makho's Backlight Mod Notes

The best backlight kit is the one you already have. Enjoy it. A new kit does not invalidate your prior build.

I, /u/Admiral_Butter_Crust or makho on discord or youtube, own nearly every backlight kit on the market right now for pretty much every console. I feel like that gives me a rather unique perspective on these things. I did actually end up making a video on just the GBC portion of this but it’s pretty old and obsolete now. I also ramble quite a bit so I figure that limiting myself to just text and a few pictures here and there will let me try and succinctify myself a bit. If you’re new to the hobby and just looking for a recommendation on what you should get and find that this document is information overload, just pick your console (new there too? Look at a GBA or GBA SP) and just stick with the summary at the top of the section.

Each system section has a summary with my recommended kit listed there. I also added a chart to be used a quick summary for the kits. You should check out the notes below or the full video for more information but it should be pretty easy to understand. Any field that has “recommended” in it should be interpreted as “yes” if you want the full experience with all features. For some kits this means full brightness control or hiding the edges of the LCD panel with a new lens but for core functionality, soldering is (usually) not required.

Finally, if you’re using this list as a vector for picking “the best” <x>, you should understand that the “the best” console or kit or whatever will always be the one you already have. Sure, the new kit from funnyplaying may have this cool new feature but it does NOT invalidate your existing build. If you find yourself building a new Game Boy for every new kit, you’re probably not in it for the games, are you? The purpose of this page is to document the different offerings and the primary differences between each item, not to create a hierarchy of options to dismiss the inferior kits. The order of options within each section is largely arbitrary. Newer options tend to be closer to the bottom with similar options grouped together for ease of comparison.

Foreword on Display Types

There are several different types of LCDs used in Game Boys and these mod kits. I would like to spend a quick few minutes discussing them, if nothing else, to give you proper terms to go research. Do an internet serach of the bolded terms for more information.

Except for the Game Boy Light, all Game Boy consoles before the Game Boy Advance SP (and even technically including the earlier model) use passive reflective displays. This means that behind the screen is a reflector that is used to reflect natural light back into your eyes for the purpose of illuminating the screen. Starting with the Game Boy Advance SP, Nintendo started including internal lighting in the screens. The first SP model, the AGS-001, is a frontlit reflective display because there is a light panel in front of the screen that provides light to the reflective display. The second model of Game Boy Advance SP, the AGS-101, uses a backlit transmissive display because it no longer reflects natural lighting but allows light to pass through it from the light panel behind the LCD. Except for the original model DS (NTR, not USG), all Nintendo consoles made after the AGS-001 use backlit transmissive displays. All the displays I’ve mentioned so far are extremely common throughout the vast majority of electronics out there. There are other display types like CRT (for which is the only display that has scanlines), plasma, DLP, OLED, etc, but those are not too relevant for this discussion. I may circle back to CRT later but for now we’ll continue on about Game Boys.

Let’s circle back to the two consoles I mentioned and excluded, the original DS model and Game Boy Light. Both of these consoles use the same type of display, a transflective backlit LCD (yes, really, the DS is backlit, not frontlit). The word “transflective” is a portmanteau of “transmissive” and “reflective” and is functionally similar a “one-way” mirror. These screens are built as a reflective display but instead of a reflector, they have a layer applied that will reflect light from the front or allow transmission of light from the back. These screens also have a backlight so when the backlight is off, the screen works much like a passive reflective display but when the backlight is on, the screen works much like a backlit transmissive display. Hence the word transflective. Good reflectors can be expensive and at best diminish color quality and black levels so most people usually opt for sunlight readibility compensation with an absurdly bright backlight instead.

Next, I want to talk about the specific technologies used to make these displays. All of the LCDs used in Game Boy consoles are made with thin-film transistor (TFT) technology. TFT displays can be further broken down into twisted-nematic (TN) or in-plane switching (IPS) displays (but not limited to). TN type displays were used primarily due to their cost (cheap) and power efficiency. This made them ideal for use within an inexpensive portable device. IPS type screens were around at the time but the technology wasn’t quite mature at the time (arguably, neither was TN but TN was a lot more mature at the time) and not quite suitable for Game Boys. Benefits of an IPS type display over a TN display usually include more accurate color reproduction and much wider viewing angles. IPS type screens are often used in mod kits.

Last, if you see any mention of “Q5”, “9380”, or “690” LCDs or backlight kits, that is a reference to the screen itself that is packed with the kit. The kits that use these screens are designed to repurpose salvaged LCDs ($) instead of having something new manufactured from scratch ($$$). Most kits are using new old stock LCDs rather than LCDs directly pulled from phones but for replacement purposes, cheap display assemblies may be sourced and the LCD extracted manually. If the screen isn’t mentioned, it is unknown where the LCD is salvaged from, if it’s salvaged at all. “690” LCDs (DMG, MGB, CGB) are from the Palm Centro 690 and are available with a digitizer attached. The digitizer is held on to the edges of the LCD (NOT laminated) with double sided tape and must be removed to use in a GB. “9380” LCDs (CGB, AGB, AGS) are from the BlackBerry Curve 9380 and are available as bare LCDs from most GB kit resellers or as display assemblies from phone parts resellers. The LCD must be extracted from a phone assembly if applicable to use in a GB. “Q5” LCDs (DMG, MGB, CGB) are from the BlackBerry Q5 and are available as bare LCDs from most GB kit resellers or as display assemblies from phone parts resellers. The LCD must be extracted from a phone assembly if applicable to use in a GB. Looks like some of these LCDs can be grabbed from cloud game store on aliexpress.

