When you want to play the newest Nintendo games, you’ve got a bit of a choice to make. If you can find them, and have the extra cash, the Nintendo Switch is a very unique hybrid console. It can be played as a handheld, or docked as a normal home console. On the other hand, there’s the less expensive little brother, the Switch Lite, which is only a handheld and has a smaller form factor.
Which of these two consoles is the better deal, and which is right for you? With this buying guide, we’ll help walk you through the two models and help you decide which one is the better pick.
The original model of the Nintendo Switch retails for $300, though, lately, it’s been hard to find at that price point. A combination of huge demand for the system and a shortage due to COVID has led to a massive uptick in their resale value and widespread out-of-stock notices. If you can find it for close to retail, though, the original Switch is a great value.
For $300, you essentially get two systems. One is the Switch in docked mode, where it acts as a traditional home console. The system overclocks itself in the dock, putting out images up to 1080p, on par with release-day Xbox One and PS4 systems. When you remove the system from the dock, it “switches,” becoming a handheld system.
In handheld mode, the system puts out images up to 720p on a stunning little screen. In essence, it’s a gaming tablet with controllers attached by rails to the sides of the system. You get two Joy Con controllers and a dock included with the system, though you don’t get the excellent “Pro Controller,” the standard console-style controller loved by hardcore gamers. That’s a $70 stand-alone purchase.
The Switch Lite, on the other hand, is a smaller, lighter, sleeker little system. It doesn’t have the detachable Joy Con controllers, and it can’t connect to the TV like its big brother. The trade off is that the system sports a much lower base price tag, at $200. It’s also ideal for smaller hands: children are clearly the main target audience of this small system.
Beyond that, the Lite is a fine system. In essence, it’s the true successor to the Nintendo 3DS, a handheld-only system for enjoying Nintendo’s excellent first-party lineup. Which one you would prefer probably depends on you. If you love gaming on the big screen or couch co-op, opt for the big Switch. If you just want a light, portable system for less money, the Lite is the best option for you.