Use Laptop as Monitor for Switch | What Other Accessories Are Needed?

Nintendo Switch allows you to connect the console to other devices through the Nintendo dock. It has an HDMI out port, meaning you can use an HDMI cable to connect it to an external monitor. But, with the Laptops also having HDMI out ports, you can not directly connect the laptop to the Nintendo Switch. (HDMI output port allows the primary device to feed signals and information to other devices with an HDMI port but can not accept signals through the same ports.

The only way to connect the laptop to the Nintendo Switch is through the game capture card. This device accepts HDMI input signals and information and converts it to USB output signals before feeding it to the laptop. Therefore, allowing you to connect the Nintendo Switch and the laptop.

This article is a guide to connecting your laptop to the Nintendo Switch and using it as a monitor. We have also highlighted all you'll need for the connection.

What Is a Game Capture Card?

A capture card is a device used to capture gameplay footage from your console and mirror it to a secondary monitor, PC, or laptop screen. It has an HDMI input port that allows HDMI signals in. It then converts the HDMI signals to USB signals transmitted to the laptop. This method is the only way to use your laptop as a monitor for Nintendo Switch.

Game capture device

What You Need to Use the Laptop as Monitor for Nintendo Switch

To connect your laptop to the Nintendo Switch and use it as a monitor, you'll need the list of devices given below.

Laptop

Your laptop should have an HDMI output port to connect to the capture Card's HDMI input port.

Nintendo Switch. 

This device is the primary device for playing your games when not connected to secondary monitors or PCs.

Nintendo Dock

The dock has a gaming console. It has an HDMI output port that connects the switch to other devices.

Game Capture Card

This card has an HDMI output port, USB port, and HDMI input port, allowing for multiple devices connection. The HDMI input port receives HDMI signals from the Nintendo dock. The card then converts these signals to USB output signals. The USB port then transmits the USB signals to the laptop via the laptop's USB input. 

An example of a game capture card is the Elgato HD60 S. This capture card has a USB-C output port that allows for a latency-free and smooth gaming experience. It delivers 1080 pixels display resolution at 60 frames per second.

HDMI Cable

You need an HDMI cable to connect your Nintendo dock to the capture card. Fortunately, when you buy a Capture Card, it comes with an HDMI cable. Similarly, the package comes with an HDMI cable when buying the Nintendo Switch. You can use any of them. Be sure to buy one if you don't have one.

USB Cable

Other than the HDMI cable, you'll also need the USB cable. The USB cable allows you to connect the capture card with the laptop. However, the laptop should have a USB input port for this connection to work.

Software

You need efficient software to work on your laptop seamlessly with the Nintendo Switch docked. This software allows the capture card to source information from the Nintendo Switch and feeds it to the connected laptop. You can download this software from the capture card's manufacturer website.

Nintendo Switch connected to laptop

Step by Step Procedure to Connect Nintendo Switch to Your Laptop

  1. Unplug the HDMI cable connecting your TV screen and the Nintendo Switch from the TV.

  2. Connect the Nintendo Switch to the Nintendo dock using a USB Type-C cable.

  3. Connect the Nintendo dock to the capture card using an HDMI cable. To do this setup, plug in the HDMI cable to the HDMI output port of the Nintendo dock and connect the other end of the cable to the HDMI input port of the capture card (Elgato HD60)

  4. Connect the power cords of your laptop monitor and the Nintendo Switch to a power supply and turn them on. The process is power-intensive, so the laptop and the Nintendo Switch dock could go off if not connected to a power supply.

  5. Open the Game Capture HD on the laptop.

  6. Switch on the Nintendo Switch console. To do this function, press the Home button on your controller.

  7. Plus, in the USB cable to the USB output port on the capture card. (your Elgato HD60 capture card should come with a USB cable)

  8. Plug the other end of the USB cable to your laptop through the USB input port.

  9. Give it some time. The Nintendo Switch home screen should display on the Game Capture HD program after a short while. If you don't see the Nintendo Switch home screen on the Elgato Game Capture HD, check to confirm that the HDMI cable is connected to the HDMI input port and not the HDMI output port. The input port is on the same side as the USB port.