Laminated LCDs

A new trend with some backlight kits is to have the glass lens laminated to the LCD, much like how modern smartphones and tablets are constructed. Traditionally, Game Boys are made with an air gap between the plastic lens on the outside and the surface of the LCD on the inside. This results in a highly durable and modular build. Scratch the lens? Just pop it off and replace it. Want a custom lens? Just order one and replace it. However, some of the newer kits are bonding the LCD to the lens and shipping them as one unit (for example, the newest Funnyplaying Game Boy Color kit). This cuts down on the space between the lens and LCD and results in a much better looking final install, greatly improved picture quality, and completely eliminates the possibilty of dust or fingerprints under the lens. This is not without downsides, however. The primary issue is that lens customization is much more expensive/difficult, especially if you want to retain the lamination since the cost of replacing a lens OR LCD now includes BOTH a custom lens and LCD. Another issue particular to Game Boys is that you either have to use a custom shell designed for the laminated display OR you have to significantly modify your existing shell to fit the laminated display assembly. Please see this article for more information on LCD lamination and some good visuals.

Contents

DMG

Original Game Boy

I actually own most of the DMG kits now. I have three different recommendations for “best” kit as each kit seems to have different strengths or weaknesses. Overall cheapest would be an inexpensive LED panel for modifying the OEM LCD (item #1). This is certainly a good option if you like the OEM style screen but is not an option if your LCD is missing or damaged (cracked, screen rot, horizontal lines, etc). You can go a long way in improving the contrast but the original screens are still pretty low quality and have severe ghosting issues or other display artifacts. Alternatively, a total replacement kit is also (finally) an option. My pick for ease of install, performance, and function is definitely the taobao Moon Screen (item #6). This kit gives you more features than every other kit in this list and requires absolutely zero permanent modification to your DMG. No shell modding, no permanent adhesive (to the DMG), and, aside from adding a speaker, no soldering required. Since that kit can be a bit hard to get outside China though, the One Chip IPS “DMG Backlight OSD” kit (item #11) is also a fantastic option. While the install is a bit more involved, the actual display image itself is bigger (slightly larger than OEM which requires shell modification) and looks proportionally better than the Moon Screen kit when installed on the DMG. Additionally, this kit does implement a very similar OSD that allows customizable palettes and even display image positioning if your LCD is not perfectly aligned with your lens.

DMG Full Size Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
1. Traditional backlighting methods Yes No Required No 1x Yes No No No
2. BennVenn 3.0” LCD kit Much Larger Required Speaker Only Required 1x Yes No No No
3. HiVision 690 TFT kit (AIO) Much Smaller Recommended Required No 2x No Button or Touch Button or Touch Frame Drops
4. One Chip 690 TFT kit (AIO) Much Smaller Recommended Required No 2x No Button or Touch Button or Touch No
5. Taobao IPS Backlight (v1 - “Rainbow Screen”) Yes No Required No 3x No Yes Yes No
6. Taobao IPS Backlight (v2 - “Moon Screen”) Smaller No Speaker Only No 3x Emulation Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
7. Funnyplaying Q5 IPS “Retro Pixel” Backlight Larger Required Speaker Only Required 4x Emulation Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
8. One Chip IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v1”) Yes No Speaker Only Required 2x No Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
9. One Chip IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v2”) Yes No Speaker Only Required 2x No Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
10. One Chip IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v3”) Yes No Speaker Only Required 2x No Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
11. One Chip Q5 IPS “DMG Backlight OSD” Larger Required Speaker Only Required 4x Emulation Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
11. One Chip IPS “TV Version” Yes No Speaker/TV Required 2x No Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
13. Freckleshack v2.5 “Aioli” TFT kit Much Smaller Recommended Required No 2x No No Button No
  1. Traditional backlighting methods (console and kit) – you can backlight the original LCD by removing the reflective layer and adding a small LED panel. Results are surprisingly decent for the cost but the effort involved to get a good result can be a bit high and, even then, you still have to deal with all of the cons of the original screen. Which means poor contrast and ghosting. There are methods to improve the contrast (biverting) and this will help significantly. The LED panels themselves can also be a bit low quality and have LED “hot spots” but there are some high quality panels available. If the hot spots really bug you and you can’t salvage a good panel, you can use an electro-luminescent (EL) panel but those are generally more costly and not as bright (also come in limited colors). Image shamelessly stolen from u/MrCrono666. I have one of these built by the afore mentioned user and it is absolutely wonderful looking. Still, I prefer one of the IPS kits but my opinion on how good these mods can look has definitely been changed.

