With any new gaming platform release, there are always those who are just as interested in how the platform was built as they are in playing games. That’s why the kind folks at iFixit have done their job once again and broken open a brand new Nintendo Switch to give us a look at just what’s hiding under the hood.
The Nintendo Switch is a unique piece of hardware because it looks to operate as both a portable gaming system and a home console. That means it has to be compact, but powerful, and low-temperature but lightweight. And because it’s Nintendo, it needs to be kid-friendly. Considering we felt that Nintendo managed to tick a lot of those boxes, getting a look at the insides will tell us a little more of how the firm achieved this.
The above video gives us a whistle-stop tour of the Switch and its internals, but iFixit has completed a reasonably comprehensive teardown, too. It begins, as with many guides, with the unscrewing of some uncommon screws, but that’s no barrier to a service that has been taking apart complex hardware for years.
Unsurprisingly for a compact, modern games console, the Switch’s internals look much like a small gaming PC. A large metal plate acts as a universal heat spreader, while a copper heatpipe design funnels heat away from the Nvidia Tegra X1 based processor. The reasonably large and well-padded battery is said to be non-replaceable, though Nintendo has said it may offer a paid service for that in the future.
The main, oddly shaped motherboard contains all of the important components: the aforementioned Nvidia chip, Samsung DDR4 memory, Broadcom Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips, a Realtek audio codec, and a step-down buck converter, among other power regulating hardware.
The main Switch hardware itself seems fairly replaceable, with lots of simple screws used throughout and not much in the way of adhesive. In fact, iFixit reports that the LCD and digitizer can be easily separated, so swapping out either in the future in a home repair should be doable.
Getting into the Joy-Cons was even easier and showed that they contain micro Li-ion batteries, a Bluetooth chip, accelerometer, gyroscope and “HD rumble” motor, among controller inputs. The left-hand, red controller also packs an infrared camera and four IR LEDs, as well as an NFC antenna.
The Switch dock contains a pair of CMOS flash memory chips and a USB 3.0 hub controller.
Overall the Switch was given a repairability score of eight out of ten, thanks to its use of screws over adhesive and Phillips head screws in most cases. A lot of components can be replaced, though iFixit did mark Nintendo down on the likely difficulty of replacing the LCD and digitizer.
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