A Quick Guide on DS Flashcarts


Here are the best DS flashcarts currently available on the market. If you’re looking for a GBA flashcart, see the GBA quick start guide. For other consoles, see the quick start guide list.

READ FIRST #

  1. There are hundreds, if not thousands of R4 clones made, so be wary when purchasing and don’t simply slap on any kernel and expect it to work.
  2. Do not use ‘R4’ websites for purchasing flashcarts. Many are scammy and don’t refund orders. Stick to more general places like eBay or AliExpress.
    • We also do not recommend using Amazon, Etsy or Temu for buying DS flashcarts. Flashcarts listed on these sites tend to be sold for a high price in comparison to eBay or AliExpress.
  3. Do not follow YouTube setup guides, as there are many reproduction carts in the market and 99% of guides are outdated.
  4. Need to identify your cart? Here’s a handy guide!
  5. Need firmware? Refer to the DS-Homebrew Flashcard Archive. Here you can compare the website listed on your flashcart to find the correct kernel for you. Feel free to ask for help in the DS(i) Mode Hacking Discord server (English only) if you have trouble identifying your cart! You can also make a post in the r/flashcarts subreddit if you prefer.
  6. Want to install YSMenu and not worry about timebombs? Refer to the YSMenu extended compatibility list. Not all carts are compatible with YSMenu! If you are unsure, ask before you install. You risk bricking your cart with the wrong firmware!
  7. Do not buy a flashcart with a pre-loaded SD card. These SD cards are very cheap and will usually die on you within weeks. You will not be able to recover the files stored on them. Save yourself the hassle and buy a microSD card separately, being cautious of SD card scams.
  8. Older DS flashcarts may not work on the stock firmware of a DSi/3DS. Instead of being able to boot the cart, you will be presented with an error message instead. See the ‘Alternative Options for DSi/3DS Users’ section for more information about why this happens and how to solve it!
  9. Note that GBA emulation on these consoles is not perfect, refer to the GBARunner2 Wiki to check game compatibility.
  10. None of the carts listed here play 3DS games. Install CFW to run 3DS games, more details in the 3DS section.

Flashcarts #

Recommended Flashcarts - All Systems #

Note that while the below carts do work on all DS family systems and are a safe choice, there may be better carts available for DS/DS Lite and hacked 3DS/DSi users in the “Hacked 3DS/DSi Only” tab. Those carts may have better game compatibility, and extra features like Real-Time-Save.

Ace3DS X #

Ace3DS X

The Ace3DS X is a version of the Ace3DS+ (seen below) that also supports ntrboot with just a flick of a switch.

Ntrboot is a method that allows you to hack your 3DS easily, or fix a bricked 3DS family console. The Ace3DS X makes ntrboot easily accessible without any modification required, such as flashing the cartridge!

For general usage outside of hacking or unbricking, Ace3DS X clones are a good cheap option, however they have a few downsides. Due to iffy shell quality some report that it doesn’t fit well into their consoles. It also runs an unofficial fork of Wood which lacks anti-piracy patches for some games. To play these games you will have to manually AP patch their ROMs, or use a cheat database and enable the Anti-Piracy bypass cheat before starting the game. Its biggest benefit is that it works on all DS family consoles up to latest 3DS consoles.

Obtaining and Setup #

This is recommended for unhacked DSi and 3DS users to buy, as well as people who are attempting to unbrick their console (or would like that peace of mind). Usually costs $5-10 USD. There have been a few reports of AliExpress sellers forgetting to include the cart in the package. We have temporarily removed any AliExpress listings for the Ace3DS X from this page until we can confirm that the issue has been resolved. A link to purchase the Ace3DS X has been provided below, although it may not be the cheapest listing out there:

This cart uses the same kernel as the Ace3DS+, link provided below

Ace3DS+ Clones #

Ace3DS+ Original

These carts are clones of the Ace3DS+ flashcart, compatible with all DS, DSi, and 3DS consoles, even unhacked ones on the latest firmware. These Ace3DS+ clones do not work with ntrboot - see the Ace3DS X instead if this is a feature that you may need.

Important distinction: past listings of unlabeled Ace3DS+ clones exist, but we can no longer advise the purchase of these carts as they have started mixing in older versions of the Ace3DS+ which do not work on the latest firmware. More confusion arises from the fact that there are also timebomb clones that have very similar looking PCBs to the Ace3DS+ unlabeled carts. Please purchase the other labeled variants instead, specifically the two shown above.