  10. Choose the fullscreen tab from the top-right corner of the game capture HD interface. This function allows the program to take the full-screen format on the capture card.

  11. Do not control this setup using your keyboard or mouse; the game should automatically fill your laptop's entire screen.

  12. Go ahead and play your Nintendo Switch games on the laptop. You can use this same method to stream media files from other devices with HDMI ports.

Which Capture Card Should I Use?

Any capture card can allow you to connect the laptop to the Nintendo Switch, provided they have an HDMI input port and a USB output port. There are many options to choose from. However, the Elgato capture cards are the most common choice for pro gamers. The prime reason being they are easy to use, have quality build materials, and are affordable.

The widely used Elgato capture card is the Elgato HD60 HDMI capture card. This capture card is used with the Elgato Game Capture HD software to execute commands and perform functions. You can buy this capture card online on Elgato's website.

However, the setup program for all capture cards should be identical. Therefore, if you have a different capture card from the Elgato HD60 HDMI capture card, use the same setup procedure given above in this article. In the same way, the capture software works following the same procedure. You should, therefore, be worried if you're using a different one from the Elgato Game Capture HD software.

What Are Connectivity Ports Found on the Capture Card?

The Elgato game capture card has four connectivity ports; two input ports and two output ports. These are HDMI input port, HDMI output port, USB port, and A/V input port.

elgato connectivity ports

HDMI Input Port

The HDMI input port on the capture card allows you to connect the Elgato capture card with the Nintendo dock. Most laptops don't have this port; otherwise, the Nintendo Switch would be connected directly with the laptop. This port accepts all incoming HDMI signals but not those secured by HDCP.

HDMI Output Port

The HDMI output port connects the Elgato capture card to output devices with HDMI input ports. Therefore, you can not use this port to connect the capture card to the laptop because the laptop does not have an HDMI input port.

USB Port

The USB port is used to connect the Elgato capture card to the laptop. Your laptop should be compatible with USB connectivity for this connection to work. This port transmits H.264 encoded video using a USB version 2.0 cable to the laptop. The laptop will receive the video signals but not in real-time, as the HDMI cable. Therefore, you might experience minor lags. But, it won't result in image ghosting. USB-C is a better option, only if your laptop supports it.

You can also use the USB port to charge the Elgato capture card.

A/V Input Port

The A/V input port uses composite or components for the Elgato capture card. You'll need to use an adapter cable. If you intend to transmit S-Video, you should use a video adapter cable supporting analog signals. You can buy this cable from Amazon or Elgato Store.

Is There an Alternative Way to Play Nintendo Switch Games on Your Laptop?

Yes, there is an alternative way of playing your Nintendo Switch games on the laptop, other than using the game capture card. You can opt for the PC version of the Nintendo Switch games to play on your laptop. The advantage to this setup is that you'll need not acquire or learn new controllers because Nintendo Switch controllers are compatible with laptops.

Using the PC version to play Nintendo Switch games on your laptop is also backed by the fact that Windows 10 Microsoft Store app store has Nintendo Switch games. However, elite games like Animal Crossing, Super Mario, and Pokemon are not available on the Windows 10 Microsoft store app. You can also access these games from Steam or Epic Games.

Another benefit of playing the PC version of the Nintendo Switch games on the laptop is that some online games like Fortnite support cross-save on multiple compatible devices. This feature allows you to continue your game on the Nintendo Switch from the level you had left on your laptop.

a person playing a game on laptop

You can also play your Nintendo Switch games on your laptop using Emulators. However, they are the less preferred options because they are unstable. Therefore, when using emulators to play your games, you might experience lagging and bugs, presenting an unsmooth gaming experience.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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