Basic PS3 Capability Chart

Since there are plenty of variants of the Sony PS3 out there, there's a ridiculous amount of misinformation out there about what each system can do. Since I end up answering questions a lot for friends about which models have what, I decided it's time to write this page. I'm not going to talk about pricing here because it's subject to change and simply isn't germaine to the discussion of what model does what.

Things to Keep Straight

  • All models in production up through the current date (9/17/08) can accept different sized SATA drives, should you choose to upgrade. The procedure for the changeover is documented in the owner's manual.

Capability Chart

Model PS2 Chips USB ports Memory card slots Onboard Wifi Status
20GB EE+GS 4 None No Discontinued
40GB None 2 None Yes Production
60GB EE+GS 4 Memory stick, CF, SD Yes Discontinued
80GB GS Only 4 Memory stick, CF, SD Yes Discontinued
80GB None 2 None Yes Production


  • BC: Backwards Compatibility
  • EE: The Emotion Engine is the Playstation 2's CPU. According to the Wikipedia entry, the Emotion Engine is a MIPS R5900 CPU, running around 300MHz (speed varies insignificantly across models). The PS3 has enough horsepower that it can maintain backwards compatibility with PS2 titles while emulating the Emotion Engine in software.
  • GS: The Graphics Synthesizer was the other highly significant chip in the Playstation 2. The PS3, for some reason, can't emulate the GS in software.

What PS2 Chips Mean for Backwards Compatibility

  • EE+GS: Models which have both the GS and EE physically present on the PS3's motherboard have maximum PS2 compatibility. However, in practice it's really hard to find games (ones which are worth playing, that is) which require that you use full hardware compatibility mode. Typically, even on a PS3 with on-board chips, you use emulated backwards-compatibility in order to be able to play PS2 games at upscaled HD resolutions.
  • GS only: The EE is emulated in software, but the PS2's GS is present in hardware. This provides compatibility with almost all PS2 software. It's worth noting that, any time you play a PS2 game at upscaled HD resolution, you aren't using the EE anyway! It's very rare that you actually ever use this chip, and it's also noteworthy that European PS3's didn't include the EE in hardware either.
  • None: Neither the EE nor the GS are physically present on the PS3's motherboard. While the Emotion Engine can be emulated in software, emulating that plus the Graphics Synthesizer simultaneously doesn't seem to be an option. However, it's worth noting that all models of PS3, regardless of whether or not they have PS2 chips, can play PS1 games.

-- SeanNewton - 08 Jan 2008

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Topic revision: r4 - 2009-02-23 - SeanNewton
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