Nintendoes or Nintendon’t?

Nintendo’s brand new “next-gen” handheld system the Wii U has been hailed and praise all across the gaming sphere, receiving glorious accolades from professional gaming websites like Kotaku, Destructoid and even IGN. A closer look at the system’s innards, however, reveals a good reason as to why Nintendo was hiding many internal specs: they’re actually not very impressive.

Nintendo is a household name in gaming, synonymous with ingenuity and fun. Their innovative and interactive Wii console remains the leading best-selling console to date, beating both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in terms of popularity.

The Wii U, however, seems to be a different story. While it remains an interesting and quite sleek-looking little piece of hardware, its price tag–$299 and $349 respectively–makes it less accessible to the public. Regardless, stores around the world sold out pre-orders and gamers were dying to get their hands on the system.

Now that gamers have their own Wii U systems, they may realize that it’s not so next-gen and awesome as they had once thought. While just about any console will have problems on launch day, Nintendo’s new system has had an abominable one with reports of the Wii U bricking when turned off during the massive two hour system update.

Along with these reports, game development studios including 4 A Games (the devs behind Metro Last Light) are struggling to adapt titles for the system:

The Wii U has a horrible, slow CPU,” Oles Shishkovtsov (4 A Games) in an interview with NowGamer.
A developer at DICE (Battlefield 3) actually went so far as to say that the Wii U’s slow CPU will shorten it’s lifespan when new next-gen consoles–the PlayStation 4 and new Xbox 720?–come out.
In light of this, many of the Wii U titles slated for release on the platform have been cancelled, including Metro Last Light.

Under the Hood

Due to Nintendo’s reluctance to provide actual specs for the Wii U, many tech gurus have broken open their own system to find out the hard way. PC Perspective’s Wii U teardown reveals the system’s speed and memory specs: 2GB of Samsung DDR3 memory that runs at 12.8 GB/s.
For comparison here are the respective memory speeds for a PS3, Xbox 360 and particular PC:
360: 22.4 GB/s + eDRAM for framebuffer
PS3: 25.6 GB/s main memory BW + 22.4 GB/s graphics memory BW, no eDRAM
GTX 680: 192.2 GB/s
PC Per actually exposed the Wii U’s CPU speed, showing that it is in fact quite slow. But speed isn’t everything, and while the Wii U might not have the fastest memory speeds, it does have a variety of enjoyable features that make it a great fit for most every gamer.
Yet if you’re a hardcore gamer, the Wii U isn’t for you. Anandtech’s Wii U teardown revealed even more specs, showing that the system really isn’t as next-gen and revolutionary as people might have thought.

Is it Right for You?

Overall, for the somewhat expensive price tag of the Wii U it should have more than adequate memory speeds along with a number of additional components. It’s current state makes it a challenge for many game studios to develop games on, and in light of the complaints and game cancellations, the Wii U feels dated and out-of-place as a console.
As an entertainment device, it’s fantastic: gamers can watch streaming movies and TV online via Netflix and TVii, surf the web via an integrated browser, and a plethora of other fun features.
But as a revolutionary game system, it doesn’t seem to perform well enough for its hefty retail price tag of over $300. Oh and the games also retail at $59.99, so if you have more than one console, you might break your piggy bank before you realize it.
Thanks to Anandtech and PC Perspective, geeks can do a little research before they go and lay down a chunk of their paycheck on a device that may disappoint them. It’s always best to investigate what you’re getting yourself into…but despite it’s slow CPU, gamers around the world are loving the system, which only goes to show that specs aren’t everything.
Whether or not you’ll enjoy the Nintendo Wii U depends on what you like and what kind of gamer you are.
But remember, just because it’s popular doesn’t make it good or mean that it’s right for you. Do some research and find out for yourself it the Wii U is right for you!

The Wii U is now available in two models: Basic ($299) and Deluxe ($349) at your local retailer. For more information on the Wii U please visit Nintendo’s official website.

Note: I do not take responsibility for Anandtech and PC Per’s findings and data in their official Wii U teardowns, and my personal opinions are not endorsed nor have anything to do with the two respective tech sites. I have not changed or altered the data in any way, and it’s also worth noting that I do not own a Nintendo Wii U.