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Nintendo Switch Teardown (fictiv.com)
313 points by fictivmade on Mar 4, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 184 comments

Just a few quick comments on the Switch after a day of use.

First, a quick digression, Nintendo seems to have gauged the launch demand pretty well. There are some other comments here regarding Target morning waits. I was 2nd on line at 6:40am in a northern NJ Target. The guy in front of me had slept in his car (!), but he seemed to be the only one that did. By 7:45 the line was 20ish people. Our Target had 25 consoles. So everyone that got there by 8 (opening time) got one. Nice.

The hardware seems really good. I was surprised at how nice it all fit together (nice, solid clicks) for a product that costs half as much as an iPad! It's obviously still a "toy," but I don't mean that in a bad way. The finish is below typical Apple HW standards for sure, but I think that's to be expected at $299. It feels rugged enough to take with you, although as some said, a screen protector might be nice for extended away play.

To me, the nicest, most thoughtful thing about the HW of this gen of tech products is (believe it or not) USB C! Can I please shout out my love for this freaking connector!! GO USBC! Seriously, I didn’t realize how much subliminal psychic damage non-symmetrical USB plugs have done to me. This connector is so great. You no longer feel that weird little moment of anxiety where you know it will take you an extra second to look inside the damn connector and re-orient the blasted plug 3 times. If you are an old man like me (58), you will probably need to go find a pair of reading glasses, adding insult to injury.

The new Zelda is breathtaking, but you can tell that it wasn't designed for the small screen. It looks really, really great on my OLED 1080p TV, where I think it is meant to be played. Little things like HUD element size are too small for my eyes on the little screen. The FOV is not quite right for the small screen either. Not deal killers, but also things that could be fixed in a patch.

The Pro controller is a very nice "on the couch" controller. Very solid. No lag time. The analog sticks are fine, although I much prefer a mouse for camera controls, but that is my age talking.

I am totally loving this little thing. It's well put together, the only game I care about is Zelda, so the software is great. I think Nintendo has a potential home run here.

How is selling out by 9AM considered 'gauging the demand well'? What about all of the people who go at lunch of after work?

I'm pretty sure they always like to sell out as a marketing ploy anyway

Yes, I hear you. I guess I say that because I assumed it would be much worse? It was understood that they would be hard to come by at launch. There were a set amount produced that had to go to a set number of stores. By scheduling the launch on a Friday (school and work day) I think they were trying to have enough for the die hards.

Well if you plan to sell out you don't waste any money on extra product you won't sell.

Overproducing just throws money away, means you need to push back your launch date longer, or build much more manufacturing than you'll ever need again.

But grossly under-producing infuriates people who won't be able to purchase the product for months due to a silly marketing ploy. I still cannot buy the Nintendo classic in-store, and it came out 4th quarter 2016.

So... how do YOU plan on correctly predicting how popular or unpopular something is?

Isn't this one of the major pain points for many small companies that put stuff up? Correctly gauging 1) how much it costs to mass produce something and 2) how many they actually will sell?

If you are in charge of Nintendo... and you put something out like the Wii, Nintendo Class, etc... how do you expect to get the amount sold right on the first shot?

In my opinion? It's a damn hard problem... it only takes a little bit of internet power - everyone going ape shit over something inconsequential - and BAM what you expected to sell 1 million units is now out of stock and you have millions of people mad.

Now that millions of people want it... will they still want it in 6 months when you ramp up production or is the fad over?

People make it seem like this is an easy question to answer... where is the millions your willing to put on the line for similar questions...

> So... how do YOU plan on correctly predicting how popular or unpopular something is?

I'd pull numbers out of thin air.

Isn't this one of the major pain points for many small companies that put stuff up? Correctly gauging 1) how much it costs to mass produce something and 2) how many they actually will sell?


> If you are in charge of Nintendo... and you put something out like the Wii, Nintendo Class, etc... how do you expect to get the amount sold right on the first shot?

by using some of the hundreds of millions in profits to do some fucking research. This isn't a small company.

Agreed, I don't understand why the NES Classic Mini is still pretty much impossible to buy anywhere, and is 2.5-3x MSRP at third-party sellers on Amazon/Ebay. Surely by now Nintendo could've ramped production to match demand?

How do you determine demand? Something like this could be a passing fad... build millions and bam no one wants it anymore...

I'm assuming 6 months after launch they'd have a decent idea of what the demand is.

Demand doesn't stay the same... "hot items" over the Christmas season don't necessarily stay the hot item in March. Hot items LAST Christmas won't necessarily be hot NEXT Christmas.

Look at any number of "ZOMG MY KID MUST HAVE THIS!!!" items - from Tickle Me Elmo to Pogs to whatever the flavor'of'the'year is... that everyone had to get last year and now no one wants.

And... if they sell 1 million in December... then make another million for January... whats to say the "Market" is 3 million? or 30M? or 300k? Are the millions that wanted it in December still in the market or has the fad faded?

Companies have lost busted from making too many unsold items...

Ramping up demand doesn't happen over night... and sitting on unsold inventory isn't something companies want to do.

Selling out by 9 shows they at least didn't overproduce to a flop considering how awful the WiiU sold?

About the USB C, can you use a standard C to HDMI converter, or do you have to use the base ?

I tried it with the USB-C multiport adapter from my MacBook 12 and it didn't work.

