Nintendo’s biggest Switch Pro upgrade might have leaked

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Reports said a few days ago that Nintendo will unveil the next-gen Switch console in mid-June, right before the E3 2021 gaming event. Dubbed Switch Pro, the more powerful console will launch in the fall, with a recent listing indicating that the significantly upgraded device will be slightly more expensive than the best-selling original. Nintendo did not hold any press event for the Switch Pro before the gaming event. The Japanese giant has scheduled its own Direct event at E3 for June 15th, with the livestream set for 9:00 AM PT, but the event is expected to deliver new game announcements rather than hardware.

While Nintendo hasn’t formally acknowledged the Switch Pro, rumors continue to swirl, and a new leak gives us a look at the console’s most highly anticipated upgrade, the System-on-Chip (SoC) that’s expected to support 4K gaming experiences on par with the Switch’s direct rivals.

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The Switch was never able to compete against the PS4 and Xbox One when it comes to hardware, but it still outsold its rivals. The Switch continued to sell much better than Sony and Microsoft’s console last year, even after the PS5 and Xbox Series X launched. It didn’t help that the next-gen consoles were usually out of stock. The real Switch appeal comes from its dual-screen gaming modes and the collection of exclusive games that Nintendo makes for its devices.

Going forward, the Switch needs a hardware upgrade to keep it more in line with its rivals. The Switch Pro is expected to support 4K gaming while docked, and a brand new SoC will have to handle that experience. A new finding from an Nvidia leaker might give us the internal codename of the Switch Pro SoC.

The T239 chip in the image above might be the custom SoC variation of the T234 version. The numbering scheme indicates we’re looking at an upgraded design. The Tegra X1 SoC chips used in the original and refreshed Switch models were referred to as T210 and T214.

The new SoC will have Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) enabled, which will allow Nintendo to support significantly improved graphics. Hot Hardware points out that T234 references’ Nvidia’s Orin SoC, which has a TDP of around 65 to 75 watts. Nintendo will need a customized version of the Orin so the TDP can drop significantly, down to 15 watts, in line with the Tegra X1+.

The DLSS support would allow the Switch Pro to render 1080p content at close to 4K quality in docked mode without taking a significant performance hit. The blog says that DLSS support has to be added to games as well, and it can’t be easily done for old titles. It’s more likely that newer games will support better graphics.

Nintendo Switch specs rumors aside, Forbes reports that GameStop isn’t about to ruin Nintendo’s surprise by confirming the new Switch model. GameStop used the following language in recent ads that might have sounded like the store was getting ready to take orders for the Switch Pro:

Ad #1: ‘$50 Extra Credit when you trade select systems toward purchase of a New Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite or Xbox Series X/S.’

Ad #2: ‘Offer valid on systems traded toward purchase of New Nintendo Switch/Nintendo Switch Lite or Xbox Series X/S.’

The “New Nintendo Switch” reference has nothing to do with the rumored Switch Pro. GameStop is just advertising the arrival of current Switch stock. Nintendo has been selling more regular Switch consoles than it can make in the past few months, as demand remained high during the pandemic.

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