  2. BennVenn 3.0” LCD kit (console and kit) – this is a replacement front PCB with a new, larger LCD on it. Other than installing a speaker and cutting the shell to reduce the bezel size, the install is relatively drop-in. The new screen is bigger but it is the correct resolution. It also still has the same (or even worse in some cases) ghosting issues and the contrast can still be inadequate. It’s a decent option when in stock but other than the size, it’s not considered an improvement by most. (I don’t have one of these)

  3. HiVision 690 TFT kit (AIO) (console and kit) – I don’t have this kit in a DMG but I do have one in a MGB. There are two different versions and this one is the version that drops frames. Last I checked, this was also the only kit that actually came with the proper wiring. This kit significantly improves on the ghosting and contrast issues of the previous methods but the viewing angles are not that great and the LCD size itself is a big down-grade. On the plus size, the install does not require any irreversible modification. You do need to desolder the original LCD from the front board and solder the new one in place. I can’t vouch for the ease of install but it doesn’t look too bad as long as you don’t mind soldering directly to a ribbon cable. Due to the smaller LCD, the bezels are huge. The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs. (I technically don’t have one of these)

  4. One Chip 690 TFT kit (AIO) (console and kit) – I don’t have this kit in a DMG but I do have one in a MGB. There are two different versions and currently only one works in a DMG and that one is the version that does not drop frames. Last I checked, this kit did not come with the wiring you needed to easily install this. You can use the ribbon cable adapter from the above kit to install this kit or you can wire it manually with the MGB ribbon cable. This kit significantly improves on the ghosting and contrast issues of the previous methods but the viewing angles are not that great and the LCD size itself is a big down-grade. On the plus size, the install does not require any irreversible modification. You do need to desolder the original LCD from the front board and solder the new one in place. I can’t vouch for the ease of install but it doesn’t look too bad as long as you don’t mind soldering directly to a ribbon cable. Due to the smaller LCD, the bezels are huge. Presumably, the custom color palettes that the new kit supports will work on this console too. The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs. (I technically don’t have one of these)

  5. Taobao IPS Backlight (v1 - “Rainbow Screen”) (console and kit) – The kit looks amazing in the pictures and videos I’ve seen but it’s difficult to get outside of China. My understanding is that this kit has been discontinued in favor of the v2 version coming soon^^^tm (which I will be getting). The v1 version is not a full front PCB replacement as it appears you have to solder it to the front board like the AIO kit above but it does fix all of the issues of all of the previous kits. The screen size is the same as stock (so it works with OEM lenses), the brightness is great, the viewing angles are incredible, the frame rate looks good, the ghosting is way better than stock (but still not perfect as it’s an IPS LCD). I’m pretty stoked for my v2. Per funnyplaying, it should be “soon” but it’s still unclear if that’s a new kit or if that’s the “v2” version of this kit. Images taken from the thread made by u/TheChineseGuy2019

  6. Taobao IPS Backlight (v2 - “Moon Screen”) (console and kit) – This kit is basically the Rainbow Screen kit but more refined. Installation is significantly easier than the previous iteration and aside from having to transfer your speaker over, the kit is actually 100% drop in with no modding required. You do not need to cut up your shell and the only soldering is for the speaker. Unlike the Funnyplaying kit or the One Chip kits which use 4x and 2x scaling respectively, this kit uses 3x scaling so the image is not going to be as sharp as the funnyplaying kit but it is sharp enough to have the pixel grid enabled like the funnyplaying kit. Personally, I don’t like that option but at least it is exactly that; an option. Everything on this kit is configurable, even each color of every pixel from the line grid to the DMG “color” palettes and you can save your configurations to one of eight presets. A side effect of the kit being completely drop in with no modding required is that the LCD itself is a bit smaller and is visible from the outside with a normal sized lens and the display image itself is a bit smaller. This kit has the image displayed on the LCD measuring in at 43mm wide by 38.75mm tall whereas the OC V3 IPS kit measures in at 44.5mm wide by 40.35 tall. The Funnyplaying kit will be bigger than both of these kits and I’ll add the measurements as soon as I get my hands on one. All in all, I think this is the best kit yet. I’m eager to get my hands on the funnyplaying version (which as it turns out, is a completely different kit) but due to the trimming required for install and what we already know about the built-in configurations I’m not sure if it will be better. (see my install here)

  7. Funnyplaying Q5 IPS “Retro Pixel” Backlight (console and kit) – this is basically their MGB IPS kit but with an additional replacement front board for the DMG. I’m extremely pleased with it so far. Quick tap the contrast wheel and then up or down to cycle through the palettes and long tap to toggle the pixel grid emulation on and off. The contrast wheel controls the brightness up or down when not in palette select mode (quick tap to toggle modes). The screen looks absolutely amazing and the trim required to install it is actually pretty easy. I didn’t notice any egregious screen issues like dropped frames or tearing that some other kits seem to exhibit. I HIGHLY recommend using a bracket or a spacer to line it up though. The included adhesive is permanent so if you mess it up (like I did on the MGB install), you’re stuck with it unless you want to purchase a new LCD (less than $7 from funnyplaying). You can use a stock sized lens (and that’s what it comes with) but the actual display image is slightly larger than stock and might be best with the custom lens included in the kit. Part of the install is making the LCD window bigger to work with the new lens. Biggest downside is the battery life with an estimated 25~50% runtime after the install, depending on your brightness level. The only better kit than this one is the One Chip IPS “DMG Backlight OSD” kit (item #11). (see my install here)

