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The Switch and Switch Lite are great options for game enthusiasts who like handheld capabilities that allow them to take their games with them on the go. With the original Switch, you can also connect your device to a separate monitor and play it similarly to how you might do so with a console.

This version of the Switch also has Joycon controllers that you can detach to have different modes of play. The Switch Lite is the handheld-only version, but it still retains some similarities to its larger cousin. It is smaller in size, but the resolution remains the same.

Regardless of which version we’re talking about here, some players wonder if you need a memory card in order to play with either console. We will cover this in our article below, and we’ll also talk about how you might download games onto the Switch if it does not have a memory card.

Furthermore, we’ll cover space or memory concerns that might be related to the Switch or Switch Lite consoles, including how many games you can store, what you can do if you run out of space, and more.

Do You Need a Memory Card for the Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite?

Whether you need a memory card for your Switch or Switch Lite really depends on what you want to do with the console itself. The Switch comes complete with its own internal memory for things like game saves.

As with many handheld consoles, one of the main ways that you can get and play games is through the use of cartridges. If you plan to play games mostly using just cartridges, there is less of a need to have any kind of memory card in the Switch. The game data is stored on the cartridge itself, and you still have access to a preset amount of internal memory within the device.

However, there is an online store you can make use of to get lots of Nintendo products digitally. In these cases, a separate memory card provides ideal storage space to make sure that you have what you need to get all of your digital content for use on the particular Switch or Switch Lite console that you plan on using with your Nintendo account.

Additionally, even if you do not plan on doing much with the digital store, some games might require large updates from time to time. In such cases, it can be handy to have a memory card for extra storage to help you handle these things.

While the internal memory for the Switch may seem relatively sizable at first, it can fill up quickly when it has to store large updates that help different games run smoothly. You may need some of these updates to fix bugs in particular games, and you’ll usually need to keep these updates active in order to run said games and save progress.

Can You Download Games On the Switch Without an SD Card?

Yes, you can connect to the online shop and use the console’s internal memory to download games.

An SD card can be handy for storing lots of games, and it is possible that you’ll want one in the future. However, the Switch is designed to support full functionality right out of the box, and that functionality includes being able to get access to some digital games right away.

This can be particularly useful if you don’t already have any bundles that come with cartridges for games you can play immediately. Once you set up and connect your main Nintendo account for which you intend to use the Switch, you can access the company’s e-shop and check out what games it has for you.

Additionally, the e-shop may contain other items or downloadable content that you can fit on the internal memory of your Switch console. If you do plan to play some games using only the internal memory, it is best to check the size of the game before you download it.

You’ll want to make sure you have enough space for the game itself, some save data, possible updates, and a little extra that you can keep free within the memory. That said, while some games can be quite large, there are many that are small enough to fit on your Switch with room to spare.

We will cover this in more detail in a later section. For now, just know that, with careful planning, you could fit several games on the Switch using just its internal memory.

AdobeStock_141971245 Set of high speed with different memory storage MicroSD flash memory cards on white background

Does the Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite Come With an SD Card?

No, the consoles do not come with SD cards as part of the standard package. However, they do come with their own internal memory slots, as we’ve discussed above. You can purchase separate SD cards that will add more storage space to the console of your choice.

Before you do that, it is important to note which kinds of cards are compatible with Nintendo’s Switch and Switch Lite products. There are tons of cards out there, but not all of them will fit inside the appropriate slot for memory cards that the Switch has.

The Switch consoles support various forms of microSD cards. There are slightly different versions of these cards within the micro category, and these differences usually relate to the overall storage size that will be at your disposal once you insert them into the slot.

The main types of cards you can get that should work for the Switch are as follows:

1. Standard microSD cards can add up to 2 gigabytes of additional space to the memory of your Switch. This is not a lot by today’s memory standards, but it could be enough for a couple of smaller games, and it is ideal if you just need more space to save just game data.

2. MicroSDHC forms can hold between 4 and 32 gigabytes of storage, and they usually increase in digital size at regular intervals.

Once you reach the top limit on this kind of card, you’ve effectively doubled the amount of storage that your Switch has at its disposal. If you plan on playing a few large games and supporting their updates, one of these cards could be a good fit for you.

3. microSDXC represents the largest form factor that your Switch can handle. It goes to 64 gigabytes and above. For players who like to run and have access to lots of large games all at once, this could be a good option.

Unlike the other two cards, however, you’ll need a system update in order to format the card properly and allow the Switch console to handle it.

How Many Games Can You Download on a Switch Without a Memory Card?

This answer can vary greatly depending on the types of games you like to play. Some games just run on smaller amounts of memory by their very natures, and others will need to take up several gigabytes of space in order to play smoothly.

Of course, you can own as many physical games as you’d like, and doing so will eliminate at least some of the problems you might face with limited memory capacities on your Switch or Switch Lite.

However, let’s assume that you are looking only at digital purchases from the e-shop. A good rule of thumb is to check the size of the game you want against the remaining internal memory you have before downloading.

While there is no hard standard for game sizes, you can expect many of the games made for this console to need at least 10 gigabytes of space in order to run well. This is not a foregone conclusion, and some simpler, less intense games may need considerably fewer gigabytes than that.

However, it does tell you that you should be able to store at least three mid-range or high-end games on the internal memory of your Switch alone. If a game is packed with features, updates, intense graphics, and other things, it may need to take up more than that space.

You should have enough to keep a few digital games on your console simultaneously, and you can play them while you wait to get an SD card of your choice.

What Happens if You Run Out of Space on Nintendo Switch / Switch Lite?

If you do run out of space, you will get error messages about not having enough of it. This kind of thing could happen when you’re trying to make a new save file, for example, because each save file takes up its own space.

Otherwise, you’ll also get this message if you want to download more games or other things from the e-shop. It is important to remember that this sort of error can occur even if you put an SD card in your Switch recently.

This is because the console might still be seeing just the internal storage. To fix this, you’ll have to archive your games and save files so that you can download them again. Doing so should put them on the SD card this time.


Both the Switch and Switch represent handheld gaming technology in a modern format. With the original Switch, you also have the option to hook it up to an external monitor for different modes of play. Both of them come with internal storage, but it may not be enough to support all the games you want to play. Fortunately, there are ways to add more space to your Nintendo consoles as well.