The Nintendo Switch first arrived on the scene in 2017. Following on from the Wii U, the least financially successful Nintendo home console, many anticipated something similar from the Nintendo Switch – but amazingly, they succeeded their least successful home console with their most successful handheld console. Six years later, the original Nintendo Switch is still going strong. But is it the best portable games console?
If you’re considering picking this console up in 2023, we’ve got a thorough review for you, covering every aspect of the console, from its games library to its specs. We picked this standard model as our top choice in our best Nintendo Switch guide, and we’ve compared it against the other models in this review to help you decide.
Nintendo Switch price and availability
The standard Nintendo Switch costs around $298 USD (or £249 GBP). It’s reasonably priced for a gaming console and certainly costs less than the likes of the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. Of course, it also has less processing power than either of them, so in some sense, you might say you’re getting less, but then you are also getting so much when you buy a Switch that the concept of ‘lesser’ feels very subjective.
As for availability, it’s really easy to get your hands on Nintendo’s latest console hybrid. If a retailer sells videogames, they’ll almost certainly stock Switches. We recommend buying from any of the following sites:
Nintendo Switch specs
The Nintendo Switch runs off an NVIDIA Custom Tegra processor and runs most games at 720p or 1080p. This may mean that it can’t offer the super realistic graphics of the PS5 or Xbox Series X, and everything is slightly less smooth, but then on the other hand, those consoles can’t be played on the go – and there’s still a huge library of fantastic games on the console.
These are the Nintendo Switch specs:
|CPU/GPU||NVIDIA Custom Tega processor|
|Display||1280×720 6.2-inch LCD Screen|
|Battery||4310mAh lithium-ion battery|
|Storage||32GB internal storage|
Nintendo Switch features
Obviously, there’s a large selection of cheap Nintendo Switch games available for you to buy (and we’ll talk about the library shortly), but what features does it have to set it apart from other consoles? Here’s a run-down of some of the key Nintendo Switch features:
- Docked and handheld play: The biggest feature of the Switch will always be the fact that you can play it on your television screen, as well as anywhere else you play. It’s the first console to truly be both a home console and a handheld (the Super Game Boy and Game Boy Player don’t count).
- Joy-Cons: The console comes with two Joy-Con controllers already slotted in for you to play on the go, meaning you don’t have to spend money on a Nintendo Switch controller when you buy one. You can even do multiplayer, with each player using a single Joy-Con.
- NFC scanner: The Switch features an NFC scanner, allowing for the use of amiibo in compatible games. These figures allow you to access exclusive bits of bonus content when you use them.
- Nintendo Switch Online: This subscription service allows you to play online with friends and strangers in Switch multiplayer games. There’s also a large selection of retro games that you’ll gain access to if you become a member, as well, plus access to a saved data cloud and a connected smartphone app.
- Streaming services: Unfortunately, the Switch lacks compatibility with big names like Netflix and Disney Plus, but there are still a few streaming services that you can use on the console, namely YouTube, Twitch, Crunchyroll, and Funimation.
- Bluetooth audio: As well as a standard 6.35mm earphone jack, you can connect your Bluetooth headsets to the Switch.
- Screen brightness adjustments: You can have your Switch automatically determine the right level of brightness at all times, or you can manually adjust it so that it always appears in the same way.
- Screenshots and gameplay videos: Of all the Nintendo Switch Consoles in the current generation, none make it easier to take screenshots and videos of your game mid-play than the Nintendo Switch. The left Joy-Con has a screenshot button that can grab an image for you at any time, and if you hold it in, it captures the last 30 seconds of gameplay. This is ideal if you have any fun or unexpected experiences. You can then easily share these directly on Twitter and Facebook or send them to a mobile device using a QR code.
Nintendo Switch design
For my money, I think the Nintendo Switch has a wonderful design, even if the plastic construction could feel more premium. The Joy-Cons slot into either side of the screen and you’re left with a simple (slightly retro-looking) piece of equipment. Admittedly it would be nice if there was a broader variety of Joy-Con colors. The dock is a small and inoffensive bit of hardware that easily fits into any setup too.
There is one big flaw with the Nintendo Switch design though: Joy-Con drift. For those who haven’t heard of this, there was a prevalent design flaw in early Joy-Cons that meant that they’d register movement in a certain direction, even if their joystick was untouched. This could become very difficult to manage, to the point that games might even become unplayable. Fortunately, this problem isn’t anywhere near as widespread as it once was, so if you buy a newer Switch you’re unlikely to have this problem… but because of this, we don’t recommend buying a Switch pre-owned.
