It's really hard to buy a Nintendo Switch right now, so can I build one instead?

Nintendo Switch with Neon Red and Blue controllers displaying a fish from Animal Crossing
Nintendo Switch with Neon Red and Blue controllers displaying a fish from Animal Crossing (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Most (if not all) of us have seen the baren state of store shelves and online electronics stores over the past few weeks. With this whole social distancing situation, the demand for entertainment has gone sky-high, especially with the popularity of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Unfortunately, this also means that the Nintendo Switch consoles that were so plentiful just a few weeks back are now almost impossible to find unless you're really patient.

Because of this, some people have decided to collect all the necessary parts and then build a Nintendo Switch themselves. However, is this something that the average consumer should attempt? I could drag out the answer, but honestly, for the most part, the answer is no. Unless you're already comfortable taking technology apart and are confident in making minute repairs to electronics, building a Nintendo Switch is not a good idea. If you want to see whether or not you personally should attempt building a Nintendo Switch, keep reading.

Should I attempt to build a Nintendo Switch from spare parts?

The inside components of a Nintendo Switch

The inside components of a Nintendo Switch (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

Recently, Sarbaaz37 on Imgur posted great step-by-step instructions for building a Nintendo Switch. They list all of the parts you need along with how much you can purchase them for and then proceeds to explain how they went about building the console. According to this guide, purchasing all the necessary parts off of eBay will run you between $175 and $400, depending on the offers found. While this can be more expensive than purchasing a $300 Switch from Amazon (if you're lucky enough to find one), it's a lot cheaper than purchasing a console from price gougers.

If this guide is so comprehensive, then why do we advise most people against building their own Nintendo Switch from spare parts? With this many different components, it's easy to make mistakes — and costly ones at that. If you aren't already familiar with taking apart and repairing electronics then you might accidentally break one of the connectors or piece things together incorrectly. This could just end up being a huge source of frustration and a waste of money for anyone that isn't confident with technology.

Interior components of a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

On top of that, there's always a risk with purchasing components off of eBay. You might think you're buying an OEM Switch part, but the seller could sell you a counterfeit. There's also the possibility that the part looks fine, but doesn't work properly. Somebody could even remove their bricked motherboard from their own Switch and then sell it to you. You'd have a hard time figuring out which section of your Frankenstein Switch wasn't working if this is the case.

If that wasn't enough, Nintendo is fiercely protective of its hardware and software. It's possible that the Japanese gaming company might not look kindly on your home-brewed Switch project, especially if you use non-official parts. Pairing third-party accessories and components with the Switch has caused problems in the past including bricking the Switch entirely. It would be horrible to put in all that time and money, get everything up and running, only to have the system break down on you.

So, no. This isn't something I would recommend doing if you want to have a Switch console that you can confidently rely on. This is more like a fun side project for people who are willing to take the financial risk and are already comfortable working with computer parts. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, we'll just have to wait out these crazy times and hope that Switch consoles show up plentifully on online stores shortly.

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.