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Take An In-Depth Look At What's Under The Wii U's Shiny Exterior

Posted by Martin Watts

What silicon treasures lie beneath?

Are you curious about what's inside the Wii U? Users across the web have been discussing the system's technical specifications for months, but now that it is finally available in North America, many folk are seeing first-hand what Nintendo has to offer.

However, few (if any) observations are as thorough and detailed as tech specialist Anand Lal Shimpi's Wii U teardown. By taking the system apart piece by piece, as well as putting it through its paces, Anand has revealed a few interesting nuggets about Nintendo's latest system. He even goes on to say how you can do it yourself (although we recommend that unless you really know what you're doing, you should probably just stick to enjoying those exciting new gameplay experiences).

One of the most interesting discoveries relates to the system's memory bandwidth which, at a peak total of 12.8GB/s, isn't too dissimilar to the Nexus 10 or the iPad 3/4. While this may not sound particularly impressive, it's worth noting that both the Wii U's CPU and GPU have a good amount of eDRAM at their disposal. Also, the system's power consumption seems pretty level across the board, with the Wii U menu consuming almost as much power as playing New Super Mario Bros. U does.

As we have reported previously, the Wii U web browser was also tested and performs relatively well for a home system.

Have you dared to break the sacred seal on your Wii U system and take a look inside? Or are you too dazzled by the glorious HD visuals to care? Share your experiences with us below.


From the web

User Comments (36)



NintendoMaster said:

I am quite impressed with the internet browser. I have to say that it is the Wii U's biggest surprise.



Auracle said:

@Ideal_Hero - Hey, you stole my line! >:{
I, for one, will not open up my Wii U. I'd rather play it and not take my chances with messing it up.



SaKo said:

The iPad 4 is the 4th gen iPad that has been recently released... the one released alongside the mini, not THE mini... just in case people have been living under rocks.



MegaWatts said:

What @jibberldd5 said. It's a very incremental upgrade. I heard that it's supposed to alleviate the overheating issues of the third version but not sure how true that is (I'm stuck with a 3 and it burns!)



Slapshot said:

You forgot to add the specifications for the 360 and PS3!

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
Wii U: 17GB/s of DDR3 memory (eDRAM isn't yet know, which could possibly increase its speed somewhat)

Wii U, the "next generation" of consoles looks to run at a lower peak performance speed than the last generation of consoles, and that's before you detract what it takes to stream it too. Oops!



pntjr said:

@Hyperstar @mudjo
Yes there is an iPad 4th generation. It is not the iPad Mini.
The iPad 4 is just the iPad 3 with a slightly enhanced and brighter screen.

Oh Apple, don't ever change.



Slapshot said:

@pntjr You couldn't be further from right!

The 4th Generation iPad is a brand new model, that doubles the 3rd Generation iPad's graphical capabilities, as well as its processing speed (thanks to the new A6X chip). In short, it's the most powerful tablet on the market and I'm posting this from one right now.



H_Hunter said:

This looks bad! Real bad...
Wii U has Lower capabilities than PS3?
What's eDRAM anyway and what does it do to the poor thing?



Klunk23 said:

I don't have a wii u yet, but if i tried it, knowing me, i would forget how to put it back together, and probaly break half of the pieces in doing so.



rjejr said:

@Slapshot - So when you tell people you bought one, do you say you bought the "new new iPad" or tell them the "newer iPad" or "newer than new iPad" or tell them "iPad 4"? I'm guessing you don't tell people you bought iPad 4, though maybe the "4th gen iPad" (like I was doing with my "4th gen iPod Touch").

Anyway, #'s don't matter for the WiiU, games matter. Super Mario Galaxy almost looked like an HD game, (as did Subspace Emissary and DKCR to a lesser extent) so the next 3D Mario game should be unbelievable. I just hope somebody is actually working on one.



Malic said:

What does apple have anything to do with the Wii u lol and if your worried about graphics you need to game on a PC



hamispink said:

I'd be worried about graphics if I was Nintendo, I feel like the Wii U will be close enough to the next gen to allow third party developers to release the same games with lower fidelity, but if it is too far behind like the wii, then the third party support will dry up after the first two years.



Malic said:

@hamispink it won't be mark my words do you really want to pay more for development cost also your TV can only do so much at the moment with 1080i I'm sure the next box and ps3 will have better graphic capability but not by much. Nintendo has done that in the past and where did it get them Sony also with ps3 and where did it get them the thing was $700 when it came out look at the vita situation. The Wii was severely under powered it was basically a GameCube the Wii u on the other hand is a step above the ps3 and 360 not at the same level



DrSlump said:

Humm... seems like i'll have to buy a next gen console to put side by side.
Maybe this turn i'll have a wii u and the next xbox..



Chrno-x said:

Honestly i couldn't care less about specifications on paper, why? Because the performance of Sonys or MS platform are always amazing (on paper) but when the games comes out there's almost always somethngs wrong. If i remember correctly, when 360 came out, everyone called him a middle-gen. When the 6th generation came out (PS2,Xbox,GCN) it was the same as now, is with the Wii U lacking power. GameCube haved 1.5x more powerful CPU,GPU and still was generating on paper worse graphics than PS2 (allmost 6 time worse was GCN performance on paper in comparison with PS2, but everytime when a game for only PS2 and GCN was published, the PS2 version haved worse graphics, framerate problem and something more). Finally if Wii U is really underpowered then why simple port of AC3 runs in 1080p (with generating graphic on two screens) have better lightning, shadows and from time to time better texture? That's why I'm waiting for 1st generation of real Wii U games that should come out in about a year or so.



defrb said:

Nintendo dont need a next gen system to make next gen games. xbox and ps3 need a system thats better then their games, nintendo dont..