The protocols might be different. The MacBook (and thus its accessories) use DisplayPort Alternate Mode, perhaps the Switch uses HDMI Alternate Mode.

I was wondering this as well. I don't have such a cable, but I am thinking it might work. The USB C connector on the dock looks like it just feeds right into the hdmi cable.

There isn't much info online about this. Just old forum posts.

Reddit seems to think there's a lockout chip in the handheld that prevents you from using anything but the dock to connect to a tv.

Maybe you could rip open the base (it seems it's only plastic), do a little work and get back the power/hdmi/usb c converter inside it.

The dock is pretty underwhelming from what I've seen. There is no protection for the screen, sliding in between two pieces of plastic. Pretty cheap, for a premium priced, and well engineered hybrid device, that will be taken in and out.

Semi-relevant. Breath of Wild looks like such a fantastic game, but it's completely ridiculous that the performance is often times WORSE in the docked mode. I'm hoping this is just crappy porting issues, and can be patched. But running only 900p, and getting 20fps shouldn't be tolerated.

I really do wonder how optimized the game is. From what I've heard (I'm waiting for a good digital foundry comparison video) it sounds like the game plays identically on the WiiU and the Switch in docked mode. The only difference is that the WiiU version runs at 720p instead of 900p.

We know this started as a WiiU game, i'm wondering if this is another twilight princess where they did very little except up the resolution for the new console and we're not really seeing what the machine is capable of.

Has there ever been a game released within a year of the launch of a console that displayed the power of the console? It usually takes a few years to really get the full power of the console

Crash Bandicoot for PS1 was so revolutionary that most studios were never able to catch on. Naughty Dog improved even more with Crash Bandicoot 2 and Crash Bandicoot 3, but the first game was already at the top of what the PS1 could do.

Time to post this series on the development of CB again. I'm sure the LISP fans here will love it, even if most of them will have already read it:


There is a difference between maxing out the available power, and making the game work properly. You can have a less than visually impressive game, run at a solid frame rate. Then later on, have something like The Last of Us come out, and blow the doors off of even next generation stuff. Graphic fidelity isn't as important as performance. This is just a shitty port.

Killzone Shadowfall was a launch game on the PS4 and is still one of the best looking on the system. Similarly for Risen on Xbox One.

for ps4 and xbox one thats not the case at all. You are talking about much older generations.

Yes, the docked mode is grating at times. You've got these great mechanics and beautiful world but constant input lag. Very frustrating. I'd prefer to be able to sit down and play on a TV at a higher resolution, but it's a worse experience. It effectively makes it a mobile game.

It's 2017! 1080p or 60fps should be the minimum. To be fair that's not doable at $300 on a mobile gpu, but as a console that's rough.

re: screen + dock = scratches:


Some really odd design choices. v2 should be nice, though.

I've played Zelda on Switch docked for 10 hours and have not yet once experienced input lag. It occasionally hits seemingly 20-25fps with a lot of enemies and environmental grass and such for a few seconds but that has absolutely not sullied my experience of playing one of the most thoughtful and enjoyable games of all time.

Glad you've had a great experience and I agree it's a great game.

Perhaps input lag is the wrong term or you just aren't looking but even just walking out into the starting area framerates start to drop and the game becomes noticeably slower. Try it in undocked mode and it's very obvious.

If you are used to playing at higher framerates (which isn't uncommon seeing as other big console exclusives are 60fps usually at 1080p) it's a real difference.

Even ignoring the underwhelming performance, it seems ridiculous that you can't just choose to run in 720p mode when docked. I'd rather have my TV upscale the content than have the game be close to unplayable due to lag... the engine is clearly capable of rendering to a 720p framebuffer since it does that when not docked, just add an option to let me do that when docked...

Can't you set to 720p in screen settings?

I suspect it would still render to 900, then downscale to 720

> It's 2017! 1080p or 60fps should be the minimum. To be fair that's not doable at $300 on a mobile gpu, but as a console that's rough.

It is possible on a $300 device, it's just that the Switch has lots of other design considerations (modularity, hardware controller costs) that drive the cost substantially up. You can definitely make a simple $300 tablet with good 3D performance, and indeed that's exactly what the Nvidia Shield is.

What makes you say it's not doable on a $300 mobile GPU? There are phones out that cost $300 that have better performance than the Switch.

Also it's really down to the software. They could have targeted 1080p resolution with 60fps with the new Zelda but they would have had to make sacrifices on draw distance, effects, texture resolution, poly count, etc.

That's my point, though. They clearly can't make a game with the features of BotW - draw distance, effects, etc without major compromises.

Not personally aware of any games as full-formed as BotW that are running on $300 mobile sets. Though this could just be poorly optimized, which makes it more disappointing.

I don't think anyone has cracked making an open world game on a phone. But just from raw hardware specs perspective there are phones with more performance than the Switch.

Depressing. I was going to wait till much later to even consider purchasing this. But I definitely won't be until that's addressed.

Why isn't the screen glass?!

> Why isn't the screen glass?!

Durability when handled roughly by children?

I dunno. My ~3 year old neice has her own aging, hand-me-down iPad that she mistreats like it was any other $5 toy and it's been going strong for maybe 2 years.

And yet somehow I see adults everywhere with cracked screens :p

It could be the stronger glass Apple is using is too expensive for the price point Nintendo is aiming at

Cracked screens happen when you drop it, and kids just don't have enough height on them to generate the forces needed.

