God of War on a Switch? Modder turns Nintendo’s Switch into a Steam Deck like gaming PC

God of War on a Switch? Modder turns Nintendo's Switch into a Steam Deck like gaming PC

Switch modders can now run PC games on their Switch thanks to Linux

Nintendo’s Switch console may not be famed for its top of the line hardware, but it is nonetheless a powerful portable gaming systems. Developers have created a lot of great looking games for the system, and it is incredible what has been achieved with the system’s integrated Nvidia Tegra X1 processor, its ARM CPU cores, and its Maxwell-based GPU. 

In recent years, Nintendo’s Switch console has become incredibly popular gaming system for homebrew software an system modding, with users achieving some incredible feats using custom software, or hardware overclocks. 

Today, we are looking at how the YouTuber Geekerwan has has turned Nintendo’s Switch console into a Steam Deck-like PC gaming system by installing Linux on the system and running games natively on the system using Steam. To achieve higher performance levels on his Switch, Geekerwan has overclocked his Switch OLED model from its native 1 GHz CPU clock speed to 2.3 GHz, and increased the system’s GPU clock speed to 1267 MHz. By default, the Switch’s GPU runs at 460 MHz in handheld mode and 768 MHz in docked mode. Additionally, the system’s memory has been overclocked from 1600 MHz to 2133 MHz.

Geekerwan’s Switch overclocks are vital for achieving higher levels of performance from the Switch’s aging hardware. Remember, Nvidia launched their Tegra X1 in 2015, making the hardware ancient by today’s standards. 

God of War on a Switch? Modder turns Nintendo's Switch into a Steam Deck like gaming PC

(Geekerwan’s Switch Overclock)

By installing Linux on Switch and Valve’s Steam client, Geekerwan has managed to run native PC games on Nintendo’s Switch hardware, managing to run games like Titanfall 2, Grand Theft Auto V, and God of War on the system. As you can expect, these games did not run well on Nintendo’s mobile Switch hardware, with Titanfall 2 running at 20ish FPS while GTA V and God of War ran at under 10 FPS. These games were made playable on Linux with an ARM SOC using Wine, bix64, and DXVK.

Even with hefty CPU, GPU, and memory overclocks, Nintendo’s Switch hardware is not powerful enough to run PC games. Then again, did you really expect to see high framerates on a system with a mobile SOC from 2015 and just 4GB of system memory?

While it is impressive that Nintendo’s Switch system has been used to play PC games, it is clear that the system’s hacked in PC game support has its issues, with games exhibiting audio bugs and other issues during gameplay. If unpayable framerates for most titles wasn’t enough to convince you that PC gaming on Switch is a bad idea, perhaps added bugs will change your mind.

Geekerwan’s PC gaming on Switch experiment showcases two things. The first thing is that the Switch modding scene is incredible, and the second is that Nintendo’s Switch hardware in incredibly limiting. Valve’s Steam Deck is crazy powerful when compared with Nintendo’s Switch handheld, and Valve are able to sell their baseline Steam Deck for not much more than the cost of a new Switch OLED system. It’s time for Nintendo to build a new handheld, and with more modern hardware, Nintendo can deliver something amazing.  

You can join the discussion on modders running PC games on Nintendo’s Switch handheld on the OC3D Forums.