What is the Difference Between NSP and XCI ROMs? Which One is Better?

The NSP and XCI are the two terms that are commonly used in the conversations of Switch hacking and emulation among the gamers and enthusiasts. However, both NSP and XCI files are the formats for storing Nintendo Switch game data, but they have different features that influence the way they are used and compatibility with various hacking approaches.

Knowing these differences is the key to getting into the Nintendo Switch homebrew and piracy if you are going to do it. Hence, in this article, we are going to uncover the differences between NSP and XCI ROMs and find out which one is a better choice for your gaming purposes.

Key Differences Between NSP and XCI ROMs:

Nintendo Switch ROMs come in two primary formats: NSP and XCI.

NSP (Nintendo Submission Package):

  • NSP files are a file format that are used for Nintendo Switch games, updates, and DLC (Downloadable Content).
  • This method is quite similar to the installer files which are used on other gaming platforms.
  • NSP files can be installed onto a Nintendo Switch console with the help of such tools like Tinfoil or Goldleaf.
  • They are commonly used for Nintendo’s digital distribution of Switch games via official Nintendo channels or authorized retailers.
  • NSP files are usually smaller than their XCI equivalents because they have compressed data.
  • NSP files are directly installed on the console’s internal memory or microSD card, which makes this option more appealing to users who prefer digital downloads.

XCI (eXecutable Content Information):

  • XCI files are another format of ROMs used for Nintendo Switch games.
  • The format is similar to the ROM files that used to be used for older gaming consoles.
  • XCI files are the exact copies of the data on the game cartridge, which comprises the game code, assets, and encryption.
  • They are commonly used for saving the physical versions of Switch games or for distribution through unofficial channels.
  • XCI files can be loaded to the Nintendo Switch console using custom firmware or homebrew software.
  • Unlike NSP files, XCI files are often bigger in size because they preserve the entire uncompressed data from the game cartridge.
  • Some users elect XCI files for their simplicity and compatibility with custom firmware, which makes illegal copying and exchange of games easier.

Which One is Better?

The NSP and XCI ROM formats are interchangeable and the results are equally good when either of them is used for emulation. These games can be simply played on any device like a PC or Android using emulators such as Suyu, Ryujinx, Egg NS and many other emulators. The choice of either format depends on the user’s preference or accessibility. Furthermore, the performance of the emulators should be the same whether NSP or XCI files are used.

How to use Nintendo Switch ROMs on Emulators and Consoles

I’ve already provided a guide on how to use Nintendo Switch ROMs on emulators and consoles. For further guidance, refer to the provided guide here.


In short, the difference between NSP and XCI ROMs is an important topic for those who want to hack Nintendo Switch and play emulators. The NSP files are already compressed and are installed directly onto the console, while the XCI files preserve uncompressed data and are often used for physical copies or unofficial distribution. Both formats are good for emulation, with users’ preference as a key factor in choosing one of them. If you need more information, please refer to the guide which will help you to use Nintendo Switch ROMs on emulators and consoles.

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