  8. One Chip IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v1”) (console and kit) – I actually got a couple of these kits to install. The v1 kits do have a pretty large flaw in that the grays are swapped but it’s really easy to fix if you don’t mind cutting a couple traces on the DMG or the replacement front board. For example, the console on the left is as they are shipped but the kit on the right is the one I fixed. Both kits are the same kit otherwise. This kit is a full front board replacement and the only soldering required is for attaching a speaker (and fixing the palette swap). The trimming required is very easy to do with just flush cutters and takes all of 30 seconds. The screen size is the same as stock (so it works with OEM lenses), the brightness is great, the viewing angles are incredible, the frame rate looks good, the ghosting is way better than stock (but still not perfect as it’s an IPS LCD). See this imgur album I made that documents the issue, the fix, and several before and after images with all the color palettes. New batch kits (look for the black PCB and a v3 mark or a green pcb and a v2 mark on the front board) will not require the palette fix. It should have better contrast on the gray palette too (left is v1 kit, right is v2 kit). (see my install here)

  9. One Chip IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v2”) – The install is identical to v1 EXCEPT that you do not have to swap the LCD data lines. The performance is pretty much identical as well except that the grays are correctly assigned in all palettes (instead of JUST the yellow/pink palette) and the contrast on the “gray” palette is even better. I really like this kit but the funnyplaying kit looks as though it may be even more promising if the v2 version keeps the custom palette options from v1. Left is v1 kit, right is v2 kit. (see my install here)

  10. One Chip IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v3”) – Very similar to the above two kits but they are now using black soldermask on the PCBs and the PCBs should be marked with “RIPS V3” as well. These kits use a new LCD that is slightly different shape (wider but shorter) so positioning brackets made for V1 or V2 will not work but otherwise everything else should be similar. The new LCD is much easier to connect to the daughterboard PCB as it uses a snap connector similar to the Funnyplaying IPS kits (but not the same, it’s actually a lot bigger on this kit). The V3 PCBs also reportedly fix some button contact issues as the buttons have been moved slightly on the PCB (v2 vs v3). Performance of V2 vs V3 seems pretty much identical otherwise. Compare V2 (top) with V3 (bottom): https://i.imgur.com/ylFQC3u.jpg (see my install here)

  11. One Chip Q5 IPS “DMG Backlight OSD” (kit) – Uses the same LCD as the Funnyplaying “Retro Pixel” kit (Q5) but with an OSD similar to the “Moon Screen” kit. This kit has user programmable color palettes and you can overwrite the presets with these settings. Each of the four colors (white, light gray, dark gray, black) are fully programmable with RGB values. Testing revealed no noticeable defects or other frame rate issues. Kit also feature programmable vertical and horizontal positions as well to fine tune the kit if the LCD is not aligned perfectly with the lens. For the money, this the best kit for the DMG right now. (see my install here)

  12. One Chip IPS OSD TV Version (kit) – This kit appears to be an amalgamation of the V3 and V4 kits with all the features of the V4 + a TV out function but with a similar LCD to what was used for the V3 kit. Some vendors will refer to this kit as the ‘DMG TV Version’, ‘DMG V5’, or similar. This kit comes in two versions itself, one with TV out function, and one without and other than the TV out functionality, the kits look and work the same. Install is identical between the two except that you do not have to solder the composite video connection to the link port. The TV out functionality works by sending a full screen composite video signal over the link port and then a custom AV cable is connected via the headphone jack and link port to the TV. Unfortunately, composite video is very low quality and the full screen signal will result in an incorrect aspect ratio when your display stretches the signal. It does work though. I have a kit on the way and will update this section once I get it installed.

  13. Freckleshack v2.5 “Aioli” 690 TFT kit – this kit should be pretty similar to the AIO kit above in both performance and install but should be a lot better on power usage and will actually have the proper framerate. It’s hard to say anything else until people start getting these kits in hand with DMG ribbons. The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs.

MGB

Game Boy Pocket

Like the DMG section, I have three different recommendations for “best” kit as each kit seems to have different strengths or weaknesses. Overall cheapest would be an inexpensive LED panel for modifying the OEM LCD (item #1). This is certainly a good option if you like the OEM style screen but is not an option if your LCD is missing or damaged (cracked, screen rot, vertical lines etc). You can go a long way in improving the contrast but the original screens are still pretty low quality and have severe ghosting issues or other display artifacts. Alternatively, a total replacement kit is also an option. My pick for ease of install, performance, and function is definitely the ‘One Chip’ version of the AIO TFT kit (item #3). This kit is pretty light on features but requires absolutely zero permanent modification to your MGB and is one of the cheapest in the list (of total replacement kits). It requires no shell modding and no permanent adhesive. A step up from this kit is the AIO XL kit (item #8) if you don’t mind a little bit of modification. Feature set is mostly the same but you at least get a stock sized LCD. If you’re fine with cutting up your shell, the ‘One Chip’ Q5 OSD IPS kit (item #6) is also a fantastic option. While the install is a bit more involved, the actual display image itself is bigger (slightly larger than OEM) and looks proportionally better on the MGB with the thin bezels and huge LCD. This kit has the most features and is competetively priced with the rest. Performance differences are mostly negligible but battery life is not great. With the new IPS ready aftermarket shells, these larger Q5 IPS kits may soon be a “drop in” experience as far as cutting goes. Expect less than four hours on average with one of these (even less with a flash cart too).

