Nintendo explains why the Switch isn't very powerful

Nintendo cares much more about creativity and innovation than it does high-end specs.

2 minutes & 21 seconds read time

The Switch isn't very powerful, but it doesn't need to be. It's versatility, utility, and mobility has sparked tremendous hardware and software sales while also pushing many of gaming's biggest publishers to squeeze their AAA games onto the limited-power platform. Now Nintendo talks about the idea behind compromising with a low-spec system.

Nintendo explains why the Switch isn't very powerful |

In a recent Fiscal Year Q3'19 Q&A session with investors, Nintendo executives discussed key points about the Switch business. One of the more interesting tidbits sees the company arguing against a higher-end 4K-ready Switch Pro upgrade by emphasizing creativity, innovation, and uniqueness over raw performance and hardware specs.

Nintendo execs say the Switch simply wouldn't exist if the company put more importance on power. As the natural combined evolution of the 3DS and the Wii U, it's only logical for Nintendo to focus more on adequately joining the two platforms in any way possible, even it meant compromises in hardware performance.

"Nintendo Switch goes beyond what we imagined as it develops. A product like the Switch wouldn't have happened had we simply jumped on the technology bandwagon and worked to create the highest-spec hardware," said Nintendo senior executive officer Ko Shiota.

"The hardware we create is a dedicated system for playing games, and as a dedicated video game system, it should be a device that enables people to enjoy quality game experiences in whatever way is most comfortable for them in a given situation. In our hardware development, we are constantly looking for technologies that can best deliver those kinds of experiences, and studying how we can offer them in unique Nintendo-like ways."

Luckily NVIDIA's Tegra X1 chip didn't see performance dropping tremendously low, but the Switch still runs a lot worse than the PS4 or Xbox One.

For context, the transforming Switch handheld-console has variable performance depending on whether its docked or mobile. When docked, the Switch's Tegra chip is unlocked and the GPU runs at 768MHz. But when taken on-the-go, the Switch's GPU speeds are nearly halved to 302MHz.

This hit is especially noticable on the Switch Lite since it's mobile-only, meaning it runs more poorly than a docked Switch.

Nintendo says it's currently investing and developing new hardware, whether it be augmented reality, another console, or even a Switch successor. But whatever the company's working on, we should expect it to lean more towards fun and away from raw TFLOPs and graphical might.

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. 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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