Review: Ace3DSX (Hardware)
The Flames Make It Go Faster!
Official Features List:
- Hardware: Ace3DS X has a small switch for changing between 3DS mode and DS mode
- (In 3DS mode)Pre-flashed NTRBOOT, supports installing boot9strap and then playing 3DS CIA games on New3DS/New3DSXL/3DS/3DSXL/2DS/2DSXL with any firmware version including 3DSv11.6.0-39
- (In DS mode)Includes all the features of ace3ds plus and supports ds games on New3DS/New3DSXL/3DS/3DSXL/2DS/2DSXLV11.6.0-39, DSiXL/DSiV1.45 and DS/DS lite
- Supports microSD card in FAT32 and up to 128GB
- One microSD card is needed for Ace3DS X when installing boot9strap to 3DS
- MicroSD to USB Reader
- Ace3DSX Flash Cart
- Small Magnet
As with their previous product, the flash cart is enclosed inside of, what appears to be at first glance, an oversized SD card reader from 2002. Without prior knowledge of this, I opened my packet from China that was innocuously labelled through customs as "SD Reader" wondering just what the heck I had received. As the gears started to turn, I realized the housing was just the right size to fit a 3DS cart inside of, and gently pried open the plastic housing to find everything neatly nestled inside. Not gonna lie, I kinda felt like an international super spy.
I had a problem with the SD reader the first time I tried to use it and had to re-seat the MicroSD twice before it would read properly, but then it worked fine every time after. The little magnet isn't neodymium or anything crazy like that, but it worked perfectly to trigger the sleep/lid closed sensor on both my old and new 3DS models.
It does not come with any directions, and you won't find a manual of any kind on their website, but there is a YouTube video listed along with the product details that shows you how to work everything.
Finally, the website says that you need to use a FAT32 formatted MicroSD inside the flash cart to use it, even in NTR mode. They have listed that it supports 32GB as its maximum capacity, but I was able to use a 128GB MicroSD formatted as FAT32 and it seemed to work just fine-- however I should note that I only tested a few games and never went past 32GB of capacity, but I don't think that would make a difference. I suspect the capacity limit is due to the fact that most operating system don't want you to format anything larger than 32GB as FAT32 and thus won't provide you the option without jumping through some hoops first. Update-- The site now indicates that you can use up to a max of 128GB, so I don't see why a larger card like 256GB wouldn't work, but is probably untested.
Oooh! Whats This Button Do?
The switch appears to toggle the chip selection on two (1/2MiB) flash chips that correspond with what seems to be 2 separate FPGAs epoxied to the back of the cart. The decision to have 2 FPGAs is a strange decision, as opposed to just having the switch toggle which SPI to read from, but it works nonetheless.
The first position, marked 3DS, enables the cart to act as a pre-flashed NTR device, which can be used to modify ANY firmware or model revision 3DS/2DS. Some DS flash carts already support this, however you must flash them into NTR mode first, then flash them back to normal afterwards, which could have potential issues and (let's be honest) who wants to go through all that anyway?
In its second position, marked DS, it acts like a normal DS flash cart with support for 3DS consoles. The only downloads they offer for this mode, however, are the Ace Wood firmware files from 8/17/2013. Most of the features, homebrew, and compatibility have already been tested by a GBAtemp reviewer on an older cart the company produces-- and you can check that out (HERE).
Everything works with only a handful of files, and I was able to install Boot9Strap with Luma CFW in less than 15 minutes on one of my older 3DS units with no issues at all. For $18-$25 (depending on the vendor) this is a great, inexpensive little cart to have around for modding and running all your favorite classic (legally obtained!) DS ROMs. Since it supports all current and future firmware versions, this will probably be the last hardware investment you will ever have to make for the 2DS/3DS line of consoles.
A sample of the Ace3DSX was provided to us by the Ace Team. You can check out the manufacturer's device page here: http://ace3ds.com/ace-3ds-x-product.html
+ Solid Case and SD Slot Construction
+ Easily Mod Any 2DS/3DS
+ Zero Re-Flashing Required
+ Inexpensive ($18-$25)
- Old DS Software
- Poor Instructions
out of 10
If you aren't looking for more advanced emulation features in your flash cart, then the Ace3DSX is shaping up to be the be-all-end-all for the 3DS line of consoles.