My Test Equipment: Challenging Misinformation About Charging Nintendo’s Latest Console, Addendum

Clumsy Contraria
7 min readApr 20, 2017


If you read Part 1 and Part 2 of this Nintendo Switch charging series, you’ll note a few key (surprising) conclusions. This includes limitations to how much power the Switch will take as well as some (frustrating) edge cases. With that said, I feel confident that the above conclusions are sound given my results from the sample of USB cables and chargers (both AC adapters and battery packs) I personally own.

For transparency, here is my personal sample of testing equipment, chargers, and cables I’ve tested with, with some notes about their applicability where needed.

Plugable USB-C Voltage and Amperage Meter

Measurement Equipment

For my inline voltage and current measurements, I’m using a Plugable USB-C Voltage and Amperage Meter. I also sometimes throw in my Kill-A-Watt P3 P4400 to get a “from-the-wall” reading to make sure things add up.

Only a few of my USB Type A-C cables… 😇

USB Type A-C Cables

These cables are the cables that convert your original USB-A large rectangle connector into the USB-C port connector found on the Nintendo Switch. I have a dozen of these, and they all behave consistently:

For USB-A, the amount of current the Switch will pull is limited to 1.5A, despite that many high current USB-A chargers support 2.1–2.4A. This means that “all” USB-A chargers end up only providing up to 7.5 watts (5V 1.5A) of power.

What is a compliant USB A-C cable? The key thing to be aware of is if the cable has a 56 kΩ resistor built in to properly signal its power transmission limitations. The Nintendo OEM cable included with the Pro Controller and Charging Grip is compliant, as are many of these cables you can find today if you buy new and from a reputable manufacturer (many cables on Amazon now indicate “56k resistor”).

Based on my measurements of these cables, I’m pretty confident of my conclusions here:

A handful of the USB-A batteries and AC adapters I’ve measured

USB Type A-C Chargers (AC adapters and batteries)

For USB-A, the amount of current the Switch will pull is limited to 1.5A, despite that many high current USB-A chargers support 2.1–2.4A. This means that “all” USB-A chargers end up only providing up to 7.5 watts (5V 1.5A) of power.

I feel fairly confident, from my own findings (and corroborated by others) across a broad array of pretty well-regarded USB-A chargers.

For example, in The Wirecutter’s survey of The Best Multiport USB Wall Charger, the Anker 60W Charger comes in as the most highly recommended option for chargers supporting 5+ devices. They confirmed that the Anker was providing a full 2.4A to their test iPads:

The Anker 60W aced our initial six-iPad test, so we replaced the iPad mini 2 with an iPad Air 2 to test the charger with six full-size iPads. The Anker 60W successfully provided 2.4 amps of current to each of our two control iPads, even with the four other full-size iPads connected. …[B]ased on our testing, the Anker 60W is a great pick for all but the most demanding tablet users — and even then, we haven’t found anything more capable.

So clearly the Anker 60W supports Apple’s proprietary 2.4A charging protocol. And in my testing with the Switch, the Anker 60W delivers only 1.5 of the 2.4 amps it’s otherwise capable of:

The Anker 60W 6-Port USB Power Adapter delivering 5V 1.5A to the Switch

The same Wirecutter article also tested the Tronsmart Quick Charge 2.0 42W 3 Port Wall Travel Charger (TS-WC3PC) I have, finding that it too supplied 2.4A to their test iPads. And again, it only supplies 1.5A to the Switch.

Across (almost) all the USB-A chargers listed below, measuring output to the Switch over their USB-A port consistently deliver 5V 1.5A, across all the cable combinations above.

Once again proving that there will always be exceptions to the rule, the one known outlier to the above finding is Apple’s 12W USB Power Adapter for its iPads. It’s yet not well-understood why it’s the case, but the Nintendo Switch is confirmed to pull 2A from the Apple 12W.

However, given the consistency in the Switch’s 1.5A behavior with the vast majority of other USB-A chargers, I feel pretty confident that the Apple 12W is a minority case, and consumers are safest assuming that any USB-A charger they use with the Switch will only support 1.5A of current.

There’s one more exception I’ve picked up in my testing:Some chargers with proprietary fast-charging standards like Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging don’t seem to play nice with the Switch over a USB A-C cable and fallback to a very slow legacy-safe mode where only 5V 0.5A (2.5W) is sent, and this is definitely is in very slow, “not good” charging territory. Interestingly, my Motorola OEM 15W Turbo Charger seems to work properly, like any other USB-A charger.

Chargers I Own/Have Tested:

Some of the USB-C chargers I have and tested

USB Type-C Chargers (AC adapters and batteries)

Of the various Nintendo Switch charging surprises, it was perhaps most disappointing to find out that the Nintendo Switch did not take advantage of the full 15W available from the new USB-C “high current” specification:

For USB-C, the amount of current the Switch will pull is limited to 2A, despite that the vast majority (if not all) USB-C chargers are rated for 5V 3A. This means all regular USB-C chargers end up only providing up to 10 watts (5V 2.0A) of power.

So with a USB-C charger, though the Switch doesn’t take full advantage of the 15W available, at least 10W is sufficient to still (slowly) charge the Switch under the most demanding of conditions I’ve been able to throw at it.

Of the handful of USB-C devices I have, I have seen this 5V 2A (10W) behavior consistently. Thankfully, I haven’t seen any reports of any exceptions to this finding.

Chargers I Own/Have Tested:

My collection of USB Power Delivery chargers is unfortunately lacking

USB Power Delivery Chargers (USB-PD)

Unfortunately, I don’t have much in the way of a broad collection of USB-PD devices or chargers yet, so my collection boils down to the Google OEM Pixel AC adapter and the Nintendo Switch OEM AC adapter.

From my testing along with the reports of others including AnandTech, it looks like the Switch (in portable mode) will consume up to 18W of power across the various USB-PD “power rules” (i.e., voltages). From /u/bluaki’s testing:

Nintendo’s AC adapter: Gives Switch about 15V/1.2A (18W) when undocked.

Other USB-C PD chargers: Basically whatever the charger advertises or 18W, whichever is lower. Switch supports all of the standard PD voltages (5V/9V/12V/15V) and will draw up to 2A.

Of note, the Google 18W AC adapter sends 9V 2A to the Switch, delivering a solid 18W of power, proving that the Switch doesn’t need the previously suspected 15V that the Nintendo OEM charger is rated for.

Chargers I Own:



Clumsy Contraria

Attorney-turned-product manager. Well-meaning, unintentionally compulsive devil’s advocacy. Musings on product, tech, and stuff —