Nintendo Switch power usage tests

For an upcoming trip, I purchased a RAVPower USB power bank that claimed to support USB-PD over USB-C. To see what kind of battery life I could expect, I tested it with the Nintendo Switch using a Satechi USB-C Power Meter. as well as a generic USB power meter to test the USB-A ports.

I had three kinds of cables on hand:

  • The USB C-C cable included with the RAVPower bank
  • Apple’s USB C-C cable (Theoretically rated for over 80W)
  • The USB A-C cable included with the Switch Pro Controller

First, I tested the power draw when the Switch battery was full. To try to max out the power usage, I went to the Korok Forest in BOTW, as that area tends to have some graphics lag, I figured it would represent the peak power usage of the SoC.

  • RAVPower Power Bank, RAVPower USB-C cable: 15.5V, ~500mA max (~7.75W)
  • RAVPower Power Bank, Apple USB-C cable: 15.5V, ~500mA max (~7.75W)
  • RAVPower Power Bank, USB A-C: 5V, ~1400mA max (~7W)
  • Stock Nintendo PSU: 15V, ~700mA peak (10.5W), typically under 500mA (~7.5W)
  • Apple 87W USB-C Power Adapter with RAVPower USB-C cable: 5V, 1750mA peak (~8.75W), typically under 1500mA (~7.5W)
  • Apple 87W USB-C Power Adapter with Apple USB-C cable: 9V, 1200mA peak (~10.8W), typically under 1000mA (~9W)

Power usage would drop from these peaks when walking around, or in the menu. This seems to indicate that any kind of connection could keep up with the power consumption while playing a game.
I’m not sure why the 9V consumption is higher.

Next, I left the Switch powered on to drain the battery to about 80%. I then tested the power consumption again.
The consumption from the power bank remained the same, however when I connected the unit to some other USB-C sources, I got different results.

  • RAVPower Power Bank, RAVPower USB-C cable: 15.5V, ~500mA max (~7.75W)
  • RAVPower Power Bank, Apple USB-C cable: 15.5V, ~500mA max (~7.75W)
  • RAVPower Power Bank, USB A-C: 5V, ~1400mA max (~7W)
  • Stock Nintendo PSU: 15V, ~1250mA (~18.75W)
  • Apple 87W USB-C Power Adapter with RAVPower USB-C cable: 5V, 2000mA (~10W)
  • Apple 87W USB-C Power Adapter with Apple USB-C cable: 9V, 2000mA (~18W)
  • LG 5K UltraFine display, LG’s included Thunderbolt 3 cable: 5V, 0mA (0W)

This indicates that there is something besides the normal USB-PD interface that limits the current draw when connected to non-stock chargers. The results from the Apple 87W adapter seems odd, as the RAVPower cable works with the MacBook Pro (albeit at only 60W (20V @ 3A)).
I was surprised that the 5K display did not provide at least some power to the switch, as it had successfully negotiated USB-PD at 20V to charge the RAVPower bank itself.

I was a little dismayed that the RAVPower bank would not provide more power to the unit, as it seems there is no benefit to using the USB-C port over using a USB-A port with a USB-A to USB-C cable (both provide 7W and are able to prevent the internal battery from discharging during gaming).

As a final test, I measured consumption during sleep mode (full battery):

  • RAVPower Power Bank, RAVPower USB-C cable: 15.5V, 80mA (~1.24W)
  • RAVPower Power Bank, Apple USB-C cable: 15.5V, 80mA (~1.24W)
  • RAVPower Power Bank, USB A-C, Battery Side: 5.26V, 210mA (~1.1W)
  • RAVPower Power Bank, USB A-C, Device Side: 5.17V, 180mA (~1W)
  • Stock Nintendo PSU: 14.7V, 80mA (~1.2W)
  • Apple 87W USB-C Power Adapter with RAVPower USB-C cable: 5.1V, 210mA (~1.08W)
  • Apple 87W USB-C Power Adapter with Apple USB-C cable: 9V, 120mA (~1.08W)

Measurements were taken when the consumption settled below the amount when it was awake (less than a minute after the screen turned off). After a longer time (about 2 minutes) consumption dropped to 0mA (likely below the threshold of the meter).

Note:
Both power meters have a max resolution of 10mA and 10mV, and are likely less accurate than that. Some values have been rounded further, without more advanced equipment it’s difficult to measure average consumption.
Apple’s power supply seemed to not always negotiate 9V with the Apple USB-C cable, sometimes it would stick at 5V until it was power cycled a few times.

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