PS2 vs PS2 Slim: What Are The Differences?


PS2 Fat & Slim Consoles

The PlayStation 2 (PS2) is atop the list of the best-selling consoles of all time, and it’s a system that is very much worth owning even now. But with the different console iterations – PS2 vs PS2 Slim (also referred to as the “Slimline PS2”) – you might be wondering which model is the one to buy today.

What are the differences between the PS2 and the PS2 Slim?

Original PS2 (fat)

  • Original bulkier model
  • Front-loading disc drive
  • HDD support (enhances some games and required to run Final Fantasy XI)

PS2 Slim

  • Redesigned slimmer model
  • Top-loading disc tray
  • No HDD support
  • Released widely in North America (and around the world) in several colors: matte black, ceramic white, and silver

Those are the major differences between the original PS2 and the PS2 Slim, but which model is better? Which one is right for you? Well, the answer to those questions largely depends on your gaming preferences, but most gamers will likely side with the Slimline version. That being said, there are pros and cons to each model.

Original (Fat) PS2

PS2 Fat: Matte Black

Pros

  • HDD Support
  • Compatible with all PS2 games

Cons

  • Not as reliable as PS2 Slim
  • Not as sleek as Slimline PS2
  • Louder and more prone to overheating

Overview: When talking about pros for the original PS2, it all comes down to HDD support. The PS2 HDD (also referred to as the PlayStation 2 Hard Disc Drive) is a 40 GB drive that can be used to reduce load times or back up memory card data. And as previously mentioned, this accessory is actually required to play Final Fantasy XI; there are also 34 other games in North America that support the HDD but do not require it.

For most titles, the HDD enhances experiences by helping games run more smoothly and reducing load times, but only the Final Fantasy XI requires the accessory to be playable. And because the Slim is not compatible with the HDD, Final Fantasy XI does not run at all on the redesigned system. All of the PS2’s other games, however, are playable on the Slim.

At the end of the day, however, this isn’t even seen as too much of an advantage seeing as how Final Fantasy XI online servers were shut down in 2016. That being said, the enhancements for other compatible titles are still a nice bonus, and some unofficial software even allows games to be fully downloaded onto the HDD – making them playable without the discs.

That’s just about the only advantage the original model has over the Slim though. In fact, there are a few cons that might make you think twice about picking up the PS2 fat. For starters, the original PS2 isn’t nearly as reliable as its Slimline counterpart.

The original iteration of the PS2 hardware is notorious for having disc read errors. Especially as the console ages, an inability to read games can become an issue for the original unit. Fortunately, however, this malfunction was rectified with the hardware redesign. Additionally, the original PS2 also runs a bit hotter and more loudly than the slimmer model.

Given the advantages the Slim has over the original PS2, you’d think the fat model would at least be significantly cheaper. Well, that’s just not the case. (Prices do tend to fluctuate, so please visit our continuously updated article – How Much Is A PS2 Worth? – in order to stay up-to-date with the cost of each respective model.) Additionally, both models are backward compatible with the PS1, so there is no real advantage there either.

Bottom Line: Unless you’re nostalgic for the original hardware, there is really no reason to choose the original PS2 over the Slim. There is nothing inherently wrong with the original model (aside from shakier reliability), but there simply is no real clear advantage for it either.

PS2 Slim

PS2 Slim: Matte Black

Pros

  • Slimmer and sleeker than the original unit
  • More reliable than the PS2 fat
  • Also quieter and less prone to overheating

Cons

  • No HDD support

Overview: One thing we didn’t really get into with the PS2 fat is its front-loading disc drive. This might seem like an innocuous design decision, but the top-loading disc tray actually helps to make the Slim a more reliable piece of hardware, as the front-loading tray is simply more prone to wearing down over time.

We discussed HDD support on the original model – and at the end of the day, it’s honestly not that big of a deal. So, what you’re left with is a sleeker, smaller, and more reliable piece of hardware. The ports on the face of the console are a little bit more cramped than on the original model, but this is all in favor of getting a much smaller box under your television.

Lastly, the PS2 Slim was widely released in North America (and around the world) in several colors – matte black, ceramic white, and silver. The original model was also released in other colors around the world, but these aren’t as easy to come by today and can drive the price up quite considerably. Meanwhile, the Slim’s colors are available at similar price points to the original matte black. These are relatively small pros, but it is nice to have some color choices for those who want them.

Bottom Line: The PS2 Slim is the model to get. It’s more reliable, it’s smaller, and it is available in multiple colors. There aren’t a ton of major discrepancies between the two units (which is reflected in their similar pricing), but most of the differences appear to favor the Slim. The PS2 Slim does everything a redesign should: It looks sleeker, it solves hardware issues from the previous model, and it simply works better. Trust us, and go with the Slim… unless you find an exceptional deal on the original model, of course.

Bobby Anhalt

Bobby is the founder of Retro Game Buyer. He adores video games and is passionate about sharing his knowledge, thoughts, and opinions on nostalgic retro titles.

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