Does the Nintendo Switch OLED Have Better Performance Docked?

In short – not really. The Switch OLED provides a nearly identical docked gaming experience to the original Switch when it comes to performance and graphics capability. Let‘s take a deeper dive into the specs.

An Expert Look at the Switch OLED‘s Docked Performance

As an investor and hardware analyst, benchmarks and specs are vital data points for me. So let‘s examine the Switch OLED‘s docked mode performance from a technical perspective.

Both the original Switch and Switch OLED utilize the same Nvidia Custom Tegra processor. This means the core processing power and graphical capabilities are unchanged in the new model when docked or undocked.

Nintendo chose to maintain the same chipset in order to provide complete compatibility with the Switch‘s extensive library of games. Changing the processor could have introduced performance issues.

Framerate and Resolution Remain Locked at 1080p up to 60fps Docked

When docked, the Switch outputs up to 1080p resolution on supported TVs and monitors, and is capable of up to 60 frames per second for games.

However, for many AAA titles, the Framerate is locked to 30fps docked due to the demanding graphics. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild runs at 900p resolution and 30fps when docked on both the original Switch and OLED models.

Performance and resolution is unchanged whether using the original Switch dock or new OLED dock.

Tegra X1 Chipset Analysis

The Tegra X1 chipset found in all Switch models utilizes a 4-core Cortex A57 processor and 4-core Cortex A53 processor, along with 256 CUDA core Nvidia Maxwell-based GPU.

This provides approximately 394 GFLOPs of performance docked when the GPU can be run higher using AC power. For reference, the Xbox One hits around 1.3 TFLOPs.

Docked Framerate Comparison

Here‘s a look at framerates for some popular Nintendo Switch titles docked:

Game Framerate Original Switch Docked Framerate Switch OLED Docked
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe 60fps 60fps
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 60fps 60fps
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 30fps 30fps
Animal Crossing: New Horizons 30fps 30fps

As demonstrated above, the framerates remain identical between models when docked.

Docked Resolution Limited to 1080p Gaming

Now, there have been reports that the new dock included with the Switch OLED supports 4K output at 60hz. This is an upgrade over the original dock‘s HDMI 1.4 port.

However, while the dock may allow 4K video output, the Switch‘s internal Tegra X1 GPU limits gaming visuals to 1080p resolution docked. So users should not expect higher than 1080p for gameplay on supported TVs.

4K Streaming and Menus

The 4K dock output can benefit video streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube, allowing them to display content in full 4K on compatible TVs when docked.

Nintendo Switch menus and settings may also display in 4K resolution thanks to the new dock. But again, actual games are still capped at 1080p max.

Future-Proofing andDLSS Potential

While 4K docked gameplay may seem minor now, this new 4K dock compatibility does help future-proof the Switch OLED.

Nvidia‘s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technology could allow the Tegra chipset to use AI to upscale games to 4K in the future. DLSS could deliver a 4K gaming experience using the existing GPU, but this is not confirmed for the Switch at this time.

So the 4K dock provides some nice potential if DLSS or other upscaling technologies are leveraged by Nintendo down the road.

Faster Load Times Depend on Install Location

Another area where the Switch OLED could see minor performance gains docked is loading times. Since the OLED model comes with 64GB of storage versus 32GB on the original, games installed to the internal storage may load faster.

However, tests indicate this improvement only applies to downloadable games saved directly to the Switch storage. For game cards or games stored on microSD cards, there was no major difference in load times docked.

Load Time Comparisons, Internal Storage vs microSD

Here are some load time comparisons for Super Mario Odyssey from Nintendo Life, testing the OLED model:

Internal Storage Load Time – 15.8 seconds

SanDisk Ultra 400GB microSD Card – 17.4 seconds

As you can see, the internal storage was only about 2 seconds faster. Results will vary by game, but in general load times docked are only marginally improved on the OLED model.

Wired Internet is a Welcome Dock Upgrade

One docking upgrade provided by the Switch OLED model is the inclusion of an ethernet port for wired internet. Previous Switch owners had to utilize a USB to ethernet adapter.

The wired internet connectivity built into the new Switch dock provides a more stable online gaming experience when playing multiplayer games docked. This is a nice quality of life improvement for hardcore gamers.

Less Network Latency for Competitive Games

Switch tests demonstrate wired internet results in faster download speeds and less latency compared to WiFi connections. This gives OLED owners a competitive edge for online matches in games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Wired connections reduce jitter and ping spikes associated with WiFi, which is critical for fast-paced competitive gameplay. The OLED dock‘s integrated ethernet jack makes this a plug-and-play wired setup.

Should You Upgrade if Using Docked Mode Primarily?

If you plan to use your Nintendo Switch in handheld mode a lot, then the OLED model is likely worth the upgrade for the larger 7-inch OLED display and improved portable experience.

However, if you plan to play docked on a TV more than handheld, the internal upgrades may not seem substantial enough to warrant the $50 price premium over the standard Switch.

Since you‘re getting largely the same docked performance, unless the OLED screen or subtle enhancements like the wired internet matter for your use case, the original Switch may be the better buy focused primarily on docked play.

But the Switch OLED still offers some nice quality of life improvements and future-proofing that could be worthwhile if you plan to own your Switch for many years and make heavy use of docked mode.

At the end of the day, it comes down to your specific needs and priorities as a gamer. Hopefully breaking down the docked benefits and limitations helps make the right choice easier! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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