When it comes to the Nintendo Switch’s load times for games, it turns out not every file save location is created equal. According to the team at DigitalFoundry, the Nintendo Switch’s internal storage has faster load times than either the MicroSD or cartridge file options.
The revelations, which can be seen in detail in the video below, show just how much faster the Nintendo Switch internal storage is than other save locations. Interestingly, internal storage beats out MicroSD by a couple seconds and cartridges by as much as five seconds in some situations.
Granted, for some gamers a few seconds difference in load times isn’t a big deal, but for others the time adds up. Considering gamers will see a load screen each time they boot up a game, load a new area, fast travel across a large world like in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or die and respawn, those load screens may pop up fairly often. So each second counts when gamers are hoping to jump in and play without unnecessary waiting.
For those new to the Nintendo Switch, it’s important to point out that the Nintendo console only sports 32GB of internal storage space, much of which is taken up by the console’s own software. In reality, gamers have about 25GB to work with when saving files internally. With that in mind, gamers will only want to download those titles they’re planning to play the most or that have the longest load times.
That said, we’ll note that the Nintendo Switch has some interesting limitations on file saving and transferring, so Nintendo Switch owners won't be able to easily change up which games are saved internally versus on a MicroSD. Unfortunately, gamers cannot copy and paste game files between the internal storage and MircoSD cards. If a user wants to transfer a game from one to the other, they’ll need to delete the files from one and completely redownload them to the other. Hopefully this is something Nintendo can update in the future.
It’s also worth noting that once a gamer installs a MicroSD card in the Nintendo Switch, all games and downloads will save to the MicroSD first, then to internal storage once the SD card is full. So if gamers want to save a file to internal storage intentionally, they’ll need to remove the SD card, download the file, the replace the card.
As DigitalFoundry points out, gamers can transfer files between MicroSD cards, but will need to do so using a computer, as such transfers aren’t possible on the Nintendo Switch itself. Fortunately, the process on a computer is pretty simple for those who know how to drag and drop files from one folder to another.
In the end, while the difference in load times isn’t overly concerning, those who want to reduce load times as much as possible can plan out their save locations to maximize their playtime.