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How To Connect Your Nintendo Switch To A Laptop

With certain consoles, like the PS4 or the Xbox One, you can use convenient Remote Play features to stream and play games on your laptop’s display. However, the Nintendo Switch doesn’t have a feature like this. So, how can you play Nintendo Switch games on your laptop?

To play a Nintendo Switch using your laptop’s display, you’ll need to connect the console to a capture card and then connect the capture card to your laptop. You can then use third-party software like OBS Studio to display a live feed from your console on your laptop’s screen.

That’s the general idea, but the setup can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re not familiar with this type of connection. Let’s go through this process in more detail so that you can get your Switch hooked up to your laptop without a hitch.

What Is a Capture Card?

A Boy Playing a Video Game

A gaming capture card is a piece of hardware that’s used to capture and record video game footage from a gaming console. It allows gamers to capture their gameplay footage, edit it, and share it with others on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.

A capture card connects to a gaming device through an HDMI cable, allowing it to receive video and audio signals from the device. The capture card then encodes this video and audio data into a format that can be easily stored on a computer’s hard drive or streamed online.

Capture cards come in various types that offer different features and capabilities. Some capture cards support 4K resolution, high frame rates, and HDR (High Dynamic Range) for more detailed and vibrant video quality. Other capture cards offer additional features like real-time streaming, voiceover recording, and live commentary.

Capture cards are widely used by professional gamers, game streamers, and content creators. They allow gamers to create high-quality content for their audience and enhance their streaming experience. Moreover, capture cards are also useful for gamers who want to improve their gaming skills by analyzing their gameplay footage and identifying areas of improvement.

To put it simply, a capture card will allow your laptop to receive an HDMI output from your gaming consoles. Even though this option is mainly used for streaming or recording games, it can also be used to simply get your console’s display on your laptop’s screen.

How to Pick a Capture Card

When selecting a capture card for your Switch, it’s important to consider your specific needs and budget. If you’re primarily interested in streaming, look for a capture card with low latency and high-quality streaming capabilities. If you’re more interested in recording, look for a capture card with high resolution and frame rate capabilities.

In this case, we’re only trying to play games on our laptop, so low latency capture cards that attempt to cut back on input delay are the best option.

One of the best capture cards on the market is the Elgato HD60 S+ (on Amazon). This capture card will allow you to stream game footage directly to your laptop at resolutions of up to 4K at 60FPS with ultra-low latency.

If you’re looking for a low budget option, you can get a Rybozen capture card (on Amazon) for just around $40. This won’t perform as well as the Elgato card, but it’s still a fine capture card that will stream footage to your computer just fine.

How to Connect Using a Capture Card

Now that you have your capture card picked out, you’re finally ready to connect your Switch to your laptop. To plug in your capture card, you’ll need at least one HDMI cable (you need two if you want to also have the display on a monitor) and a USB cord, which should’ve come with your capture card.

Once you’ve got those cables ready, all you have to do is follow these simple steps:

  1. Connect one end of an HDMI cable to your Nintendo Switch via the HDMI output port on the back of the Switch’s dock.
  2. Connect the other end of that same HDMI cable to the HDMI input port on your capture card.
  3. Plug the USB cable into your capture card and connect the other end to one of your laptop’s USB ports.
  4. If you’d like your Switch to display on both your laptop and a monitor, plug one end of another HDMI cable into the HDMI output port on your capture card and then plug the other end into your monitor’s HDMI input port.

After doing this, you’ve successfully connected your Switch to your laptop. However, this isn’t enough to get the Switch to actually display on your laptop’s screen.

In order to get your Switch to show up on your laptop’s screen, you will need to use third-party software to display your capture card’s output. Some capture cards will come with their own software for this. For example, Elgato capture cards come with a program called Game Capture HD.

However, for the purposes of this guide, we’ll go over how to use a program called OBS. This free program will work with almost any kind of capture card, including the same Elgato capture cards.

To display your Switch’s screen on OBS, just follow these steps:

  1. Begin by downloading and installing OBS Studio for free on their website (found here).
  2. Open OBS Studio and you should see four tabs at the bottom: Scenes, Sources, Audio Mixer, Scene Transitions, and Controls.
  3. Right click the empty area in the Sources tab, click “Add,” and then select “Video Capture Device.
  4. Select “Create new” and then type a name for your capture card.
  5. Select the name of your capture card under the Device tab. (Some capture cards may just be labeled as “USB Video.”)
  6. Set the Audio Output mode to Digital Audio Interface.

After doing this, you should be able to see your Switch’s display on your laptop’s screen. You can control it using your standard Switch controller, and it should respond without issue. If you ever have any trouble with OBS’s display, closing and reopening the program tends to fix most problems.

Can You Connect Using Your Laptop’s HDMI Port?

Hands Removing the Controller of Nintendo Switch

You may think that since your laptop has an HDMI port, you might be able to just connect your Nintendo Switch to your laptop via that HDMI port and use your laptop as a screen to play your Switch games. Unfortunately, this doesn’t actually work.

This is due to the type of HDMI port that your laptop has.

Most laptops only have an HDMI output port. That means that the port is only capable of sending a video signal out, rather than taking one in. This results in the fact that you can only use the HDMI port on a laptop to output your laptop’s display to another screen.

In order to take in a video signal from a Nintendo Switch, your laptop would need an HDMI input port. These ports are extremely rare for laptops since it’s not a feature that many users have a need for. There are some more high tech gaming laptops that have HDMI input ports, such as some Alienware laptops.

That’s why you need to buy a capture card or most laptops in order to use them to play Switch. The card allows your laptop to receive video and audio from your Switch, something your device usually can’t do.