Also adults think nothing of putting huge padded cases on kids' iPads. I can't be bothered with a case for my phone.

I bought the Wii U version instead of a Switch because of the complaints I heard about the docked game.

Played it tonight. Very very nice, my kids love it.

I'll buy a Switch in a year once there's more games and they have the kinks worked out. If I feel like playing Breath again, I'll get it second hand.

In case anyone wants to see a comparison of Zelda between the two platforms, someone has already posted a video:


To my untrained eyes, the Wii U version seems perfectly fine.

I've been hoping they'll drastically lower the Wii U price so I can pick it up that way :)

So far I'm loving it, it's like a kid-friendly, slightly simpler Skyrim.

Though so far the atmosphere isn't as deep as the Zelda games have done in the past.

Though I thought Skyward Sword was just annoying so this is a relief.

You can get refurbs and second hand Wii U's for pretty cheap.

Hmm the best I've seen is $200 which seems a bit much for a now previous console model with limited title support and low end hardware. I'll wait until I see it for $99 I think.

I bought a $199 Wii U refurb direct from Nintendo about a year and a half ago. Surely you can find a cheaper Wii U on craigslist or something..

> v2 should be nice

Has there ever been a v2 of a nintendo console?

Depends how you define v2. If you define it as a revision to the original version then -

The DSi was an upgrade to the DS but not a whole new console generation.

The Wii Mini was a downgrade (seriously) to the Wii to make it cheaper/smaller.

The New 3DS was an upgrade to the 3DS similar to the DS->DSi upgrade.

Plus all of the Gameboy and Gameboy Advance models which you could argue were often more revisions with some new features but still compatible than a totally new product.

Such as the Gameboy SP and then Micro which were totally new designs for the Gameboy Advance with a better screen but otherwise the same console.

okay, I never went to the nintendo portables, so I was shockingly oblivious about these. I define v2 as both "set of games you can play on it is identical to the first one", and "not a retro notalgia remake". But even by that standard, wikipedia tells me you gave a lot of good examples. I can only hope the switch makes the list, because I'm not interested in spending significant game time with a handheld tablet, but I also need enough distance to flirt with their limitations.

There were two versions of the NES and the SNES, one for Japan, the other US/EU. Technically the same insides but a different version none the less.

They don't revise their home consoles much, but they do revise their handhelds. So... probably. This console seems so flawed and badly designed it kinda needs one, quickly.

Gameboy > Gameboy Pocket Gameboy Advance > Gameboy Advance SP > Gameboy Micro DS > DS Lite > DSi 3DS > New 3DS

Some of these revisions even had their own sub-revisions or regional variants like the Gameboy Lite. The Gameboy Color is the only one I can think of they didn't revise significantly, but you could argue that the Color itself was a huge revision of the Gameboy Pocket with a Colour screen.

Well if you count the Switch as a portable, they've done at least one revision/refresh of almost every generation: Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light, GBA SP, Game Boy Micro, DS Lite, DSi, 3DS XL, 2DS, new 3DS. They've actually really gone to town on revisions lately with handhelds.

TV consoles are a different story. The NES and SNES had later variants, and there's the afterthought Wii Mini, and that's all I can think of.

They've done at least one revision of most of them, usually with significant cosmetic differences and less features. There was the top loading NES, the SNES Mini, the GameCube was revised and the digital output port was removed, and for the Wii there was the version with the GameCube ports removed and the Wii Mini with all the remaining ports removed.

GBA has three generations (stock, SP and micro), 3DS had 2 or 3, depending on if you count the XL. Wii had two (original and mini). Other then the New 3DS, none of these have been system hardware, but given that the Switch is built on a tegra chip, I can see it getting upgraded with full backwards compatibility at some point.

Not to mention

Hell I don't even count the GBA Micro, considering it couldn't run GB games despite having a Z80, simply because they dropped 5-volt support. That's not a refresh, that's just taking a dremel to the thing!

GBA sp, new 3ds. It's not unheard of.

Going from 720p to 900p is a ~50% increase in pixel count, but the bandwidth increase from docking is only 20%. And since it already chokes at times in tablet mode, this doesn't bode well for a fix that isn't lowering graphical quality.

The memory only runs 20% faster (maybe?), but the GPU core runs more than twice as fast.

But you know, in a review made by Digital Foundry, they found out Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4) doesn't have physics applied to grass or a lot of environment objects when the character goes through them. Here, the grass has to realistically move to the passing of Link and also the wind. Also, the physics are handled by the CPU, which has a constant speed regardless of the mode the system is running at in order not to interrupt game logic like, you know, the grass, heh. I'm betting that's what's causing the drops, having to apply physics on the grass (and other objects on the environment).

In any case, yeah, hopefully they'll improve it a bit with future patches.

If the screen is behind something like Gorilla Glass [1] like all the other tablets on the market, then that plastic will never scratch the screen. This is due to the way scratching and physics work. [2] A good reference is Mohs scale of mineral hardness [3]. Generally speaking, a softer material will not scratch a harder material. Plastics are really soft, glass and toughened glass are strong. There's a pretty good demonstration video on youtube. [4]


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorilla_Glass

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardness

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohs_scale_of_mineral_hardness

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7ANcWQEUI8

It's not. The screen is plastic. I know how material hardness works.

