Which 3DS, which flashcard? (overview 01/13/15)

Discussion in '3DS - Flashcards & Custom Firmwares' started by d0k3, Jan 13, 2015.

  1. d0k3
    OP

    d0k3 3DS Homebrew Legend

    Member
    2,568
    2,587
    Dec 3, 2004
    Gambia, The
    I've recently decided to finally get myself a 3DS plus flashcard (or similar solution for playing 3DS game backups). I don't want someone to have to explain everything to me, so after reading several hours reading in this forum I think I already know most of what I have to know. The purpose of this thread (at least for me) is so that you can correct me if I'm wrong.


    Which 3DS to buy?
    For the 3DS, we basically have five choices, the original 3DS, the 3DS XL (with a bigger screen), the 2DS (without 3D functionality, different design) and the New 3DS / New 3DS XL (higher CPU power, more buttons, better 3D effect). Currently, the new 3DS is available in Japan and Australia.

    Important stuff to know:
    • The 3DS and the 3DS XL come with a original FW version smaller or equal 9.2 (at least there are no known instances of 3DS / 3DS XL with a higher original FW).
    • The 2DS comes with a FW version higher 6.0 and smaller or equal 9.2.
    • The N3DS and N3DS XL come with an original FW version starting at 9.0. Some have an original version > 9.2, which is bad for you. Also look here.
    • The FW version is of importance when deciding which flashcard to buy.
    Which flashcard / other solution?
    At the present time we can choose from three different solutions. Flashcards other than the listed two are either clones or pure DS mode flashcards. Also, look here and here (MTcard seems to be one to watch for, although it looks like a GW clone rather than something else).
    Notes on the Gateway (GW)
    The Gateway is the older and therefore more established one of the two 3DS flashcards. It is known to be supported by a dedicated team of developers. All current known games are supported by the GW and it is highly unlikely that Nintendo will find a way to lock the Gateway out (as they have not until now).
    • There are no different revisions of the Gateway.
    • Supports FW version 9.2 and 4.0 till 4.5. Best supported FW version is 4.0 till 4.5.
    • N3DS and N3DS XL are supported, but you will need a specific copy of Ocarina of Time or Cubic Ninja (the latter being recommended) for the exploit. This in turn means additional cost and effort on your side. You won't get these two games cheap.
    • Using the GW on 3DS & 3DS XL with FW 9.2 needs a web exploit, which in turn needs the 3DS to be connected to the internet -> there is some danger in the web connection triggering the dreaded update nag screen. And, yeah, I know, there's also a trick using an Android phone as access point for a safer exploit.
    • Any FW version between 4.5 and 9.2 can be downgraded to 4.2 using the Gateway. The process of downgrading is relatively safe (if you read the instructions and make your backups, of course!) although the Gateway team still advices caution.
    • Newer FW versions can be used via EmuNAND, and if anything goes wrong in EmuNAND, we can still go back using a earlier backup.
    • Once the initial setup is completed we can disable all WLAN access points in SYSNAND, effectively making an accidental update of SYSNAND impossible.
    Notes on the Sky3DS
    The Sky3DS is relatively new, therefore not much can be said about longterm support by the Sky3DS team. It is region locked, meaning that you can only play game backups from your region. It currently works with all known 3DS FW versions, but it is very likely that it will be locked out by a later version of the 3DS FW.
    • You have to be careful to buy rev.2 of the card (with the blue button). Otherwise you are limited to only 10 specific games forever, or you have to use some rather buggy exploits to trick the card and use more than the mentioned 10.
    • There is no EmuNAND, only SYSNAND. So, you have to be very careful updating your FW version (never without making sure it's still compatible), or, for that matter, using the Internet on your 3DS.
    • Playing DLC content and eShop games or installing .CIA files (as with the other two methods) is not possible with the Sky3DS.
    • Games only work once they are in the Sky3DS database - so future game support depends on the work of the Sky3DS team.
    • The Sky3DS is much simpler to use than the GW, therefore maybe a better / safer solution for inexperienced users.
    Notes on the Palantine CFW
    Well, I'm a bit stumped by this one, so I have to summarize what I think to have understood from reading so far. The Palantine CFW is based on some leaked work that's considered unfinished and unstable by the original developers. The CFW enables playing game backups from .CIA files, which can be converted from any .3DS / .3DZ file.
    • The CFW exploit only works for 3DS FW versions 4.0 till 4.5 and it still needs a compatible DS mode flashcard (for example the R4i Gold, which is reliable and much cheaper than the GW or Sky3DS).
    • However, there is a method of downgrading any 3DS FW (3DS & 3DS XL) up to 9.2 back to 4.2 even without the GW card.
    • Due to the FW version requirement, the Palantine CFW won't work on N3DS, N3DS XL or even 2DS.
    • Some games may not be compatible due to 3DS FW version between 4.0 and 4.5 (which cannot be upgraded for this one!)
    • Using .CIA files has the downside of you having to install game backups to the 3DS internal SD. This can be a problem if you want to have several games ready to play at once, as SD cards (as used by the 3DS) are often more expensive than MicroSDs (as used by flashcards).
    • The CFW method is still relatively new, and given what I've read so far possibly somewhat dangerous. It is also somewhat tedious, as starting up the CFW may take 10 minutes or longer every time you turn your 3DS on.
    • You also need to make sure to never ever upgrade beyond 3DS FW version 4.5, meaning that you won't be able to use internet or any cool features newer 3DS FWs might have to offer.
    Quick summary
    The Gateway is the most reliable and therefore safest (if used correctly) option. The Sky3DS is the simplest to use, and the CFW exploit is the cheapest. Only the Sky3DS works properly for the N3DS / N3DS XL models and for FW versions > 9.2 as of now. What you choose is up to you of, course. Always consult a guide or tutorial when initially setting up your flashcard / CFW.

