Nintendo hasn’t released a console at a similar power level to other contemporary consoles since the Gamecube managed to eclipse the PS2 in 2001. The Wii wasn’t nearly as powerful as the PS3, the Wii U’s power was closer to the PS3 when the PS4 was out, and the Switch has a fraction of the power of the PS4 (so it’s clearly miles away from performance of the PS5).
When it comes to audio, Nintendo wasn’t at the forefront either. While PS3 supported true surround nearly 15 years ago, Nintendo didn’t manage to do so until the Wii U in 2012. Today, the Switch is the only major console to rely on Bluetooth for wireless sound – Sony and Microsoft have both moved to higher quality alternatives with a lower latency.
The above has nothing to do with handhelds, where Sony’s PSP and PS Vita were significantly more powerful than Nintendo’s DS or 3DS hardware. Long story short, Nintendo has been making games behind the graphics and audio curve for over 20 years.
But I think this will soon change. No, Nintendo won’t drop a new console that surpasses the Series X, and it probably won’t even match the power of PS5, but I bet Nintendo’s next console will propel the company’s game development into the modern era with hardware capable of running current generation games and output high quality audio.
So sit back, relax and buckle up as I explain why I think we won’t have long to wait for a powerful Nintendo console that will whet the appetites of AV obsessed people around the world.
The Switch in a post-Steam Deck world
Nintendo’s newest console, the Switch, was launched in 2017. The console was in many ways an engineering masterpiece when it came out. The idea that a few years into the lifecycle of the PS4 and Xbox One there could be a handheld that even approached the power of those consoles was almost black magic.
But a lot has changed since 2017, especially in 2022 when Valve launched the Steam Deck. The company’s first foray into the world of handheld game consoles is an engineering masterpiece in its own right, with hardware more powerful than the PS4 and capable of running current-generation games such as Elder ring and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.
With a desktop-class AMD Zen 2 processor, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, an RDNA 2 GPU, and even NVMe SSD support on the 256GB and 512GB models, the Steam Deck is a powerful machine, especially when you consider that it primarily has to perform at the relatively unloaded 1280 x 800 resolution of the built-in 7-inch screen.
Compared to the Switch’s Maxwell-based GPU (from the GeForce 700 era) and simplistic ARM (think cellphones and tablets) quad-core CPU alongside 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and eMMC storage, the Nintendo Switch is only light years behind on the Steam Deck in terms of power. If the Switch is more powerful than the PS3 and Xbox 360 but less powerful than the Xbox One and PS4, the Steam Deck manages to surpass even the PS4 in terms of power and performance.
For fans of premium kits, the easy and often only choice here is the Steam Deck. You have a lot more power on offer and a lot more control over the look and feel of your games, while the Switch is stuck with relatively simplistic graphics and performance, often locking games to 30fps and adding modern bells and whistles like anti-aliasing and environmental occlusion. Sure, you won’t be playing games on Ultra settings at 4K with Steam Deck, but you can get a lot closer to that on Steam Deck than you can on Switch.
I believe the mere existence of Steam Deck bodes well for a next-gen Nintendo console that performance-hungry fans will fall in love with.
Nintendo’s next console
We don’t have official details on a new console from Nintendo yet, but the speculation can be broadly divided into two camps: the expectation that it will be a ‘Switch 2’ handheld device, and the expectation that it will be. . being a next-gen, more traditional console more in line with the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
If Nintendo opts for a more traditional home console, it’s great news for performance-hungry gamers. These days, there’s just no reason why Nintendo couldn’t find relatively inexpensive hardware capable of running at 4K and offering graphical fidelity that’s at least in the overall league of Series X and PS5.
PS5 and Series X launched in 2020 and the hardware in each will be locked in at least a year before launch. A new Nintendo console has the advantage of being able to choose from newer hardware with better performance, so even if Nintendo targets more aggressive pricing, as the brand usually does with hardware, the company can probably muster quite a bit of strength in terms of hardware. even if it doesn’t surpass PS5 or Series X.
Where it gets interesting is if Nintendo opts to go for a Switch 2 as the company’s next console. Steam Deck launched last year, 2022, meaning the powerful internals were stuck for a year or two before the console hit store shelves. Depending on when we can expect a new Nintendo console, more on that below, Nintendo could be working with even more powerful hardware than that of the Steam Deck.
