X-Rom 512Mbit Kit Review

Discussion in 'Official GBAtemp Reviews' started by shaunj66, Mar 27, 2004.

Mar 27, 2004

X-Rom 512Mbit Kit Review by shaunj66 at 6:42 PM (36,193 Views / 0 Likes) 1 replies

  1. shaunj66

    Administrator shaunj66 Administrator

    Oct 24, 2002
    South England
    United Kingdom
    GBAtemp.net review of the...

    X-ROM 512Mbit Kit
    from Easybuy2000.com

    NEW PRICE: $84.00 !
    (updated on April 23rd)

    By shaunj66 - 8th March 2004


    Easybuy2000.com were kind enough to send me one of their new X-ROM 512mbit Kits to test and review here at GBAtemp. [​IMG] So let's get on with the review.

    The X-ROM 512mbit Kit, currently retailing at $139.00 (£75/€113) available from easybuy2000.com, is a new addition to the ever-growing line of Game Boy® Advance flash linkers.

    The X-ROM is fully GBA and GBA SP compatible and connects via USB, it is also USB powered so there is no need for an external power source.
    The first thing you'll notice is the price of this flash cart, for a 512Mbit cart, it's much cheaper than the competition. So does it compare? That's what we're about to find out!

    The "X-ROM 512Mbit kit" compromises of the following:

    • 1x X-ROM 512Mbit flash cart
    • 1x USB Linker/cable

    Packaging and Looks

    The kit that was shipped to me was inside a BusinessPost/FedEx package and both the linker and cart were wrapped in bubble wrap. There wasn't any fancy packaging or box which was a small disappointment, but hey, you're not going to be putting this piece of kit away very often, are you?! [​IMG] Also, there wasn't a manual or driver CD included, instead, these are available online at the Easybuy2000.com product page. This is quite understandable, as the software and drivers are updated so much it's not worth including CDs or disks that are going to become obsolete in a month or so.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The cart is exactly the same size as an official Nintendo game pak, and the design is also identical. The casing is a clear transparent colour and you can see straight inside. There's no label on the cartridge, and no imprinted words anywhere on the casing. The cart actually looks quite nice for its simplicity and will definitely stand out from all your Nintendo game paks.
    The cart looks great inserted into my silver GBA SP, when inside it actually blends in; as if it were part of the GBA SP.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    (Click on images for larger version).

    The linker is a dark green/teal colour, with a male USB plug on the lead end of the cable, and a Game Boy Advance EXT/EXT1 socket on the linker end.
    There are two things that struck me about the linker. First was the length of the USB cable; it's pretty short. Actually it's only 56 centimetres long, that's 22 inches (not including the bulk on the end). As my PC case isn't on my desk, I personally can't keep the linker and GBA on my desk while flashing the cart. As they recommend you don't use USB extension cables or hubs, the shortness of the cable is an inconvenience. The second thing that I noticed about the linker; was the size of the bulk at the end... it's bulky. Hehe! [​IMG] It's much bigger compared to my EZFA cable, and it's almost exactly the same height as my GBA SP. If you're using a GBA SP, this brings another inconvenience – when the linker is plugged into your GBA SP, the EXT2 port is partially blocked by the linker. So you won't be able to charge your GBA SP while flashing, or at anytime the linker is connected. So if you've got a flat battery, you're going to have to wait for it to charge first!

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Let's take a look at what the manufacturer promises from this flash cart kit:
    (The following information was taken directly from the Easybuy2000.com product page on 8th March 2004).

    • 512Mb of space to save your ROMS
    • 2Mb of SRAM for saves
    • 100% RTC (real-time clock) compatible for games like Pokemon
    • Unified driver that works with ALL versions of Windows that supports USB
    • USB-to-GBA Link programmer
    • Cheat software* incorporated into the GUI (*= Ours is the first device where you will be able to program a cheat code into the ROM and transfer it to the cartridge)
    • 2 choices of client software both supporting auto-patching of ROMS
    • Software diagnostic tools for testing the XROM hardware

    Let's take a look at each of these points in a bit more detail...

    So there is 512Mbit of space on the cart, which equals to 64 megabytes of space. That's plenty of space for ROMs! The biggest commercial ROM to be released so far was 256Mbit (32 megabytes) and that's half the size of this cart. So you're not going to have a problem fitting ROMs onto this flash cart! Also with 2Mbit SRAM for saved games and support for different and future save types through Dadycool's Littlewriter, you're covered for saving games.

