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Digital Foundry – Switch overclocking: How powerful is a fully unlocked Tegra X1?


The committed team at Digital Foundry have produced another informative video this time looking at what an overclocked Nintendo Switch can do. As we already know, Nintendo has been tinkering with overclocking to enable some game to perform slightly better on the system. Reset Era member Becks’ has written a very good summary for those of you who are unable to watch the video and we’ve included that along with the Digital Foundry video down below.

  • Low performance in Switch games is mostly related to memory bandwidth or CPU clocks in docked mode
  • Rich uses a homebrewed Switch to push the max CPU clock (1785 MHz) and max GPU clock (921 MHz)
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2 in user made levels sees an increase from 7-11FPS with base clocks to 10-15 FPS with max CPU clock, GPU clock doesn’t make a difference
  • Breath of the Wild’s Korok Forest section is a bit better with max CPU clock and GPU clock but it still drops frame rate, probably due to memory bandwidth
  • DOOM 3’s performance is completely fixed and locked to 60 FPS with max CPU clock
  • Mortal Kombat 11’s performance in some stages have CPU limitations and once those are overcome, GPU becomes the issue, with fully max CPU and GPU, game is locked to 60FPS with minor drops
  • Wolfenstein Youngblood’s frame pacing and low frame rate issues are fixed with max CPU clock, the resolution becomes better if you include the max GPU clock
  • DOOM 2016’s frame pacing issues still exist with max CPU and GPU clock but they are less intense
  • Saints Row the Third’s frame rate is exactly the same between all 3 configurations, memory bandwidth is the issue, switching to mobile profile (reducing the resolution) in docked mode fixes the issue
  • Power draw in Switch increases from 15-16W to 19-20W when overclocked
  • Temperatures peak at 60C in stock clocks, 64C with max CPU clock only and 67C with max CPU and GPU clocks
  • Rich thinks Nintendo is being conservative but for a reason as CPU and GPU overhead is needed for severe conditions
  • Developer units can have a max CPU clock of 1220 MHz which could significantly improve performance if used
  • Handheld overclocked performance analysis is coming in a near future


Thanks to Maxim for the news tip!

6 thoughts on “Digital Foundry – Switch overclocking: How powerful is a fully unlocked Tegra X1?”

    1. For them to use a dock for pumping up performance
      wuld require at least a Thunderbolt 3, meaning they need to get rid of the standard USB-C they’re currently using.

    2. “We really need just a real Pro Model of the Switch with more RAM, higher clockspeeds when docked and possibly a dock that can boost the performance even further”

      The Switch doesn’t need more memory it needs faster memory. You can keep on increasing clock speeds but if it’s waiting to access memory, which is already the case, then you won’t get anymore out of it.

      If they switched to LPDDR4 4266 then they’d gain another 8.5GB of bandwidth.

      The bigger problem is, as I’ve mentioned before, the Switch’s concept. You’re not going to get a Switch Pro because that would effectively create 2 more profiles that developers need to account for which would be a mess. And even after any upgrades, it would still be much weaker than systems from 2013 that are on their way out.

      I’ve said before how bad of an idea a dock that extents performance would be. FirePtl mentions that they’d need Thunderbolt 3 at least but that’s not even true since USB-3.1 Gen 1 and Thunderbolt 3 have the same theoretical bandwidth. Unlike PCs which have two pools of memory for the CPU and GPU, the Switch and all other consoles only have one pool. If they made a dock with a GPU in it, it would need to have it’s own higher bandwidth memory and cooling which would completely change the Switch’s memory architecture. That’s not a small change.

      Development would become more complicated. Switching between both modes would become longer because assets would have to be swapped between CPU memory and GPU memory, and the GPU in the dock would need to be turned on unless you want the dock to take up about 5-10 watts by itself. That dock would also cost nearly as much a console by itself.

      Nintendo would be way better off if they dropped the hybrid concept altogether and just made a handheld that’s great at being a handheld and a home console that would excel at being a home console. Developers would only have to develop for two power profiles, Nintendo would able to scale the hardware much better, and anybody who really wants both experience would be paying about the same amount but for a better experience.

  1. yes… docked with more power, that should be so since the switch launched.
    I relay thought it would be like that… Jesus was I disappointed when I realized… that its just a docking station and not more.

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