Nintendo Switch games library
The Nintendo Switch games library is the biggest selling point of the console. The library of games you can access is enormous. Obviously, we can’t cover absolutely everything, but here’s an overview of the games on this console:
Exclusive Nintendo Switch games
As with all the big Nintendo consoles, the Switch has a large selection of games from the popular Nintendo IPs. There’s Super Mario Odyssey, the latest in a long line of fantastic Mario games, Splatoon 3, the most-polished version of Nintendo’s squid-based third-person shooter, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a prequel to Breath of the Wild that uses Warriors-style gameplay, and the fantastic crossover event that is Super Smash Bros Ultimate (never before had we seen so many iconic gaming characters in one place). We could go on.
Wii U games on Switch
A lot of fans skipped over the Wii U. If you were one of them, you don’t need to worry, as most of the big games on that console have since had Switch remasters. The first, and biggest, of course, was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which launched on both platforms simultaneously, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which is not only one of the greatest Switch platformers but one of the best ever of its genre, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which has so much more to offer than the Wii U version thanks to DLC, and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury, which took the fantastic original game and then added a whole extra story to it.
Indie games on Switch
If you like the offerings of smaller developers, you’ll be pleased to hear that the selection of Switch indie games is enormous. You’ve got Yooka-Laylee and its sequel (plus, A Little Golf Journey, Demon Turf, Lil Gator Game, and the other releases from Playtonic Friends), the fantastic rhythm game, Crypt of the NecroDancer (and its Zelda-crossover sequel), the charming isometric 3D platformer, Frogun, indie darlings, Shovel Knight, A Hat in Time, Hollow Knight, and Dead Cells, and countless others from just about every genre.
Retro games on Switch
If you become a member of the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, you’ll find that you have access to a large selection of games from the NES, SNES, and (depending on your subscription types), Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance libraries. With this service, you’ll get Banjo-Kazooie, Sonic the Hedgehog, Goldeneye 007, Super Mario Bros. 3, Tetris, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Super Metroid, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, Punch-Out!!, and countless other classics – not to mention all of the classics in the eShop.
Free Nintendo Switch games
If you don’t fancy making any big purchases after buying the console itself, there are plenty of free Switch games that you can have fun with. There’s Tetris 99 and Pac-Man 99 (battle royale versions of those classic games), the crossover battle royale shooter, Fortnite, the chaotic car-based football game, Rocket League, and countless others. There’s plenty of fun to be had with the free games in the Nintendo Switch eShop. It’s worth keeping in mind that you’ll need a Nintendo Switch Online membership to play many of these, however.
Other Nintendo Switch games
One of the big things about this console is the fact that it’s getting games that haven’t historically had any association with Nintendo. For the first time, you can play Final Fantasy VII, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Assassin’s Creed II, Diablo III, and tons of other legendary games on a Nintendo device. The huge range of the Switch library cannot be overstated. Read our guide on the best Nintendo Switch games for some top recommendations.
Nintendo Switch vs OLED
If you want to buy a Nintendo Switch today, you’ll doubtless want to know whether you should go for the standard model or the Nintendo Switch OLED. The OLED carries a higher price tag of $345 (£310), but it boasts a few improvements over the original, namely, a new, larger OLED screen. This does make everything look a lot nicer (and includes extra options that allow you to adjust the color settings), but this feature isn’t going to appeal to anybody who prefers to play on a TV screen, where the picture quality will remain the same.
Having said that, it does come with an extra LAN port, that allows you to connect a wired internet connection. We suspect this feature is only exciting for a small handful of readers (especially as you could buy a LAN adapter for the standard model), but it’s there for those who want it.
Since the price is quite a lot more, and the features aren’t really relevant for those who mostly play the Switch docked, we wouldn’t generally recommend the OLED for first-time Switch buyers. However, if you know you’re going to be mostly playing in handheld mode and don’t mind spending a bit more, there’s no denying that you’ll get a much prettier experience in your games.
Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite
Just as you might wonder if the OLED is better for you, so too might you be curious about the Nintendo Switch Lite. If you’re drawn to the Switch because you like the idea of a console that you can play on your TV and on the go, the Switch Lite won’t be so appealing to you, because it is an exclusively handheld console.
Having said that, if you want the Switch because you want a handheld console, there’s no reason to choose the standard version of the Switch Lite. It does everything the standard model does, it just can’t be played on a TV screen (or have its Joy-Cons detached). It is not less powerful than its standard counterpart and still plays all the same game – but it is substantially cheaper too, at around $199 (£185).
Nintendo Switch alternatives
If the original Nintendo Switch console doesn’t sound like the right choice for you, take a look at these alternatives:
Find more recommendations in our portable gaming consoles guide.
Nintendo Switch review
Six years into its life, the Switch is still a brilliant hybrid gaming console, that can be used at home or out and about. Its huge library of games continues to grow, and it’s well worth the money (even if some older models struggled with Joy-Con drift).