Switch vs Lite vs OLED

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The Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular consoles of all time with nearly 140 million units sold. It’s been white-hot since its inception and people love playing on it. It also helps that the system has a bunch of great games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. In short, the Nintendo Switch is a great overall experience.


Along with the software chops, Nintendo sells three variants of the Nintendo Switch, including the base model Nintendo Switch, the handheld-friendly Switch Lite, and the upgraded Switch OLED. Those aren’t your only options, though, so let’s take a look through and see all the best Nintendo Switch models.

Nintendo Switch OLED

1. Best overall Nintendo Switch

OLED is king

The Nintendo Switch OLED is the best overall Switch model. It has the highest quality screen while retaining the versatility of the regular Switch, up to and including metrics like battery life.

Pros

  • The highest-end Switch with the best screen
  • Still plays all the great games that the other models can
  • Can be docked at home and played on a TV
Cons

  • It’s the heaviest model, which may affect handheld gaming
  • It’s also the most expensive model

Honestly, if you have the money for it, the Nintendo Switch OLED is the obvious first choice among Nintendo Switch consoles. It retains all the benefits of the regular Nintendo Switch while adding a gorgeous OLED panel that is not only more vibrant but also slightly larger than its counterparts. It still plays all the same games and can be docked for use with your TV.


It costs a little more than the base Switch, which isn’t an unreasonable thing to expect. The larger OLED screen is more expensive than the smaller LCD panel of the regular Switch. That means the only real downside to the OLED Switch is that it’s the heaviest model, which may cause fatigue during longer handheld gaming sessions. Otherwise, it’s the Switch to get.

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Nintendo Switch 16 by 9

Nintendo Switch

2. Best value Nintendo Switch

Solid all around

$270 $299 Save $29

The classic Nintendo Switch remains a solid option in the lineup. It does everything, isn’t terribly expensive, and is readily available at dozens of retailers.

Pros

  • Can be used both handheld and docked to a TV
  • Amazing selection of games
  • Not very expensive
Cons

  • Heavier than the Switch Lite
  • Screen isn’t as vibrant as the Switch OLED

The regular Nintendo Switch is also a great option if you’re considering the platform. It does everything the OLED Nintendo Switch can do, with the only three differences being the screen, price, and weight. The regular Switch features a smaller LCD panel and is just a bit lighter than its OLED counterpart. It’s also $50 less expensive at MSRP.

That’s what makes the regular Switch such a good value proposition. It is functionally identical to its more expensive counterpart, with smart downgrades that don’t degrade performance or enjoyment. It can still be docked to a TV, play all the same games, and the Joy-Cons are the same as those of the OLED version. Just because this is the base Nintendo Switch doesn’t mean it’s inferior. It’s actually quite good.


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Nintendo Switch Lite 16 by 9

Nintendo Switch Lite

3. Best budget Nintendo Switch

It’s also the best for handheld gameplay

$194 $199 Save $5

The Switch Lite is a genius move by Nintendo. It omits the ability to dock to a TV but makes up for it by being lighter and friendlier to play handheld while still being able to play every Switch game.

Pros

  • Lighter and more ergonomic than the other models
  • Can still play ever Switch game just as well as the other variants
  • Excellent for kids and travel
Cons

  • Can’t be docked to a TV
  • No detachable Joy-Cons

The Nintendo Switch Lite is arguably the most intriguing version of the Nintendo Switch. It possesses the same processing power as its more expensive and capable siblings, but Nintendo has designed it in such a way that it stands out as the best option for handheld console play. The Switch Lite is significantly lighter than the regular Switch or Switch OLED, and the controls are integrated into the console body instead of being detachable Joy-Cons.

The result feels more like a successor to the Nintendo 3DS than the Nintendo Wii U, and it succeeds in this role. You receive all the enjoyment of the Nintendo Switch in a smaller, more portable form factor. It lacks the ability to dock to the TV like the regular Switch and Switch OLED, but it is not designed as a hybrid; it is solely a handheld device. It is also excellent for children, who can play it in the car on long trips without experiencing fatigue.


