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Nintendo Switch ‘Boost Mode’ Overclocks CPU, Makes Games Load Faster — But There’s A Catch

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While the Nintendo Switch is a powerful console, Nintendo certainly had to make some sacrifices to keep the system slim and portable. So, while a game such as Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild serves up gorgeous, cel-shaded visuals, it's not without its share of hiccups from time to time.

Korok Forest, an area in the game, is particularly infamous for causing major framerate drops. This has gotten much better after several updates, but the area is still a bit nauseating to navigate. Nintendo Switch Update 8.0.0 unfortunately doesn't erase those visual snags. It does, however, offer a new "Boost Mode" that significantly reduces loading times.

Nintendo Switch Boost Mode

Released a couple of weeks ago, Update 8.0.0 introduced saved data transfers, a zoom feature, and a suite of new profile icons. Clever users, however, found a hidden addition Nintendo didn't include in the official changelog. It's not clear what this feature is called officially, but it's being referred to in a discussion on the Retroarch discord as Boost Mode.

This mode enables the Switch to overclock its CPU to 1.75 GHz in certain situations — significantly up from the console's normal CPU speed of 1 GHz.

Update 8.0.0 coincides with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild version 1.6.0, which not only introduces a new VR mode, but also reduces the game's loading times. Comparisons conducted by GBATemp user Brawl345 revealed, for example, that the time it takes to load save files is now just 21 seconds instead of 31, and fast travel now takes just 11 seconds rather than 19. Finally, entering shrines now just take seven seconds compared to the usual 10.

It's not just Zelda, either. Nintendo also rolled out an update to Super Mario Odyssey that introduces both VR Labo support and faster loading times. No specific times have been mentioned, but the game is also loading much faster than before thanks to Boost Mode.

Not All Games Are Affected, At Least Not Yet

Clearly, there's a pattern here. If both Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey had to be updated to work in conjunction with Boost Mode, then it's safe to assume other games would have to be treated the same to work with overclocking.

Meaning, even if Nintendo added Boost Mode, that doesn't necessarily mean all games will load much faster now. Developers must update their games first to make use of Boost Mode. So, players should keep an eye out for incoming patches to games that may result in better performance, or quicker loading times at least.

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