It using Maxwell is a bit surprising…
Although I am sure that no one at this point was actually expecting the Switch to be as powerful as the PS4 – it’s a portable device smaller than your iPad, guys, there’s no way it could have kept up with the PS4 – there has been some speculation and disagreement on what kind of chipset the system will be using. Will it be a Maxwell architecture, or the newer, more power efficient Pascal?
The understanding so far has been that Nintendo may opt for Pascal, given the gains in power efficiency and usage, but according to a new report by Venture Beat, time constraints may have led to Nintendo going for for Maxwell instead- had they gone with Pascal, they would have been unable to launch the Switch in march, as they had intended.
The difference here is crucial to understand- Pascal and Maxwell do not denote the power or power cap of the system. While there is no doubt that the Switch will be weaker than the PS4 (again, just look at the form factor, and understand that physics is a fundamental thing that you can’t negotiate with), the chip architectures dictate power draw and power efficiency- Maxwell will, for instance, simply be less power efficient, leading to lower battery life.
Depending on other things, the Switch will probably still be able to run third party games, ‘at lower settings’ in PC gamer parlance- in fact, evidence we have from third party statements suggests that it will. Of course, all of this is, for now, speculation, and we have to wait till January 12/13 to get the final word on whether or not any of the specifics here are true (while, again, I expect the Switch to be weaker than the PS4, I do also expect it to be at least partially Pascal based).