    Important Note on 3DS FW updates
    This is relevant for both flashcards and the CFW exploit. As you know, you should never ever update your 3DS FW version without first making sure your flashcard / CFW will still work. If you connect your 3DS to the internet in SYSNAND mode you may get a screen nagging you to updated your FW,-this will only go away if you reset your SYSNAND, in turn losing settings and eShop purchases.You also have to be careful using original game cartridges, as these very often come with their own FW updates on the cart.
     
  2. tatumanu

    tatumanu GBAtemp Fan

    Member
    451
    124
    Nov 1, 2004
    Portugal
    The 3DS only supports SD card sizes of up to 8GB?
    What do you mean? I'm using a almost full 16GB card on my 3ds XL with no problem, and many use bigger SD cards...
     
  3. d0k3
    OP

    d0k3 3DS Homebrew Legend

    Member
    2,568
    2,587
    Dec 3, 2004
    Gambia, The
    Thank you - we're here to help each other :).

    I'll fix this.
     
    tatumanu and Kelton2 like this.
  4. Bug_Checker_

    Bug_Checker_ GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Member
    950
    444
    Jun 10, 2006
    United States
  5. thorasgar

    thorasgar Checkout my evil Soon-in-ator™

    Member
    3,405
    1,844
    Jul 3, 2010
    United States
    I wouldn't make the blanket statement that SD cards are more expensive that mSD. I bought a mix of Samsung and Sandisk 32GB mSD and SD FOR $13 each and. 64GB mSD for $24. It all depends on your region and current sales. You can also use a mSD with adapter in the SD slot.

    Good analysis. The target user should also be taken into account. I am training my 9'year old on the GW successfully, his first flashcart was an Acekard 2i when he was 4 or 5 and I had to lock the start menu down becuase he would screw around with stuff. A Gateway could be to much for a young child.
     
  6. d0k3
    OP

    d0k3 3DS Homebrew Legend

    Member
    2,568
    2,587
    Dec 3, 2004
    Gambia, The
    Fixed some typos and added some additional information.

    Thorasgar, you're right, for inexperienced users the Sky3DS is the safer option. If set up (and that means installing games, too) by an experienced user, even the CFW option might be safer than the GW in that case. In both cases, though, you have to make sure that your inexperienced user does not access the internet or update the 3DS FW any other way.
     
  7. justln

    justln GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Member
    708
    276
    Aug 16, 2013
    The lowest firmware for 2DS was 6.0 and 8.1 for the new 3DS.
     
  8. apoptygma

    apoptygma GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Member
    689
    145
    Mar 30, 2010
    This is going to sou d harsh but... These kinds of guides should be done by those with better knowledge. There is a lot of misinformation and guesswork here which only leads to more confusion in the long run.
     
  9. d0k3
    OP

    d0k3 3DS Homebrew Legend

    Member
    2,568
    2,587
    Dec 3, 2004
    Gambia, The
    I agree, but after searching for several hours, there is no such overview guide other than my tread here or on any other forum. I'm only putting together the information that I found so far. If there is misinformation in there, I'm willing to fix it, of course.
     
  10. mech

    mech ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

    Member
    4,396
    2,711
    Oct 26, 2014
    Tonga
    The New N3DS also comes in XL, there is a PAL/Euro version out now too which can be brought from Australia, so you can pick that or the JAP versions.
     
  11. bytor

    bytor GBAtemp Regular

    Member
    296
    50
    Mar 5, 2008
    Definitely worth getting a New 3DS, I've recently got a New 3DS Ambassador Bundle and Super Stable 3D is a real game changer.
     
    satel likes this.
  12. Ryukouki

    Ryukouki See you later, guys.

    Member
    4,949
    2,614
    Jan 31, 2008
    United States
    d0k3 likes this.
  13. Ryukouki

    Ryukouki See you later, guys.

    Member
    4,949
    2,614
    Jan 31, 2008
    United States

    I might go back in and redo it sometime soon. I just need to find out when. :sad:
     
    Kelton2 likes this.
  14. IronClouds

    IronClouds GBAtemp's Pokébro

    Member
    1,018
    460
    May 8, 2010
    United States
    Great guide! If I could Like it twice, I would. :)
     
  15. d0k3
    OP

    d0k3 3DS Homebrew Legend

    Member
    2,568
    2,587
    Dec 3, 2004
    Gambia, The
    From what I've read so far, my personal opinion on the MT-Card is that it's not worth considering the purchase, as, even with its extras, it is still an inferior GW clone (correct me if I'm wrong). Also, thanks Ryukouki for giving me permission to use the information in your thread! There is already a link to your guide in my text. I'm still hesitating adding GW clones to this list, though, as for basically all of those the rather small price difference doesn't justify the downsides vs the original GW (my personal opinion here). Also, there was that one time several 3DS where bricked by GW clones because of code the GW team hid in their FW, and to be honest, I'm still scared of that.
     
  16. d0k3
    OP

    d0k3 3DS Homebrew Legend

    Member
    2,568
    2,587
    Dec 3, 2004
    Gambia, The
    Small update, I also tried to make some things more clear.
     
  17. d0k3
    OP

    d0k3 3DS Homebrew Legend

    Member
    2,568
    2,587
    Dec 3, 2004
    Gambia, The
    Mods, can this be moved to the Tutorials & FAQs section? I'd also be willing to update it to include recent information.