June 2007
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the MK5 review from emuboards.com

You can find my review of the MK-5 on Emuboards at http://www.emuboards.com/invision/index.php?showtopic=28259

MK5 Giga Review

The MK5 Giga (MK5 from now on) is the latest in the long line of flashcards by Neoflash. It features:
* Support clean ROMs, no need for patching, just need drag and drop
* Huge memory space, from 8Gbit up to 64Gbit
* USB 2.0 high-speed data transfer
* USB disk function, compatible with any operation system
* Built in Moonshell v1.5 and is upgradable
* Supports homebrew
* Built in SMS multi save function, and auto save
* Menu upgradable, just need drag and drop the new core to MK5
* Multi ROM support, media play support
* MK5 turbo engine, 100% full game running speed, without any delay
* Built in PassMe function, can boot most GBA flash cart perfectly

What’s in the box?

The MK5 comes in a plastic container which can be reused if needed. Inside are the two devices; the MK5 Giga Slot 1 flash cartridge and the MK5 USB Slot 2 cartridge. There is also a USB cable for connecting your PC to the Slot 2 USB cartridge and a CD containing some software.

The MK5 Giga

I am reviewing the MK5 8Gbit Giga, this translated to PC size is 1GB, a second larger size is also available with 16Gbit (2GB PC size) of storage which costs a little extra.

The build quality of both the Slot 1 and Slot 2 cartridges are both good, in particular the build quality of the Slot 1 cartridge has improved over the previous MK-4 device which looked and felt a bit cheap. This cartridge looks and feels like an official DS cart and is identical in design.


The Slot 2 cartridge is GBA size so it will stick out on a DS Lite, as you will see further on in the review you only need it when you are transferring files and it can be removed any other time. Like the Slot 1 cart the build quality is good and the mini USB socket at the top of the cartridge is properly placed and looks good.

Setting up the MK5 Giga

The MK5 is a bit different to the recent Slot 1 based flashcards, the majority now uses some kind of removable media such as Micro-SD and the DS-Xtreme uses built in flash memory which is exactly what the MK5 uses. The difference is that the MK5 doesn’t access the Slot 1 cart via a built in USB port but it instead uses the Slot 2 cartridge to act as a linker between the DS and your PC.

Basically what you do is insert both the Slot 1 and Slot 2 cartridges into your DS and then connect the USB cable to the Slot 2 cart and your PC USB port. When first switched on your PC should recognise the MK5 as removable media. You can now transfer files to and from the MK5 as you normally would with removable media. No PC side software such as a ROM patcher is required so the MK5 can be used on any operating system that supports removable media.

Once you have finished transferring files to the MK5 you can switch off your DS. Before switching it on again you need to remove the Slot 2 cart otherwise you will be started in the above file transfer mode, even if there is no USB cable connected. I found this quite annoying that you have to insert and remove the Slot 2 cartridge every time you want to transfer a file, it would have been a very useful idea to have a menu option to choose to initiate the file transfer mode or not. This way you can keep the Slot 2 cart inserted at all times if needed.

A tour of the MK5 menu

Upon switching on the DS with the Slot 1 cart inserted (don’t forget to remove the Slot 2 cart) the menu software will proceed to load. The FAT (filesystem) initialisation process takes around five seconds, once completed the menu is displayed. On the top DS screen the currently selected ROM information is shown, from top to bottom; the ROM icon, the ROM filename, its file size, its save type, last save date, its cartridge code and finally the page number you are currently on.

The bottom DS screen shows the ROMs found on the cartridge, each ROM is shown as a 3D box using the ROM icon as the texture. Twelve boxes are displayed on each Page and they all rotate, the current selected ROM box pulses in and out.

Navigation can be performed with both the DS D-Pad+buttons and/or stylus, the D-Pad is used to move between each box, you then press the A button or touch the screen to load the selected ROM. To move to the next or previous page if you have more than twelve ROMS you need to press the Left or Right shoulder buttons, strangely despite icons to indicate moving page at the top and bottom of the screen you can’t touch them with the stylus. And last but not least is Select+Left or Right D-Pad which changes the save type for the currently selected ROM, more information on this further on in the review.

Once you have chosen a ROM to load, the game boots almost instantly providing you haven’t changed to another ROM. If you have changed ROM, the software will write a save file in .SAV format so it is backed up to be reused, if a SAV file is found for the new ROM it will automatically be loaded into the save memory. There is a configurable setting in the .ini file to force a Save backup each time the MK5 is booted but this will add an extra second or two to the boot time.