Interesting that you would call a plastic screen tablet well engineered. I imagine the dock is going to be the least of anyone's worries when they use this as an actual mobile device. Everything will scratch the plastic.

The screen and digitizer are not fused, which means if you can handle the bezel adhesive (and get the replacement part), screen replacement isn't an issue. Compare against.. pretty much every other tablet.

Amazing that stayed playing with an entire triangle cut out of it.

I don't know how they justify selling it at the same price as the current gen consoles. You also have to pay extra for a real controller.

Because its a console which also is a mobile device. It not only comes with one controller, but, depending on the game, the JoyCons allow two players to share them. Without buying additional hardware. They also happen to be complete Wiimotes with motion tracking - something you had to buy extra before. And of course, it is the best and most powerful gaming hardware made by Nintendo. A PS4 is cheaper and has more GPU power, if you don't mind it being a big box. And it doesn't play the Nintendo games.

> And it doesn't play the Nintendo games.

The hardware actually looks like the ideal form factor for me right now (I have young kids, so it's hard to sneak to the den for those marathon gaming sessions), but honestly the thing I really care about is the software.

the joycons are real controllers too :).

So far I don't want to switch to a classical controller. Especially since I use the gyroscope of the right joycon in order to aim more precisely.

The pro controller has gyro as well.

is it practical though ?

With the joycons, I kinda wish I could draw a bow with both joycon in order to aim.

Not sure if that would work, but I would like an easier way to aim precisely. Right now I am starting to miss my mouse.

You don't need to buy an extra screen or controller, and it is mobile. The price seems fair to me.

Because it's not a loss leader. Both the ps4 and xb1 sold for a loss the first couple years of their existence.

Are the joycons not real controllers?

Correct, they are pretty uncomfortable.

Current gen consoles you have to pay extra for a real screen.

Because they have legions of rabid fans who not only buy their products regardless of quality, but act as an army of apologists for them. The result ironically, is that unlike Sony's harsh lesson learned around the PS3, Nintendo has no such backlash to fear.

The worst they can do is just own the portable market, and sell a few iterations of a console to their diehards, which are numerous.

If that was true, Wii-U would have been an inevitable smashing success. But no.

wait is this thing made by Nintendo or Apple?

One benefit of the dock being so simple is that it should be relatively easy to design a replacement dock that doesn't suffer from those issues. I'm thinking something like Apple's iPad Dock [1]. I think the dock design they went with is more kid friendly, so if you're an adult who is going to be mindful when docking your Switch I think something more minimal would be fine.

[1] https://www.bhphotovideo.com/images/images2000x2000/Apple_MC...

Currently, the only way to get HDMI out from the Switch is via Nintendo's dock. No other cables work. From what I understand, Nintendo is not planning to make a breakout cable or expand functionality in that area.

Sorry, I realize my comment was unclear. I meant the actual board in the dock is quite small and easily accessible, so removing it and placing it into a new housing should be fairly straightforward.

My biggest beef with the dock is that the switch ROCKS in it. If you press the game card side down you will experience this. Sloppy :(

This is Nintendo... in a year or two you can buy the Switch DS!!! Now with a charging port on top, 1080P, and more battery life!

I mean... assuming by then it's not clearly another WiiU or worse.

Yes, let's just make one product every 10 years and never make any incremental updates for people who like them and can afford them.

His point is that all those changes could have been added to this version. No need to have a plastic screen, a 3 hour battery life or that stupid location for the charging port.

Do you really think the only option other than selling you a new full-price console every couple of years, is a decade of PS3 or the like?

Come on.

The dock plastic is softer than the glass so it won't scratch/wear the glass. As long as you keep it clean of other debris/grit!

Just got mine. Charged and used. This thing is such a joy to use. I'll probably play with it more in mobile mode. It feels good to hold it. And yes it's underpowered on the spec sheet but at the same time, it works really well. And I'm having a lot of fun with it so for me that's the main thing really :D.

I don't understand the negativity based on technical performance. The thing is supposed to be fun to play, not bring you closer to the limits of what modern technology can achieve. Nintendo has some extremely fun games that I'd rather play very much before an extremely high performance super high HD game that ultimately falls flat.

Much of the negativity is related to the fact that the launch game itself does not play well when docked.

And this seems unjustifiable given how well the same chipset does in the NVIDIA Shield, which is capable of driving 4k games just fine.

I was not aware of that. Which is strange since I read more than 10 reviews, surely they would have noticed? is this your experience? All I heard was that it runs smoother than in the Wii-U even though it is not optimized for the Switch.

Many reviews have pointed out that the 720p tablet run of the game runs smoother than the docked form, which apparently has noticeable frame-rate drops.

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9t2uY91kyg

There's really no way that you wouldn't notice it and I've seen it mentioned in every review.

I guess it's the way I understood it. "Drops frames occasionally when there are a lot of elements moving on the screen" vs "plays poorly". Disappointing, sure, but hardly a deal breaker. I guess I'll wait a bit and judge on my own.

but its the second kind, Zelda drops to 20fps in empty static scenes.

true. And it's bad that it is THE launch game that suffers from that. It's likely to be caused by a poor port. The original of the game I believe runs at 720p. Scaling it up to 900p (it doesn't even go up to 1080p) in docked mode is probably causing it issues rather than the device actually having problems working in docked mode. I feel pretty confident that patches and updates to both the device and games should work these out :)

The Nvidia Shield, 4k games? Are you sure? I'm pretty sure that can only be true if the games are very undemanding, like simple 2D games...

