Japanese multinational video game company and console manufacturer Nintendo has issued a warning to Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, and Switch OLED users about a potential hardware problem with their handheld consoles. However, the hardware issues aren’t internal and most definitely not a reason for a product recall, as was the case with Samsung’s 2016 Note 7 smartphone, which spontaneously combusted or even exploded — don’t worry, your Switch isn’t going to explode.
According to Comic Book, Nintendo has issued a warning about a potential hardware issue caused by external factors, like excessive heat — a well-timed warning, considering that much of the United States is going through a heatwave. This means that all your gaming consoles, like the current and previous generations of PlayStation and Xbox consoles, or even your PC are susceptible to overheating. And Nintendo Switch is no exception; the tightly packed internals are also susceptible to overheating, despite the active cooling component (a small cooling fan).
Another thing that makes Nintendo Switch more susceptible to this problem is the console’s portable nature, meaning that it often travels to places other consoles don’t. This includes sitting in the beach bag under the hot sun or being left in the car in scorching heat, which would only make the console overheat faster than stationary consoles. So, the company also urged Switch users to use the console in environments with a temperature range of 41°F to 95°F (5°C to 35°C) and to ensure that the intake and exhaust ports remain uncovered.
Unlike legacy electronics (pre-1960s), which had to reach an operating temperature to work properly, the performance of modern electronics is severely affected by both high and low temperatures. For example, the performance of lithium-ion or lithium-poly batteries found in smartphones and portable consoles greatly suffers when temperatures drop to 32°F (0°C). Their capacity also drops when exposed to temperatures in excess of 95°F (35°C), which can even permanently damage the battery of your electronic device, such as the Nintendo Switch.
The other issue with electronics, especially gaming consoles and PC, is that they reach their thermal limits quite quickly. Without a cooling heatsink and a fan, the PC CPU can reach upwards of 212°F in a matter of seconds, which can irreversibly damage the PC. Luckily, the manufacturers of various gaming hardware have implemented a fail-safe called thermal throttling, which effectively reduces the performance of the equipment in order to keep it somewhat operational but prevent it from overheating. So, what would happen to your Nintendo Switch if it overheats?
Well, it will likely suffer some performance issues while the active cooling component tries to maintain a reasonable temperature. In most cases, thermal throttling activates in the 176°F to 203°F (80°C to 95°C) temperature range. When the cooling becomes inefficient, and the temperatures reach a TjMax limit (maximum thermal junction temperature limit), the hardware’s built-in thermal protection will either put your Nintendo Switch to sleep or shut it down entirely to preserve the integrity of internal circuitry.
In other Nintendo Switch-related news, the console officially surpassed Nintendo Wii in sales, and currently stands as the best-selling console in the current generation of gaming hardware, despite belonging to the previous generation. Additionally, the price of the original Nintendo Switch finally dropped, making the console more accessible to a broader audience.