In this manuscript, we present an intercomparison of three different aerosol microphysics modules that are implemented in the climate model ECHAM5. The comparison was done between the modal aerosol microphysics module M7, which is currently the default aerosol microphysical core in ECHAM5, and two sectional aerosol microphysics modules SALSA, and SAM2. The detailed aerosol microphysical model MAIA was used as a reference to evaluate the results of the aerosol microphysics modules with respect to sulphate aerosol. The ability of the modules to describe the development of the aerosol size distribution was tested in a zero dimensional framework. We evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches under different types of stratospheric conditions. Also, we present an improved method for the time integration in M7 and study how the setup of the modal aerosol modules affects the evolution of the aerosol size distribution. Intercomparison simulations were carried out with varying SO2 concentrations from background conditions to extreme values arising from stratospheric injections by large volcanic eruptions. Under background conditions, all microphysics modules were in good agreement describing the shape of the aerosol size distribution, but the scatter between the model results increased with increasing SO2 concentrations. In particular in the volcanic case the setups of the aerosol modules have to be adapted in order to dependably capture the evolution of the aerosol size distribution, and to perform in global model simulations. In summary, this intercomparison serves as a review of the different aerosol microphysics modules which are currently available for the climate model ECHAM5.