It outputs 4k resolution no matter what, AFAIK. But yes, the Android TV games in general are not that demanding, so it's not a huge challenge. But they look stellar.

Output isn't the same as render... upscaling a 720 game isn't the same as rendering a 4k game.

It's not graphic fidelity that is the issue, it's the poor performance of what they're presenting. 20fps is NOT acceptable in 2017.

Apparently it is... people like playing fun games and Nintendo excels at that - at the expense of older harderware.

Well, they excel at the holy triad, Zelda, Mario, and Metroid.

Their main problem isn't the fact that the use the same ole franchises... its that they don't release often enough in those.

There shouldn't be one game per franchise per platform...

But... they have more than "The Triad". To plagarize someone else:

> Nintendo has Zelda (action/adventure), Xeno series (JRPG), Fire Emblem (SRPG), Mario (Platformer, Kart Racer, RPG, Sports), Pikmin (RTS), StarFox (Dogfighter, on rails shooter), Splatoon (TPS), Kirby (Platformer/Action), Animal Crossing (Simulation), Pokemon (JRPG), Metroid (Platformer/Shooter, FPS), Smash Bros (Fighter).

If they could release those on a regular schedule AND stoke the fires for 3rd party? And damn if being based on Unity won't kick THAT fire... They will own the next few years.

Regular schedule? Nononono. The reason those games are such classics is that they are given the time to polish to perfection. Not rushed out one every year with nothing new except skins just to meet the Christmas demand like Need for Speed, FIFA and NHL.

Yes, I agree, they should have at LEAST two per console. What I really wish Nintendo would do is just become a triple A developer for the other consoles. I cry at the thought of Metroid on PS4.

I just don't see that happening... look at how much innovation has happened - not limited too, but including the Wii, Wii U and arguably is going to happen after the switch - because of Nintendo?

You think they will want to be limited by someone else and give up that freedom? Didn't work out real well for Sega...

Innovation that no one is asking for honestly. If Nintendo didn't have their classic titles, no one would be buying into underpowered consoles at this point. Sega never made anything with a ravenous fanbase. Nintendo exists solely on their core fans buying into whatever they make regardless.

No one is asking for? Two problems with that...

One... no one knows what they don't have until you show them or you create it. The Wii Remote is a key point. Wildly popular yet would have been dismissed as "no one asked for it".

Two... The Switch is what everyone is asking for: Portability. Phones, tablets, etc. People want to do stuff on the go.

You can blame a "rabid fanbase"... but it would't be such a large fanbase or such a rabid fanbase if they weren't being given what they wanted - whether or not its asked for.

How wildly popular is it now? After the hysteria died down, people realized they don't want to be flailing their arms around while playing games. They just want a normal controller, which is why it's worked exceptionally well, and iterated upon for the last 35+ years. Nintendo keeps creating these new human interfaces, that get abandoned by the time the next console rolls around. I'm all for innovation, but when it comes to input devices, standards like the gamepad/mouse/keyboard are here to stay. Because they work exceptionally well.

Activision didn't build their own console to make Guitar Hero.

Not asking for super HD super high performance, but there's a huge gap between that and sub 30 fps framerates especially for a game that while stylized isn't super HD.

Sony was hyping 1080p on the PS3 in 2006. Granted, they didn't reach it most times, but when you are releasing a console more than a decade later, people have expectations.

It's not the first time Nintendo have been criticized for that, and apparently they don't give a damn and focus on making fun experiences. That works well for them, with a few hiccups.

Some other companies (not necessarily related to games) work this way, but it's probably very difficult to overcome the resistance that pushes you towards the tech specs: both the press and investors often just have the thing "on paper" to make decisions and influence the company greatly, and obviously massive tech specs are easier to convey this way than "fun" or any kind of "experience".

I think it's an uncanny valley because the system is very appealing yet that tiny lack of computing power and resolution make it miss the 10/10 score. (my 2cts)

ps: I wonder if having a dock will enable Nintendo to palliate perf with future hardware extension or replacements: a "HD dock".

The system already does this to an extent; it runs at a much higher resolution with more GPU power when docked. But I doubt an HD dock with some sort of offloading could work without serious modifications to the hardware; the GPU bandwidth alone would complicate matters significantly.

What about external PCIe docks with full fledged GPU for laptops ? In theory if the graphic subsystem allow for something like SLI the logic could adapt dynamically... (IANAGD)

That works on computer systems because the PCI-E bus is already designed to be external. There's no need to separate it from the system bus because it's already separated in desktops.

In an ARM System on a Chip (SoC) like the Switch uses, the GPU is on the same chip as the main processor and very tightly integrated with the rest of the hardware. It's much more difficult to decouple this from the main unit. I don't doubt that USB 3.0 could handle the raw speed, but I doubt seriously it could keep up with the latency demanded by most applications.

An HD dock would almost necessitate an entire higher power SoC in the dock, and some way to synchronize the state between that and the one in the main system to pull off the system's characteristic fast-docking for which it's named. It's possible, but at that point it's less "offloading" and more "here's an actual high-power console that reads its data from the tablet."