MGB Full Size Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
1. Traditional backlighting methods Yes No Required No 1x Yes No No No
2. HiVision 690 TFT kit (AIO) Much Smaller Recommended Recommended No 2x No Button or Touch Button or Touch Frame Drops
3. One Chip 690 TFT kit (AIO) Much Smaller Recommended Recommended No 2x No Button or Touch Button or Touch No
4. Funnyplaying Q5 IPS “Retro Pixel” Backlight Larger No Required Required 4x Emulation Touch Contrast Wheel No
6. One Chip OSD IPS Backlight Kit Q5 Version Larger No Recommended Required 4x Emulation Button or Touch Button or Touch No
8. HiVision “AIO XL” TFT Kit Yes No Recommended Yes 2x No Button or Touch Button or Touch No
9. Freckleshack v2.5 “Aioli” 690 TFT kit Much Smaller Recommended Required No 2x No No Button No
  1. Traditional backlighting methods (console and kit) – exactly the same as DMG except that out of the box the contrast is better. You can still bivert for marginal improvements though. Biverting a MGB does not result in as big an improvement as biverting a DMG. (image are my consoles) (see my install here)

  2. HiVision 690 TFT kit (AIO) (console and kit) – Exactly the same as DMG again. There are two different versions and both should work on this console. This is the version that drops frames. Unlike the DMG, you do not need to solder except for one wire to the power switch. New versions of this kit come with a wire preinstalled on the ribbon that you can just wrap around the battery terminal. Soldering is no longer required but still highly recommended. Install is otherwise drop in with no other mods required. The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs. (see my install here)

  3. One Chip 690 TFT kit (AIO) (console and kit) – Exactly the same as DMG again. There are two different versions and both should work on this console. This is the version that does not drop frames. Unlike the DMG, you do not need to solder except for one wire to the power switch. New versions of this kit come with a wire preinstalled on the ribbon that you can just wrap around the battery terminal. Soldering is no longer required but still highly recommended. Install is otherwise drop in with no other mods required. Presumably, the custom color palettes that the new kit supports will work on this console too. The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs. (see my install here)

  4. Funnyplaying ‘Retro Pixel’ Q5 IPS kit (kit) – this is the mostly the same as their DMG IPS kit. I finally got my kit and got it installed. I’m extremely pleased with it so far. Quick tap the touch sensor to cycle through the palettes, medium tap to cycle through the palettes backwards, and long tap to toggle the pixel grid emulation on and off. The contrast wheel controls the brightness. The screen looks absolutely amazing and the trim required to install it is actually pretty easy. I HIGHLY recommend using a bracket or a spacer to line it up though. The included adhesive is permanent so if you mess it up (like I did), you’re stuck with it unless you want to purchase a new LCD (less than $7 from funnyplaying). You can use a stock sized lens (and that’s what it comes with) but the actual display image is slightly larger than stock and might be best with a custom lens that has a slightly larger opening. You’d have to modify the LCD window in the shell for this as well though. Biggest downside is the battery life but that’s been an issue with the Pocket even before this kit. This kit does not help though. I’ve had issues booting an EZ Flash JR, especially with slightly used NiMh rechargeables. A LiPo mod is probably a good idea for a mod like this. Alternatively, this kit should also work the same way in a Game Boy Light and that will help tremendously with the battery life. (see my install here)

  5. Funnyplaying ‘Retro Pixel’ Q5 IPS kit (teaser) – There appears to be an updated version to this kit again (v1.2? v2? Unknown) that was teased with their new IPS ready custom MGB shells. Is this the same kit as the previous iteration? Yes and no. It’s the same LCD as their previous mod and likely the exact same hardware adapter too. It still uses integer scaling so the game viewable area is identical. The difference, it appears, is that they look to be applying the “white” color palette to the entire LCD display area to emulate the look of an unmasked backlit OEM screen. It is currently unknown if there are any other changes and if/when this kit will be releasing. This kit will likely replace the previous iteration.