    On board is an RTC (real-time clock) which has now become a standard among flash carts. The RTC is necessary when playing games such as Pokemon Sapphire/Ruby and other RPGs, games or applications that feature and require a real-time clock. It enables the in-game clock to continue ticking over accurately whilst playing and when the GBA is turned off or the flash cart is removed.

    How accurate is the RTC? Well, I set it the day I received the linker, and a two weeks later after much use of the flash cart and having been removed from the GBA for long periods; it's still ticking over perfectly to the second!

    The "unified driver" as mentioned, supports all versions of Microsoft Windows that support USB themselves. So you shouldn't have a problem installing the drivers. I'll talk more about the drivers and software installation later.

    The USB to GBA link programmer - in other words the physical linker/cable. This connects to a spare USB port on your PC, and then the other end with the bulk, into the GBA EXT(1) port. Note that the manufacturers can't stress enough that the USB plug shouldn't be plugged into a USB hub or any kind of abnormal USB extension. This is so the voltage flow remains at the correct level to avoid damaging the GBA or flash cart during flashing.


    They claim the X-ROM is the first flash cart with cheat software incorporated into the GUI. While that's true, it's actually done through Dadycool's Littlewriter but is only supported on X-Rom carts. I'll go into a bit more detail on this in the Software section of my review.

    Two choices of clients? Yep! You can either use Dadycool's Littlewriter which I personally recommend and is the software they encourage you to use. Everybody should have heard of Littlewriter before, it's a fantastic piece of software for flashing various types of flash carts, and the X-ROM is the newest to be supported by Littlewriter. Littlewriter makes it very easy to flash and dump ROMs and saved games to and from the cart. Alternatively you can use a command line based client (usbcable.exe included in the X-ROM Testing Tools kit), this is really intended for troubleshooting the cart and linker but you can also flash and dump ROMs through it (note you will need the X-ROM drivers installed to use either pieces of software).

    Installation of Drivers and Software

    OK, now we've got all the features of the cart and linker explained and out of the way, how about we actually give this linker and cart a go?
    To be honest, I had a lot of trouble when I first tried to install the drivers but it's neither the manufacturers fault nor the cart and linker. I already had an EZFA, and that used the same USB port, and it was conflicting with the X-Rom when trying to install the X-Rom drivers. But once I sorted that out the installation couldn't have been smoother!

    The official installation guide is located here.

    Step one: DO NOT plug the USB cable into your computer yet! Wait until you have installed the drivers first. This saves Windows having to fanny around trying to locate drivers itself.
    Step two: Download and extract the drivers from the Easybuy2000.com X-Rom 512Mbit product page.
    Step three: Launch the "X-Rom Drivers.exe". This will start the drivers' installation process. Follow the standard installation instructions on screen, it's recommended you leave the target directory as default. When the installation starts copying files, and if you are using Windows XP Home/Pro, Windows should prompt you telling you that the drivers that are being installed haven't passed the 'Windows Logo testing', and that they may not be safe to install on your system. Ignore this warning and click "Continue Anyway" to install the drivers. (See the screenshot below). The drivers are perfectly safe, and shouldn't cause any problems.


    Step four: When the installation process has completed fully, connect the USB linker (without the Game Boy Advance connected) to a spare USB port. Make sure you use the same USB port in the future to avoid having to install the drivers again or causing conflicts.
    Step five: When the USB linker is connected, Windows should prompt you that it has found new hardware and will try to install drivers. You can either select the automatic option which will take a while longer to find the drivers, or you can tell Windows which drivers to install yourself which will be quicker. If you choose the latter option, point the driver directory to "C:Program FilesX-Rom Drivers" or to whatever directory you installed to in the drivers' installation process.
    Step six: Windows should now find the drivers and install them. Now the driver installation is complete! You can make sure your USB linker was installed correctly by going into "Device Manager", and expanding 'Universal Serial Bus controllers'. When the USB linker is connected to a USB port you should see "XROM GBA Link Port Cable" listed.

    (Click image for larger version).

