June 2007
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IC2005 Smart Shop

MK5 REVIEW from palib.info

original link: http://palib.info/forum/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=2425&post_id=15254#forumpost15254

I just recieved an MK5 8Gb (1GB) for test purpose from the Neoflash team, so I'll try to do something complete…

A little history…
We all know Neoflash for 2 reasons :
1. They got the 'first DS linker' released, sold as is (though you could argue that a gba linker + passme was pretty much the same solution…).
2. They organize great dev compos

I had tested the first Neoflash and the MK2/3, then skipped a generation and am back for this one  I was quite surprised when I recieved the package, as it was pretty much wrapped in a newspaper  But once unwrapped, it was in a nice packaging, the kind you would find in any store. Fisrt thing I noticed : it still has a GBA cart ! Now this is an odd choice, as most current linkers are Slot1-only… The GBA cart has the old GBA format, so if you have a DS-lite it'll stick out… But I have a DS-Fat, so that's ok.

Discovering the MK5…

When opening the package, I discovered a mini-CD hidden inside, nice little surprise  Put it in the PC : Neo Driver 2007, with all drivers for all Neoflash products (even the PC-E Flash Cart, etc…).

Ok, time to plug in the MK5 to see what I get  It felt kind of weird to put the USB in the GBA cart instead of the DS one (like the DS-X), and nothing happened  Ok, I probably missed something, so I turn on the DS, and at that moment the PC recognized it. The MK5 is then recognized as any USB device, so I can see it already contains a few games (AztecChallenge, Cutrix, GameBoxDS, DSOrganze, Moonshell).

I'll do a quick test to see how long it takes to add files… Went to the Neo Coding Compo, took one of them (Dance n Shoot), which was 1.5MB… Copied it to the opened USB window, and I thought it would take some time… and no, it took less than 2 seconds ! So I guess even if you had some 32MB or more 'videos' to flash, it should be too long . Ok, let's see how to get it running now

Unplugged the USB, the DS screen stayed to the text screen as when it was plugged in :/ Ok, little DS reset . In the DS menu, it's recognized like a normal game. Still telling 'Mount Flash Disk' :/ Odd…
Ok, I looked at the doc, guess I'll go for a format  The system is pretty secure, as it requires to hold down L+R+Down before turning on, keeping it pressed and loading the MK5 with A+B (5 keys in total). It seems pretty unlikely that you do that by error  Showed that the disk was formated, 8G version, I'll plug that in again… Now the folder is empty, I'll copy the contents of the MK5 driver folder. The text is flashing red/black/green while the files are copying, just taking a few seconds . Ok, now it's green, I'll try again

Using as a Slot1 Linker

Ok, never mind, I was stupid… That's what you get when you don't read the instructions… Actually, you have to remove the GBA cart when you want to use the MK5  Ok, the menu is here ! It's pretty fast, and I see all the apps set up in 3D boxes. I had seen screenshots of it before, and I'll admit I don't really like it  Some do, though, so I guess I can't blame them too much for that. Speed-wise, the menu boots up MUCH faster than the DS-X menu, which seems to take forever… That's a good thing if you use the MK5 for development, you won't need to wait ages before seeingif your code changes work…

Loading a game takes less than a second. Tested quite a few homebrews, all of them worked perfectly.

Ok, off I am to fatlib testing and rom testing (for test purpose…). Plugged the USB in the GBA cart, still not showing, so you really need to have the DS on  Put the gba cart in the DS while playing a homebrew, it reset the DS (too bad . Takes around 1 minute, 1.5 minute for 84MB, seems pretty fair to me 

Loading an official game (EVIL !) takes less than a second (to format the save). Game works perfectly, at full speed. Actually, I'd say at first view that loading times are a bit shorter than with the DS-X. Saves are automatic, but for some games the MK5 can't recognize the correct save format. In this case, don't worry, you can switch save type by pressing Select

As for fatlib stuff, the homebrew I tested didn't work out of the box, it required DLDI patching, which isn't exactly a problem  It read all the files correctly, didn't get to test writing though, sorry :/ (I read they can't save yet though !)

Last thing, it can be used as a plain passme (there's a passme rom with it, just click on it from the menu to activate passme mode). This won't boot gba games, but should work for booting DS games from any GBA flashcart (not only neoflash ones…). Not sure it's really usefull when you already have 1GB to play with already, but if you had a gba cart with SD cards, for example, that could extend the memory even more…


Ok, so what's the conclusion after all these tests ?

Pros :
– 8Gb (1GB) is pretty cool, (as opposed to the 512MB = 4Gb of the DS-X), and should allow you to use tons of homebrews freely
– I saw the price over at http://www.ic2005.com/ : 50 dollars ! That's really cheap, I expected it to cost about twice as much considering the memory size…
– Very fast menu boot-up, recognized as normal DS game
– Very fast homebrew/roms loading, always good to take
– DLDI drivers available (for reading :/)
– Plug N Play/Drag and Drop, takes cleans roms, only DLDI needs patching Wink
– DS cart size, so you don't have anything sticking out of your DS
– Saves work almost perfeclty, and if not you can manually select the save type

Cons :
– You can't use the linker while it's plugged in the USB, and putting in the GBA cart will reset the DS…
– No DLDI drivers for writing !
– I personnally hated the 3D menu, I found it pretty hard to recognize the logos in it, even though some people do like it… But please note that's a small con, as the menu is really fast and functionnal besides that
– No GBA game support, but that's the same as for all other slot 1 flash carts… So it's a minor con Wink
– As opposed to the DS-X, you probably won't be using this one as a USB key… Because having the DS out when using it will be a bit painfull

Notes :
Kind of weird to have the GBA for USB flashing purpose, but in the end it wasn't a problem AT ALL. Just surprising…
As for the fact that there's no SD/miniSD/microSD/whatever needed, I wasn't sure if it should be a pro or a con… 1GB should be way enough for common use, even if you go on vacation a few months  And that way you won't need to have a SD/etc… card to use in the linker.

My final feeling is that this linker is nearly perfect, because the Pros are important while the cons (besides the DLDI driver not supporting writing…) are pretty minor issues… Plus, the DLDI will probably get updated to support writing, so that won't be a problem in the future (I hope !), and I suppose they'll eventually release a non-3D menu
I didn't expect too much from the linker at first, seeing how my neoflash and MK2/3 don't always work as expected, but this linker was far beyond my expectations, and the GBA cart flashing choice doesn't feel bad after you tested it.

So, final thought : GREAT JOB Neoflash !

Special thanks to Dr Neo for the sample, keep up the great work

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