Best Nintendo Switch consoles for all types of gamers

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Personal, courtesy of Nintendo

Of all the current game consoles, none have enjoyed the lasting success of the Nintendo Switch. Originally released in 2017, a few years before the current Playstation 5 and Xbox Series systems, the Switch sold out more than 90 million units, making it the seventh best-selling gaming console ever. Since then, Nintendo has produced a few different versions of the console, namely the Switch Lite and the Switch OLED.

While the consoles have a lot in common, there are a few key differences between the three that can make it difficult to know which Nintendo Switch console is right for you. We’re here to go over each Switch system in detail and help you decide which one is right for your needs.

What to consider

The Nintendo Switch is a fantastic console. Its hybrid design allows users to enjoy games at home and on the go, and its incredible game library provides unlimited entertainment for everyone. However, each different Nintendo Switch variant has its strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to know the details of each system before deciding which one to buy.

The best way to decide which Switch console is best for you is to take a look at your own gaming habits and needs. Do you play games with family members or friends, which requires you to create multiple profiles users? Are you a solo player who typically uses the Switch while on the go or on the go? Your answer will play a major role in choosing the right Switch console for you.

How we selected

Between the staff of Popular Mechanics, we have hundreds of hours of use on the three different Switch consoles. Additionally, we researched expert sources like Wired, CNET, Wirecutter, Tom’s Guide, Insider, and Techradar, plus thousands of consumer reviews from online storefronts at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and more for additional opinions. As for the consoles themselves, we rated them on their differences: namely their design, functionality, performance and price.

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1

Ideal for multiple players

Switch (version 01)

Nintendo
amazon.com

$ 299.99

Key specs

  • Screen: 6.2 inch LCD touchscreen
  • Portable display resolution: 720p
  • Docked display resolution: 1080p
  • Internal storage: 32 GB, supports external microSD cards
  • Battery Life: 4.5 to 9 hours, rechargeable via USB-C
  • Controller: Includes two detachable Joy-Cons and a Joy-Con grip
  • Supported games: All Switch games
  • Release year : 2019 (01 model), 2017 (original model)

The original Switch combines a ton of Nintendo design sensibilities into one incredible product. Nintendo’s old home console, the Wii U, was a sales flop, but had a lot of unique ideas, namely a portable tablet controller. Nintendo has reiterated the best of these ideas and created the Nintendo Switch, an incredible and flexible console that offers an equally enjoyable gaming experience to play at home or on the go.

As a result, the base Nintendo Switch model is perhaps the most versatile of all and is best suited for families or households with multiple players. The portable console’s small form factor is ideal for adults and children alike, and the detachable dual Joy-Con controllers let you enjoy a fast-paced two-player game anywhere. The Switch also makes it easy to create multiple users, control online shopping, and watch game time with its built-in user account settings and parental control. All of this, combined with an incredible selection of games, makes the basic Nintendo Switch a great choice for a busy household.

The original Switch received a major, albeit secretive, battery upgrade in 2019. The new 2019 model sports red packaging and has a model number of “HAC-001 (-01)”. When shopping for a new entry-level Switch system, be sure to get one of these newer models (-01).

  • Hybrid home and mobile game modes
  • Excellent for multiplayer games
  • Users complain about the sturdiness of the dock
2

Ideal for travelers

Switch Lite

Nintendo
walmart.com

$ 264.98

Key specs

  • Screen: 5.5 inch LCD touch screen
  • Portable display resolution: 720p
  • Docked display resolution: N / A, portable mode only
  • Internal storage: 32 GB, supports external microSD cards
  • Battery Life: 3 to 7 hours, rechargeable by USB-C
  • Controller: Integrated non-detachable dual joy-cons
  • Supported games: Handheld Games Supported
  • Release year : 2019

Released two years after the launch of the original Switch, the Switch Lite is a streamlined, budget-friendly, travel-focused version of the original console. Presenting in a smaller form factor and a wide variety of colorways, the Switch Lite is a great console for frequent travelers who are less interested in multiplayer or home gaming. For households wishing to add a second Switching from console to their gaming arsenal, the Switch Lite is also a great choice, albeit with a few caveats.

The most important difference between the Switch and the Switch Lite is that the Lite is a uniquely mobile experience. The system does not connect to TVs or monitors, does not come with a docking station, and does not support rumble or HD motion camera controls. The Switch Lite also includes built-in, non-detachable Joy-Cons, making it a sleeker but less versatile form factor. You can obviously still connect standalone wireless Switch controllers to the system, but the design here is clearly geared towards travel. The slightly reduced feature set, combined with a seriously reduced price tag, makes the Switch Lite a clear winner for casual gamers.

If you already have a Nintendo Switch console and plan to to add a Switch Lite in the mix, it is important to note that Nintendo is quite particular on account management and downloadable content. Make sure you Learn about the differences in permissions between a “primary” and “non-primary” Switch console before purchasing.

  • Small form factor
  • Affordable
  • Cannot connect to TVs or monitors
3

Best visuals

OLED switch

Nintendo
amazon.com

$ 349.00

Key specs

  • Screen: 7 “OLED touchscreen
  • Portable display resolution: 720p
  • Docked display resolution: 1080p
  • Internal storage: 64 GB, supports external microSD cards
  • Battery Life: 4.5 – 9 hours, rechargeable via USB-C
  • Controller: Includes two detachable Joy-Cons and a Joy-Con grip
  • Supported games: All Switch games
  • Release year : 2021

The latest addition to the Switch lineup, the Switch OLED was released in late 2021 and features small but significant upgrades to the Switch screen and system design. While the changes aren’t extravagant, the Switch OLED is the closest thing to a “Switch Pro” and, as such, may be suitable for serious gamers.

The biggest difference between the Switch OLED and other Switch models is the screen: a large, vibrating OLED panel that outperforms the LCD panels featured in other Switch models. With smaller bezels and richer colors, playing on the go with the OLED Switch is very enjoyable.

Aside from the screen upgrades, the OLED brings a few minor but notable improvements to the Switch’s design, albeit at a higher price point. Internal storage doubled to 64GB, though we still recommend pairing any Switch system with a microSD card. The host tray now has a LAN internet port, which means much more stable connectivity for competitive online games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Splatoon 2. Finally, the kickstand is much improved with a full-length console design.

Overall, the OLED Switch, with its small upgrades and higher price tag, is better suited for Nintendo gaming fans: gamers who have plenty of game time and will appreciate things like a more vibrant screen and connectivity. Stable LAN internet.

  • Superb OLED display
  • Improved console and dock design

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