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Nintendo Switch has higher GPU, CPU perf while docked?

Nintendo Switch may have limited performance while taken on-the-go, with full GPU and CPU perf unlocked while docked for console play.

Published Thu, Dec 15 2016 5:25 PM CST   |   Updated Mon, Oct 19 2020 1:40 PM CDT

Nintendo's new Switch console-and-handheld hybrid may have variable GPU and CPU performance across its two different modes, portable on-the-go handheld mode and stationary docked console mode, with the latter providing extra processing power while hooked up to an active power source over USB Type-C.

Nintendo Switch has higher GPU, CPU perf while docked? 800 |

The United States Patent and Trademark Office just published new Nintendo Switch patents that seem to corroborate past reports on the Switch's variable processing power. According to the patent, the Nintendo Switch's processing clock speeds are variable, and can be controlled by specific games, apps, and programs on the Switch tablet. The patent indicates the system has a GPU and CPU frequency cap while in mobile mode, and is able to hit its full GPU and CPU clock frequency threshold while docked and tethered directly to a power source over USB Type-C. The console must be docked in its cradle in order to hit max CPU and/or GPU perf--users can't just hook the device up to a USB Type-C charger to get more performance. This also makes sense considering the Switch reportedly has a 6.2-inch 720p display, not a full 1080p HDTV display that is used for docked Switch console play.

"In the portable mode, the range over which a clock frequency can be specified by program is limited as compared with that in the console mode," reads the patent. "Note that if the main unit (Switch tablet console) includes a GPU in addition to the CPU, the range of processing power (ie clock frequency) may be limited for the CPU and/or for the GPU." Considering the Nintendo Switch is based on NVIDIA's Tegra processor, with both the Maxwell Tegra and newer Pascal Tegra both featuring onboard GPUs, this limitation will stand with the Switch.


Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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