PlayStation Classic vs PlayStation One: Which should you buy?

PlayStation One

All things considered, the original PlayStation One is still well worth your money despite being over two decades old. You just have to deal with the risks of buying used.

PlayStation One

The pioneer

The console itself is cheap.
Supports any original PlayStation game.
Adapters allow HDMI support.
Physical memory card support
Will need to purchase used.
Older hardware can be less reliable.
Native graphics are inferior.
Additional cost for HDMI adapter

PlayStation Classic

The PlayStation Classic is a great gift for a person looking for something convenient, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

PlayStation Classic

Nostalgia machine

Convenience of one purchase
Superior graphics
Smaller form factor
HDMI support without adapters
More expensive
Only comes with 20 games
Cannot use original memory cards

What's the difference?

Visually, the original PlayStation and PlayStation Classic are identical upon first glance without any size reference. This is what Sony was aiming for: a replica console. However, if you hold them side-by-side, you do notice that the PlayStation Classic is a lot smaller, approximately 45 percent smaller. Its physical size isn't the only difference though. Both machines have their own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to running older software on televisions meant for today's market.

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CategoryPlayStation OnePlayStation Classic
Dimensions260 mm × 45 mm × 185 mm149 mm × 33 mm × 105 mm
Supports physical memory cardsYesNo
Can run thousands of original gamesYesNo
Supports HDMI without adapterNoYes
720p resolution supportNo (Yes with adapter)Yes

What these features mean to you

If you're unfamiliar with any of the above terms or what role they serve when playing games, I'll break down what these features mean to you so you can make an informed decision when purchasing whichever suits your needs best.

Physical memory card support

This aspect doesn't really affect first-time PlayStation buyers, but it's incredibly important to people who played on the original when they were younger. If you want to jump back into your old save games, you'll need to do so on your original PlayStation One console. The PlayStation Classic does not support physical memory cards, nor does it support any other peripheral devices. While it does feature a virtual memory card, you cannot simply pop in your old card and pick up a game where you left off.

Runs thousands of games

This is a bit self-explanatory, but the original PlayStation runs more games than the PlayStation Classic. Though the Classic will contain some of the most popular games from back in the day, including Final Fantasy VII, it only comes with 20 games total. In comparison, nearly 3,000 games were released for the original PlayStation over its lifetime.

Nearly 3,000 games were released for the original PlayStation over its lifetime.

The only downside to running more games is that if you want them, you'll need to go out and purchase them separately. You'll also have to deal with the used games market, which means prices may vary.

720p resolution

The PlayStation Classic will upscale games to either 480p or 720p, which is its maximum video output. 720p is standard high definition so although it's not as crisp as today's 1080p or 4K images, it's still an acceptable quality. The original PlayStation One, being well over two decades old, does not support anywhere near that resolution natively. However you can hit 720p with Pound Technology's upcoming HDMI adapter.

Pound Technology states that "all games will be upscaled to 1280x720 resolution to maximize compatibility with modern TVs; some of which do not support 240p (PlayStation) or 480i (most of PlayStation 2 library)." Though they cannot comment on its comparison to the PlayStation Classic's image quality, the company says that they "have been very impressed with how clean PlayStation 1 games are once you replace subpar AV cables with ours."

HDMI adapter

Most televisions today don't support older methods of video input, meaning you can't just connect an original PlayStation without going through a frustrating work-around process. This hassle just isn't worth it to many. With the PlayStation Classic, it fully supports HDMI right out of the box so you can literally just plug it in and play.

Recently, however, Limited Run Games partnered with Pound Technology to create an HDMI adapter for the original PlayStation One. With this adapter, available to pre-order for $30, you can make it just as easy to play the original console as it is to play the Classic on a modern television.

The bottom line

The PlayStation Classic is certainly appealing to those who want a quick and easy way to play older games, but the original PlayStation One offers more benefits if you truly care about playing the most games possible.

Jennifer Locke
Games Editor - PlayStation, Android, VR

Jennifer Locke has been playing video games nearly her entire life. You can find her posting pictures of her dog and obsessing over PlayStation and Xbox, Star Wars, and other geeky things.