It’s generally best to use the PlayStation 3’s HDMI output, however there are backward-compatible scenarios that make the PS3 an interesting tool. Please read on for more info:
Any quality HDMI cable will work fine.
Component Video Cables:
HD Retrovision Component Video Cable – The best component cable you can buy for your PS2 or 3!
RGB Cables (only 480i is supported!!!):
Sony Playstation RGB SCART Cable – (UK Seller, Composite Video port for light guns)
Sony Playstation RGB SCART Cable – (US Seller, offers composite video pigtail for light gun games)
The PlayStation 3 can output 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p from it’s component video and HDMI outputs. The RGB signal will only output 480i and no other resolution! As a note, 240p isn’t supported from any output.
PlayStation 1 Backward Compatibility
All models of the PS3 are backward compatible with PS1 discs, however I’ve found the video quality to be noticeably softer than when using PS1 or PS2 consoles. Also, since the PS3 can’t output 240p, all PlayStation 1 games will either be outputted at 480i, or scaled to 480p and above.
Generally speaking, PSN downloads of PS1 games looked much sharper than playing original PS1 discs. I’m not sure why this happens, but it was noted on multiple games.
As a result, the PS3 is a decent way to play PS1 games on a flat-screen TV, but a terrible way to try and play PS1 games on a CRT, unless you’re specifically looking for 480p support.
PlayStation 2 Backward Compatibility
Early models of the PS3 had PS2 hardware built in, making it a decent way to play PS2 games. There’s even some smoothing and filtering options that some people might enjoy.
Some PS3 models replaced PS2 hardware support with software emulation. This was generally regarded as terrible and should be avoided.
All models that were released after that removed PS2 support altogether for costs reasons and aren’t compatible with PS2 games without a modification.
CECHA01 – Hardware-based backward compatibility, good choice for PS2 disc support.
CECHB01 – I think all “B01” consoles were also 100% hardware compatible, but I’ve never gotten confirmation.
CECHE01 – Partially software-based backward compatibility, not recommended for PS2 games.
PlayStation 3 on a CRT
While it might be strange to think about using a console that shipped with HDMI on a CRT, many gamers and enthusiasts enjoy both the look and the zero-lag display a CRT has to offer. Here’s some ways to make that happen:
The easiest way to play PS3 on a CRT is via component video out. Please note that most CRT’s and RGB monitors only support 15KHz resolutions, meaning the only signal you’d be able to output from a PS3 in that scenario is 480i. Some CRT monitors can support 480p, 720p and 1080i as well, so you can take advantage of those.
If you have an RGB monitor that supports 720p and HD SDi, you can use an HDMI to HD SDi converter to play games in the highest quality on your monitor. Most HDMI to HD-SDi converts are completely lag-free, as they only convert the signal between formats and don’t use a framebuffer to change anything.
Please note that while RGB Monitors are always zero-lag, some consumer-grade “HD CRT’s” actually add about two frames of lag due to their internal processing. You’d still get a “CRT look”, but with about the same lag as your average flat-screen.
Yellow Light Of Death
It’s common for PlayStation 3 consoles to stop working and when you try to power them on, they either blink red or yellow and don’t boot. For years, people assumed the problem was the same as the Xbox 360: Lead-free solder on the CPU and GPU. While that might still be part of the problem more research has found that the “tokin” capacitors that filter power for the main chips inside the PS3 might be a more common cause.
Either way, it’s now recommended that you never use a heat gun on a PS3 to try and revive it! You’ll either need to replace the capacitors, “reball” the GPU & CPU or possibly perform other maintenance. For more info, see this excellent video: