Which are Better – Slots with Three or Five Reels?

If you play online slots frequently, you will probably know they have varying numbers of reels. Three is the minimum, and five reels are popular too. Occasionally, you will see four reels (although it’s rare), and there are games out there with six reels, too. But three and five remain the most popular variations.

So, which of these is best to play? We’ve highlighted some of the features of each, and then given our verdict. Will you agree?

Three-reel slots

These are arguably the classic games. They usually only have one payline, although some might have three or five lines to bet on, if there are several positions available on each reel. They have classic fruit-based symbols, along with assorted other ones in some cases.

They also often let you bet one, two, or three coins on the payline(s). This allows for bigger bets and potentially bigger prizes as well. You might spot a wild in some cases, but you won’t usually see a scatter symbol. And bonus rounds, well… you might get lucky, but there is more likely not to be any at all.
Bonus round
Fortune Mouse Feature
Software
PG Soft (Pocket Games)
Software
Genesis Gaming
Software
Genesis Gaming
Bonus round
Ringside Rumble Feature, Multiplier Wilds Feature, Knockout Spins Feature
Software
ELK Studios

Five-reel slots

This is where most of the 3D slots live – we can’t think of a three-reel, 3D slot available at present. Maybe you can? These games have more room for more win lines, more ways to win, more features, more bonuses… you name it, they tend to pack in a lot more things for players to enjoy.

These games also tend to have bigger and better themes. While there are themes in three-reel slots, they can be far more basic. And while there might be a bonus in a three-reel game, you are more likely to spot several bonuses and some free spins in one of these bigger, bolder games.
Type
5-reel, bonus, video
Bonus round
Dragon Blast Free Spins Feature
Software
Genesis Gaming
Type
bonus, progressive, video, 5-reel
Bonus round
Free Spins Feature, Cash Grab Progressive Jackpot, Golden Spins Bonus Game
Software
Arrow's Edge
Type
5-reel, bonus, video
Bonus round
Frozen Free Spins Feature, Winters Wild Wheel Feature
Software
Playn GO
Type
5-reel, bonus, video
Bonus round
Free Spins Feature
Software
Habanero
Type
5-reel, video, bonus
Bonus round
Free Spins Feature, Stacked Symbols Feature
Software
Booming Games

Our verdict: Which is best?

In our opinion, the five-reel games win over the three-reel ones in lots of ways. Mind you, we do still love playing a classic three-reel machine when we get the chance. There is something pure about playing a single-payline, three-reel game with the classic fruit, bar, and bell symbols, isn’t there? They’re great if you are on a small budget, too, since a cent per spin is a big possibility.

A lot depends on the theme and presentation, though. If the creator gets that right, any game could be a joy to play, and a big hit, too.