  6. One Chip IPS Backlight Kit Q5 Version (kit) – This kit is similar in install compared to the funnyplaying kit above and even uses the same LCD. The tradeoff is the hit to battery life (compared to AIO kits) and the more complicated install. The other full size kit from cloud gaming (item #7) offers simimlar size screen image with a smaller overall LCD. This means an easier install as less trimming is required but overall the picture quality is not as good. My testing did not show any quirks or other performance issues such as screen tearing or unexpected frame dropping and showed no pixel overdrive artifacts. The install is actually somewhat forgiving as no positioning bracket is required. As long as you get the LCD in the shell straight and not askew, you can adjust where the image displays on screen to ensure that your lens cutout is lined up perfectly. Soldering is optional but for full functionality (custom palettes, image position, more brightness levels, battery display), highly recommended. The only quirk that I noticed, if you can even call it that, is that the button combo to pull up the OSD and navigating the menu itself still sends inputs to the game. Depending on your game, this could be highly annoying. Also, there are some games, such as Link’s Awakening (DX), that will trigger the OSD just from normal use. A workaround would be to disconnect the button controls (or use dip switches) so the OSD is disabled when not in use. The color palettes are a an excellent feature and allow you to emulate different color backlights or even just set your own custom palettes like some previous kits. You have full RGB control over the color value of each shade output by the MGB (total of four different values). Note that this doesn’t add more color information to the screen, the MGB will still only ever output four different colors (stock - white, light gray, dark gray, and black). Another reoccuring feature is going to be the pixel grid emulation. Personally, I prefer it off as it lowers the image quality and contrast but I know that is an appealing feature for a lot of people. This kit is my all time favorite for Game Boy Pocket. (see my install here)
    • Install is more complicated than AIO kits as it involves shell trimming. Install is about the same level of difficulty as previous IPS kits.
    • PGE photo from AndehX on the Game Boy discord using a GBC
  7. Taobao IPS kit (console) – Another kit appeared on taobao and it does not appear to be either of the above two IPS kits. I had one on order but they were out of stock. It looks really good though. I’m going to try and get one when these are restocked. This is just a really clean traditional backlight install with a custom backlight panel. This is the OEM screen. Leaving this entry for posterity.

  8. HiVision “AIO XL” TFT Kit – On the surface, this kit appears to be the same kit as the previous AIO kits except with a larger screen. Compatibility with other consoles or screens is not current supported but the screen itself appears to be a larger version of the transflective display used in the smaller AIO kits. The screen itself is not transflective, however. While this means visibility in direct sunlight is limited, the screen does have much better black levels. Viewing angles seem much better on this kit compared to other AIO style kits. The kit does support some basic color palette functionality and five levels of brightness, but the range of both are somewhat disapointing. There is also no pixel grid emulation (which I personally don’t mind but I feel is worth mentioning) as the LCD only supports 2x integer scaling and not the minimum 3x that is required. I noticed no frame dropping or tearing. This is a really good kit. If the color palette support and brightness control were better (more options, saves values, maybe even on separate controls), it would take the place of the Funnyplaying IPS kit for my recommendation due to the much easier install and very similar image size and quality. (see my install here)

  9. Freckleshack v2.5 “Aioli” 690 TFT kit – this kit should be pretty similar to the AIO kit above in both performance and install but should be a lot better on power usage and will actually have the proper framerate. It’s hard to say anything else until people start getting these kits in hand with MGB ribbons. The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs. I do not plan on getting one of these.

  10. Other kits – No new kits are being worked on that aren’t already listed above but I’m sure that will change soon so I’ll leave this item.

CGB

Game Boy Color

This is going to be a long section. There are a lot of kits. My pick for ease of install, performance, and function is definitely the ‘One Chip’ version of the AIO TFT kit (item #8) but if you can solder, the funyplaying ‘Retro Pixel 2.0’ Laminated Q5 kit (#11) is better in nearly every single way. The former kit is pretty light on features but requires absolutely zero permanent modification to your CGB and is one of the cheapest in the list (of total replacement kits). It requires no shell modding, no permanent adhesive, and no soldering. The latter kit is arguably easier to install as it requires no brackets and technically no custom lens but does require soldering of at least one wire for power (and three more for full features). Cutting an OEM shell is rather difficult for this mod but when combined with funnyplaying’s custom CGB housings, no trimming is required and the install is one of the easiest of all the consoles and kits. While power usage is extremely high with this kit, the performance and appearance is second to none. It comes highly recommended. Neither of these kits are stock sized (but both should come with the proper sized lens). If, for whatever reason, you need a stock sized screen or a screen that’s otherwise compatible with a stock sized lens, any of the 9380 kits are a good option but among those options, the ‘one chip’ kit (#12) may be the only one available. Install will be more difficult than ether of the afore mentioned kits due to the trimming requirement but it will perform as expected and look good while doing it.

CGB Full Size Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
1. Backlighting the OEM LCD Yes No Required No 1x Yes No No No
2. AGS-101 / El Clono TFT adapter Much Smaller Recommended No Shell Milling Required 1x Yes No Button No
3. Taobao kit IPS LCD kit (“Galaxy Screen”) Yes No Required Yes 2x No No Button No
4. Freckleshack v1/v2 690 TFT kit Much Smaller Recommended No Yes 2x No No Button v1 yes, v2 no
5. McWill 690 TFT kit Much Smaller Recommended V1, Yes, V1.1, No No 2x No No No Frame Drops
6. MidWest Embedded 690 TFT kit Much Smaller Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No No Button Screen Jitter
7. HiVision 690 TFT kits (AIO) Much Smaller Recommended No No 2x No Yes Button or Touch Frame Drops
8. One Chip 690 TFT kits (AIO) Much Smaller Recommended No No 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
9. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit v1 Yes No No Yes 2x No No Touch See notes
10. Funnyplaying ‘Retro Pixel 1.0’ Q5 IPS kit Larger Yes Required Yes 4x Yes - x5 No Touch No
11. Funnyplaying ‘Retro Pixel 2.0’ Laminated Q5 IPS kit Larger Yes Required Yes 4x Yes - x5 No Touch No
12. One Chip 9380 IPS kit v1 Yes No No Yes 2x No Yes Button or Touch Frame Drops
13. Freckleshack v2.5 “Aioli” 690 TFT kit Much Smaller Recommended No No 2x No No Button No
14. One Chip OSD IPS Backlight Kit Q5 Version Much Larger Required Recommended Yes 4x Yes Yes Button or Touch No
  1. Backlighting the OEM LCD – I’ve never tried this but I’ve never liked the results I’ve seen in images. It looks like it can work nicely but someone just needs to find the right combo.