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Nintendo Switch Animal Crossing Edition

Animal Crossing New Horizons Edition (Nintendo Switch)

4. Best special edition Nintendo Switch

The Animal Crossing: New Horizons edition of the Nintendo Switch is a huge departure from the original in terms of design, with delightful pastel-colored Joy-Cons and a pleasantly themed dock.

Pros

  • Works just like a regualr Nintendo Switch
  • Pastel Joy-Cons and themed dock look great
  • Only marginally more expensive than a regular Switch
Cons

  • Only available in limited quantities
  • Like other special editions, it’ll sell out permanently eventually

As of this writing, the Animal Crossing: New Horizons edition of the Nintendo Switch is still in stock, and it’s arguably the best special edition of the Switch that you can still buy. The blue and green Joy-Cons along with the Animal Crossing-themed dock are delightful to look at and will definitely stand out on your TV stand or desk. The back of the Switch’s body is also subtly designed with Animal Crossing iconography, so the entire system is themed from front to back.

Other than its aesthetics, it still functions as a regular Nintendo Switch. It plays all the games, has the same performance and battery, and docking it works the same way. However, we might recommend a clear case for this one, so the Switch doesn’t get scratched by its dock.

Nintendo Switch OLED Splatoon 3 Special Edition

Splatoon 3 Special Edition OLED Nintendo Switch

5. Best Switch OLED special edition

Those Joy-Cons, though.

The Platoon 3 special edition of the Switch OLED brings some of the coolest-looking Joy-Cons and dock while still giving you the excellent experience of a Switch OLED.

Pros

  • The yellow-green and blue-purple Joy-Cons alone are worth owning
  • Same great experience of the Switch OLED
  • Not that much more expensive than regular Switch OLED
Cons

  • Who knows how long these will still be in stock
  • The gray-on-white dock could’ve used a little more contrast, we think

The Splatoon 3 special edition of the Nintendo Switch OLED is about as good as it gets. It’s still available, which makes it more accessible than most other special edition models, and the Joy-Cons look awesome. The entire Switch OLED is covered in Splatoon 3-themed graphics, even on the back of the display. If we had one nitpick, it would be that the gray on the dock could have been a bit darker for some extra contrast. However, it looks better in real life than it does in product photos.


It sells new for $360, which is only $10 more than the MSRP for the regular Switch OLED. It’s worth the extra $10 for those Joy-Cons alone. Some stores, like GameStop, also sell used and refurbished models for less than the MSRP, giving you a hefty discount on gently used versions. Other than its awesome design, it works just like any other Switch OLED.

Nintendo Switch Lite Zacian and Zamazenta Edition

Nintendo Switch Lite – Zacian and Zamazenta Edition

6. Best Switch Lite special edition

Minimal designs are good too

The Zacian and Zamazenta edition of the Switch Lite is a little more reserved than some other special edition models with a light gray colorway along with red and blue buttons that really pop on this console.

Pros

  • The gray colorway with the punchy red and blue buttons look nice
  • The characters are also prominently featuerd on the back of the device
  • Same great Switch Lite experience as the original
Cons

  • Like all special editions, stock is not guaranteed
  • Getting a case to prevent wear and tear isn’t the worst idea

The Nintendo Switch Lite Zacian and Zamazenta edition is exactly what you need. It forgoes the typically loud colorway options of the standard Switch Lite in favor of a much sleeker light gray with red and blue buttons that really pop. Zacian and Zamazenta are etched onto the back of the display, making the whole thing look classy with bright colors in all the right places.

It is a standard Switch Lite otherwise, so the experience is largely the same. It sells for only $15 more than the MSRP of the original, so it doesn’t cost that much extra to get one. The only thing we’d recommend is perhaps acquiring a clear case to protect the device. The light gray color will almost certainly get dirty over time, given that it will be exclusively held by human hands.


Joy-Con Pastel Purple and Pastel Green

Joy-Con Pastel Purple and Pastel Green

7. Best Nintendo Switch add-on

An extra controller is never a bad move

$70 $80 Save $10

It’s no secret that Joy-Cons have a history of stick drift, so it’s not the worst idea to have a spare set around in case something happens. This pastel purple and pastel green set is an absolutely delightful option.