Ace3DS+ clones are a good cheap option, however they have a few downsides. Due to iffy shell quality some report that it doesn’t fit well into their consoles. It also runs an older version of Wood which lacks some anti-piracy patches, so to play certain games you will have to manually patch their ROMs, or use a cheat database and enable the Anti-Piracy bypass cheat before starting the game.

Variants #

Multiple variations of this cart exist, and they’re all clones of the cart shown above. Here are the most common ones:

r4isdhc.com.cn Ace3DS+ clone 208 in 1 cart Ace3DS+ Original

Obtaining and Setup #

Searching “r4 wood” on AliExpress or “r4” on eBay usually returns this cart. A link is provided here, but this may not be the cheapest option as it’s one of many listings: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005006097443888.html

These carts are sold under a variety of brandings. The 2020 and later carts labelled as r4isdhc.com.cn and “208-in-1” carts are Ace3DS+ clones. Aside from the distinction note above, all of these carts perform identically regardless of branding.

Note that there exist similar carts looking carts that are not Ace3DS+ clones, but rather timebomb clones. These include carts labelled as r4isdhc.com and some unlabelled red PCB carts. The notable physical differences are:

  • Ace3DS+ clones have either one or five holes in the PCB near the pins, the similar timebomb clones have two. (see above images)
    • NOTE: It has been reported that the 5 hole PCB variant do not work on unmodded DSi/3DS consoles. This is mostly prominent on unlabeled Ace3DS+ clones, so do not purchase unlabeled carts.
  • Ace3DS+ clones have smaller but deeper indents on the sides
  • Timebomb clones typically have an oval shaped indent in the plastic on the back, while Ace3DS+ clones don’t.
  • Ace3DS+ clones always have red PCBs, timebomb clones often have yellow PCBs but are occasionally red as well.

Kernel: Ace3DS+ Wood R4 v1.62

DSTTi Timebomb Clones #

r4i-sdhc.com 3DS RTS

These common carts are clones of the DSTTi, but with a timebomb in their official kernel. The timebomb is purely software, so switching to an alternative kernel will remove it. These carts are compatible with all DS, DSi, and 3DS consoles - even on the latest firmware - so they make a decent choice for unhacked DSi/3DS users, but the above Ace3DS+ clones are recommended instead if possible.

Most of these carts sold today are labelled as r4isdhc.com or r4i-sdhc.com, but others do exist. The timebomb causes the cart to stop loading into the menu after a certain date, but can be fixed by either switching to the YSMenu kernel or the de-timebombed stock kernel. Ace3DS+ clones are recommended instead due to the Wood kernel having higher compatibility with certain features such as Wii connectivity in DS games.

One notable advantage of these carts over DSOne or Ace3DS+ clones is that they support ntrboot for installing CFW on a 3DS. If you are looking for a cart with ntrboot support, then these carts are a decent choice. However, the Ace3DS X above is preferable for that purpose, since it has ntrboot preflashed and uses a better kernel when in DS mode.

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding these timebombs, see our Timebomb Misconceptions page for more details.

Variants #

r4isdhc.com gold cart r4isdhc.com dual-core cart Unlabelled timebomb clone

Obtaining and Setup #

This is only recommended if you cannot buy an Ace3DS X or Ace3DS+ clone. Usually costs $10-15 USD. Searching “r4 gold pro” on AliExpress or eBay usually returns this cart. A link is provided here, but this may not be the cheapest option as it’s one of many listings: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004530389743.html

Recommended flashcarts for a DS, DS Lite, or hacked 3DS/DSi #

DSOne SDHC #

DSOne SDHC

A clone of the SuperCard DSOne SDHC, these carts have more or less perfect compatibility with retail games, plus features like RTS, slowdown, and an in-game menu not commonly found in other carts. This cart only works on DS Phat/Lite and hacked DSi/3DS - it will not work on stock DSi/3DS.

While it’s an excellent choice, it has a relatively high defective cart rate, so buying two or three is recommended if you’d like to ensure you get a fully functional cart. Defective carts will still work with YSMenu, but will not be able to take advantage of the extra features provided by its usual Evolution OS kernel.

Note that these carts can also be found with a DSONEi label, but they are not DSONEi carts in reality. They are DSONE SDHC carts with a DSONEi label.

Obtaining and Setup #

This is the most recommended cart for use on DS Lite/Phat and hacked systems. Costs $5-10 USD. Searching “dsone” on AliExpress or eBay usually returns this cart.

