The Legend of Zelda: The Kingdom’s mobile performance tear test

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom became a massive hit, with social media timelines brimming with clever hyrulian innovations and Korok-based violence in equal measure. We’ve already covered the game with our Tears of the Kingdom tech review right before launch, but we’ve left some unfinished business.

Now, it’s time to round out our analysis with a look at performance – including pre-patch frame rates, how different Switch revisions play the game, what Switch overclocking can bring to the mix, mobile vs. docked play, and how the latest patch 1.1.1. changes things.

First, let’s take a look at the game without the first day patch installed. I picked up a physical copy of the game at release for this very purpose, and as early preview footage showed, performance can drop from 30fps to as low as 20fps in early downtown when using the Ultra-HD feature.

Here’s the full video transcript of the Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom performance analysis, featuring the MVG!

There are also subtle differences in performance depending on the any Switch the model you are using. For example, the original 2017 Switch sometimes momentarily drops frames where the newer Switch OLED does not with the upgraded Mariko processor. Given that the clock speeds are the same, this appears to be a function of improving memory latency in the newer revision.

If you have access to overclocking switches via a modified model, memory bandwidth can have performance implications. According to testing by MVG on a 2017 switch based on the Logan processor, overclocking the CPU and GPU has relatively minor effects on performance – perhaps preventing occasional frame rate drops but not eliminating persistent drops to 20fps with hyperactivity .

Instead, overclocking the memory has the biggest performance implications. Going from 1.6GHz to 1.85GHz greatly improves performance, reducing frame rate drops, while full CPU and GPU And OC memory locking results in essentially 30fps. The sweet spot MVG set for the Switch was a CPU clock of 1224MHz, a GPU clock of 844MHz and a memory clock of 1862MHz, so this could be a good starting point for other models as well.

Here’s our initial Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom coverage, in case you missed it.

There are reports online of Mariko-based memory overclocking to around 2.8GHz which, when combined with the unlocked frame rate patch, could allow for 60fps playback on the Switch – incredible stuff, though we have to take that Claims with a huge bag of salt. However, the idea that more performance (much more!) could be extracted from the under-utilized 16nm Switch SoC variant is something we might take a look at in the future.

Another thing we couldn’t test for launch coverage was mobile performance. We’re now able to confirm that the game is running with a dynamic resolution scaling between 540p and 720p—often 720p—while performance looks a little better than with the docked experience, which is nice. This makes sense if memory bandwidth is an issue, as offering a much lower resolution frees up more bandwidth.

Finally, we had a short window to test the latest 1.1.1 patch to check out the performance changes, but we didn’t notice anything of note in our initial testing. If there are performance improvements here, they are subtle at best. Overall, Tears of the Kingdom is in a sweet spot in terms of performance given the hardware on the Switch, but there are a few options available – like picking up a new switch or even overclocking – for players to get a better lock at 30fps.

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