There is a huge market for model trains and scale railroad operations. The technology behind the modeling and simulation of the real world is called N Scale. HO Scale is the sister scale to N scale. It was originally designed to bridge the market gap between N scale and O gauge. For a more detailed explanation of each scale, the following link provides a good reference: Although both scales are used for modeling their respective scales, different companies manufacture each gauge and each scale. So, if you have a preference between N scale and HO scale, you may want to purchase both scales.

It’s a common question among model train hobbyists who diorama and layout their layouts, and that is, “If one scale train is so much larger, why would you go smaller for the scenery?” Well, the answer to that is a matter of scale, of course, but you also need to know how much space you can dedicate to your layout.

N Scale and HO Scale are two scale types commonly found in model railroading. They are typically used to measure distances. There are a few different scales, but the most commonly used one is 1 1/4 inches per foot, or 1 scale.

When it comes to model trains, there are many important things to consider. The scale of the model, the design of our layout, and particular locomotives that we wish to operate are all important considerations.

If you’re not aware, model trains come in a variety of sizes, the most common of which being N scale and HO scale.

Which one do you think you should go with? Which is the superior option? Let’s have a look!

What is the difference between N scale and ho scale?

Two of the most common scales for model trains are N scale and HO scale. The first important thing to remember is that N scale model trains are much smaller than HO scale model trains.

N scale model trains may range from 1:148 to 1:160, depending on the nation of origin. The gauge (or track width) is, however, set at 9mm.

A HO size model train, on the other hand, has a scale ratio of 1:87. The HO scale has a 16.5 mm gauge.

As a result, a HO train is somewhat smaller than a N scale train.

Which scale is more accurate?

We can’t claim one scale is objectively better than the other since they both serve the same goal of being better at different things.

So, depending on what you want in a model train, your options may vary from those of others. So let’s have a look at some of the major differences between n scale and ho scale so you can make your own decision!

Space is required.

Because the HO size is larger than the N scale, it will need more space to set up than the N scale trains. Now, it doesn’t have to be a huge space, but a ho size plan would probably fit on a 48-inch sheet of plywood, so that’s probably the very least.

For N scale model trains, on the other hand, the same effect may be accomplished in a smaller area. The same restrictions apply as before, thus you can get away with a 24 foot plan as a starting point.

You may start to come up with some great details if you add anything additional to each of them.

So, if you have a space constraint, N scale model trains are the way to go.


One of the most common arguments in the N scale vs. HO scale dispute is that HO just contains more information since it is larger.

In this case, it is technically correct. Because the HO scale locomotive is larger, they can include a lot of the finer, more minute features on the train that a N scale engine would not allow.

The capacity of N scale to retain many of the same features as HO has greatly improved in the past decade, but you’re still left with the overall size issue, where items like rivets and bolts may be too tiny to show up at scale.

If you value accuracy, HO size model trains are the way to go.

Expansion of the layout

It’s unlikely that you’ll just put up the little circular track that comes in the package and leave it on the table. Building your own layout is half the pleasure of model trains!

As a result, you’ll need additional rail track, landscape, and buildings to complete your layout.

Unfortunately, components for N scale models are a bit more difficult to come by. Despite the fact that they were both developed within a 5-year period of each other, HO has been far more popular for much longer, while N scale has just recently begun to gain widespread appeal. In this case, HO scale is preferable for locating a larger range of components, but it doesn’t rule out the possibility of N scale growth.

What is the process for converting HO scale to N scale?

Simply increase the dimension of any HO scale item by 0.54 to convert it to N scale.

In the other direction, you may multiply N scale by 1.70 to get HO scale.

This is useful if you want to apply anything like 3d models or a decal that is at a different scale than the others.

Is it true that N scale is less expensive than HO scale?

When it comes to ho scale vs. n scale, pricing is definitely a major consideration!

Model trains in N size are less expensive than those in HO scale. They are always at least a little bit cheaper since they are tiny in size and need less resources to manufacture. The N scale usually ranges from $100 to $200, while the HO scale has a wider variety, ranging from $120-400.

So, in this instance, both scales will likely provide something in the $150-200 range.

Which is the more easily accessible option?

The most popular model is HO scale, which is also the most widely accessible train size today. In this case, HO comes out on top by a wide margin. It’s not only the locomotives that are more plentiful, but also the various detailed accessories.

While HO wins out here, don’t get too worked up if you go with N scale. There are still plenty of fantastic accessories available!

That’s all there is to it!

At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you want from your model train layout.

If you’re working with a tiny area, such as a corner of a room or a small apartment, N scale is the clear victor.

If you have a little more space and want something with a little more detail, we strongly suggest going with HO size.

Honestly, with a lot of the larger companies pouring their money into N scale trains in the past decade, the gap between cost, availability, and detail is rapidly narrowing, so no matter what you pick, you’ll be safe!


For as long as he can remember, Peter has been constructing model trains. This site is a creative avenue for him to go further into various sizes and elements of the model train community and hobby. He is an ardent lover of HO and O scale.

When you just need a simple layout, N Scale is the way to go. Its easy to use and gets the job done. N scale is less expensive to buy and less work to maintain. HO Scale is a good choice for a layout with more detail, and is easier to find parts for. If you want to build something really detailed, HO is the way to go. But if you just need something to get the trains on the tracks, get N Scales, its the worlds best bargain.. Read more about n scale vs z scale and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better N scale or HO scale?

HO scale is better because it has a larger range of possible locomotives.

What is the difference between HO and N scale?

HO scale is 1/87th the size of N scale.

Is N gauge smaller than HO?

N gauge is smaller than HO.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • n scale vs ho scale trains
  • n scale vs ho scale size
  • difference between n scale and ho scale
  • n scale or ho scale
  • what scale is ho scale
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