I guess you have a point ;)

It's inexcusable that the controllers get jammed to the wrist straps so easily. Google "stuck joy-con" and you'll find articles and videos about how to un-stuck them if you've accidentally put them on backward. Why is it even possible to put them on backward? Even when they're on forward it often's often extremely hard to separate them. We had a switch party and pretty much every single person put them on backward once and we get to get tiny screwdrivers out to un-stick them

Nintendo even has a page up already that just says "send them back"


I suspect they'll end up releasing a new model of controller that doesn't have these issues but it's really hard to believe this wasn't found during development.

Ifixit just posted their teardown as well. https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Nintendo+Switch+Teardown/782...

I like Ifixit's a lot more than Fictiv's. It gets to the point with specs and short annotations.

It's a more structured article, that's for sure. No unfunny comedy at ifixit!

Wow, the Nintendo Switch has a fan? It is amazing how thermals are such a limiting factor in today's devices. I remember that a browser dev increased the Nexus 5's benchmark score drastically by placing it on a bag of ice.

> I remember that a browser dev increased the Nexus 5's benchmark score drastically by placing it on a bag of ice.

If the browser was stressing the system to the limits of the thermal envelope, then by being able to dissapate heat faster, you can schedule more work to be done delaying any kind of frequency governing.

That's crazy. I wonder if I can increase my output from my laptop working in front of an open freezer :P

You can use Intel's power gadget to see the status of your CPU's temperature, power usage and clock frequency (i.e. if it's boosting, or if it's being throttled) https://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/intel-power-gadget...

e.g., if I start an h264 encode, first my CPU boosts, reaching 3.3 GHz (it's a 2.7 GHz i7), but after a minute, it's dropped to 2.4 GHz due to the thermals. Wouldn't surprise me if I stuck it in a freezer it would stay at a higher frequency.

Depending on laptop, quite possibly.

If it's thermal throttling, then cooling is going to help.


During the heat wave last summer, my mac book pro became very noticeably slower.

Heat dissipation is a real issue for many devices.

When we switched to laptops from desktops at work, a full build including tests took quite a bit longer and a lot more variable in time; thermal limiting appeared to be the reason for the variance.

You can get laptop trays that are supposed to improve heat dissipation.

I showed up at Target at 4 am and was second in line. Some other poor soul had been there since 11 and out of the 50 units available there were probably 10 people at opening. Not sure if that suggests demand isn't that great or what.

It's hard to figure out. Check out the unit next to the Wii U tablet and the latter looks very much like a clunky cheap toy. Everything here seems well-designed (don't scratch your screen on the dock though), the joycons are very clever. I must admit tablet mode with them is just okay and they are undersized in every way compared to other controllers, but snapped onto the controller shell you forget it isn't just a regular controller. Very cool.

The hardware though? It makes me nervous. I get at $300 and what Nintendo was going for you don't have much of an alternative. Maybe I'm spoiled but 900p upscaled at 30 fps with drops when docked feels wrong in 2017. The game (BotW) is beautiful and controls wonderfully but the lag is noticeable at times for me and the lack of fluidity hurts the experience. Oddly enough playing at 720p undocked isn't slow at all and on the small screen looks great. I kind of drool at the thought of this upscaled to 4k at 60fps and that and it wouldn't be hard on modern hardware. Maybe a remaster or emulator?

It very much feels like a mobile device you can dock versus a home console you can take with you. Just not sure how much headroom is in the hardware to make this last for three or four years without major compromises.

Does anyone else have an impression?

I scoped out my local Target at 1 am and there were 5 people in line and maybe a few more waiting in cars. Came back at 7:30am before the 8am opening and got a voucher for about 40 out of 60 Switches. I think it could just be a smaller thing because most people expect the midnight launches, and people have work at 8am. The midnight launch at my local Fry's sold out of their 90 Switches. Or maybe it is your location as I am in Los Angeles County.

>It very much feels like a mobile device you can dock versus a home console you can take with you.

I definitely agree that it feels like a 3DS successor rather than a Wii U successor. That wouldn't surprise me if you consider how well the 3DS does compared to the Wii U. I'm playing the Zelda on the portable more than on the TV.

>Just not sure how much headroom is in the hardware to make this last for three or four years without major compromises.

If you look at the 3DS which still has most games running on the same hardware from 2011, I can see the Switch lasting three years without requiring a refresh. Maybe a small one like the New 3DS is to the 3DS.

The difference between the New 3DS and the original 3DS is actually quite substantially technically.

New 3DS:

* ARM11 MPCore 4x @ 268MHz

* 4x VFPv2 Co-Processor



* Dedicated Hardware Video Decoder

(* It also can play SNES Virtual Console games and can also play Xenoblade Chronicles for New 3DS)

(* The menu screen is also substantially faster)


* ARM11 MPCore 2x @ 268MHz

* 2x VFPv2 Co-Processor




You are not wrong. I appears docked has the hiccups.

>> Does anyone else have an impression?

That if you don't like upscaled 900p at 30 fps, you shouldn't be buying a half-assed device that pretends it can be called a next-gen "console", when in fact it's a glorified tablet?

This is for all intents and purposes Nintendo's console now that the Wii U has been discontinued. They are advertising it as such and it's gonna get those comparisons whether they want it to or not.

But really I just like trying new tech.

Early adopters... I do not understand you at all.

