Compressed File Formats for Games Emulators

Compressed File Formats for Games Emulators

Here is a list of the file formats that I use within emulators, I prefer compressed files when possible as it saves on disk space.

GenerationSystemBest File Format
Home ComputerZX Spectrum7z
Commodore 647z
Amstrad CPC7z
Amiga 500LHA
PortableGame Boy7z
Game Boy Advance7z
Nintendo DS7z
Sony PSPCSO but don’t always work
3rdAtari 78007z
Sega Master System7z
4thSega Megadrive7z
5thSega SaturnCHD
PlaystationCHD (or PBP)
Nintendo 64None are reliable
6thSega DreamcastCHD
Nintendo GameCubeRVZ
Microsoft XboxSquashFS
7thNintendo WiiRVZ


7z is a file format created via the “7zip” utility. It’s got good compression levels and most of the emulators for the older systems can read this format. Normal “zip” files can usually be used too.


LHA is an older compression format and most Amiga emulators can make use of this.


CSO is a compressed ISO, mainly used for PSP. The “maxcso” utility is usually used to create these files.


Compressed Hunks of Data. This was originally developed for MAME, the “chdman” utility creates these archives.


PBP files are mainly used for Playstation 1 games, and this file can contain multiple disc images. CHD is better but needs separate files so isn’t quite as convenient.


RVZ is a special format used by the “Dolphin” emulator for Gamecube and Wii games. The Dolphin GUI is used to compress files.


This format is used for Xbox, PS3 and Wii U games. The utility transparently compresses games via the “mksquashfs” utility.

Wrap Up

Hopefully this might help somebody looking for the best compression formats to use in games emulators!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *