I love cutting-edge PC tech. I look back at the list of Nvidia GeForce GPUs I’ve owned down the years — the GTX 1080 Ti, the RTX 2080 Ti, the RTX 3090, now the RTX 4090 — and my depleted bank balance clearly demonstrates my commitment to high-end PC gaming.
Despite my love for powerful GPUs though, the gaming device I’ve leaned on the most by far during my downtime in 2023 is the Nintendo Switch OLED.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is the most powerful consumer-grade GPU in the world. When I’m playing some of the best PC games on it at 4K resolution (3820 x 2160) with my rig hooked up to an LG C2 OLED TV, the results are astounding.
Compare and contrast with the Switch OLED and its relatively weak Nvidia Tegra APU, and there’s obviously no contest. Even some of the best Switch games struggle to hit the native 720p resolution of that lovely little screen because the tech powering the handheld is so undercooked.
The shortcomings of Nintendo’s hardware are the main reason we need a Nintendo Switch 2… yesterday.
Yet if I was forced into a bizarrely tech-focused version of Sophie’s Choice right now, and I could only keep either my expensive graphics card or Nintendo’s underpowered hybrid console, I'd currently choose the handheld.
Editor's note: This is also worth bearing in mind if you're chewing over getting into high-end PC gaming; beautiful graphics are one thing, but having a great gaming experience that suits your lifestyle trumps everything in our opinion.
Switching it up
Clearly, that makes almost no sense anyway you slice it. Why would I give up a GPU that normally retails for $1,599 for a portable console that sells for $349? Doing so would be roughly as sensible as Jack trading in his magic beans for a couple of moldy carrots.
On a purely fiscal level, there’s no reasonable argument I can make here. The only statement I can put forward in my defense? None of the Switch’s technical limitations have stopped me going back time and again to my premium OLED model, time that’s come at the cost of playing on one of the best gaming PCs.
I spent 25 hours back in January having my nights devoured by the old-school undead delights of Resident Evil 0. I happily clocked over 30 hours polishing off the excellent Metroid Prime Remastered. And my unfinished playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has already ballooned to over 70 hours.
By comparison, I've not given my PC and its RTX 4090 anywhere near as much gaming love this year. The main reasons I’m neglecting my rig are pretty simple, but only one of them is really my PC’s fault.
Reason one: slouching on the sofa and playing Tears of the Kingdom is sooooo much easier than having to endure tiresome shader stutter issues because so many recent triple-A PC ports have been crappy. I tried to get into the PC version of Star Wars: Jedi Survivor a few weeks ago, and even on my RTX 4090 it was a stuttering mess.
Reason two: I do my job on this PC, and at the end of the working day, I simply don’t want to spend any more time in my (uncomfortably humid) home office where my 4090 resides.
Reason three: I spend a lot of time in my relatively new role on Tom’s Guide reviewing some of the best gaming laptops. Said portable PCs can also be enjoyed in a slovenly position on my sofa, with the bonus that they continue to service my craving for high-end video game experiences.
Why not opt for the Steam Deck over the Switch, you ask? Sure, the Deck is considerably more powerful, but the LCD screen on Valve's device is subpar in my opinion. I'd much prefer to play games with perfect black levels on the Switch OLED's pin-sharp screen than invest in the Deck and its LCD display.
At 38 years of age, comfort is king to me. I love my gaming PC and took real pride in building it. Yet a combination of poorly optimized ports and the fact I don't find playing games at a desk for extended periods of time all that relaxing has led me to increasingly shun my rig when comes time to unwind.
More and more, the convenience of playing my Switch OLED from the comfort of my couch has become my go-to for a relaxed evening of stress-free gaming.
Right now, that's worth more to me than any bleeding edge 4K graphical experiences I could have on my PC.