    The drivers have worked fine for me. I'm using Windows XP Professional and I haven't encountered any problems. Every time I've inserted the linker, Windows just recognises it as the X-Rom Linker and loads the drivers instantly and I can load Littlewriter straight away and begin flashing. Disconnecting the linker - Windows unloads the drivers. No problems whatsoever!
    Other USB devices are still working fine on the same USB port (digital camera, webcam, memory sticks, etc...).

    *KiVan's Comment*
    I followed the easy install steps and after 5 minutes I was playing with the cart, very user friendly to me, worked at the first try.
    I hadn't any other USB cart device installed previously, just a parallel port F2A.



    Now the drivers are installed! That was simple enough, eh? Now we can try flashing ROMs to the cart, the recommended software to be used is Dadycool's Littlewriter (http://mapage.noos.fr/dadywriter/). Make sure you are using Littlewriter version or later for full X-Rom support.
    There are two ways to get Littlewriter to detect your X-Rom cart, and they are both very easy.

    Option One: Plug the USB linker into a free USB port, then the other end into the EXT/EXT1 port of your GBA/GBA SP. Power ON the GBA, and immediately hold down both the Start + Select buttons simultaneously. The Nintendo logo should disappear and you should hear a non-standard jingle from your GBA. The GBA is now waiting in multi-boot mode. Now, simply start Littlewriter. It should detect your X-Rom cart automatically at start up and your GBA screen should be filled with a black-blue gradient.

    Option Two: You can start Littlewriter first in this option. And simply click 'Refresh' in Littlewriter when your GBA is waiting in multi-boot mode (described in option one).

    Here's a screenshot of Littlewriter in action with the X-Rom 512Mbit cart:


    Littlewriter is a great piece of software, and makes flashing and dumping ROMs very easy. It can also easily backup and write saved games. And can even automatically patch games that need their save method changing, trim ROMs, remove intros, edit headers, patch ROMs using IPS files (so you can apply ROM hacks or translations if they're available), and can automatically backup saved games on your flash cart.
    Littlewriter automatically creates and flashes its own Boot Menu to the cart when you begin flashing ROMs. By default the boot menu looks like this...


    But using the options in Littlewriter you can completely customise the look of the menu, including colours, background gradients, fonts and font sizes. Here's a customised example...


    Very cool. The boot menu is simple to use on your GBA as well, just select a ROM using the D-Pad up and down and start the ROM with the A button.
    I haven't had any problems using Littlewriter; it's been very stable and has flashed my cart flawlessly every time. Unfortunately, the flashing process takes quite a long time; it has taken around 15 minutes to flash an entire 512Mbit's to the X-Rom cart. And about 3 minutes to flash 128Mbit. This seems quite slow, but I've been told it's a speed limitation of the actual flash ROMs on the cart and not Littlewriter's or the linkers fault.
    I won't go into detail on how to flash ROMs using Littlewriter, as there's an excellent tutorial included with Littlewriter. I recommend you read it if you haven't used Littlewriter before.

    *KiVan's Comment*
    I used Littlewriter and it worked GREAT! It takes quite a bit of time to flash, as shaunj66 said, but it never failed for me once (flash errors occurred quite often with my F2A).
    When you want to flash a game you don't have to flash the whole cart again, just remove the previous game and flash the new one.. Very easy.

    Official X-Rom Software:

    You can download the official software from the easybuy2000 product page. This software isn't really meant for permanent use when flashing ROMs; use Littlewriter for that. The X-Rom software is very primitive, but it can be used for flashing, dumping and anything else with the X-Rom. It's actually called X-Rom Testing Tools, and is all DOS based. So you'll have to run it from a command line. It can also be used to test the linker and make sure it's installed and connected properly.

    Don't get confused or 'put-off' by this software if you aren't very computer literate, you don't even have to use this software but it can be used for troubleshooting.

    Here are a couple of screenshots...

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The only thing you should really need to use this software for is setting the default date and time on the RTC on the X-Rom cart, but even that isn't necessary as most games or applications that use the RTC will ask you to set the time within them. If you need to set the RTC anyway, you can do this by sending the small RTC multiboot ROM to the GBA by typing 'usbcable.exe –m rtc.mb' it will send the multiboot ROM and you can then set the time and date manually on your GBA.
    This software is quite nice and has a few useful features, but it could be much better if it had a GUI. I hope they make an official GUI for it soon.

