Nintendo Switch Handheld Mode – Will Games Run Smoother While Charging?

It’s a well known fact the Nintendo Switch throttles its GPU speeds when running in handheld mode. The official specification outlines this performance as such:

Docked:
CPU: 1020MHz
Memory Bandwidth: 1600MHz
GPU: 768MHz

Undocked:
CPU: 1020MHz
Memory Bandwidth: 1600MHz
GPU: 307.2MHz

As you can see, the Switch is down roughly 60% on GPU clocks when running on battery power. While much of this is offset by the lower screen resolution, you can’t help but feel it could lead to some very mixed results if developers don’t sufficiently optimise their games.

Now the burning question I have, and something I haven’t been able to find an answer to is:

Will the extra GPU speed be enabled when playing in handheld mode, but with a USB-C charger plugged in

Breath of the Wild would benefit greatly from improved GPU clocks on the go

The thought of the system running at full performance while only needing to render its image at 720p could be massive in terms of smoother frame-rates, better lighting, and other GPU intensive effects. You could even argue thermal dynamics would actually be improved when the unit isn’t docked.

The main drawback would obviously be the need for developers to optimise each game for three possible modes, rather than the two (docked/undocked). Maybe this extra confusion is something Nintendo would prefer to avoid?

Let me know what you think in the comments section.

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