Nintendo Switch just got a major speed boost, and Switch Pro isn't even here yet

Faster access to Zelda? Yes, please

Nintendo Switch 2 Release Date Price

If you've been eagerly waiting for the rumoured second-generation Nintendo Switch, dubbed Switch Pro, which promises faster speeds and an improved display – we've got good and bad news. First off, while Nintendo hasn't confirmed when we're likely to see its Switch 2, the gaming company has unexpectedly sped-up the original hardware with a software update.

Nintendo rolled-out its latest update to Switch console owners worldwide a few weeks ago. While the software, version 8.0.0, was advertised as sporting a number of new features, including the ability to sort All Software by the most recently played, total play time, and more. There was also 15 new profile icons, the ability to transfer save data between consoles, and a system-wide zoom feature.

What Nintendo completely failed to mention in the patches notes was that it had quietly sped-up every Nintendo Switch console – dramatically dropping the amount of time you'll have to wait before your favourite game loads.

The improvements to load times was unearthed in the weeks following the software update by users dedicated to running their own so-called "homebrew" software on the Nintendo-built console. The Japanese gaming firm now allows the Nintendo Switch to overclock its CPU to 1.75GHz in a handful of approved situations. This is a massive improvement on its usual 1GHz performance. For now, the aforementioned "approved situations" are limited to first-party games, like Legend Of Zelda.

However, there's no reason that Nintendo won't gradually roll-out this ability to a number of popular third-party titles, too.

According to users, Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild has seen some of the most significant performance updates so far – with the time it takes to load save files reduced from 31 down to 21 seconds, fast travel from 19 to 11 seconds, and entering in-world Shrines from 10 seconds down to 7 seconds. Super Mario Odyssey has also seen a similar performance boost since the update. 

This level of improvement is incredibly exciting – and proves there's plenty of life in the current-generation hardware yet. However, this type of performance increase could really shine in future on the long-rumoured Switch Pro hardware.

The latter, according to sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal, will dramatically improve the built-in touchscreen display included with the console. While the current-generation Nintendo Switch only has a 720p LCD touchscreen display built-in, the refreshed model will purportedly boast a 1080p OLED panel. 

The Switch is capable of outputting content at 1080p – as it does when it's connected to a HD TV using the dock, so Nintendo wouldn't even need to update the internals to drive the upgraded display on the Switch Pro. OLED panels offer a number of improvements over LCD, including deeper blacks and more vibrant colours. They can also be more battery efficient, especially when using a dark mode.

Alongside the second-generation Switch, Nintendo will purportedly launch a more affordable model that cannot be docked and played on a HD TV.