For a marquee game on 6-year-old hardware (which was a bit underpowered when it launched in 2017), the open-world construction set of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom an impressive technical feat. Digital Foundry recently outlined how the game’s day one patch ensures that the software “holds very close to the 30 frames per second target” for “almost the entirety” of their playtime .
However, Digital Foundry noticed that Tears of the KingdomThe frame rate can still drop below 20 fps at times, especially when Link’s signature Ultra Hand ability is activated in crowded areas like Kakariko Village or Goron City. For those situations, however, Switch users with a hacked console can use overclocking tools to make the game run smoother.
In a recent video, Modern Vintage Gamer (MVG) walks viewers through the overclocking options on offer Tears of the Kingdom Players who install a tool like sys-clk on their hacked systems. Pushing the CPU from around 1 GHz to 1.5 GHz leads to “not much difference” in the MVG test. In contrast, increasing the GPU speed from 768 MHz to only 900 MHz (in docked mode) results in frame rates that are “definitely smoothed out,” although there are “still … times where it drops its frame rate.”
The biggest performance improvement, however, comes from speeding up the system’s memory clock from 1.6 GHz to more than 1.8 GHz. That increase removes what MVG calls “probably the biggest bottleneck of all in hardware right now” leading to a situation where “no matter what I do here, I can’t get the frame rate to drop below 30 fps .” And that improvement remains even when the CPU and GPU are run at their original clock speeds.
As always with overclocking, this type of performance improvement is not without risk. Overclocked components generate more heat, which can lead to component damage/failure or system shutdown, especially if the ambient temperature is very high during your gaming. Even overclocking short of bricking your system can lead to increased fan and/or battery usage, meaning higher power consumption and shorter play times when away from an outlet. All of these risks may be more pronounced for the memory overclocking described here, which pushes what Digital Foundry previously called “the hard limit of the Tegra X1” that powers the Switch.
For players who can’t stand the thought of frame rate drops while traversing Hyrule, however, the risk may be worth it. And for those who want to mitigate that risk with some dodgy-looking accessories, you can always invest in a questionable external fan for the system dock.
List image of Nintendo