PlayStation 3 Model Guide: PS3 Model List and Comparison

PS3 Model Guide

Buying a PS3 back in the day wasn’t easy. Aside from buying used or new, you also had to consider the PS3’s model. Unlike the current gen’s models, the changes weren’t so pronounced yet they could still make or break your experience.

There are PS3 models that have PS2 backwards compatibility while others don’t. Some models have more storage capacity while others have less but boast better performance. Oh, and newer models weren’t always the best. It was just all messed up.

Don’t worry though; this is why we painstakingly created this PS3 model guide.

But amidst all these differences, all the PS3 models have the following constants:

  • A Hard Drive
  • USB Ports
  • BluRay player

The Different PS3 Models

Before we look at the broken down long list of model numbers, features, prices, colors, and everything that makes up each PS3 model number, let’s first talk briefly about the 3 different PS3 models:

Original PS3 Model (Phat)

In November 2006, Sony released the original PS3 “Phat” model. It was named so because it was bulky and heavy. This system not only played PS3 games (duh!), but also supported PS1 and PS2 titles.

There were different hard-drive sizes circling the model and it ranges from 20GB, 40GB, 60GB, 80GB, and 160GB versions.

The “Phat” PS3 models can be identified by its thicc curves, or if you’re more of a numbers guy, then you could use the following model numbers:

The “Phat” PS3 models
CECHA**CECHJ**
CECHB**CECHK**
CECHC**CECHL**
CECHE**CECHM**
CECHG**CECHP**
CECHH**CECHQ**

PS3 Slim Model

Sony then started releasing the slim model in September 2009. It got its name because this is 32% smaller and 36% lighter than the “Phat” model. Aside from that, it also consumes 33% less power than its predecessor. As far as backward compatibility is concerned, this only supports PS1 games.

This system came in 120GB, 160GB, 250GB, and the 320GB variants.

The PS3 Slim models have the following model numbers:

The PS3 Slim models
CECH-20**ACECH-25**A
CECH-21**ACECH-30**A
CECH-20**BCECH-25**B
CECH-21**BCECH-30**B

PS3 Super Slim Model

Three years after the Slim model was released, Sony decided its long-lived PS3 was still not thin enough, and thus the Super Slim model was released in September 2012. This is 25% slimmer and 20% lighter than the Slim model. Like the Slim model, this also supports PSone games.

One of the obvious changes is the sliding disc cover instead of the traditional slot-loading drive. This version only has 2 variants, unlike its predecessors-- the 250GB and the 500GB versions.

The Super Slim PS3 models are distinguished by the following model numbers:

The Super Slim PS3 models
CECH-40**ACECH-42**B
CECH-42**ACECH-40**C
CECH-43**ACECH-42**C
CECH-40**BCECH-43**C

That’s Interesting… Now, How Do I Find My Sony PS3 Model Number?

Locating the model and serial number on your PlayStation 3 is easy. Just check the back of the system and find the barcode. Underneath it should be the 11-digit serial number. Next to it is the model number, which usually starts with “CECH”.

The Phat model

PlayStation 3 Model Comparison Table

PS3 “Phat” Mode
 20 GB60 GB80 GB40 GB40 GB80 GB160 GB
CECHB01CECHA01CECHE01CECHH01CECHG01CECH-K01CECHP01
CECHL01
Release DateNov-06Nov-06Aug-07Nov-07May-08Sep-08Nov-08
Launch Price$499$599$599$399$599$399$499
Available ColorPiano Black/BlackPiano Black/ChromePiano Black/ChromePiano Black/Satin SilverGunmetal Grey/Satin SilverPiano Black/Satin SilverPiano Black/Satin Silver
Hardware
Cell Fab Process90nm90nm90nm65nm65nm65nm65nm
GPU Fab Process90nm90nm90nm65nm65nm65nm65nm
Power Consumption180W180W180W135W135W110W110W
USB Ports4442222
Flash Card ReaderNoYesYesNoNoNoNo
WifiNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
Bundled Accessories
Ethernet CableYesYesYesNoNoNoNo
Video CableComposite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)
GamepadSixAxisSixAxisSixAxisSixAxisDualShock 3DualShock 3DualShock 3
Compatibility
Playstation 2YesYesSoftwareNoNoNoNo
The Slims model
PS3 Slim model
 120 GB CECH-2001A250 GB CECH-2001B120 GB CECH-2101A250 GB CECH-2101B160 GB CECH-2501A320 GB CECH-2501B160 GB CECH-3001A
Release DateSep-09Oct-09Mar-10Mar-10Jul-10Jul-10Jul-11
Launch Price$299$349$299$349$399-$399
Available ColorCharcoal BlackCharcoal Black/White and PinkCharcoal BlackCharcoal Black/White and PinkCharcoal Black/Classic White/Satin Silver/Titanium Blue/Magical GoldCharcoal Black/Classic White/Splash Blue and Scarlet Red/Satin Silver/Black and Pink/GoldCharcoal Black/Classic White/Satin Silver/Titanium Blue/Magical Gold
Hardware
CPU Fab Process45 nm45 nm45 nm45 nm45 nm45 nm45 nm
GPU Fab Process65 nm65 nm40 nm40 nm40 nm40 nm40 nm
Power Consumption250W250W230W230W230W230W200W
USB Ports2222222
WifiYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Bundled Accessories
Ethernet CableYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Video CableComposite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)
GamepadDualShock 3DualShock 3DualShock 3DualShock 3DualShock 3DualShock 3DualShock 3
Compatibility
Playstation 2NoNoNoNoNoNoNo
PS3 Super Slim model
PS3 Super Slim model
 12 GB CECH-4001A250 GB  CECH-4001B500GB CECH-4001C12 GB  CECH-4201A250 GB CECH-4201B500 GB CECH-4201C12 GB CECH-4301A
Release DateOct-12Sep-12Sep-12Jun-13Jun-13Jun-13May-14
Launch Price$260+$270$300$260+$270$300$260+
Available ColorCharcoal Black/Azurite Blue/Garnet RedCharcoal Black/Azurite Blue/Black and Gold/Black and White/Black and Blue/Classic White (Japan)Charcoal Black/Classic White (Japan, Europe/North America/Garnet Red/Azurite BlueCharcoal Black/Azurite Blue/Garnet RedCharcoal Black/Azurite Blue/Black and Gold/Black and White/Black and Blue/Classic White (Japan)Charcoal Black/Classic White (Japan, Europe/North America/Garnet Red/Azurite BlueCharcoal Black/Azurite Blue/Garnet Red
Hardware
CPU Fab Process45 nm45 nm45 nm45 nm45 nm45 nm45 nm
GPU Fab Process40 nm40 nm40 nm40 nm40 nm40 nm40 nm
Power Consumption190W190W190W190W190W190W190W
USB Ports2222222
WifiYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Bundled Accessories
Ethernet CableYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Video CableComposite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)Composite (Analog)
GamepadDualShock 3DualShock 3DualShock 3DualShock 3DualShock 3DualShock 3DualShock 3
Compatibility
Playstation 2NoNoNoNoNoNoNo