I'm in love with the Switch! Form factor on point that feels like the culmination of experiments coming from 3DS, Wii U and Wii. My son has been playing the new Zelda non-stop, it's that fun and deep.

It's a much harder Zelda game, feels somewhat like Dark Souls in the combat department. I died at least 5 times an hour due to overwhelming enemies. It's a blast!

One thing I love about the Switch is that even if my controllers get busted I can just buy another pair of joycons. With the Wii U it was really stressful to remind the kids to be careful because you have to send in the gamepad for repairs.

Interesting note, apparently they materials and such used to create this device do not work well with adhesives used by a very popular skinning company, they posted their results on reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/NintendoSwitch/comments/5xc5si/warn...

It's a bit shame that there is no chip part information. I am particularly wondering which microcontroller they use for the remote controllers. I will wait for iFixit's teardown review.

In general I find Fictiv is a really poor source of information. They seem to be mostly focused on 3D printing, have next to no electronics knowledge and their knowledge of high volume manufacturing is dubious (these teardowns are always full of weird errors, e.g. in the Switch teardown they didn't even identify a heatpipe correctly).

They referenced the China leak which has all that information already: http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2017/02/nintendo_switch_tea...

Thanks for the link. But nVida SoC is too obvious and I am not interested in it. I am waiting for a much more professional teardown review, inclding information of every parts, like this: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Oculus+Rift+CV1+Teardown/606...

I think they've posted it.

What's the connector and interface for the side units? They slide on and latch, so no common connector will work.

I think they're all Bluetooth, and the slide/latching is purely for human interface, not digital. :)

The side units charge while attached, if the main unit has power, so there's some connection.

Oh, I didn't think of that. Good question indeed.

Regarding the speaker grille "why:"

I'd assume the "speaker ports" are either for air flow, or the entire case works as a resonance chamber and wave guide.

Are there other reasonable options?

In terms of memory architecture, does anybody know if Nintendo went with cartridges in order to better address the limited RAM of the system (compared to other consoles)?

In the old days cartridge ROM was just mapped into the system RAM so you could address game assets without necessarily having to load them into system RAM, thus you could get by with far less RAM than you'd expect.

Just a guess, but maybe the I/O of storage on the cartridge is more consistent than the inexpensive microSD cards that people tend to buy?

-- edit Another benefit is not having to install/uninstall the game to manage space

Seems unlikely, since Zelda and other games are also available as a digital download (although you may need a microSD card to hold them all).

The Nintendo Switch seems like a nice tablet form factor game console.

I am a bit underwhelmed by their decision to compromise the usability of the right Joycon - moving the analog stick below the digital buttons is certainly bad for US/European bigger hands, bad for ergonomic reasons, an unreasonable trade off.

I am underwhelmed by their decision to add no additional fan to the Dock. It's just s piece of very cheap locking plastic that might scratches your screen. It could have cooled the Switch and get out more performance out of the GPU (now they have to underclock it).

I am a bit underwhelmed by the Joycon grip, that is not very ergonomic for larger hand, and is just a piece of cheap plastic. The Pro controller looks good, but it costs extra $ 70 ($ 20 mote than PS4/X1).

I am a bit underwhelmed that the Joycons have no analog trigger buttons. Already with Wii U the analog triggers were greatly missed in e.g. Lego City Undercover, the car acceleration was all or nothing which pales compared to GTA gameplay on PS4/X1/PC.

I am a bit underwhelmed about the tear down, while good executed it lacked the final tear down and analytics of the core components like the "haptics engine" and the SoC board incl ARM chips.

I am looking forward to a revised model at the end of 2017 that fixes things. Maybe even a XL or XS version would be great - like the New 3DS XL which was a greatly improved and better for larger hands. The ergonomics of the Wii U gamepad better than the Switch too, maybe they can adopt ideas in a revised version.

Maybe im just old, but analog trigger buttons seem underused-enough that they could be sacrificed for cost. It seems to be basically only serious racing games that really celebrate them, since casual "kart" games have you flooring it all the time and non-racing games don't use them at all.

The disappointment for me is the high cost of the controllers even after sacrificing something like this.

Yeah, I'm a big Nintendo fan but so far I'm meh so far.

I am not clear why they are having performance issues but the NVIDIA Shield I have, based around the same or even earlier version chipset, is capable of outputing 4k games to my TV at quite excellent frame rates.

The touch screen should always be available in both modes, otherwise not useful to developers.

A second screen experience would have been nice so they could unify DS and Switch developer experiences.

They should have by default made people's Wii U virtual console purchases transfer to the Switch, as a token of good will and to encourage initial purchases of the console before other games are out.

There's no compelling reason to buy it for the new Zelda game as the Wii U version is just as good as the Switch version (so that's what I bought).

Unfortunately unless this product drops a bunch in price and takes over their DS niche, I am not sure it's going to do that well.

Using a single screen unifies them with every other developer experience though. Currently if you're porting to the 3ds you have to think of some use for the second screen and make you code support it. It seems like this time Nintendo is trying to get a larger dev audience, by supporting Unity, Unreal, etc. so you can send your game to the switch just as easily as every other platform.

EDIT: I also agree that they should let you transfer purchases. They seem intent on making everyone buy Super Mario Bros over and over. Tjey might lose some profit there, but it would buy them so much in their customer relationships.

