All You Need to Know About The Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch

The Switch is Nintendo’s latest entry into the console market in an attempt to compete with the dominance of both the PS4 and Xbox One. Since the inception PlayStation and Xbox, it has been hard for Nintendo to compete in terms of mass-market triple A titles.

The Nintendo Wii was one of the highest grossing consoles of all time, and at one point it seems like literally, everyone you knew had one. This might have been purely for the purpose of Wii sports, but nonetheless, you can’t argue with that consoles popularity.

The Nintendo Switch looks to emulate that success and so far, it’s looking good. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been met with widely positive reviews and the line up of other games coming in the near future also has current and potential Switch owners excited for the future of this console.

What about the hardware behind the switch? I hear you ask. Well other than some pretty cool features with its portability, the Nintendo Switch actually offers far more when you look under the hood and see what makes the machine run. Let’s break down exactly what you get for your buck and see what Nintendo has powered the Switch with.

CPU

The Nintendo Switch utilizes a custom CPU for the console which is an Octa-core 4xARM Cortex-A57 & the ARM Cortex A-53, which both clock in at 1.020Ghz. The numbers aren’t as high as what you might find in the PS4 & Xbox One, but they’re modern CPUs and they serve the console perfectly.

Graphics Processing

The Switch has a reasonably impressive Maxwell based GPU on following suit, which is made by NVidia. The cores of the GM20B vary between 768 MHz and 307.2 MHz, as this depends upon whether the device is docked. The Switch does have the capability to boost this GPU and by doing so they can be boosted to 921 MHz and 384 MHz respectively.

It is not a graphics powerhouse by any means and you should not buy this console thinking about the graphics too much.

Hard Drive

I have to be honest and say that this is the area I think the Switch suffers. The boxed version of the console comes with 32GB of internal storage. Now, these numbers aren’t great, and you have to remember that this is also a handheld device, but compared to competing consoles, it’s minuscule. You can very easily upgrade this to 2TB by using a microSD, a microSDHC or a microSDXC card, however. This feels standard and typical Nintendo and it’s definitely not make or break, but it’s something that can and should be improved. Once Breath of the Wild is installed, you wouldn’t have much room to play with for example.

Other Hardware

The Switch’s docking station has some standard features, so I won’t bore you too much with the details. Complete with a 1080p HDMI out for when the console is docked and one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. While docked, the unit can support resolutions up to 1080p and maximum frame rate of 60 frames per second.

The actual console also has some inputs, including a 3.5 mm audio jack, stereo speakers on the bottom of the unit, a USB-C port for charging while out of the Dock, and a kickstand on the back.

There is no disk drive for the Switch, so no Blu-rays here, but the console also includes a slot for game cards and a MicroSD slot too.

Controllers

There are a few options for controllers when it comes to the switch and some of these are optional extras, in that they don’t come with the console as standard.

The Joy-Con is something that will come with the console as standard. They are essential individual controllers named “Joy-Con L” and “Joy-Con R” which can be attached to the Switch Console via side rails using a locking mechanism. Both of the Joy-Cons have what’s called an HD Rumble, which is haptic feedback system that generates a fine tactile feedback.

The optional extra you can get for the Joy-Con is called a grip controller, which is more for the hardcore gamers amongst you. This changes the Joy-Con into a more traditional feeling controller and adds an element of grip to the device.

It’s also good to know that these controllers come in a few different colors.

UI

Nintendo Switch’s UI is as good as any on a console; It’s sleek, friendly and so easy to use. If you are familiar with Nintendo’s UI from either the Wii or DS systems, then you should have no problem in navigating on the Switch.

For a console that could appeal to a younger audience, if I dare say so, then it’s nice to see that effort has gone into making this user-friendly and accessible.

Backwards Compatibility

The Nintendo Switch’s ‘Virtual Console’, is coming at some point. This will let you download games from old consoles like SNES or N64. Unfortunately, you cannot play 3DS games on Nintendo Switch, even though the cars are of a similar size.

4K Support

The Nintendo switch does not have 4K support in the same way that the Xbox One or PS4 has. The system will allow you to connect your Nintendo Switch dock to a 4K TV and use the console in TV mode; however, the console screen will only be displayed on the TV in 1920x1080.

There is no news if this is likely to change in the future, but at the moment, there is no support for 4K with Nintendo Switch.

Online Services

The Switch provides online functionality, which includes multiplayer, downloading and purchasing via the Nintendo eShop. There is also lobby services and voice chat available to players.

This service does require a monthly subscription, in line with the other major consoles. This is known as Nintendo Online Service program.

The price for this service is refreshingly cheap compared to others. As of June 2017, a 1-month subscription would cost you $3.99 or a year costing $19.99.

Specifications

FeatureSwitch
CPU: Cores4x ARM Cortex A57
CPU: Clock speed1020MHz
GPU: Cores256 Nvidia CUDA
GPU: Docked speed768MHz
GPU: Undocked speed307.2MHz
HDRNo
Memory4GB
Storage32GB flash (microSD-expandable)
Physical game formatsGame Card
USB ports2x USB2, 1x USB3.0
Video outputHDMI

Final Thoughts

The Nintendo Switch is a console you buy because you want to play specific games on it or simply want something portable. Those who play Call of Duty and other franchises are not going to turn to the Switch for their fix of those titles, but that’s not what this console is about.

The Switch offers so much more and in a totally different fashion than the PS4 & Xbox One do. It almost feels like the Switch isn’t in competition with those two, purely because of how different it is. Nintendo knows its strengths and it plays on them so well.

Everything aside, this console is rather impressive when you look under the hood. It’s a testament to how far Nintendo has come and how even further they intend to go.

Constantly threatening to write a book, but always with a story to tell. Tom has a typical northern English soul. He may sound as mundane as Jon Snow, but at least he tries to articulate. Lover of video games, comics, geek pop culture and wishing he could play Dungeons & Dragons.
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