The design of the menu is pretty bland, the majority of Slot 1 carts now have some form of customisable skins and features but the MK5 only allows you to customise the text colour. While it is not a necessity it would have been nice to see the menu put to better use with some features found in other carts such as custom skins, an improved layout with some more features or quick boot option or icons for your favourite software. Overall the software is very easy to use and for someone new to flashcards they should be able to use this without need of the manual.


ROM Compatibility
I have tested a handful of games which comprise of some random games, games known to have problems on various flashcards and finally some games that were released after the latest firmware version to check how good the compatibility is.

Before I list the test results, now is a good time to explain the save type select feature I briefly mentioned earlier. The MK5 differs from other flashcards by having a database of each ROM release and it’s save type, when a ROM is scanned it checks the database for its respective entry and sets the save type automatically. If the ROM is not found you will need to manually set this by pressing Select+Left or Right on the D-Pad to change the selected ROM save type, this setting is then saved for future use.

This seems to have its advantages and disadvantages in that until a new database is released you will have to make settings as described above for new ROMs when they are released, but it does have the advantage that new ROMs that may not work with the usual automatic patching found in other flashcards but you could do so with the manual settings that the MK5 features. This became apparent in my tests when Diddy Kong Racing for example was unrecognised (released after the latest database update at the time) and I had to manually set the save type, I read with one or two other popular flashcards that it did not work.

42 All Time Classics – Works
Advance War s – Works
Animal Crossing – Works
Big Brain Academy – Works
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin – Works
Diddy Kong Racing – Works
Elite Beat Agents – Works
Final Fantasy III – Works
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 – Works
Lunar Knights – Works
Magnetica – Works
Mario Kart DS – Works
New Zealand Story – Works
Super Mario 64 DS- Works
Tetris DS – Test
Ultimate Spiderman – Works
Underground Pool – Works

The makers claim 100% compatibility and posted a full list of commercial ROMs which all apparently tested as working. While it’s impractical to test every game, I couldn’t find or read about any that didn’t work including ROMs that were released after the firmware had been updated.

Homebrew Compatibility
Initially the MK5 didn’t support DLDI, this is a file system that aims to work on as many flashcarts as possible and gives developers an all in one library to access the flashcart storage. Since starting this review, the resources needed to make it compatible have been released and the MK5 now supports DLDI.
Other homebrew that doesn’t use DLDI seems to work fine. I tried the Drunken Coders Christmas Competition results and out of the 18 entries, 16 of them worked. As a comparison the Micro NinjaDS run all 18.

Firmware upgrading
Firmware upgrading is performed by running an update ROM which is loaded the same way you would with any other ROM. A confirmation screen is displayed and once accepted, the process takes approximately five seconds showing its status of the update along the way. I did not experience any other problems doing this. Incidentally you can use the DSLinker firmware which the MK5 Giga is based on.

Other features
There are a couple of extras to be found in the MK5, Moonshell is pre-installed on the cartridge and is ready to use straight away. Since its release there are two new programs which allow you to use the DS as a Joypad and Mouse on your PC. This is done by connecting the USB cable as you would when transfering files and then running the respective ROMs. Your PC will then recognise your DS as a Joypad or Mouse and you can control your PC with it.


I found the MK5 to be much better than what I was expecting, the claims of 100% compatibility seemed far fetched and I was expecting to find at least some games that do not work but I couldn’t. Homebrew support is great as it supports DLDI and runs other homebrew that doesn’t require access to the FAT. One concern I have is that Neoflash do not give the necessary support with firmware updates when needed, the support for their MK-4 was very poor so be aware of this.

The price of the MK5 is very competitive; at just $49.99 for the 8Gbit and $59.99 for the 16Gbit compared to $100 for the 4Gbit DS-Xtreme you are getting double the storage space for half the price. Even compared to SD based Slot 1 Cards once you take into consideration buying a 1GB SD card the price is around the same as the MK5 if not slightly more expensive. Full marks and more for the MK5 here as its excellent value for money.

Apart from my gripes with the menu I can’t really find any major faults with the MK5, it’s got good build quality, very easy to use, excellent compatibility and the price is excellent. I would recommend one if you want something different to a SD based cart such as the NinjaDS or M3 Simply.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Additional Links:
Homepage: http://www.neoflash.com/
Stores selling the MK5 Giga: http://www.ic2005.com/
DLDI Homepage – http://chishm.drunkencoders.com/DLDI/index.html

This review may not be copied and pasted elsewhere without prior permission, please link to this review instead.

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