  2. AGS-101 / El Clono TFT adapter (console and kit) – all around not a great mod. Don’t get me wrong, it was effectively the first backlight kit so of course we all went nuts for it but compared to the other options, it’s not a good idea at all to build a new one with all the newer alternatives. The LCD and adapter ribbon are both very expensive (though the new PCB adapter has gotten cheaper, the LCD pricing has more than made up for this). The install process is one of the most difficult as it requires precisely milling out the shell to fit the huge LCD. Due to the increased DPI of GBA LCDs, the actual image on the GBC is smaller than stock as well. Finally, battery life plummets with this mod, especially compared to other kits. One of the few pros is that the colors and image quality itself is pretty good. I ended up building a GBC using BennVenn’s v2.3 ribbon. I believe that the actual clones of this adapter use an older version of the firmware that is buggy with certain model GBCs but I had zero issues with my legit ribbon. (I assembled mine before I started filming youtube videos)

  3. Taobao kit IPS LCD kit (“Galaxy Screen”) (console and kit) – this kit is pretty similar to the new Funnyplaying IPS kit (below) except that it’s been available for a few years already. This kit saw a super limited release on taobao then was hard to get for a while. You can still get one now but the wait list (as of like a year ago) is still over a month. It requires a not insignificant amount of trimming of the shell (pretty much the same as the funnyplaying kit) and a bit of soldering. The actual display image is very nearly stock sized (42mm wide for this kit vs 43mm wide for stock). The high resolution LCD used allows the kit to use integer scaling for the GBC image. This results in a super clean look with no screen door effect (it’s there still if you look really close though). The effect of the higher resolution is actually pretty similar to playing an emulator on PC with smoothing off. It’s very crisp. The image quality and viewing angles are absolutely fantastic but the colors look a bit over saturated and a bit, erm, off. There is no way to calibrate the kit to my knowledge. When the only other kit was the above AGS-101 kit, this one of the best / highest quality kits available. Now, not so much. There are way better kits for much less money. (see my install here)

  4. Freckleshack v1/v2 690 TFT kit (console (left) and kit) – The first in the new wave of transflective LCD kits. The LCD this kit uses is smaller than stock but this allows certain kits to fit without modification to the console. The LCD also is high resolution and allows for the same integer scaling as the above taobao kit. The v1/batch 1 kits in particular had some screen flickering issues that broke Pokemon Pinball but all the remainder of the v1/v2 kits still do have some minor LCD flickering quirks. These kits also all require trimming cart reader pins and cutting of the shell to fit the kit. Overall, this kit is fantastic for the money, but v2.5 should be a nice improvement. Freckleshack kits tend to have the smallest impact on battery life out of all the other GBC kits. They’ve all since been discontinued in favor of v2.5. No difference between v1 and v2 kits other than brightness control (v1 has no brightness control and aside from the first batch of v1 kits, they both have the minor quirk where the black screen bezels flicker white on screen transitions). The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs. However, V1 kits did not have brightness adjust. (see my install here)

  5. McWill 690 TFT kit (console (right) and kit) – This kit came out pretty much at the same time as Freckleshack v1. It uses the exact same LCD but the install was very different. I had quite a few issues with the v1 kit but I’m told that most of them are resolved with v1.1. The install for v1.0 is complicated and way more difficult than it needs to be. The kit is drop in, except for the surface mount crystal oscillator that you have to solder on. Also, the kit didn’t even work in the first GBC I installed it in. I did notice some screen tearing in this kit. I’m told that the v1.1 fixes both my issues with screen tearing and having to solder that surface mount crystal oscillator but I’ll have to take someone else’s word for that one. Both v1.0 and v1.1 draw so much power that on a cold boot, you have to reboot your GBC two or three times before it will start up properly. I can only recommend this kit if literally nothing else is in stock (unlikely) or if you want the VGA output. Oh and because I want one more thing to complain about, the PCB is glued to the LCD and the screen kit is located within the shell via the shape of the PCB. My screen was glued in crooked and there is likely no way to fix it without breaking something. Thanks McWill. The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs. However, these kits do not have brightness adjust. (see my install here)

