Is there any limit as to what size/type of hard drive you can replace in the Playstation 3?
There are a couple of things to bear in mind when upgrading the PS3 hard disk. To be explicit: physical size; storage capacity; type.
Physical size: The disk has to be a 2.5in laptop drive, and despite possible expectation, these are manufactured in slightly different sizes. Currently they come in 9mm and 12mm depths. The 12mm disk is too large to physically fit in the PS3 so you'll want to source a 9mm disk.
Storage capacity: It's not explicitly stated by Sony what the maximum is; however I don't think there has been a 9mm hard disk manufactured yet that has hit the limit. Last I heard 1TB disks were just about squeezing in the PS3.
Type: It has to be a SATA disk.
Digital Foundry put together a really good, in-depth comparison of the performance you can get out of different hard drive types (in particular, SSD vs traditional):
In short, the SSD isn't as big of an improvement as you might expect, with some exceptions.
CNET put together a piece on how to do it. Just get a 2.5" SATA drive and format it to FAT32 and you're good to go.
Yes, it will see a 1TB as it's boot drive. Not talking external, which is of limited use. With the PS3 slim, "Advanced Format Drives" are not an issue. However, it will not format a boot drive bigger than 1 TB. I tried. https://www.facebook.com/notes/jeff-dranetz/maximum-logical-drive-size-for-ps3/10151679084920238 I used a SATA to eSATA PS3 extender kit. (see link) Using an external drive as a boot drive is achieved with a POWERED eSATA enclosure. I tried a eSATA cable powered unit, did not work. Anyway you don't want the new drive to over tax the PS3 PSU. Also, it will not add to console heat, I am guessing lengthening the life of the console itself. If you don't want to go this route, any laptop,hybrid, or SSD 2.5 drive 1 TB and under will work. I had a 500GB 7200 rpm laptop drive in before the upgrade with no adverse effects. Some have warned against heat and power requirements of 7200 rpm drives over 5400 drives. For the enclosure I ended up using a 1TB 3.5" Western Digital AV-GP drive., designed for always on use. An enterprise server drive might have been quicker. I would recommend a desktop drive over an enterprise drive due to the fact I keep the enclosure always on for convenience. Everytime I power on the PS3, it's already fully spun up.
I've done it and it's stupid easy. Just follow one of the zillion FAQs out there. One tip, grab the latest Sony firmware and dump it on a USB stick first. It will need that to reinstall/reformat the drive.
Make a backup, replace drive, install firmware, restore drive, reactivate system from the PSN menu. That's it.
I did this a long time ago, and I have no reason to disagree with any of this. The PS3 is still good for working as media access to a TV, and that may be where a larger drive will pay off. There are a lot of PS3 games available cheap, and it's a decent Blu-Ray player.
Currently (2017), you can still get the drive bracket, and you can pick up the PS3 Slim with the 12GB SSD at a low price. That was what I bought, and that's OK for gaming. I fitted an 160GB HDD fairly soon. I needed the drive bracket to do that
At current prices, a 1TB drive isn't extravagant, but even a 500GB drive will store a lot of media. The PS3 uses USB2, which is starting to feel slow for an external drive, but I have connected over the network using DLNA and Plex. USB2 is faster than most people's internet connections, enough to play back from an external drive.
At some point you might not be able to get the software for the various streaming services, but if you have a PS3 I don't think you need to spend money on a different black box for watching streaming media.