The Nintendo Switch is a popular option for a lot of gamers, and it’s not difficult to see why. Along with all the great games available, like Animal Crossing, many gamers also consider the Switch to be a more budget-friendly option.
The system itself
costs $300, and it rarely goes on sale, even for Cyber Monday or Black Friday. If there is a special promotion, it typically involves a free game like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe packaged with the full-price system or, occasionally, a $25 Nintendo eShop credit.
The Nintendo Switch Lite is
, as the system doesn’t include the peripherals packaged with the standard Nintendo Switch. There is no need for a dock, since the system can’t be used on a television, and its built-in controls mean there are no Joy-Con controllers or Joy-Con grip in the box. If you’re going to play your system exclusively as a handheld, the Nintendo Switch Lite will cut down on the price.
Both versions of the Nintendo Switch come with only 32GB of internal storage, and a portion of that holds the console’s operating system. Despite the system not requiring full game installations if using physical game cards, file sizes often eclipse what the cards will hold, and the Switch will need to download additional content. The card will reach its limit in no time — and even more quickly if you choose to download games.
This makes purchasing a memory card essential. The Switch makes use of MicroSDHC and MicroSDXC, with the latter having a much higher storage limit. The cards have dropped in price over the last few years, with a 256GB card
. This is plenty of storage space for the system, and you can go up even higher if you wish. Higher is better, because you won’t be able to easily transfer data between two storage devices like you can on other consoles.
Unlike most modern phones and tablets, the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite do not have a layer of glass protecting their screens. Instead, it’s a layer of plastic, which is intended to prevent cracking and more serious damage but also results in an easily scratched screen. The solution for this is a screen protector — either plastic or glass — and these don’t cost that much.
They’re available online for
, and often come with multiple protectors in case something happens while you’re applying the first one. If you want a glass protector, however, we highly suggest purchasing it in person, as they break easily during shipping.
Carrying case and stand
Even if you purchase the handheld-only Nintendo Switch Lite, you’re going to need a carrying case when transporting the system in order to prevent scuffs and cracks. The carrying case can also hold your charger, an HDMI cable, and other accessories, which is perfect if you’re taking it over to someone else’s home.
A standard Nintendo Switch carrying case
and contains room for the system with Joy-Con controllers attached, as well as a selection of physical games. This is a good option if you are commuting and don’t need all of your accessories. “Travel” cases
, but come with slots to hold your dock, controller, and accessories as well. Everything will stay secure, despite the extra space inside the case.
The Switch Lite is smaller, and as such, most accessories made for the Switch will not fit it — including cases. The same companies that made the larger cases have designed several options for Switch Lite. They tend to
You’ll also want to get a tabletop stand for your system. A very flimsy kickstand is built into the larger Nintendo Switch by default, but it can pop off and cause your system to fall. These
from brands like Hori can be purchased for between $10 and $15, or a little more if you need USB capability.
The regular Nintendo Switch comes with two Joy-Con controllers by default, along with a Joy-Con grip that you can use to play games to make it like you’re using a traditional gamepad. It isn’t an ideal solution, however, and to play games with a more standard controller, you’ll need to get the
for around $70. Its sticks and buttons are larger than those of the Joy-Cons, and it features a standard directional pad.
If you are playing a game like Super Mario Party, everyone will need their own Joy-Con controller.
cost $80. If you want four to play with the Switch Lite in tabletop mode, that costs $160.
Once you have your system and accessories, it’s time to buy what you bought the Nintendo Switch for in the first place: Games! Retail games on Nintendo Switch cost the industry standard $60 in most cases, with certain titles priced more cheaply. You’ll also find less-expensive games on the Nintendo eShop, and certain retailers like Walmart often price new games at about $50.
What separates Nintendo’s games from PS4 and Xbox One, however, is that the prices stay the same for a very long time. It can take years before a game’s price reduces, and even Black Friday usually doesn’t offer that many discounts on Nintendo games. Nintendo does run sales on its eShop, though it’s rare you’ll find a major game released within the last year on one of these.
Nintendo Switch Online
You now need to pay a fee in order to access online multiplayer gaming. At $20 per year, it’s cheaper than Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, each of which cost about $60 a year. It also includes access to save data in the cloud, as well as a game vault of NES and SNES titles that contain online multiplayer and other new features.
What is the total cost?
Breaking down the total cost of owning a Nintendo Switch, you’ll be paying significantly more than just the $200 or $300 price of the console.
For the standard system, with a 256GB MicroSDXC card, carrying case, screen protector, Pro Controller, two extra Joy-Con controllers, Nintendo Switch Online subscription, and stand, your total cost will be about $550 — before purchasing a single game.
For the Switch Lite, four Joy-Con controllers, a 256GB MicroSDXC card, a Pro Controller, Nintendo Switch Online subscription, case, screen protector, and stand, you’re looking at about $525 before buying any games.