    Cheat Codes / X-Code

    With an X-Rom cart, you can apply special cheat patches to any ROM using Littlewriter (providing a cheat patch is available of course). This is called an "X-Code"! This is a great addition for all you cheaters out there! I won't go into immense detail on this in this review though, as an official guide is available here. There is a large database of GBA codes compatible with Littlewriter's cheat function here.

    After testing the X-Code patches, I must say they work flawlessly and they're so simple to use. For example, in the game 'Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga'; you can enable the cheat options to have infinite health in battles, have infinite coins or even have Mario or Luigi have infinite health/bros. points. And that's only a few cheat options! You simply cheat during game play by pressing a specific button combo, unless it's an option such as infinite health which remains enabled throughout the game.


    Yep! That's right! Now the latest version of Pogoshell (version 2.0 beta 3) supports X-Rom carts! Here's Kivan's short take on Pogoshell on the X-Rom:

    Kivan says:
    Pogoshell is a piece of software that when flashed on your cart allows you to do a multitude of new things with your GBA, like listening to music, reading text files, playing old NES games through emulator plugins and more!

    On the 8th March 2004, Sasq (the author) released v2.0 Beta 3 and Pogoshell now supports the X-Rom!
    You can get this release at the following address: http://www.obsession.se/pocket/ .

    After a quick test, the program proved to be fully working, but as Sasq stated, only the first 256Mbit of a cart can be used by Pogoshell.
    This major flaw makes Pogoshell rather useless for now... but it's almost sure that Sasq is working on a new version which will support bigger carts... we just need to be patient!

    This new feature will make the X-Rom even more performing and one step ahead than other flash carts!

    Battery Consumption

    If you didn't already know; flash carts consume more battery power from a Game Boy Advance than official Nintendo game paks. This is because of the different flash chips used on flash carts.

    I tested both my EZFA cart and the X-Rom cart to see which lasted the longer. I used a fully charged Game Boy Advance SP (UK version) with the standard Li-Ion battery pack (AGS-003), and let them both loop the same game on demo play mode until the GBA SP's battery died.

    The EZFA cart lasted approximately 7 hours, and the X-Rom also lasted approximately 7 hours.

    There was no noticeable difference in battery consumption. They were both virtually equal.

    *KiVan's Comment*
    Comparing the X-Rom to my F2A, I haven’t noticed substantial differences... the times are almost the same.

    Note that when you're flashing a ROM to the cart, it will draw a lot more power from the Game Boy Advance than it would during normal game play.


    The X-Rom 512Mbit cart is a great flash cart. Especially for the price it's selling at - $139 for a 512Mbit cart – it's excellent!

    I have to recommend this cart; it does everything a flash cart should do plus a few nice extras (unique cheating system, RTC, Pogoshell)!

    - Very cheap price
    - 512Mbit of space
    - Supported by the great Littlewriter!
    - Smooth driver installation
    - Real-Time Clock
    - Unique X-Code cheat system
    - Supported by Pogoshell
    - Short USB cable
    - Bulky linker
    - Fairly slow flashing time
    - DOS based official flashing software/diagnostic tools

    Those cons are the only things that stop the X-Rom getting a perfect review. If they would correct/improve these problems then the X-Rom would indeed be one of the best flash carts on the market.

    In conclusion, the X-Rom 512Mbit kit is definitely worth considering if you are looking for an easy to use, reliable USB flash cart but don't want to spend a fortune.

    *KiVan's Comment*
    I personally found this cart a great piece of hardware!
    Very easy to install and well supported by important software such as Littlewriter or Pogoshell.
    With 512mbit of space you can store a LOT of games, and you will never feel the need to have a bigger cart.
    The only cons I found are:
    -The linkers cable is a little too short, but I am lucky to have the USB port on the front side of the computer^
    -The flashing process takes a while, 20 minutes for the full 512 cart
    The price is VERY good, and the Easybuy2000 shop seems to be very good also!
    I would definitely recommend this cart!

    Thanks for reading!

    Official Easybuy2000 X-Rom products page: http://www.easybuy2000.com/store/nintendo%.../x-rom512.shtml
  2. Costello

    Administrator Costello Headmaster

    Oct 24, 2002
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