Nintendo Switch outgunned by PS4

nintendo-switch-joy-conIf you were hoping that the Nintendo Switch was going to be a hybrid gaming power-house then I might have some disappointing news for you. The graphics on the next Nintendo won’t even trouble the three-year-old PS4.

This news comes by way of VentureBeat. The report sites two sources who have both said that the Switch will be built using Nvidia’s last-generation Maxwell architecture rather than the new Pascal design. The reason being that the latter is not yet ready for the Tegra chip powering the heart of Nintendo’s machine.

Nintendo Switch graphics

Essentially, the Switch is a custom version of the Nvidia Shield. This route reduced the R&D requirements needed to develop the machine and get dev kits out to studios.

This means the console will offer around one teraflop of processing power. This is less than a quarter of that found in the PS4 Pro (4.2 TF) and just over half that found in a regular PS4 (1.8 TF).

Apparently, the plan was to use Pascal but that ‘the timing just didn’t work out for Nintendo’ as they’re rushing to replace the discontinued Wii U. There is the added concern regarding rivals releasing competing portable-home hybrids.

This could point to a more potent follow-up version though, if you can wait.

nintendo-switchThe use of the more recent Drive PX 2 Tegra, which can pump out 4K at 60fps, was considered but dismissed. This was down to the amount of redesign needed to make it run properly in a portable device.

The possibility remains that the Tegra chip will at least be overclocked to turn in a still decent performance. Saying that, this may be limited to only when the Switch is docked.

The thinking is that developers may choose to render their games at 540p when in portable mode. When the Switch is docked, however, it would then upscale them to 720p.

The positives

The pros to Maxwell are that, while more power hungry than Pascal, it is less reliant on cooling. The trade-off is that cooling the device with Pascal could sap more battery power.

Nintendo has also made sure that Switch will be friendly with the Unity engine. That’s certainly a step in the right direction as the Wii U often struggled with that. This will make the porting of titles far easier. It has also won the support of Unreal Engine.

It might not be as bleak as I’ve made it sound though. Switch’s visual capabilities could still satisfy most gamers. Nintendo has implied it can handle realistic-looking games like Skyrim and NBA 2K in the trailer for the system.

We’ll get a better idea at what the system can pull off in January when Nintendo hosts a full media presentation for the Switch in Japan.