At the end of August, YouTuber Austin Evans posted a video on Sony's updated PlayStation 5 "CFI-1100" console. He was one of the first to obtain the revised model and what he found after tearing down the console was that Sony had equipped it with a smaller and lighter heatsink. In testing the unit, Evans found exhaust temperatures were higher than on the launch variant, leading him to claim it was "worse" than its predecessor. That's a statement that led to controversy, and, in some cases, confusion over whether people should buy the updated CFI-1100 model.
Now we have a more definitive answer on what the new heatsink means for the PlayStation 5. Working together, Digital Foundry and Gamers Nexus conducted an independent teardown and analysis of the console. The short answer of what they found is that "in all practical terms, there is no meaningful difference between PS5s old and new." The longer answer is that the new PS5's cooling performance is more complicated than was first reported.
In addition to featuring a new thermal assembly, Sony tweaked the motherboard and baseplate found in the refreshed PS5. The result of those changes is some components run cooler while others get hotter. However, Digital Foundry states, "there is no evidence that this presents anything worth worrying about, assuming you are keeping your PS5 in a well-ventilated area."
Critically, the outlet found that once it installed the latest firmware from Sony, there was also no difference in performance between the new and old models. Both variants will pull as much power as they need to maintain a sufficient boost clock and throttle their fans to limit noise. Even as both consoles get hotter, you won't notice a dip in performance in the way you would with a PC GPU. Either way, should they hit a critical temperature where their components are in danger, both will automatically shut down to prevent damage.
"The core question of whether the new PS5 is better or worse than the launch model can be answered by saying that they're mostly much the same, certainly in terms of the end-user experience," according to Digital Foundry.
The main takeaway from the analysis conducted by the outlets is that you can safely buy the updated model. You don't need to go out of your way to find the launch variant. In fact, it's probably best you avoid doing so since many scalpers have tried to take advantage of the fallout from the initial video Evans posted by selling their launch models for even more money.