at this point.

Well, I guess we'll see where PS5 takes things. SSD? Ray-tracing? Been hearing all kinds of stuff. Never imagined when Sony first showed up with a freakin' console in the mid 90s that they would have lasted this long, or been this successful. I was surprised when I found out about a decade ago that Ken Kutaragi was the one who designed the SPC700 audio processor in the SNES/Super Famicom, one of my favorite audio chips, and that he did the work in secret. His bosses were furious when they found out, and he almost lost his job. I think he had wanted to get into the game industry cuz he saw how much fun his kids were having with the NES/Famicom. He ended up masterminding the creation of a dynasty. During the 5th-gen days I never knew about the PS1's origins, how Nintendo had backed out of a deal with Sony and screwed them over. I remember in recent years seeing a working example of the PlayStation CD add-on for the Super NES that eventually led to the actual PS1 console. One generation Sony enters the console space, the very next generation Sega exits. Live long enough and you see enough crazy ****.

My current working PS1 is the model before they switched to the smaller PSOne or whatever the **** it was called. The last one with the original PlayStation look. My PS2 is a Slim. I have a fat PS3 that does not have PS2 back-compat. The original PS1 I had that broke, I gave it to a friend who is a console repair guy and modder to **** around with as he see fits.

Oh ****, I completely forgot about PSP! I have a launch model PSP. Hated the blurring ghosting LCD screen on that thing. Still, it was amazing to see such a large widescreen display in a handheld. Later revisions were considerably better though. Lighter and higher quality displays (although the disc drive door felt cheap). PSP Go is an interesting device I would've liked to try out. Handheld console with a dock, like the Switch. I do not yet have a PS Vita, but I'd like the original version with the OLED screen. Those UMD discs for PSP, man it was crazy to have a handheld console with spinning optical media. Completely forgot that Sony sold actual movies on UMD format.

This was the first console that I remember being a fanboy for during a console war lol!
I was really still just a child and I just remember arguing about this vs the Saturn so much with friends on the playground.
It was not my first console but it was a special one none the less.
Hahahahaha I was already a veteran of the Sega vs Nintendo war when PS1 showed up, but it was interesting to see both sides jumping on the newcomer Sony and not expecting them to amount to much. And then things started to change.... By the end of that generation, I think it was Sony that was laughing.

Hahahaha the playground/school arguments, maaan you're taking me back. The ones I never saw in real life during those 4th-gen and 5th-gen times were the arcade kids. The kids who hated on consoles because they couldn't hope to match the vastly superior power of arcade machines. And then games like Soul Calibur on Dreamcast happened, and consoles were no longer inferior again. Those kids disappeared. In fact, over time arcade machines, like consoles, just became x86 machines. But yeah it was well after I was an adult when I met other gamers who had been those arcade kids in their youth, and they told me some hilarious **** about the way they used to act. That can be said for all those who were a part of the console wars though. Those arcade kids had no argument cuz most people aren't rich enough to have actual arcade machines in their home (or the room). Although Neo-Geo helped make that a possibility, with the AES home console having basically the same hardware as the MVS arcade system, with no losses in graphics or performance. Anyways, I remember how the war turned from Nintendo vs Sega to Nintendo vs Sony. Seemed pretty similar, cuz it was another company with a 4-letter name that starts with an 'S' whose fans bragged about how their system had the more mature games.

And now I'll leave this here, if you haven't seen it:
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I have the actual VHS of this direct from NP. Whenever someone brings up the console wars, I get reminded of this video. I don't keep a VCR hooked up anymore, but YouTube is always handy when I get in the mood to watch stuff like this again.
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Wasn't the first console for me but was the first one to bring me back to gaming and then tech in general. I was blown away by it. Back then, between me and my room mates, I think we had just about every console out at the time. Even when something might look better or have something unique we always ended up back playing it.

I was lucky enough to have one of the originals. The GPU actually got slightly downgraded when it became the PSone but the PSone did get an upgraded CD-Rom. They also removed a dev port in the back which was useful for all sorts of things. It was shortly after the PS2 that I got back into PC gaming and building again after taking a nearly 10 year hiatus.
I remember being in Camp Nintendo at the time. It wasn’t until a year or so after the release of FFVII that I took PlayStation seriously, and I didn’t own one until nearly the PS 2 release.
I can't remember which version of the Playstation I had - it wasn't the original with the separate video ports (mine had the single AV port), but it wasn't the fancier one with the 'music graphics mode' that the later models had (which I was jealous of).

Hardware-wise, my absolute favourite Playstation console was the PS2 Slim. That thing was so slick and tiny.
Hardware-wise, my absolute favourite Playstation console was the PS2 Slim. That thing was so slick and tiny.
Went thru 2 of the first models. One new and one used. Honestly I should've been a part of the class action suit for them but didn't know it happened and succeeded. So pissed when they failed so quickly. Got the slim and was blown away. Thing was awesome. Loved how it used a DC jack instead of direct AC. Used a video adapter along with a portable DVD LCD player back in the day to use in our van. Eventually got a componoent video adapter for it and connected it to our first flat screens to play SW Bounty Hunter at 480p and Grand Turismo A-Spec in 1080i. Slim was the best.
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