Phat vs Slim vs Super Slim: Which is the Best?

It’s hard to discern which is the best console because they all boast different features that may or may not be in line with your needs or interests. Moreover, it is worth knowing the model numbers to look for or avoid since the hard drives can be replaced thus meaning capacity isn’t a great way to differentiate between models. So let’s (semi-)quickly compare them.

The “Phat”

The original “Phat” PS3 may not be as sexy as its successors-- although we still think big bottom consoles make the world go round-- but the original CECHB01 (20GB) and the CECHA01 (60GB) models-- released in November 2006-- have backward compatibility for both PS1 and PS2 games (Although, the original 20GB model didn’t have built-in wi-fi for some reason?). All of the later “phat” models, like the CHECG01 and CECHK01, and all of the Slim and Super Slim variants were only able to play PS1 titles.

Just to clarify-- since this is likely why most readers are here:

  • Is the CECHG01 backwards compatible? No.
  • Is the CECHK01 backwards compatible? No.
  • Is the CECHL01 backwards compatible? No.
  • Is the CECHE01 backwards compatible? Yes… sorta. It uses software emulation instead of hardware emulation and the results aren’t pretty.

Aside from that, earlier “phat” models have 2 more USB ports, as well as other storage ports like SDIO/MMC, Compact Flash, Memory Stick, and SD cards.

It can also be jailbroken, so you could add more features like debug tools and install packages. But even so, it still is more vulnerable to overheating, which is why a lot of these models get the dreaded Yellow Light of Death or YLOD.

The Slim

A lot of consumers tagged the slim model as the best among the three while others said that it shouldn’t have been released in the first place because it doesn’t have the backwards compatibility of the earliest PS3’s.

However, it definitely boots faster and is quieter than the “Phat” models and it takes up less space compared to its fat predecessor, a reason why a lot of consumers praised the slim.

Unfortunately, some of the slim models still have the dreaded YLOD problem. This is why a good number of slim consumers decided to buy a fan dedicated only to the slim to address the overheating problem. To add to that, other slim models have problems recognizing dual layered discs, too. This was only a small fraction of users, but it’s still worth considering when dipping into the secondary market.

It does support Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, which lets you hear better audio quality compared to the “phat” models and it can also be jailbroken, too.

The Super Slim

The Super Slim may not be as feature-rich as the “phat” but it is the best when it comes to power consumption (Probably about 5 cents less per month? You could probably buy a stick-- not a pack-- of gum with that!). Regardless, this means you have little to no chances of encountering the dreaded YLOD.

Aside from the size, you’ll also notice that the disk tray is now located at the top with a slide-to-open cover feature.

Moreover, releasing 6 years after the original phat models and three years after the original Slim models, this is significantly younger, which is something worth considering for legacy hardware-- consoles or otherwise.

Like the slim, this supports Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, and an HDMI control that automatically turns the TV on when you turn the console on. While this does have PS1 compatibility, it doesn’t have PS2 backward compatibility.

Also, even though this can now be jailbroken, I still don’t advise it since users had problems afterwards with their display not recognizing the console, games didn’t work, and failed installation.

Conclusion

Because they all have different features, it’s hard to say which is best-- especially since our needs and wants are very subjective. Early phat models may support PS2 games, but they were also released in 2006. That is an extra 6 years of wear and tear, dust and grime that PS3 Super Slims have not had to fight through.

But at the end of the day, it still boils down to how well you take care of your PS3 (and a little luck on getting quality hardware and materials?) that defines the longevity of the system.

Which PS3 model did you have and how well did they serve you through the years? Tell us down the comments!

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