A link is provided here, but this may not be the cheapest option as it’s one of the many listings: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002378653693.html

  • Kernel: Evolution OS
  • Alternate kernel: YSMenu (Only use if Evolution OS gives a PSRAM error)

A guide to using and setting up the DSOne SDHC is here: https://github.com/Sanrax/DSOneManual

Other flashcarts #

These are flashcarts which we don’t necessarily recommend but are available to buy. Information is provided here about these carts for people who may already have one.

R4DS Pro #

R4DS Pro

While on the surface this may look like an original R4 clone - and is often described as an original R4 - this is actually an r4dspro.com clone instead. It is based on the R4 Ultra which is a derivative of the Acekard 2i. It does not pass AKAIO’s clone checks, however, it can run BL2CK OS like most other Acekard2i based carts. Note that this cart will not work on a stock DSi/3DS.

Do not attempt to run YSMenu on this flashcart, doing so will cause it to brick! This is the only flashcart on this list which will brick if you attempt to run YSMenu on it.

Obtaining and Setup #

Costs $3-8 USD. Searching “R4 DS” on AliExpress may return this cart.

A link is provided here, but this may not be the cheapest option as it’s one of the many listings: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005006027046243.html - make sure to select 1PCS R4 DS PRO.

BL2CK is the recommended kernel for this cart. The stock kernel is also an option, although it isn’t great for playing your DS ROMs:

R4 Gold 3DS RTS #

R4 Gold 3DS RTS

This is a cart by r4i-gold.com which appears to be based on the pk3ds.com cart. It has both a micro SD card slot and a proprietary USB port. The USB port is only used to provide power to the flashcart so that it can upgrade it’s firmware from the micro SD card. We currently do not have any archive of the firmware upgrades for this flashcart.

It acts like a DSTTi clone, however, it doesn’t seem to support DSTTi DLDI. For people who wish to autoboot TwiLight Menu ++ on this flashcart, there are two ways of doing it. If you choose to use the pre-built autoboot files provided by TwiLight Menu ++, you will have to use the Original R4 autoboot files which will limit you to 2GB microSD cards. The other way of doing it is by setting YSMenu to autoboot TwiLight Menu ++, you can do this by editing YSMenu.ini in the TTMenu folder. Change line 16 to AUTO_BOOT=BOOT.NDS. This may be the better option for most people as you won’t have to go out of your way to find a 2GB microSD card. Another weird quirk of this flashcart is that it can boot from three different files; TTMenu.dat, R4.dat, and _DS_MENU.dat.

Note: This flashcart was also being sold as a “DSTTi Gold from ndstt.com” on AliExpress. This flashcart wasn’t made by the DSTT team, it’s just a relabelled version of this flashcart.

Obtaining and Setup #

Costs $3-8 USD. Searching “R4 DS” on AliExpress may return this cart.

A link is provided here, but this may not be the cheapest option as it’s one of the many listings: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005006027046243.html - make sure to select 1PCS R4 GOLD RTS.

YSMenu is the recommended kernel for this cart though you can also use RetroGameFan’s repacked version of TTMenu. Do not use stock TTMenu on this flashcart as it will brick it! The stock kernel is also an option, although it isn’t great for playing your DS ROMs:

DSTT #

DSTT

The original DSTT is still being sold by NDS-Card. Since this flashcart does not work on unhacked 3DS/DSi systems, we have not added it to our list of recommended flashcarts.

This cart may be useful for ntrboot. NDS-Card appear to have sent out genuine DSTTs which can be used for that purpose. Though if you need a flashcart for ntrboot, an Ace3DS X will still be a better choice over this cart.

Obtaining and Setup #

NDS-Card charge different prices on their AliExpress store and their main website. The AliExpress listing appears to be cheaper so it is recommended to buy from there instead if you wish to have an original DSTT. You may find one cheaper second hand on eBay. This also does not come with the DSTT’s original packaging if that matters to you.

You should avoid the original TTMenu kernel just in case you are sent a DSTT clone, you will risk bricking your flashcart if you attempt to use it. We would recommend using YSMenu or RetroGameFan’s repacked version of TTMenu instead.

These are carts that you may encounter but are generally NOT recommended.

R4 DS #

R4 DS

Identical (1:1) clones of the original R4 cart are available on AliExpress, but they are not recommended due to only supporting 2 GB or smaller microSD cards. They also do not work in unhacked DSi and 3DS systems. Even on hacked 3DS and DSi systems, they can only be launched via TWiLight Menu++ or homebrew like NTR_Launcher, due to not showing up in the console’s home menu when inserted.

Despite all these flaws listed above, they do however use a great kernel - Official Wood R4 1.62, which has near-perfect game compatibility.

