Why Switch consoles are bricking, according to an engineer

Image Source: Nintendo/Amazon

Nintendo Switch owners using third-party charging docks may want to reconsider, according to a Reddit poster who said they have a background in electrical engineering. Apparently, users experiencing Switch console bricking may have third-party docks to blame, thanks to missing dedicated power delivery controllers and faulty USB-C connectors.

User u/VECTORDRIVER posted a lengthy explanation of the third-party docks’ problems. According to VECTORDRIVER, many have guessed that users’ Switch console bricking is due to the console not being power delivery chip compliant, but this isn’t the case. Instead, the Switch has a proper PD chip and a USB-C PD controller, which manage the power coming into the console. This PD chip has a maximum voltage rating of six volts, meaning the chip will be fried if it receives more than six volts. Because of this, Switch consoles sometimes brick when using third-party docks that don’t have proper PD controllers. VECTORDRIVER lists the Nyko dock as an example, which they said contains a PD emulator that sends nine volts to the Switch.

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VECTORDRIVER also listed another common cause of Switch console bricking: Bad USB-C connectors. According to the post, Nintendo’s official Switch dock contains a unique USB-C connector that is narrower than most connectors of the same type, allowing the portable console to slide into the dock smoothly. This leads third-party dock manufacturers to create their own narrow USB-C connectors, which are sometimes of shoddy quality and can cause damage to the PD chip.

In a statement to Kotaku last March, Nintendo warned users not to use third-party devices, saying, “Unlicensed products and accessories do not undergo Nintendo’s testing and evaluation process […] and they could have compatibility problems with certain games, [or] the Nintendo Switch system itself.”

Nintendo has recently faced criticism for the console’s rampant Joy-Con drift issues, which caused a law firm to investigate and subsequently file a class-action Joy-Con drift lawsuit against the company. While the Joy-Con issues may be the result of imperfect engineering on Nintendo’s part, it appears the Switch console bricking problem is due to other manufacturers.