The performance of fault-tolerant modular permanent magnet (PM) machines depends on the proper selection of the pole and slot numbers which result in negligible coupling between phases. The preferred slot and pole number combinations eliminate the effect of low order harmonics in the stator magneto motive force and thereby the vibration and stray loss are reduced. In this paper, three external rotor machines with identical machine dimensions are designed with different slots per phase per pole (SPP) ratios. A simulation study is carried out using finite element analysis to compare the performance of the three machines in terms of machine torque density, ripple torque, core loss, and machine efficiency. A mathematical model based on the conventional phase model approach is also used for the comparative study. The simulation study is extended to depict machine performance under fault conditions. © 2012 Faculty of Engineering, Alexandria University. Production and hosting by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.