While there are countless Nintendo Switch review out there, the current handheld of Nintendo is still one of my most favorite gaming consoles, the one that reignites my interest into gaming. So, I decided to write a comprehensive review for the Nintendo Switch anyway, starting with the original Switch that I bought back 6 years ago.
I also have used other models in the Nintendo Switch family, so you can read the review of your exact Switch model:
The Nintendo Switch is also one of the best handheld gaming consoles in my opinion, which isn’t a surprise considering the whole Switch family has been sold for more than 120 million units. The device eagerly awaits an opponent that can compare to its popularity, or else Nintendo will continues to be top of the handheld world.
It is unnecessary to say another hype word for Nintendo, as the company is the only one making handhelds with an exclusive world of games, from Mario, Zelda, Pokemon and a lot more. There will be fans and haters, but no one can deny the popularity of the Nintendo Switch. It has been 6 years since the Nintendo Switch was launched, and exclusive games are still in wait list to be released for this system.
Nintendo Switch Review: Price
- MSRP: $299
- Has been upgraded to version 2.0
- Is $50 cheaper than the OLED model, and $100 more expensive than the Lite
One thing that you would love from a Nintendo handheld is the easy-to-access price. The New Nintendo 3DS XL that I very much in love with started at $219 in the past, and Nintendo doesn’t up the price too much after these years. It is the same as the Nintendo Wii U in the past, and the price is one factor explaining the popularity of the Nintendo Switch.
If you’re looking to buy the standard Nintendo Switch at the moment, it would be the revision of the initial Nintendo Switch (commonly referred to as Nintendo Switch v2). I write everything I know about Nintendo Switch v1 vs v2, so you can decide which version should you buy.
Common handheld gaming PCs at the moment starts at $399, and that is the long-awaited Steam Deck only. Yes, other handheld gaming PCs could cost you 2, even 3 times what you paid for the Nintendo Switch OLED. I know, the Nintendo Switch has hardware limitations, but the rumor of the Nintendo Switch 2 can affect your buying decision, especially when the Switch will always be cheaper.
People who love handhelds still don’t have problem at getting at least one handheld gaming PC to play AAA titles. I don’t know, being adult means I can only spend 120 hours for a game in, well, perhaps 3 months or more. Don’t want to remember the last time I played Breath of the Wild, and I haven’t touched Tears of the Kingdom yet. After all, I like to take time writing reviews for retro games, because competing with big news companies is full-time, and kind of hopeless.
So, do you want a handheld at cheaper prices? Then get yourself a Nintendo Switch.
Related post: Best handheld gaming console.
Nintendo Switch Review: Design and Build Quality
|Dimensions||102 mm x 239 mm x 13.9 mm|
|Weight||398 grams (with Joy-Cons)|
|Screen||6.2 inch IPS, 1280 x 720, 237 PPI, 16:9 aspect ratio|
|Colors||Neon Blue/Red, other limited editions|
|Speaker placement||Front facing, bottom|
|Storage||Internal 32 GB, External microSD|
|Audio output||3.5mm headphone jack, HDMI (5.1 channel linear PCM)|
|Video output||HDMI (in TV mode, up to 1920 x 1080)|
- Portability is amazing, it is meant to be taken outside
- Weight distribution is good for long gaming sessions
- IPS screen is great, and if you mainly use the Switch docked, you don’t need to concern
- Back up with lots of accessories
- Build quality is decent
The Nintendo Switch is actually a hybrid gaming console. If you put it in docked mode, it works the same as a console system like PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. But for a lazy handheld man like me, the Nintendo Switch is a sweet handheld that I can use for hours (if only I have time). Look at the dimensions and try at comparesizes.com if you don’t have a clue. Remember that including the official Joy-Cons increase the depth from 13.9 mm to 28.4 mm.
This size is necessary to contain a mainboard with lots of functionality: from 5.1 channel speakers, a big battery to cooling system. It is certainly not pocketable, but you can easily put it in a cross-body bag. I wrote many reviews for all kinds of Nintendo Switch accessories that I’ve tried, so make sure you take a glance.
The weight of the Nintendo Switch is a bit more than what I would prefer, but it is a necessary trade off for a 6.2-inch screen. When you come to the world of handheld gaming PC, you will know that you need to lift even more weight to use a 7-inch handheld. Do you even lift?
