If you want to use custom software (commonly emulators) or allow your Switch to run older Nintendo titles, you need to run custom code. But by default, the console won’t run code that’s not signed and verified by Nintendo. The way the OS handles this transaction can be exploited. Hardware hackers have found ways to run custom firmware (CFW) on the console by exploiting bugs in the operating system.
Nintendo has a history of being very strict and litigious about its products. So a lot of people rely on these kinds of exploits to run older games and the like. Some people also engage in piracy, which we don’t condone. The potential legal headaches from Nintendo aren’t worth it. Be careful with how you approach this. But if you want to get into console modding, there’s a few things you need to know. This guide will lay out the information you need to know to find out if Nintendo Switch is moddable.
Modding your console is ill-advised if you don’t know what you’re doing. Modding a console that’s patched can brick your console. And if the modding process goes wrong, you can lose data or the console entirely. DO NOT TRY THIS IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING!
Nintendo refuses to service modded hardware, and they will issue firmware updates that break modded consoles regularly. The company also put a lot of effort into preventing Switch exploits that allow custom code to be run. You need a version of the console that’s vulnerable to an exploit called Fusée Gelée, which is necessary to trick the OS into running the unsigned code. Without that exploit, you can’t mod the console.
How to Check if Your Nintendo Switch is Moddable
With that warning out of the way, it’s time to figure out if it’s even possible for you. It’s important to know that only older Switch consoles can be modded for CFW. You will need to determine if your console is vulnerable to the exploit that the patch uses by checking the serial number. The sticker on the bottom of your console is the first place to check. You just need the first four digits to check if you’re possibly vulnerable. Not all Nintendo Switch consoles can be modded. And even some units older have had their hardware updated to prevent the exploit.
If the sticker isn’t there, you can check it on your Switch by going to System -> Serial Information
Once you have the serial number, look at the list below to see if you can patch your console. The serials listed below that are possible to be patched depend on the OS versions installed. If you’ve been regularly updating your firmware, your Switch might not be moddable. Usually, the newest units produced in the last few years aren’t vulnerable to the exploit.
- For Serial Numbers beginning in XAW1
Serials between XAW10000000000 to XAW10074000000 are unpatched and moddable.
Serials between XAW10074000000 to XAW10120000000 are potentially patched.
Serials from XAW10120000000 and up are patched and unmoddable.
- For Serial Numbers beginning in XAW4
Serials between XAW40000000000 to XAW40011000000 are unpatched and moddable.
Serials between XAW40011000000 to XAW40012000000 have potentially been patched.
Serials from XAW40012000000 and up are already patched and can’t be modded.
- For Serial Numbers beginning in XAW7
Serials between XAW70000000000 to XAW70017800000 are unpatched and moddable.
Serials between XAW70017800000 to XAW70030000000 have possibly been patched.
Serials from XAW70030000000 and up are patched and can’t be modded.
- For Serial Numbers beginning in XAJ1
Serials between XAJ10000000000 to XAJ10020000000 are unpatched and thus moddable.
Serials between XAJ10020000000 to XAJ10030000000 have likely been patched.
Serials from XAJ10030000000 and up are patched and unmoddable.
- For Serial Numbers beginning in XAJ4
Serials between XAJ40000000000 to XAJ40046000000 are unpatched and can be modded.
Serials between XAJ40046000000 to XAJ40060000000 have likely been patched.
Serials from XAJ40060000000 and up have been patched and are unmoddable.
- For Serial Numbers beginning in XAJ7
Serials between XAJ70000000000 to XAJ70040000000 are unpatched and moddable.
Serials between XAJ70040000000 to XAJ70050000000 have possibly been patched.
Serials from XAJ70050000000 and up are patched and can’t be modded.
- For serials beginning in XKW1, XKJ1, XJW1, and XWW1 all of the consoles released with these numbers are patched and can’t be modded.