Nintendo has finally revealed the Switch, with the console now going on general sale. As Nintendo attempts to recover from the disappointing performance of the Wii U, it will be monitoring the early success of the Switch very closely. The Nintendo Switch must now prove that it can perform against the established PS4 and Xbox One. So how does this new machine stack up against the Microsoft and Sony consoles?
Nintendo Switch vs PS4 vs Xbox One – Processing and power
Now that the Switch is finally available we can compare the specs of the console with its major competitors. And it is notable that the Nintendo Switch comes out fairly reasonably in this comparison, considering that Nintendo has never prided itself on producing hardware behemoths.
Both the CPU and GPU clock speeds of the Nintendo Switch are by far and away the most impressive numbers that the Japanese corporation has ever put on the board. With a CPU clock speed of 1,020 MHz and a GPU clock speed of 768 MHz, it is clear that the Nintendo Switch will be a pretty slick operator. Nintendo also benefits from its unique combination of proprietary hardware and software, similar to Apple in the smartphone niche, meaning that its consoles tend to punch above their weight.
Nonetheless, it should be noted that both the PS4 and Xbox One still feature more powerful specs than the Nintendo Switch, despite the fact that both have been on the market for a few years now. But the gap in GPU clock speed is rather small, with the PS4 clocked at 800 MHz and the Xbox One offering 853 MHz. This ought to translate to a minimal difference in real world performance.
Graphics and screen resolution
This is one area where Sony has cleaned up with the PS4, with the 1,152 AMD shaders included in the PS4 proving to be an exceedingly wise decision. The mere 786 included in the Xbox One means that the console cannot render graphics at the same speed as the Sony machine, and thus has never performed at the same level.
It is difficult to directly compare the Nintendo Switch to its Microsoft and Sony rivals, as the Japanese video games giant has opted for a completely different system. But the 256 Nvidia CUDA cores should deliver a more than decent gaming experience.
The Nintendo Switch also outputs at full HD resolution, meaning that in practical terms it is the equal of both the Xbox One and PS4. However, there is no HDR with the Nintendo machine, which is supported by the Sony PS4. However, the fact that the original Xbox One has been unable to offer HDR underlines the advanced technology required in order to deliver this.
This is one area in which the Nintendo Switch is a true innovator, delivering a console that can be docked at home for use with a television set, and also removed and played as a portable device. When the Nintendo Switch was first revealed at trade shows, many were enamored with the smoothness with which this feature operates. It is possible to remove the Nintendo Switch from its dock and begin playing remotely absolutely immediately. Pretty impressive stuff.
For the record, the device outputs at 720p when in portable mode, while the clock speed of the unit is significantly reduced to 307.2 MHz. Nonetheless, this will be a big selling point of the console, with the opportunity to play mainstream Mario and Zelda titles in excellent resolution while on the go undoubtedly a mouth-watering prospect for Nintendo fans.
The Nintendo Switch also comes complete with 4GB of memory, which is only half the amount included in both the Xbox One and PS4. However, the Switch has one more USB port than the PS4, and provides video output in state of the art HDMI.
There is no doubt that Nintendo has something of a disadvantage in this department, even though the company has worked hard to forge relationships with major video game manufacturers. There will not be a huge amount of titles available at launch, and support from the big players in the industry is far from guaranteed.
The launch titles for the Nintendo Switch are as follows:
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!
- Just Dance 2017
- Skylanders Imaginators
- Super Bomberman R
- I Am Setsuna
- Fast RMX
- Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
- New Frontier Days: Founding Pioneers
- Vroom in the Night Sky
- Neo Geo Shock Trooper
- Neo Geo World Heroes Perfect
- Neo Geo King of Fighters ’98
- Neo Geo Waku Waku 7
- Neo Geo Metal Slug 3
- World of Goo
- Little Inferno
- Human Resource Machine
With several of these being retro games, there is clearly some room for improvement. But Nintendo has already announced dozens of third-party titles for the coming months, with massive names such as FIFA, Lego Series, Sonic, NBA, Dragon Quest and Elder Scrolls all due to come onboard. The following stellar Nintendo titles will also arrive in due course:
- Splatoon 2 demo global testfire (March 24th-26th)
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (April 28)
- ARMS (Spring 2017)
- Splatoon 2 (Summer 2017)
- Fire Emblem Warriors (autumn 2017)
- Pokémon Stars (late 2017)
- Super Mario Odyssey (holiday 2017)
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (TBC)
- New Fire Emblem (2018)
This does not compare to the vast and comprehensive video game library of either the PS4 or Xbox One – with arguably the Sony machine having the edge in terms of exclusive titles – but it does give the Nintendo Switch a pretty decent foothold if its early games are well-received.
One of the massive plus points for Nintendo thus far with the Switch has been the extremely enthusiastic reception for the Zelda: Breath of the Wild game. This is already a hugely acclaimed series, but the latest title takes Zelda to a whole new level. Already awarded only the 19th perfect mark in the history of Edge Magazine, Zelda: Breath of the wild is precisely the sort of killer app that consoles need out of the gate. The brilliance of this game should help Switch sales, and could play a significant role in the overall success of the console.
Although the Switch will compete directly with the PS4 and Xbox One, Nintendo has always been an idiosyncratic and visionary company. Thus, the Nintendo Switch takes a completely different approach to gaming to either of the existing consoles. Whether this will enable the machine to attract a mainstream audience remains to be seen, but it certainly appears that the corporation has learnt lessons from the rather disastrous Wii U and delivered a console that gives the company a fighting chance in the marketplace.