Hardware review: can you really “make your own pro switch” with this $ 100 dongle?

Image: Nintendo’s Life

Debate over the existence of a “Switch Pro” rages on, with reports suggesting that it will be announced this year, seemingly belied by the arrival of the more modest Switch OLED model. However, the promise of 4K gaming has clearly struck a chord with the general public, and in an effort to fill the void, Marseille, Inc. has given its mClassic a new marketing boost, boldly claiming it can transform your Standard switch to a “Switch Pro” for only $ 100.

“The eternal disappointment of Nintendo fans continues,” read the press release sent back to us in August. “While we were all waiting for the Switch Pro, instead we got an OLED display with the exact same resolution and Joy-Con drifts. It’s the 3DS XL saga again. However, all hope is not lost. While we let ‘s know when or if we will have a Switch Pro, gamers can make their own with the Marseille mClassic. “

It all sounds good, but what is the mClassic, however? It is in fact the successor of a similar product called the mCable, which was introduced a few years ago as a “plug-and-play graphics card in a cable”. The principle behind the two products is quite simple; the complex technology built into both allows them to ‘enhance’ the image coming from your console, as well as introduce post-processing features such as anti-aliasing, image sharpness and color processing, all with “practically zero lag”, according to Marseille (it is less than 1ms).

The mClassic is certainly a great refinement compared to the mCable. It’s a dongle-like device that basically sits between your console and the HDMI cable that connects to your TV. There is a male HDMI connector on one end (which is plugged into the source – in this case your Switch dock) and a female HDMI port on the other (for your output device). The mClassic requires USB power, which is supplied via a MicroUSB socket that can be plugged into your Switch docking station. The only other item to note about the device is a switch that toggles the treatment; this can be off (no LED light), on (green LED light) or retro (blue LED light – we’ll talk about that in a moment).

So can the mClassic really to boost your Switch games in 4K? Unfortunately, despite the lofty promise of marketing, no. The mClassic is capable of converting the 720p / 60fps and 1080p / 60fps signals that the Switch produces up to a maximum resolution of 1440p, but not 4K. According to Marseille, the mClassic will improve gameplay up to 1440p60 “on supported monitors” (you may find that your TV cannot just do 1080p) and for optimum performance you should set your Switch to 720p output so turn on mClassic – which sounds odd, because you’re essentially telling your console to hit below its best level and allow external hardware to do the heavy lifting.

So why not 4K? Isn’t this thing billed as a Switch Pro style upgrade? Well, Marseille is not totally dishonest here, like the mClassic is capable of upgrading to 4K – but only with signals of 30 frames per second, not 60 – so these will be high-resolution movies, but not games.

Even so, the mClassic clearly has an effect on your Switch’s output, although it’s quite subtle and often easy to miss unless you pause the game and turn the mClassic’s switch on and off to see the difference. The main benefit – and certainly the easiest to understand – is the softening of those jagged “stair tread” edges on objects, usually when facing diagonally. It’s not a perfect solution and varies wildly from game to game, but it’s definitely there – and, when combined with the modest 1080p to 1440p resolution, results in an image that looks noticeably more. net – when operating at its maximum effect, that is. If you watch at 1080p, however, the effect is much, much harder to capture, and it should be noted that in rare cases the combination of the scaling, sharpening and color processing of the mClassic may cause unwanted side effects, such as “shimmering” on sharp edges where two bold colors or shades meet.

While Marseille brazenly took advantage of consumer disappointment over the lack of a 4K-capable Switch console, it’s worth noting that the mClassic can also do its magic on 480p signals via its aforementioned ‘retro’ mode – so you can use it to clean up the image on other systems, provided you have the necessary equipment to make the required HDMI connection out of it. For example, the GameCube now has more than one option when it comes to output via HDMI thanks to the efforts of EON, Insurrection, and Retro-Bit, meaning you can happily use the mClassic with the boxy wonder. from Nintendo. Because you’re dealing with a fairly low-res image, the results are instantly more noticeable, with drastically smoothed out irregularities, and the image looks much, much sharper. We also used the mClassic with our HDMI-modified Sega Dreamcast, and the results were equally satisfactory. Better yet, the unit’s retro mode dictates a 4: 3 aspect ratio, which is more in line with games released before the advent of widescreen TVs. This is especially handy if you find that your current television is expanding the 4: 3 picture of a console to 16: 9.

If you have access to an upconverter like OSSC that can boost 240p to 480p signals, there are even more options, including systems like Mega Drive, SNES, Saturn, and PlayStation. The problem here is that the mClassic tends to aggressively smooth out sharp pixels, making it look like you’ve applied one of those horrid filters that many emulators inexplicably have. In 32-bit 3D games, the result is equally unwelcome, as the extremely jagged edges of objects are smoothed out and obscured. While it’s nice that the mClassic is able to support a wide range of platforms and you may find that some games benefit from it, we recommend that you don’t go further back in time than the Dreamcast or the GameCube, because the results are not really good enough to justify the effort.

Until we see what Nintendo has in store for its rumored “Switch Pro”, it’s hard to say if the mClassic is. really transformer. This most definitely improves the image produced by the Switch (and other systems), but the impact is so small in many cases that you might hardly notice it. For $ 100, the mClassic is quite an investment – and one that might not deliver the improvement that many people expect.

Thanks to Marseille for providing the mClassic unit used in this feature.


About Jason Zeitler

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