The usual way to connect a Nintendo Switch to your TV is to place it in the dock. But what if you don’t have the dock with you? Or worse – what if your Nintendo Switch dock breaks? Can you connect a Switch to your TV without the dock?
Yes, you can.
This workaround lets you hook up your Nintendo Switch to a TV without the dock.
Why Connect a Nintendo Switch to a TV Without the Dock?
If you have a nice, fully functional Nintendo Switch dock, it might seem pointless to worry about connecting the console to a TV. After all, this is one of the key purposes of the dock, alongside charging he Switch.
But what if the dock is broken? After all, it’s a pretty lightweight piece of kit. It could easily end up snapping, getting crushed, or cracking following a fall.
There are other reasons, too. If you take your Nintendo Switch on holiday and find there is a big TV you can use for multiplayer action, you’re stuck. You probably didn’t pack the dock, after all.
Not to mention, it’s quite nice to have the Switch in full view instead of hidden in the dock. If you like to play Switch games with the console mounted on a stand, having the option of swapping to the big screen is good. It’s also an option you don’t usually have.
How a Nintendo Switch Normally Connects to TV
The video and power cabling on a Nintendo Switch is routed into the back of the dock. You probably recall from setting the device up that the ports are covered with a hinged door. Behind here you’ll find, in order, the USB-C power input, a USB 3.0 port for additional storage, and the HDMI output.
Power and data for all these connections are converted to USB-C which is then routed around the bottom of the dock. Here, a single USB-C port connects to the docked Nintendo Switch. This single port charges the battery and keeps the device powered when docked. It also routes video data to your TV via HDMI and manages data from a USB storage device.
How to Connect Nintendo Switch to a TV Without the Dock
Clearly, you need a USB-C to HDMI adapter to connect your Nintendo Switch to a TV without the dock.
To try this out, I ordered a standard USB-C to HDMI adapter from Amazon. It has three inputs, just like the back of the Switch’s dock, and a single USB-C output.
To connect your Nintendo Switch to your HDTV without using the dock:
- Disconnect the USB-C and HDMI cables from the back of the dock
- Mount the Switch on a stand or lay it flat on a table near the TV
- Connect the USB-C power cable and HDMI cable to the USB-C to HDMI adapter
- Now connect the adapter to the Nintendo Switch
- Select the correct channel on your TV
- Start playing games
You can use the Joy-Cons individually, connected to the Joy-Con Grip, or use a Switch Pro Controller, just as you would normally. There should be absolutely no difference to the experience, other than the absence of the Nintendo Switch dock.
As you can see, this is a relatively straightforward process. However, it won’t work with all USB-C to HDMI adapters. You need to make sure you have an adapter that is compatible with the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo Switch Compatible USB-C to HDMI Adapters
Which Switch-compatible USB-C to HDMI adapters should you use? The device you’re looking for should have:
- USB-C input for power
- Standard HDMI output
- Optional USB 3.0 port
- A USB-C connector
A ton of options are available online. Not all of these are suitable for the Nintendo Switch. Some are completely incompatible, while others don’t support 4K. Two of the best options are:
Whatever device you choose, ensure it is intended for replacing the Nintendo Switch dock.
Can You Cast Your Nintendo Switch to TV?
You probably know that it is possible to wirelessly cast mobile phone and tablet displays to TV. This is typically done using Google Chromecast, which also works with computers running the Chrome browser. Various wireless HDMI options are currently available, with TVs and media streaming devices capable of receiving video data and displaying it.
Chromecast and Apple Airplay are the most famous examples, although Miracast is supported by more devices and platforms, including Windows 10.
If you’ve ever cast video from an app running on a phone (say, Netflix), you’re probably wondering if the same feature is available on the Nintendo Switch. Better still, can you stream games to your TV wirelessly?
Sadly not. Currently, it isn’t possible to wirelessly connect or cast the Nintendo Switch display to your TV. However, there is a crowdfunded campaign, the Genki ShadowCast, which lets you hook any game console up to a computer with a USB-C input.
From here you could potentially output the video to a TV over wireless HDMI, although latency might take a hit.
Connecting the Nintendo Switch to a TV Without the Dock Is Simple
So, you don’t really need the Nintendo Switch to be docked to play games on a TV. All you need is a compatible USB-C to HDMI adapter and a suitable stand (optional). In short, if you’re away from home or the dock is damaged, you can play Nintendo Switch games on a big screen.
And with the possibility of wireless streaming for the Nintendo Switch on the horizon, having the Switch docked is increasingly an option you can move away from.
If you want to improve your handheld gaming experience, consider investing in the best Nintendo Switch accessories.
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