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8 Reasons Why the Nintendo Switch Dock Desperately Needs an Upgrade

Jan 13, 2024

The Nintendo Switch is a great piece of hardware. Its Dock, not so much. Here's why we think it could use an upgrade.

Designed to allow users to play Switch games on a TV via HDMI output, the Nintendo Switch Dock hasn't had a serious refresh since its release in 2017 alongside the original console. The Nintendo Switch OLED followed in 2021, but its new Dock barely differed from the original.

Despite there being two generations of the Nintendo Switch Dock, there hasn't been a major upgrade since the initial 2017 design. Not only is the Dock an aging accessory, but it could definitely do with some improvements. Here's our take on what could do with a glow-up on the Nintendo Switch Dock.

The original Nintendo Switch Dock has three USB-A ports: two USB 2.0 ports on the side and one USB 3.0 concealed in the back panel. The external USB ports can be used to charge official Nintendo Switch controllers or connect a compatible keyboard or mouse. The USB 3.0 port was replaced by an Ethernet port in the 2021 Dock for the OLED console.

Our main issue here is that the Dock's USB offerings feel outdated. The USB-A 2.0 is practically an antique, having been released in 2000. Its faster update, the USB 3.0, was released in 2008. This makes the Switch's USB technology at least 15 years old, which seems wild in an age of fast-developing technology. (Find out more about USB types in our article discussing the differences between USB-A and USB-C).

To be fair to Nintendo, the Switch isn't geared towards file transfer or any other high-spec USB demands as these are not required to enjoy Switch gaming. Nevertheless, having more USB ports that are a bit speedier would be a nice upgrade. Featuring USB-A 2.0 just makes the Nintendo Switch seem outdated and cheap for a seemingly high-quality and high-value console.

The AC adapter (a USB-C port), HDMI out port, and USB-A 2.0 (or Ethernet port in the 2021 Dock) are concealed in a hinged back panel. The design is meant to help with "cable management", but accessing these ports isn't particularly manageable.

Due to the flimsy nature of the back panel, the best way to access the main ports is to pick up the Dock and brace it as you unclip the panel. This is also an issue of space, as the panel swings open and extends out of the back of the Switch Dock.

We say forget the back panel (how much cable management does 10.5 cm provide, anyway?) and have an open port area on an upgraded Switch dock for easier access.

For a handheld console that's supposed to be a "portable device", the Nintendo Switch Dock is far from a portable accessory. It's bulky and will take up a good chunk of real estate in your bag or suitcase.

The Switch Dock is also fairly weighty at approximately 0.72 lbs. With the Nintendo Switch weighing approximately 0.88 lbs (or the OLED 0.93 lbs), this means that taking the Dock with you almost doubles the weight of your "portable" console setup.

We’d love to see Nintendo upgrade the Switch Dock to a smaller and more travel-friendly option. For now, there are several third-party Nintendo Switch Docks available that are better for traveling with.

If you were going for the minimalist look with your tech, you can forget it if you own a Switch. The Dock is designed to work only with a Nintendo Switch, so you’ll need a separate docking station or dongle to connect other devices such as the Steam Deck or your smartphone to the TV.

You can tidy up by connecting your Nintendo Switch to a TV without a Dock, but this does render the docking station redundant (the primary reason for the Dock's existence is to connect your Switch to a TV). You’ll also have to fork out for a USB-C to HDMI cable to try to connect your Switch directly to your TV. The risk of using third-party cables might harm the health and lifespan of your Switch, however, so shop and use with caution.

At its bulky size, the Nintendo Switch Dock is a waste of (non-recycled) plastic. It also feels cheap and flimsy. Further, its plastic-cased design can also cause the Switch to overheat as it offers little ventilation for the console.

A smaller Switch Dock made from sustainable materials, such as bamboo, would be an ideal upgrade. Not only would this be more environmentally friendly, but a smaller dock could offer better ventilation features to mitigate overheating.

On an individual level, you can buy refurbished Nintendo Switch Docks. Buying second-hand or refurbished tech can help make your entertainment setup more eco-friendly.

Adding to the overheating problem of the Nintendo Switch is the fact that the Dock isn't dustproof. An accumulation of dust in the Switch's air vents not only causes a louder fan, but it can make the console overheat and shut down.

For the health of our consoles, we hope Nintendo upgrades the Dock to prevent dust accumulation.

A common complaint about the Switch Dock is that it scratches the console's screen due to the plastic rails being too tight. Once again, a smaller dock that doesn't cover the screen could resolve this cosmetic-damaging issue.

In the meantime, using a screen protector can help protect your Switch screen from scratches and cosmetic damage.

Nintendo continues to sell brand-new Docks at a hefty price of $59.99, without any upgrades to the 2017 (or 2021) release. We’d expect to either pay less for the same Dock that is more than half a decade old, or at least see some decent upgrades to justify the held price tag.

If you're looking to buy a second-hand OLED to replace your original console, at least you can save some money as the 2017 Dock can be used with a Nintendo Switch OLED. Alternatively—as mentioned above—you can buy refurbished and second-hand Switch Docks from Nintendo's online store.

It's clear that both the 2017 and 2021 Nintendo Switch Docks need an upgrade. Aside from outdated technology, the health of our consoles is at risk with plastic Docks that hold heat and accumulate dust.

A smaller, lighter, more portable Dock with accessible ports made of sustainable materials is all we ask for. Let's hope Nintendo upgrades the Switch Dock soon.

Charlotte is a freelance features writer, specializing in wellness, travel, and lifestyle. She has been writing professionally since 2014, with experience in journalism, PR, proofreading, editing, content writing, and copywriting.