We’ve known for a while that the upcoming revision of the Nintendo Switch won’t be a whole new reimagining. Instead, we’re treated to the same new chip that powers the Switch Lite, with added efficiencies.
That doesn’t sound the most tempting selling point – nobody buys a console based on how efficient it is – but with the Switch being mobile, it makes quite a big difference. Efficiency = battery life. And battery life = how much Mario Kart you can play on a long-haul flight.
Now, thanks to Digital Foundry, we have a real-world test of how much longer the thing lasts. The site did a play test on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at both 50% and 100% screen brightness, and the results are pretty clear. At 50%, the original Switch lasted 185 minutes to the new hardware’s 302. At full brightness, the original managed 145 minutes, while the revised version came in at 258.5.
Given that the battery is the same in both – a 4,310mAh cell – the improvements are entirely down to the new model’s Tegra X1 processor and LPDDR4X RAM. While Nintendo says this won’t lead to any performance improvements, Digital Foundry did find a few quirks: the Korok Forest section of Zelda ran a bit more smoothly on the new hardware, for example.
It’s not all good news: the new screen technology is apparently slightly weaker, with the site reporting that a “magenta tint is more noticeable.” Despite this, the new hardware is the one to go for if you have the choice, though the site notes that guaranteeing a new model will be harder: you actually have to read the serial number on the back of the console to be sure. HAC-001(-01) is new hardware, HAC-001 is old.
Whichever version you buy, the top titles remain the same. Here’s our list of the best Nintendo Switch games, so you can assemble your shopping list.