>> I am not clear why they are having performance issues but the NVIDIA Shield I have, based around the same or even earlier version chipset, is capable of outputing 4k games to my TV at quite excellent frame rates.

Could it have anything to do with Zelda's engine?

When Street Fighter V moved to the Unreal Engine, it used way more resources than its predecessor even though it didn't really look that much better.

I went from being able to play Street Fighter IV in 4K/60fps at max settings to 1080p/60fps at slightly less than max settings for Street Fighter V on my laptop with a GeForce 860M.

While I don't have hard facts, I suspect the engine change might have had a lot to do with the lower performance.

> It could have cooled the Switch and get out more performance out of the GPU (now they have to underclock it).

It wouldn't really need this extra performance.

When docked, the Switch goes from 720 to 1080p. This is 2.25 times more pixels. When docked, clock rate goes from 302 to 768 Mhz. This is 2.5 times more ops. This design means that developers can write the game optimized for 1080 and 720 will perform more or less the same without any modifications.

Increasing the power envelope for docked mode would only work if developers had to put the effort of selectively toggling some effects in portable mode and actually profiling the game for both 720 and 1080 separately. That's a lot of extra development costs for what I can only imagine to be a modest perf gain with better cooling and clocking higher.

The memory bandwidth only increases by ~20% by docking it. Which is why Breath of the Wild actually performs worse when docked.

It's amazing how compact that joystick is.

I wonder if the Joy-Cons will be changed out on people's systems more than controllers usually are. They're almost a fashion accessory in the tablet/portable mode.

I wondered that too, until I saw the prices :(

This might be slightly off-topic, but if you like this type of teardown content, I highly recommend checking out AVE's channel on Youtube [1]. He does plenty of tool teardown's, things like drills, all types of heavy industrial gear, and some electronics thrown in. I find is fascinating, because you start to learn about the manufacturing process, why mechanical engineers choose specific materials, how they cut corners, and generally how things are made at low cost and high volume.

Here's some highlights:

- Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-vJxez9UF8

- Hammer Drill Mechanism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joetVGrMfAY

- Blendtec Blender: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA0kiYqyBmo

- KitchenAid Mixer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qKp-0h9P18

- $500 Mining Flashlight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Te06Y26Hyiw

[1] https://www.youtube.com/user/arduinoversusevil/videos?view=0...

If you find youself watching AvE's vid-jeos and enjoying the content pertaining to machining Id sugest you check out This Old Tony [0]. He's the "Dad" to the AvE's "estranged uncle who can only come over if he wears an ankle bracelet".

IF you like the teardowns then EEVBlog [1] goes without saying for an electronics-perspective. I learn a lot just by watching him mess around and take apart piles upon piles of gear. It strikes me as him making the videos he wanted to see when he was a kid.

[0] - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5NO8MgTQKHAWXp6z8Xl7yQ

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/user/EEVblog

Yes, This Old Tony one of the best Youtube channels at the moment. His old videos are all good, but the last few videos were really excellent.

edit: Another good channel is Clickspring, right now he is building that ancient greek mechanical computer thing which was found in a shipwreck.

Oh that's a hilarious description of AvE (and I'd say it does match the purveyed image)

Keep away all body parts from the vise

AvE is one of my favorite YouTubers. Always a learning experience with him.

Similarly, bigclivedotcom[1] does almost exclusively electronics teardowns. Usually cheap gadgets from Chinese eBay sellers. A lot less profanity than AvE too, haha.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/user/bigclivedotcom

Seconding this because Big Clive is easily among my top 5 favorites, but it might be because I absolutely love the dry witty humor (and having ties to the UK helps culturally, I'm sure). His Baby-cutor video [1] is absolutely hilarious (if you find dark humor fun). I actually enjoy Clive's videos more than AvE's. Although, I do wish Louis Rossmann would do teardowns periodically, but you can't have everything!

He also does a few build projects, sometimes with stories, and it's strangely... relaxing.

Gosh, I never thought I'd see his name pop up in a YT discussion on HN. This is great stuff.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIUJWIT9GrU

Love AVE's channel. Fictiv also has more of these, it looks like: https://www.fictiv.com/blog/topics/teardowns

+ they've done the other Nintendo controllers:



"AVE-speak" has basically taken over our hackerspace.

I started watching the Blendtec video. I had a hard time understanding what he was trying to communicate. He said flame instead of fame. It felt slapdash.

If you are somewhat anonymous (Officer401) it makes sense to roll some video with voiceovers. But this video felt like a voiceover and a completely pointless one at that.

You are a bit underwhelmed.

Got it

We've banned this account for repeatedly posting unsubstantive and/or uncivil comments despite being asked to stop.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13789762 and marked it off-topic.

Why the dismissive comment? His post was useful. Yours isn't.

I listed some fair constructive criticism of minor things that came to my mind trying it out to an overall great new game console.

You seem to be trolling, got it.

The repetition of the word 'underwhelmed' seems intentional, but the reason for it is unclear. It's distracting to the point that the actual content of comment is lost on the reader.

Kinda poor taste to just try and bump your submitted HN post versus posting the actual source.

the Switch booting into its FreeBSD kernel:


Doesn't look like a boot screen, looks like a copyright notice screen for all software used in the product - my Panasonic TV has one of those too (it uses a FreeBSD Kernel)

mind posting more info about this somewhere?

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