In the whole family, the standard Nintendo Switch doesn’t play nicely in handheld mode like the Nintendo Switch Lite, which is lighter. Weight aside, the culprit of making Nintendo Switch is the nature of attaching/detaching Joy-Cons from the Nintendo Switch. It feels a bit of uncertainty, especially when you use the Nintendo Switch for a long time (for example, 6 years). On the other hand, detaching Joy-Cons and playing Nintendo Switch Sports is fun with your family.
Now, let’s talk about the screen. If you’re looking for a Nintendo Switch review about screen section, all results will point you to the Nintendo Switch OLED model. Right at its name, it’s clearly highlight the OLED screen, which is supposed to have better contrast, higher brightness, and a wider color range. These advantages improve overall image quality, which isn’t a gimmick. I never forget back in my college days, I had a wow impressions for my friend’s PlayStation Vita. So imagine the Nintendo Switch OLED to be even better in terms of screen, and you won’t look back at the standard Nintendo Switch anymore.
Still, I must confess that I keep the standard Nintendo Switch, because I see no need in trying to resell it and buy another model again. I have experienced the Nintendo Switch Lite for a while and I love its design, but after using a big screen, it’s really hard to go back to smaller screen (at least in my situation). The Nintendo Switch OLED gives me more incentives to buy, but finally I choose to borrow my friend’s OLED model for only a while, and enjoy my standard Switch after that.
If you’re looking to buy a Nintendo Switch at the moment, you should think carefully, especially when you’re going to order it online (blind buy). Depending on which one you care mostly about, you can choose either the Nintendo Switch Lite for portability or the Nintendo Switch OLED for better screen. The difference between the two hybrid models is only $50, while you can save $100 by getting the Lite version. Yeah, now I realize why tech news only write about the most expensive model. That could be the intention of Nintendo as well.
There is no anti-glare screen technology in the standard Nintendo Switch, so make sure you find a good place to play games. It is troublesome, however, I get used to the disadvantage quickly, as most retro handheld emulators that I bought later don’t have such fancy thing, either.
One thing that you would like to consider buying the Nintendo Switch OLED is the fact that it includes limited editions. There are limited editions for the standard Switch, too, but Nintendo ceases to make others at the moment. See the latest The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom game? Its theme is only applied to the Nintendo Switch OLED model, and yes, at no additional cost.
And the internal storage, right, the internal storage of the standard Nintendo Switch is only 32 GB. It is double on the OLED model to 64 GB, so another point to consider the OLED model more. If I recall correctly, sales of the standard model decreased about 50% while sales of the OLED model increased by about 50% (source: Nintendolife).
Another thing you can do with the hybrid Switch is playing in tabletop mode. It is suitable when going to cafe with your wife, and you don’t want to bring full options to enjoy a few rounds of Mario Tennis Aces with her. Sadly, the stand of the standard Nintendo Switch is left a lot to be desired. Come on, why you don’t think of the OLED model’s stand sooner, Nintendo?
While both standard and OLED models share the same audio output from a 3.5 mm headphone jack, the standard Nintendo Switch can’t plug with a bookshelf speaker directly, unlike the OLED model. Also, if you are having DAC/Amp stack to drive, for example my Hifiman HE6SE, the DAC is only recognized in the OLED model, and not the standard model. I know, that’s something Nintendo won’t unveil for us, and maybe their targeted customers don’t care much about headphones. However, I love being an audiophile, so why the Nintendo Switch can’t act like a common desktop computer?
Build quality of the Nintendo Switch is great, that is what you would expect from a big company. Still, I don’t recommend to abuse your handheld devices, though I must remind you that the Nintendo Switch has lived for 6 years without issues. If I would have a vote for the best handheld’s build quality, I’m sure to choose anything from Nintendo.
Nintendo Switch Review: Gaming Experience
|CPU||NVIDIA customized Tegra X1+ (ARM A57), 4 cores @ 1.02 GHz|
|GPU||256 Maxwell-based CUDA cores @ 307.2 MHz (768 MHz when docked)|
|Memory||4 GB LPDDR4 @ 1331/1600 MHz|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Cooling system||Fan and ventilation|
- Targeted games: 1st party Nintendo games
- For people who want an all-in-one system
- Battery life is very good for a handheld
- Connectivity is quick and reliable
- No FPS drop due to overheating
Related post: Best retro handheld emulator.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Bayonetta 1, 2 and 3
- Nier Automata
- Pokemon Brilliant Diamond
- Pokemon Legend Arceus
- Pikmin 4
- It takes two
As expected from the handheld with a huge library building upon, the Nintendo Switch gives us quite awesome gaming experiences, especially its first party games like Pokemon Legend Arceus or Bayonetta 3. However, the Switch’s hardware limitations affect even its own games. You won’t forget the famous Korok village’s lag, right? And that’s a game meant for the Wii U system, which is previous generation.
