Nintendo’s new Switch console is a unique gaming machine, and not just because of its hybrid status as a portable or the plethora of controller configurations. The system sees Nintendo return to using proprietary cartridges for physical copies of games, but it also has 32GB of built-in flash storage, and accepts microSD cards for expandability. There are different reasons for using each of these three storage options, but which one has the fastest load times?
The folks over at Digital Foundry decided to put the Switch to the test, using the game Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as part of their analysis. In order to see which type of storage had the best load times, they loaded different parts of the game from each source: the console’s internal memory, the cartridge the physical copy comes on, and two types of SanDisk microSD cards — a cheap 16GB model and a pricier 64GB Extreme Plus.
The expectation was that the game cartridge would have the fastest load times, but surprisingly Digital Foundry discovered it came in last place. It was the Switch’s internal storage that won the race, with the microSD cards named the second-best option. Also interesting was that both types of the microSD card offered nearly identical load times, with only milliseconds of difference.
Breath of the Wild‘s Temple of Time was the first area tested for load times, with the internal memory loading it just over 30 seconds, while the cartridge took almost 36 seconds. The results of which source was the fastest were the same for every other section of the game that Digital Foundry tried, however.