These clones on AliExpress can be identified by their green PCB with the text “ROHS Card 7a”, inside of a grey, unlabeled shell. It usually costs around $5. Even though they are relatively cheap, your money would likely be better invested in one of the recommended carts above instead.

R4i Gold 3DS Plus #

R4i Gold 3DS Plus

This cart halted production at the start of 2020. They were formerly highly recommended carts with a highly compatible and feature-rich kernel (Wood R4 1.64), but their last batch was faulty and cannot play NDS ROMs on their stock kernel - thus, they are no longer recommended. Do not follow any old advice saying to buy them.

This refers specifically to the R4i Gold 3DS Plus from r4ids.cn, they should not be confused with carts from any other website.

If you do have one of the faulty carts, you can use BL2CK or TwiLight Menu ++ instead to play NDS ROMs. Though you will miss out on the features that Wood R4 1.64 provides.

Stargate3DS #

Stargate3DS

Stargate3DS flashcarts are still being made to this day. However, they are not recommended in the context of a DS flashcart for a few reasons. The major reason being that it is only usable on a 3DS, you cannot use it’s DS mode on a DS, DS Lite, or DSi due to the shape of the cartridge. The DS mode of this flashcart becomes inaccessible once you have installed custom firmware onto your 3DS. The final nail in the coffin for this flashcart is it’s lack of an available DLDI, meaning that some homebrew cannot be used on it. If you are looking for a DS flashcart to use in your 3DS, consider an Ace3DS X instead.

In the context of a 3DS flashcart, it’s not really recommended either. Installing custom firmware to your 3DS is easy to do and it allows you to install 3DS backups directly to your console. You need custom firmware to dump your 3DS ROMs to use in the flashcart anyways, making this flashcart a gimmick more than something useful given it’s price.

Alternative Options for DSi/3DS Users #

On the DSi/DSi XL consoles, Nintendo introduced a whitelist and RSA signatures in an attempt to prevent flashcarts from functioning, so you need to be careful which flashcart you buy to use it on a DSi. Because of this the Ace3DS+ clones are recommended if you choose to buy a flashcart for use on a DSi, as they are supported all the way up to the latest firmware version.

If you boot an unsupported flashcart on a stock DSi, it will show black screens with white text that says “An error has occurred”. This can be bypassed by installing CFW on your DSi. Specifically, Unlaunch is required - with it, you will be able to load the flashcart from the DSi Menu if it was installed with launcher patches enabled or from Unlaunch itself, TWiLight Menu++, or hiyaCFW regardless whether or not Unlaunch’s launcher patches are enabled.

On a hacked DSi, there is also the option to play DS games using nds-bootstrap (via TWiLight Menu++). This allows games to be loaded from the DSi’s SD card without needing to purchase anything besides an SD card if you don’t already have one. However, nds-bootstrap’s compatibility isn’t quite as good as that of flashcarts so buying a flashcart can still be worthwhile if you run into incompatible games. It is generally recommended to try the CFW route first, and only buy a flashcart if you want to play a game that isn’t compatible, or want the portability of a flashcart - being able to share the same save files by simply moving the flashcart over to another DS console.

See dsi.cfw.guide for a guide on how to install CFW on your DSi.

On the 3DS family of consoles (including the 2DS and XL variants) there is a distinction between flashcarts that play 3DS games and flashcarts that play DS games. Flashcarts that play 3DS games are rendered mostly useless by the existence of CFW, which has better compatibility and is completely free, while 3DS flashcarts are very expensive. CFW also has other benefits over 3DS flashcarts such as the ability to run homebrew and emulators.

Flashcarts for playing DS games on the other hand can still be useful, and everything in the DSi section above applies to DS mode flashcarts on the 3DS as well. That is, TWiLight Menu++ being a good option, but flashcarts for DS games having slightly higher compatibility. The Ace3DS X carts are the recommended DS flashcart for 3DS users as they support the latest 3DS firmware without needing CFW, and provide ntrboot in the case you may need it. Any DS flashcart can be run with CFW, either from the 3DS HOME Menu or TWiLight Menu++. Thus for CFW users, DSOne SDHC is also a great option.

See 3ds.hacks.guide for how to install CFW on your 3DS.


Disclaimer #

The information contained in this post is based on discussions, pages and forums around the web. flashcarts.net, its members, moderators, and contributors do not claim to own any or all of these flashcarts; nor vouch they will never harm your system; nor guarantee any suggested price; nor warrant completeness of lists at any given point, nor speak on behalf-of any retailers, seller or vendor. In other words, use this for educational purposes and at your own risk.

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