Moreover, modern games suffer quite badly from the Switch’s hardware limitations, and if you try to play games on docked mode (for example, It takes two), you will see the graphics difference, it’s night and day. If you want an all-in-one gaming console that can replace your PlayStation 5, sadly you must suffer the downgrade in graphics. On handheld mode, however, the lower resolution blur some minor details, and it is more reasonable to play in that way. I must confess, I am never able to finish Nier Automata if I don’t play it on my Nintendo Switch.
Repeat again. Even the first party Nintendo games suffer from a system dated back 6 years ago. Playing the latest Pikmin 4 is a bad experience, which is kind of unacceptable. People are crying for a change, which is supposed to be the right time for an upgrade (like what Sony did with the PlayStation 4 Pro).
Then I see posts praising the Steam Deck and laughing on the Switch hardware, as the newer system can emulate Switch games on 60 FPS, something you can’t ask from the Switch itself. Well, technically, it’s really difficult at the moment to dump a Nintendo Switch game and run on Steam Deck, so emulating first party Nintendo games is kind of impossible. Secondly, for demanding games like Pokemon Legend Arceus, the Steam Deck doesn’t produce a good emulation experience. As a result, you will need a handheld gaming PC that costs at least double the price of the Nintendo Switch.
We all agree that the Nintendo Switch’s hardware is somehow PlayStation 3’s equivalent. In fact, the Nintendo Switch is much closer to the PlayStation 4 than the PlayStation 3, and if you can emulate other retro systems with the Nintendo Switch, there will be many emulators that run perfectly.
To do the emulator route, you must mod your Nintendo Switch. It is impossible to do a soft modding in Nintendo Switch at the moment, and mod chip is against the legal information. So, unless you have a Nintendo Switch from the launching day, there is no legal way to try RetroArch on Nintendo Switch. I believe that you don’t need to be sad, because Nintendo is adding so many famous titles from SEGA Genesis, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, NES, SNES and even Nintendo 64 using NSO (Nintendo Switch Online, a subscription service meant for online gaming). That way, you can enjoy full service from the Nintendo Switch legally.
If you’re able to soft mod the Nintendo Switch, you should install Android to emulate more retro systems. In my opinion, it isn’t worth the hassle, and you should get a capable retro handheld emulator instead. What you can’t get on Nintendo Switch is perhaps behind a Paetron paywall. At the moment, if you’re curious, here are the systems that you can emulate on Nintendo Switch after modding.
I must say that it is pretty behind the Retroid Pocket 3 Plus, or Anbernic RG405M, so unless you truly want to take the risk of modding your Nintendo Switch, I advise you to look for better retro handheld emulators.
Related post: Best handheld gaming PC.
Like I said earlier, the standard Nintendo Switch isn’t the best in its family in delivering great gaming experience. One main culprit is the Joy-Con isn’t built within the body, so you will feel it loosening after a while. I recommend to look for some Joy-Con alternatives if you plan to play on handheld mode often.
However, the horizontal form and great cooling system really bring the Nintendo Switch as one of the best handheld gaming console at the moment. I don’t feel like dropping the Nintendo Switch because of overheating, like what I feel when using the Steam Deck. Yeah, I know, the Nintendo Switch only plays not-demanding games, but the capability to limit at approximately 4W for playing games is, freakishly, awesome.
The system around the Nintendo Switch is so simple to learn, and the ability to sleep off and wake up in a instant is must-have for any handheld. That’s why I don’t see the best handheld gaming PCs at the moment to be “perfect”, because the hibernating mode of Windows system is not really optimized. Even the Steam Deck, with near-to-perfect sleep mode, is one step behind the Nintendo Switch for this feature.
In conclusion, when you play with the Nintendo Switch, you can enjoy playing games in a purist way. No overheating, no notification, and quick resume whenever possible.
The Nintendo Switch’s design is so successful that other manufacturers shamelessly copy to guarantee a suitable form for handheld playing. Though being heavier, I must say that playing action games on Nintendo Switch is better than PlayStation Vita.
Bluetooth enables the Nintendo Switch to connect with different devices, for example third party controllers or Bluetooth speaker. If you want a better audio experience, you can connect your Nintendo Switch to your favorite Bluetooth speaker, and enjoy games on handheld mode. Have you tried this?
