Nintendo Switch hacked to run Windows 11 on Arm, and it’s just about as awful as you can imagine

As Nintendo Switch unlocks and homebrew software develops, people are inclined to explore the possibilities and whether or not they actually provide a good experience. Our new prime example seems to be a full install of Windows 11 Arm on the Switch. As noted by @PatRyk on Twitter, who actually set this up, the experience is pretty grueling! The initial installation took three hours, and even basic system tasks were unresponsive.

Things really start looking bleak when we try to game on a Switch with Windows 11 installed. The optimization, performance overhead, or both are simply so extreme that even extremely basic games (graphically speaking) like Peggle struggle to run under this environment. Compare this to the regular Switch, which can run Doom Eternal at 30 FPS most of the time with resolution scaling, and the performance loss is staggering.

So why would anyone do this, and is there any way that replacing the default Switch OS can improve the Switch gaming experience? In this case, the “why” seemed to be for the sake of fun or testing, though perhaps PatRyk should have considered using Tiny11 Core for Arm instead of base Windows 11 for the best results. Of course, the best results you’ll get on Switch’s Arm architecture these days is a Linux OS, and that’s where we can start talking about slightly more applicable uses of Switch OS replacement.

In ARM Linux game testing from Taki Udon on YouTube (embedded above), the Switch shows off some gaming chops at resolutions up to 4K. However, only old and emulated games were used to refrain from taxing the hardware. Still, Crispy Doom ran quite well in the 240 Hz mode, and GameCube games were running at 4X native without issue on the Switch hardware under Linux. Not bad!

The best modern experiences with a Switch console will, of course, only be experienced within the constraints of the main Switch OS and its games. However, a hacked Switch is good enough to moonlight as an emulation/streaming PC, and if you aren’t scared to wander outside The Garden Nintendo, the Steam Deck and its alternatives may also serve you well.