Advantage of Gateway 3DS Flash Cart over Free arm9loaderhax/Luma3DS/ReiNAND/Cake/Rei

Since the announcement and tutorials (honorable mention of Plailect's guide here) of arm9loaderhax (a9lh) and Luma3DS (also known as ReiNAND previously), players are now able to run their 3DS roms and homebrew directly from the microSD card for Free. So how will these affects 3DS flash cart manufacturers such as Gateway which sell their flash cart for profit? Is there still any reasons to buy a dedicated flash cart to play the 3DS roms if you can play it for free?

Note: For those that followed my tutorial on installing BrowserHax and Downgrading to v9.2 here, you can simply start from Part 3 from Plailect's guide to setup RedNAND and downgrade to v2.1 for arm9loaderhax for your 3DS console. Although it is a long winded instructions, your effort will be rewarded in the long run. Just be sure to follow each and every instructions carefully during the process.

From there onwards you can always update your arm9loaderhax patched sysNAND to the latest version without ever worrying about bricking your 3DS console! That is only valid if you use CFW such as Luma3DS which will have write protection against FIRM0 and FIRM1 file on your sysNAND. Gateway mode does not ensure this! So never attempt to update your software when you're booting into Gateway mode via a9lh.


 Here are my takes on them:

Personally using Gateway 3DS still have some advantages:

1) Game saves (card type 1) is always stored in a separate .sav file on the root of your SD card
This means that you can simply copy and paste these .sav files to other 3DS running Gateway mode. Just keep in mind that these .sav files are encrypted and only readable by Gateway. To copy these .sav files into CIA, you can use SavDataFiler to export and then import them back in the target 3DS console.

With game saves using CIA based roms, you will have to use SavDataFiler to export the game save manually one by one and then reimport those back in your target 3DS console.

2) Extended capacity to store 3DS roms
Given that the maximum capacity of microSD card on the market is only 128GB, you can only store only a handsful of games. With Gateway, you are able to add in additional 128GB for your 3DS roms. That gives you a total of 256GB of 3DS roms to play with on the go!

3) Ease of ROM installation
Typically CIA roms requires you to install them to your sysNAND/emuNAND before they appear in your Home screen. They are installed using FBI or BigBlueMenu Title Manager (or DevMenu). The downside is the installation process is very slow, think of installing Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (3.8GB) in half an hour!

In Gateway, what you need to do is simply copy the .3ds ROMS directly onto the microSD card, boot into Gateway mode, press the Select button and you can then select them from the ROM browser. 

Just keep in mind that the ROM must be stored in sequential block order. Some things to keep in mind:
  • You can only copy one file at a time sequentially or queue the file copy operation. You cannot have multiple files copied in parallel at the same time.
  • You cannot simply delete any existing ROM since its associated block might be in the middle! You can, however, delete the last copied ROM before copying a new ROM back. In case the blocks are fragmented, you can use tools such as Deflaggler to realign the block.
So there must be some disadvantages of Gateway mode right? 

1) You have to pay for the flash cart

2) It does not have NTR feature which allow you to run 3DS titles at a faster clock speed on New Nintendo 3DS. This significantly improve the loading times on older 3DS titles that does not leverage on N3DS faster processor speed. You can enable NTR feature in Luma3DS

Conclusion

The good news is you can actually running the arm9loaderhax and then either boot into Luma3DS or Gateway mode without having to create another emuNAND. This is thanks to the arm9loaderhax.bin payload released by Gateway in their 4.0 BETA release.

For my personal usage, I keep the games that I really like or oftenly played on CIA format. Newly released games or games that I would like to test will all goes to the Gateway microSD card.

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