What’s more is that Nintendo can do more with less, in terms of hardware, than Steam Deck can. Games are not designed for Steam Deck, they are largely designed for Windows PCs, but are run by the Deck using Valve’s Proton translation layer. While this whole process absolutely works and can work quite well, it’s not a replacement for games designed specifically for the hardware, so a Switch with the hardware of a Steam Deck could, in theory, yield even more impressive results.
When it comes to a possible Switch 2, it’s more than likely there will be a massive power increase over what we saw with the Switch, opening up a Switch 2 to the current generation of PS5 and Series X games to play without too many compromises in terms of graphical fidelity or framerate.
Hi-fi on a Nintendo console, really?
It’s more possible than you might think.
For starters, PS5 and Series X don’t support Bluetooth audio due to the limitations of the technology. Bluetooth audio introduces latency and cannot be transmitted without loss, so headsets on PS5 and Series X rely on wireless Wi-Fi based audio which doesn’t have the same audio quality and latency limitations.
But Nintendo Switch, of course, relies on Bluetooth audio for its status as a portable device and not just a home console. However, the Bluetooth paradigm is changing and it’s changing fast, which could be big news for a Switch successor. In terms of Bluetooth codecs, the hot new kids are aptX Lossless and aptX Low Latency.
As you might expect, aptX Lossless enables the lossless transmission of audio over Bluetooth and supports audio streaming up to 24-bit/96kHz, while aptX Low Latency enables Bluetooth transmission with a delay of up to 40 milliseconds. These modern Bluetooth codecs can seriously improve a Switch 2’s hi-fi capabilities.
But what’s more is the possibilities of spatial audio. Series X relies on Dolby Atmos, while PS5 has its own custom 3D audio solution. With a new Nintendo console on the way, there’s no reason Nintendo shouldn’t consider adding spatial support, especially considering the company is usually only a generation behind in audio performance.
The Wii didn’t support surround sound, although the PS3 did during that generation, while the Wii U managed to bring full-fledged surround sound to the table, which the Switch also supports. Since spatial audio only really went mainstream in the game console world with the PS5/Series X generation consoles, Nintendo would be well on its way if it incorporated its own spatial audio solution into its next console.
With a next-generation Nintendo console that could support traditional surround sound, spatial audio, lossless Bluetooth and low-latency Bluetooth, Nintendo would be a serious contender when it comes to high-fidelity gaming, and all this technology is only getting cheaper and more mainstream with each passing day.
So, when is a new Nintendo console coming?
The following is, of course, speculation. But let’s speculate, shall we?
There was an 8-year gap between Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and there was a 7-year gap between the Xbox One and Xbox Series X. There was a 7-year gap between PS3 and PS4, while there was also a 7-year gap year was. year difference between PS4 and PS5. For Nintendo, the Wii U came out 6 years after the Wii and the Switch came out 5 years after the Wii U.
At this point, it’s been 5 years since the Switch was launched. In general, consoles in the modern era come out about 7 years apart, while Nintendo tends to have shorter cycles as the hardware is weaker than the competition. However, the Switch has been hugely successful, even for Nintendo, so it makes sense that we’ll see a longer life cycle with it.
That said, we’re certainly approaching the end of the Switch cycle. When the Switch launched in 2017, it was significantly less powerful than PS4 and Xbox One. Still, with some sacrifice and some technical wizardry, PS4 and Xbox One games appeared on the Switch – games like Demisethe Witcher 3and Diablo 3to name a few.
However, since the launch of the Switch, we’ve had the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, as well as the PS5 and Series X and S. These days, it’s much less possible to bring a current-gen game to Switch, even with those same tech sorcery and lots of compromises. Simply put, a game like Cyberpunk it’s just not possible to run on Switch at an acceptable level of performance or graphics fidelity.
However, we know that Nintendo does not plan to release any new hardware during the current fiscal year, which ends in March 2023. And we also know that we will probably have a few months to a year of advertising and marketing and lead up to a new console before we actually get that new console.
Since 2023 is six years since the release of the Switch, 2024 is a very solid expectation for a new console from Nintendo, with an announcement sometime in 2023. 2024 may sound a little far off, but we’re fast approaching the new year, and it’s entirely possible we’ll get a new hardware announcement from Nintendo in the next 6 months.
Whatever Nintendo does next is almost guaranteed to vastly increase the reliability on offer compared to the Switch, bring Nintendo games firmly into the modern age, and give fans of high-end AV performance a good reason to buy a Nintendo kit for the first time since the Gamecube’s release back in 2001.
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