Pros

  • Honestly, the colors on these things are great
  • They are official Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons
  • They are the same price as regular Joy-Cons
Cons

  • May not look the best with some special edition models
  • There are other color options available that you may like more

Having a spare set of Joy-Cons isn’t the worst idea for Nintendo Switch owners. Stick drift is a known and common issue. It is possible to fix it yourself, but in the meantime, it’s nice to have a backup set, so you can keep gaming while you figure out what to do with the broken set. There are many on the market, so you can take your pick. However, we think this pastel set looks really nice.

They are official Nintendo Joy-Cons, so they are first-party accessories. They will pair with your Switch as easily as any other official Joy-Con and work just as well once paired. One especially nice thing about them is that they don’t cost any more than the standard red and blue variant, which is nice because Joy-Cons are expensive either way.

Rocketfish TV Dock Kit for Nintendo Switch

Rocketfish TV Dock Kit For Nintendo Switch

8. Best third-party Nintendo Switch dock

Works like a charm

The Rocketfish TV Dock Kit for Nintendo Switch is a good alternative to the official dock. It’s smaller than the official dock, with a sleeker design. It should work on both the Switch and Switch OLED.

Pros

  • Smaller, sleeker dock looks nicer than the official dock
  • Works with the Nintendo Switch and Switch OLED
  • Great as a second dock for travel or connecting to a second TV
Cons

  • Best Buy exclusive so you have to buy it there.
  • Only comes in one color

The Rocketfish TV Dock Kit is an excellent third-party dock for the Nintendo Switch. It works reliably with both the Switch and Switch OLED, so you don’t have to worry about compatibility. It also replaces the taller form factor of the official stand with something shorter and more minimal. This grants it a few extra benefits, such as taking up less space on your entertainment stand and making it easier to pack away while traveling.


It’s competitively priced compared to the official dock, which sells for $60 when purchased directly from Nintendo. The Rocketfish dock is $10 less expensive while delivering the same overall performance. Some folks will only buy the official dock, and that is perfectly okay, but those looking for third-party options can’t do much better than this.


The bottom line: Which Nintendo Switch is the best?

It comes down to personal preference. The Switch OLED has the best screen while still being as versatile as the regular Switch. Meanwhile, the Switch Lite is tailor-made for handheld gaming in a way the other two variants aren’t. We go into depth about the best Nintendo Switch here. However, the Nintendo Switch OLED is your best bet as it is the best of all worlds.

Nintendo Switch OLED 16 by 9

Nintendo Switch OLED

Editor’s Choice

However, there is nothing wrong with the regular Nintendo Switch or the Switch Lite either. All three models can play the same games at the same performance levels, so all you’re choosing is the level of versatility and the overall size and weight. Don’t forget to consider getting some add-ons like the pastel purple and green Joy-Cons or a Rocketfish dock as well.


How did we choose these Switch models?

Well, there are only three different models of the Nintendo Switch, so that made the list easy to concoct. Additionally, special edition variants of the Nintendo Switch cycle in and out, so the ones mentioned above are the ones that are available as of this writing. In general, all the Switch models are great, so this wasn’t a difficult list to vet.

Are third-party docks safe to use with my Nintendo Switch?

Yes, provided that they are made by reputable companies. The Switch dock essentially serves two functions: it charges the Switch and provides an HDMI-out connection for your TV. The Switch only goes into TV mode when it registers that it’s connected to a power source. Thus, as long as the dock can provide power to the Switch and an HDMI-out connection, it should work just fine.

Should I hold out for the Nintendo Switch 2?

That’s a complicated question. So far, no one has any concrete timeline for when the Nintendo Switch 2 is going to come out, although most analysts believe it’ll be sometime in 2025. So, you can wait, but that’s a long time to go without gaming. If it were a couple of months in the future, it would be a different story. However, nabbing yourself a Switch now and then selling or trading it in toward the cost of a Switch 2 may be the better option if you want to game on a Switch in 2024.


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