Nintendo Switch Will Run in Lower-Performance Mode When Undocked

After the news that VentureBeat confirmed that the Nintendo Switch would use a Tegra chip similar to the Nvidia Shield TV, Eurogamer has chimed in confirming the exact specifications, and an interesting detail: the Switch can run with its GPU processing at a lower clockspeed when in portable, undocked mode. 768 MHz will be available to the GPU in docked mode, 307.2 MHz in undocked mode, with the CPU running at 1020MHz. This could also mean that games could be specified to run one way in the portable mode, with enhanced performance and resolution in the docked, console-style mode.


Here’s what interesting – the 1020 MHz processor cores are half of the standard Tegra X1, and the GPU performance is less than the Nvidia Shield TV. So, there’s some real questions about just how well games will run on the Switch. Namely, this could be a glorified handheld that just has TV output capability more than it is a console that you can take on the go. And while the Shield K1 using an older chip is still a plenty capable Android tablet, it’s worth noting that in full gaming performance, it can be a battery hog. Don’t expect anything too ugly, but Xbox One/PlayStation 4 games on the go should be out of the question.

It’s quite possible that Nintendo, by using older, lower-spec’d components, could be looking to profit off of the Switch from Day 1. Remember that Nvidia will sell you a Shield K1 or TV for $199 (finding them is the hard part). But also, there is sure to be some disappointment that Nintendo is aiming for even a bit lower than hardware that’s been around for a year and a half now. Plus, a follow-up to the Nvidia Shield TV is in the works right now, where it is going to use the latest and greatest Nvidia Tegra chips. Though, a Tegra X1 tablet is nowhere to be found – and all indication is that the Shield Tablet X1 was axed at some point, likely because of the Nintendo Switch.


What this all could mean is that the Nintendo Switch could be ripe for mobile developers and their content. While larger portable games that the 3DS has seen will obviously have space on the system, games built to modern specifications with mobile-friendly sessions could prove to be important to a system that could have limited battery life and performance. Unless Nintendo is afraid of doing so having seen how a store like PlayStation Mobile failed, and if they would anger Apple in doing so as well, considering the two just worked on Super Mario Run (Free)’s rollout together. Interesting times ahead. Do read Eurogamer’s article for more on the Nintendo Switch and its specs – they’ve been nothing but dead-on about the system so far.