Beautiful PHAT design without the overheating of 1st Gen and can be flashed to 3.55/DEX
I think the best PS3 option is one of the CECHH03 through PO3 PHAT models.
THE backwards compatible CECHC03 is great for the fact that it plays PS2 games and looks great with the silver trim and embossed writing (later PHATs had printed writing and black trim) but an example in good condition with new quality thermal paste (a must) will still set you back around a ton.
For half that you can get a good condition H03 onwards model with redesigned heat sink/ventilation system and get a console enthusiast to flash the console back to 3.55 firmware for about fifty squid. You've then got a machine that you can back up your games on, install mod menus for call of duty, install homebrew games and apps, etc for around the same price.
The same can be done for most ps3 slims (not 3003 models) but you pay more for the smaller form factor and bigger hard drive, and don't have the gorgeous looks of the original Teiyu Goto design.
To sum up, the CECHC03 60GB PHAT has the best looks, backwards compatibility but needs fully dusting and quality thermal paste applying to the RSX and CPU chips, to replace the poorly conducting and often poorly applied gunk that SONY used on the early models.
The CECHH03 onwards PHATs (40/80GB) can be had for around fifty pounds in good condition, can be flashed to 3.55 firmware, have better heat dissipation (along with 45nm architecture, creating less heat and using less energy) whilst still retaining the original design.
The PS3 slim (120/160/250GB) has a smaller and lighter form factor, more storage and can still be flashed back to 3.55 firmware, but is usually expensive than a PHAT in similar condition (but almost always cheaper than a good condition early 60GB model).
So it's really down to what you want from your machine, your budget, and what you personally find more aesthetically pleasing.
One thing I must state is I would never buy a super slim. The manually operated Blu-ray drive cover is flimsy, the laser is prone to finger print and dust adhesion causing misreads, it's too light (easy to knock off your TV stand) and costs way more than it should, even secondhand.
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Verified purchase: Yes | Condition: Pre-owned