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Nintendo Wii U teardowns peek inside new console

Video GamesNews
by Chloe Albanesius, 20 Nov 2012News
Nintendo Wii U teardowns peek inside new console

The Nintendo Wii U is finally upon us - six years after the debut of the original Wii console. The team at iFixit wasted no time tearing the new device apart, and they have good news for those hoping this console will last them the next six years - it scored an eight out of 10 for repairability.

The iFixit crew found that the Wii U has a number of "hidden Tri-wing screws," which could be "a pain for modders and repairers." The GamePad tablet-style touchscreen controller, meanwhile, could potentially house "a much larger battery in the user-accessible compartment," iFixit determined.

"We are a bit disappointed that Nintendo didn't use the extra real estate in the Wii U for some crazy speakers," iFixit said.

Still, iFixit said that overall, "the two devices impressed us with their repairability and modularity— designers opted for screws over adhesive or clips, most components can be replaced independently of their respective motherboards, and the battery is easy to get to and replace."

The teardown found that the Wii U is dominated by the optical drive and heat sink; they are "considerably beefier than those found in the Nintendo Wii," iFixit said.

The optical drive comes in at 424.2g, and takes up nearly one third of the console. iFixit attributed the bulkier optical drive to the larger motherboard underneath.

"A case expansive enough to accommodate the motherboard leaves some extra room for a bigger optical drive," iFixit said. "Possible benefits to using a clunkier disc-reader could be reduced cost, quieter operation, or improved longevity over a slimmer drive."

The team found three separate Broadcom wireless modules before making its way to the GPU and CPU. The GPU is an AMD Radeon-based High Definition GPU, while the CPU is an IBM Power-based multi-core processor. "We believe Nintendo placed these ICs close to one another to reduce latency and power consumption," iFixit said.

The motherboard also includes components from Panasonic (HDMI controller), Samsung (NAND Flash/Memory Controller), Micron (RAM), Fairchild, and SMC.

Tech blog Anandtech also has its own Wii U teardown. It found a big size difference between the CPU and GPU die. Apparently, that's not a huge surprise.

"It always makes sense to throw more transistors at your GPU," Anandtech said.

But "the nearly 5x ratio of GPU to CPU die size here is a bit on the extreme side," the blog concluded. "I suspect many of the current generation consoles, including the Wii U, suffered from a lack of a powerful yet affordable CPU solution that could be easily implemented."

Nintendo itself has been fairly open about the make-up of its new hardware, and Joel Hruska took an in-depth look at some of the key components powering the Wii U back in October.

The Wii U is currently sold out at most retailers in the US following its recent release and hasn't officially made it over the UK yet, so beware the price gougers online. Those who did manage to snag a Wii U hit a few day-one glitches, including a 5GB firmware update.

Image credit(s): iFixit

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