Gaming Apparently Zelda runs smoother in handheld mode

WiiUBricker

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It has been revealed that the Switch gains a not insignificant performance boost when it's connected with the Switch dock. So naturally one would assume that games run better when the Switch is docked. Apparently that is not the whole truth of it all, as eurogamer's Digital Foundry discovered that, at least, Zelda BotW runs smoother in portable mode. According to them, Zelda - although having better texture quality in docked mode - suffers from minor stuttering if the Switch is docked. Basically they speculate that due the internal resolution gain from 720p to 900p when docked, issues with CPU clockspeeds and memory bandwith occur. Their explanation is reproduced below:

In terms of performance, it's immediately clear to the naked eye that the docked Zelda stutters in places where the mobile experience does not - and to confirm this, we manually counted frames by eye based on our camera shots to ensure accuracy in producing the performance test below. It's really easy to isolate this issue as it occurs frequently in the open world, right from the beginning of the game. In some places, we see the smooth 30fps update while docked drop down to a momentary 20fps - confirming a basic double-buffer v-sync implementation.
What's curious is that the stutter is fleeting, effectively ruling out GPU rendering as the cause - as the on-screen content doesn't change. And that begs the question - if it's a CPU issue, why do we have these issues at all bearing in mind that we know that docked and undocked CPU clock-speeds are identical at 1020MHz? Well, one thing we have to bear in mind is that although there is a big jump in GPU clocks as we move from docked to mobile, there's not a great deal of difference in memory bandwidth between the two modes.
This is only a theory, but it does make sense based on the data available. Laying out the maths here, docking increases pixel count from 720p to 900p, a 56 per cent in resolution. However, memory bandwidth only rises by 20 per cent, from 1331MHz to 1600MHz. Bandwidth is shared between CPU and GPU, so the higher resolution in the home console mode may be sapping memory bandwidth away from the main processor cores, making us more prone to slowdown when the CPU is under load. Bandwidth concerns may also explain why resolution doesn't scale closer in line with the difference in clock-speeds (307.2MHz or 384MHz undocked, 768MHz docked). Suffice to say, if you're looking to play Breath of the Wild with minimal performance drops, running undocked is the way forward.

...playing while docked highlights one visual improvement: texture filtering still isn't great, but it's clearly improved over the handheld version, resolving more ground detail in particular further away from the player. Will you actually notice outside of eyeballing screenshots? It's highly unlikely. Miniaturising the action onto the 6.2-inch screen makes the difference virtually indistinguishable, and the improvement - such as it is - manifests as a 'band' of additional texture detail just ahead of the Link character.

While this all sounds rather minor, it still does leave a slightly bad taste of doubt in the mouth about the Switch's processing power.

:arrow: Source
 
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DrkBeam

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This is pretty interesting, the bottleneck on the switch is speculated to be the bandwidth, the docket mode doesn't give enough horsepower to render a game from 720p to 1080p on a game like botw, it could make sense to sell only the switch on a different hardware revision that improves battery life and others mobile aspects because the undocked experience won't be compromised
 

nolimits59

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Stop being self-centered please. Just because it's not news to you, doesn't mean it's not news to others.
"to me"
Stop being offended wtf... it's at least no news for the 300 000 people who watched this vid + all the other vids posted about that, just a statement, i'm not attacking OP or anything wow...
Im just saying that it was already posted on GBAtemp and it was "knew", thats all.
 

g00s3y

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Maybe it's the 120hz playing tricks, but I definitely feel it plays smoother on the tv than in handheld mode. Although it's much smoother in handheld mode than what some people were leading to believe.

Haven't had any desync issues, and only noticed stuttering twice because of lots of things going on. So far, the talk about how "bad" it is, is a lot of talk, with little truth so far from my experience.
 

duffmmann

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This was reported on a few days ago. I can't say its terribly surprising. Breath of the Wild is an intensive game, so much so that 1080p was never going to be possible on Nintendo hardware docked or otherwise. It wasn't hard to imagine that 900p when docked compared to the 720p seen in both handheld and on the Wii U (which both also already experience framerate issues on occasion) was going to still have some framerate issues as well. I'm sure this will deter a few 3rd party developers from releasing their more intensive AAA games, but I still think the majority of great third party games will be able to be ported to the system with little issue.
 

mightymuffy

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Been loading up a couple of saves on heavy moments in the game in both docked and undocked today, after 'evaluating' the Wii U version for a few days...

Definitely for performance it's undocked>docked>Wii U

In fact for looks it's exactly the same placement in my opinion, though mileage may vary depending on TV size etc, the Switch screen being just the right size for me.
Has to be memory bandwidth issue, and will be interesting if the same problems appear on future games, do remember this is kind of a port, and a launch game...

Also Switch version >> Wii U version.
Also both versions = AWESOME game!
 
Last edited by mightymuffy, , Reason: Fuks sake I got Docked and Undocked the wrong way round haha!!
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duffmmann

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let's all keep in mind that's a port of a WiiU game, pretty sure it's not 100% a genuine Switch game.

I mean what does that even mean at this point? Yeah it was ported, but the Switch version looks noticeably better beyond the framerate and resolution. The lighting seems better and the colors a bit more vibrant. I find it hard to believe that if this game was developed specifically for the Switch and never meant to have a Wii U version that it still wouldn't have turned out much different than the final Switch version that we do have.
 

nolimits59

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I mean what does that even mean at this point? Yeah it was ported, but the Switch version looks noticeably better beyond the framerate and resolution. The lighting seems better and the colors a bit more vibrant. I find it hard to believe that if this game was developed specifically for the Switch and never meant to have a Wii U version that it still wouldn't have turned out much different than the final Switch version that we do have.
The Switch version have framedrop that even WiiU does'nt, im pretty sure the way of handle density of vegetation was made for WiiU because the switch struggle on that kind of scenes like the little grassy area just after Rohan on his little cave, where there is his axe, WiiU doesnt drop on that area, but Switch does, of course its computing power compensate for most of the game, but some instruction has to be "emulated" or handled by another set of instructions that the GPU doesnt like when there is too much of that.
 

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