Sun said:

@defrb Come on... We surely like Nintendo for their games but Wii was too short in power. Now that Wii U has been released we are about to know where Wii U will take this generation games.

It's like people who said the small 3DS screen was okay but then they wanted 3DS XL, people who said Wii's power was more than enough but they can't wait for the Wii U, people who is okay with the low ppi (pixels per inch) on 3DS XL screen but can't wait for crisper graphics...



Mahe said:

"those exciting new gameplay experiences"...

Alright, seems like taking it apart is the only option.



Mahe said:

@Sun Wii was not short in power. It had better games than the HD consoles, so maybe more processing power was actually detrimental to the other consoles?

Also, nobody said 3DS's small screen was okay after playing on the DSi XL's big screens. Except maybe the people who liked GB micro.



StarDust4Ever said:

Big deal. My PC has an 8-core AMD FX OC'd at 4.2GHz and 8 Gigs Dual Channel DDR3. I forget what the memory bandwidth is but it's astronomical. The only time I've ever maxed it out was doing fractal rendering. Oh, and I measured the power consumption at the outlet: it jumps from 90 watts idle to over 300 watts while running a CPU stress test. That's a difference of 210 watts power dissipation from a CPU with 125 watt TDP! Good thing I got a mammoth heat-sink on that bad boy...

Now what do those numbers have to do with enjoyment and gaming performance? Not a dog-gone thing. And I certainly don't want to play games on a box that generates enough heat to fry an egg. For someone who still actively games on Atari and NES, I couldn't give a hill of beans about system specs. It's all about the games!



Slapshot said:

@rjejr I tell them I have "the 4th Generation iPad." But, yeah, I totally face-palmed when Apple announced it as "The New iPad!"

@pntjr Ha! Awesome rebuttal mate! Well done!

@hamispink I wouldn't be worried. Sony's PS4 development kits mostly have a big RAM boost to produce seamless 1080p output in full 3D and Microsoft's next console can't go beyond 1080p either (television limitations). The only thing going past the 1080p benchmark is the mobile and PC gaming markets, where The New iPad can produce 2048 X 1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi) and the Nexus 7 produces 1280 X 800 resolution at 216 pixels per inch (ppi), where PC's can go beyond this at a much higher cost to the user.

Wii U should do just fine hanging with the next PlayStation and Xbox. The only thing that is upsetting people right now is that Nintendo is outright claiming it's "the start of the next generation of gaming" (which it is on one hand and not on the other), yet it seems that it's (possibly) underpowered from a technical standpoint in some aspects, especially when you detract the amount of power that's being used for streaming.



StarDust4Ever said:

Well, for starters, the room that houses the PC is pretty cramped and uncomfortable to sit for long periods. Also, an 8-core CPU really isn't much better suited for gaming than a dual core system with 32-bit OS. I've got a middle-teir video card with 96 streams, nothing to really brag about considering they have 3000+ stream cards on the market now. I primarily built the system as a 64-bit machine for deep-zoom fractal rendering. Console gaming is just so much better than using a PC imo. You never have to worry about drivers, display resolution, configuration settings, backwards compatability, or future upgrades breaking stuff. It ticks me off that I have a perfectly working 10 year old printer/scanner that's a useless brick under Windows 7 due to lack of drivers. And Windows 8 is the biggest piece of garbage Microsoft ever released, period. With game consoles you just plug it in and it works, whether it's a 30+ year old Atari or a brand new Wii-U. I even have flash carts for the Atari (Harmony), NES (PowerPak), and SNES (Everdrive) so I don't have to fool with PC emulation when it comes to stuff like hacks and homebrews. Yeah I guess I'm a purist in those regards. Also since I own every system to date, I'm a die-hard Nintendo fanboy. Too bad I don't get to open my Wii-U until Christmas...



Malic said:

@Slapshot how is Wii u not next gen ? If it isn't I guess the Wii wasn't next gen either considering it was almost the same as the cube power wise



Malkeor said:

I'm tired of people pulling the power card. Sooner of later people have to realize that gameplay/controls/ways to play and online features are what truly makes a system stand out from the rest. In the best way possible.

I for one don't crave power in my consoles or other devices...I have my $1500 PC for that



Slapshot said:

@Malic I've been carefully watching the system specifications carefully and in simple terms - if things turn out to be true - it looks like the system can indeed produce incredible graphics and seamless gameplay (which we already know, of course), but the hardware (possibly) has a major flaw in the sense that it runs out of memory when it tries to equate a serious physics engine into the mix. It can easily do two of the three, but not all.

This is the issue with current generation consoles (PS3/Xbox 360) and it's something that you can guarantee won't be an issue come the next generation of those consoles. If true, it means that Wii U could miss out on a lot of multiplatform titles in the future.

@StarDust I'm the same way. I prefer home consoles and portables over PCs as well.



Malic said:

@Slapshot I understand your point but I can't see it being too much of a problem to the point 3rd parties stop developing games for it

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