The Nintendo Switch OLED model only launched last Friday, but hardware sleuths have already performed teardowns and have discovered something interesting. The new device’s dock appears to be capable of 4K output at 60 frames per second.
The YouTube channel Nintendo Prime looked at the Switch OLED’s new dock and noticed that it came packed with an HDMI 2.0 cable, unlike the original Switch, which comes with HDMI 1.4. Both standards are capable of 4K transfers, but the slower HDMI 1.4 can only achieve 4K at 30fps.
This change is not solid proof that the new dock can output 4K/60fps, but it made Nintendo Prime curious enough to tear the unit down and look at the internals (below). They concluded that the dock’s video output is “HDMI 2.0 compliant.”
Twitter user @KawlunDram identified the chipset as a Realtek RTD2172N KBDQH1, which is listed as a “4K UHD multimedia SoC.” He notes that this matches information datamined from a firmware update earlier this year. So for all intents and purposes, the Switch OLED dock is 4K/60fps ready.
As for the handheld’s capabilities, it does use a Tegra X1 Soc, which, as Nvidia points out, is completely capable of 4K at 60fps. That said, we’re not likely to see that happen. The original and Switch Lite use the same SoC but lack the processing power needed for 4K gaming. As we know, the new Switch is not much of an upgrade other than the OLED screen, so it is only as capable as the previous models.
So why include HDMI 2.0 output on the dock if the Switch cannot process 4k output? That’s a good question without any solid answers. One theory is that Nintendo is laying the groundwork for the long-rumored Switch Pro. For two years straight, analysts have been saying a 4K Switch Pro was coming.
Last Year, Dr. Serkan Toto from Kantan Games said, “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Nintendo will launch a ‘Switch Pro’ in 2020, my guess is at $399.”
Of course, that never happened. Earlier this year, Toto doubled down, saying the 4K capable Switch Pro would launch before the end of Nintendo’s fiscal year. Nintendo FY2021 ends on March 31, 2022, so we still have some time for that prediction to come to fruition.
Bloomberg also reported last month that 11 game developers, including someone from Zynga, have come forward saying that Nintendo has given them tools to start producing 4K Switch content. However, a 4K console is not expected to arrive until late 2022 “at the earliest.”
However, don’t start holding your breath. Nintendo officially responded to Bloomberg’s report, categorically denying that it gave developers 4K tools. It also reiterated its July denial saying it has no plans for a 4K Switch console. After Nintendo refuted the story, a Zynga spokesperson told Blomberg the information it got from its anonymous source was wrong.
Only one thing is for sure: Someone is lying. It is Nintendo’s and an official Zynga representative’s position that nobody is working on 4K Switch content. If this is true, we would have to believe that at least 11 people from 11 different developers got together to hatch a hoax saying they were using 4K Switch devkits. I don’t know whom to believe, but if I had to make a guess, I’d say we might soon be seeing some leaked images of Nintendo Switch 4K devkits.