The Nintendo Switch uses a battery of 4310 mAh, which isn’t big or anything in the world of modern handhelds. However, with very low power consumption while playing games, you can play up to 9 hours (on average, 5.5 hours) with the Nintendo Switch. That is impressive, I must say, and whenever I look at the current handheld PC market, it is just premature to conserve battery. Okay, so you can play AAA games on handheld mode, and you don’t have the luxury of playing more than 2 hours. Well, I’m lazy enough to keep charging my devices.
Though the Nintendo Switch uses a very common USB type C charger port, you should use its official dock for charging. Like any device, the Nintendo Switch won’t overcharge, and it takes approximately 3 hours to fully charge from low battery.
Nintendo Switch v1 vs v2
Nintendo Switch v2 is the name we called standard Nintendo Switch models that’re released after 2019. The newer Nintendo Switch devices use the Tegra X1+, which is an upgrade from the previous Tegra X1 processor using in the first Nintendo Switch model. As a result, the standard Nintendo Switch v2 improves battery life much more than the Nintendo Switch v1. Other side effects that you can expect is lower temperatures when playing games, resulting in less drop in FPS.
So how to differentiate between Nintendo Switch v1 vs v2?
1, Check the product boxes:
The easiest way to tell the version of your standard Nintendo Switch is looking at the box. My Nintendo Switch is a v1, so its box have many white spaces. On the contrary, the Nintendo Switch v2 doesn’t have white space on it.
For limited editions, the Nintendo Switch v1 contains these special boxes:
- Nintendo Switch Super Mario Odyssey edition
- Nintendo Switch Diablo III edition
- Nintendo Switch Splatoon 2 edition
- Nintendo Switch Let’s Go Pikachu edition
- Nintendo Switch Let’s Go Eevee edition
- Nintendo Switch Super Smash Bros Ultimate edition
While the Nintendo Switch v2 contains these special boxes:
- Nintendo Switch Mario Red + Blue edition
- Nintendo Switch Dragon Quest XI edition
- Nintendo Switch Disney Tsum Tsum Festival edition
- Nintendo Switch Monster Hunter Rise edition
- Nintendo Switch Monster Hunter XX edition
- Nintendo Switch Fortnite Special edition
- Nintendo Switch Animal Crossing: New Horizons edition
2, Check the product code
If you’re going to buy the Nintendo Switch second hand and there is no box to check, you should check the product code behind the body of the Switch. If your Switch has the product code HAC-001 (-01), it would be the Nintendo Switch v2. Otherwise, the Nintendo Switch v1 uses the product code HAC-001.
3, Check the serial code
For some reasons, if you can’t read the product code behind the body of your Nintendo Switch because the previous owner did something malicious and scratch the product code, your final bet is checking the serial of your Nintendo Switch. It would be right beside the USB charging port of the Switch. If the serial starts with XKW, congratulations, you have a new Nintendo Switch v2. If the serial starts with either XAW or XAJ, you get an older Nintendo Switch v1.
At the moment, I don’t think there will be anyone choose saving $50 with the standard Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch OLED model proves to be a better handheld experience with nicer display, bigger screen, and better limited editions after all. However, I know reasonable people will choose the standard Nintendo Switch because they only use it in docked mode.
Whatever your reason will be, the fact that the standard Switch’s sales decreased by 50% means it isn’t the targeted hardware that Nintendo focused on. If I want to play Nintendo Switch in handheld mode exclusively, I think the Nintendo Switch Lite will be better. But, as the Nintendo Switch is targeting toward families, I don’t think you can sacrifice the hybrid feature of the standard Switch.
In the end, I listed every limited edition of both Nintendo Switch v1 and v2 models, so you may prefer a specific edition over the OLED model. That could be the most proper explanation for buying the standard Nintendo Switch now. Also, if you’re owning a standard Nintendo Switch, you don’t need to upgrade to the OLED version, unless you really want a limited edition like the newest Zelda or Pokemon game. I’m expecting the rumor of the Nintendo Switch 2 to be reality soon, as the console is 6 years old now. Taking a look back at the Game Boy Advance SP (not the Game Boy Micro), the Nintendo DSi XL and New Nintendo 3DS XL, I believe the “final” form should be our pick.
- You want to use docked mode
- You want to play 1st party Nintendo games in Switch
- You want to play retro Nintendo games (is updating)