Last Christmas we bought our sons a Nintendo Switch. And of course we put it in the room of the house that has the worst wi-fi reception. So I quickly looked for an Ethernet port. When I discovered the Nintendo Switch does not have Ethernet built in, I looked for solutions.
Nintendo sells a USB adapter for the Switch, but it’s not your only option. You can use the Nintendo adapter for the Wii or Wii U, or buy the newer gigabit-capable adapter for the Switch. Or you can save some money by buying a third-party adapter that uses the same chips inside. That’s what we ended up doing, because it cost half as much.
Using a third-party USB Ethernet adapter with the Switch
You can’t use every USB adapter with the Switch, because the Nintendo devices only have drivers for adapters based on ASIX chipsets. Further, the gigabit-capable ASIX AX88179 chipset that’s compatible with the Nintendo Switch isn’t compatible with a Wii or Wii U because those systems don’t have drivers for the newer chipset, they only support the older ASIX AX88772 100-megabit chipset.
You may have to pay a slight premium to get a device that specifies an exact chipset, especially to get an ASIX chipset compatible with Nintendo game consoles. Don’t assume that an unmarked adapter that looks exactly the same has the same chipset inside.
Here’s a tip. You can find what you need on Ebay by searching for USB Ethernet Wii. But sometimes you can find a better price searching for USB Ethernet Wii, and sometimes for USB Ethernet AX88772 or USB Ethernet AX88179. The latter search is key if you want to make sure you’re getting an adapter that’s gigabit-capable. If you have Internet faster than 100 megabits, you need a gigabit-capable Ethernet adapter to take advantage of it. If the adapter costs less than $10, it’s less likely to support gigabit.
This trick works for an older Wii or Wii U console too, just make sure you get an AX8872-based adapter for one of those consoles.
The adapter simply plugs into any available USB port on the Switch. Then plug an Ethernet cable into the adapter, and then into your router or network switch. Then, on the Switch’s user interface, navigate from Home to System Settings > Internet > Wired Connection > Connect to the Internet via Wired Connection. Select OK once the test completes.