  6. MidWest Embedded 690 TFT kit (console and kit) – I actually don’t have one of these This was also part of the first wave of transflective kits and came out pretty much at the same time as the other two. Between Freckleshack (v1 specifically) and McWill (v1.0), this seemed like the best compromise. Of those three, it was the only kit that supported brightness control and seemed to have no display related issues. However, after installing mine, I did notice a constant jittering of the screen. It does not appear to be dropping frames or tearing but it’s not quite buttery smooth either. This kit has a pretty serious affect on battery life. Most people claim to get more than what MWE claims, but even those who have measured the power consumption have noted that it’s very high. You do have to cut the screen bezel of the plastic shell to fit this thing. It does result in a much better visual appearance with the LCD closer to the lens though. Despite the issues, there was still a lot of thought put into the install and fit and finish of the mod and I’m still really impressed despite the minor visual issue. Honestly, it is a solid kit if not for the high battery consumption. There are still better kits for the cost though. The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs. Even with brightness adjust, you cannot disable the backlight with these kits, however. (see my install here)

  7. HiVision 690 TFT kits (AIO) (console and kits) – This is that same Chinese kit again. It works in pretty much every Game Boy console except the Advance (I should test one in a Light…). There are several different versions of this kit in particular but the differences boil down to whether the kit is “official” or a “pirate” kit. The “official” kits came first and then the one chip manufacturer came along and started making their own with different hardware and different features. The “official” manufacturer calls the one chip kits “pirate” kits. The “official” kits seem to support more consoles (like the NeoGeo Pocket Color) but also tend to drop frames due to the frame-rate mismatch. Game Boy consoles run at 59.7 FPS or thereabout but the HiVision IC that these kits are made with is locked to 60 FPS. To make the two work together, there is a noticeable screen judder with certain games. The “pirate” kit is made with a more flexible, yet unbranded, IC that does not have to drop frames. See this imgur album for more info. The issue is not that bad though to be honest and I think either kit is still worth the money. I have both the “official” and “pirate” kits and while I prefer the pirate kit for the smooth frame rate, I think they are both still great options. The absolute best bang/buck GBC kit is the the pirate kit though this one is a close second. It’s anywhere from $35-60 but the price depends entirely on the vendor and the accessories it comes with. Install is literally drop in with no soldering or shell trimming required. It is 100% reversible. The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs. (see one of my installs here)

  8. One Chip 690 TFT kits (AIO) (console and kits) – I made this into a separate section from the above kit because even though there are two different manufacturers, the kits have been extremely similar up until now. It’s been very difficult to even know what kit you are getting ahead of time but it looks like the one chip version of this kit has a new feature. This new feature enables custom color palette support in the same way that the One Chip IPS kit supports custom color palettes. This new feature will also help tell the two kits apart since the HiVision kit does not (yet?) support custom color palettes. Assuming everything works as expected, this is the absolute best bang/buck GBC kit. It’s anywhere from $35-60 but the price depends entirely on the vendor and the accessories it comes with. Install is literally drop in with no soldering or shell trimming required. It is 100% reversible. The “pirate” kits are made by the same factory that makes the “one chip” branded IPS kits. I do not yet have one of the color palette kits but I do have one on the way. The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs. (see more info on the difference between the HiVision and One Chip kits here)
    • Apparently the new version of this kit (with the color palettes) has “a pulsing horizontal on the screen during play.” They noted that this line makes it look like the screen has “ripples.” I still don’t have one yet myself so I cannot confirm but it would match up with some other things I’ve heard about this kit (like it was pulled from sale until it gets an update). Thanks for the confirmation, u/thor-odenson. I actually just got one of these myself and the kits appear to be fixed. I’m still investigating, however. Video will be up soon.
  9. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit v1 – THERE IS NO V2 (console and kit) – I know I said the AIO kit is the best bang/buck kit but this one is too really. Just in a different way. It can be a bit more expensive on average but I think the other kit fills a niche that this one does not. The AIO TFT kit (and I suppose Freckleshack v2.5) could be installed in a limited edition GBC without having to make permanent modifications if later resale is to be a consideration. On the other hand, this kit requires a lot of irreversible trimming. If you don’t mind doing the trimming, this is the better kit. Viewing angles are much, much better, the frame rate is synced properly, colors look great (and as accurate to the original GBC as they can be on a backlit screen), and the price/availability is much better than this kit’s cousin. This is the first backlit kit that is actually OEM sized. The taobao one is a wee bit smaller but both work well with OEM sized lenses. (see my install here)

  10. Funnyplaying ‘Retro Pixel 1.0’ Q5 IPS kit – This kit will replaces the old version and uses a whole new LCD, the Q5 LCD instead of the 9380 LCD. This results in a much larger image on screen for just about the same effort when it comes to trimming the shell. This kit can be identified by the black ribbon cable. Is this the same kit as the previous iteration? Not at all. It’s a new LCD as their previous mod but is likely the exact same hardware adapter. It still uses integer scaling so the game viewable area is still nice and sharp but will be slightly larger and will support the pixel grid emulation. There are five different options for the pixel grid emulation – a feature unique to this kit – and some of the options are rather compelling. I would like to see future kits include this functionality. Performance seems to be the best yet of any GBC kit – no frame dropping or tearing and no weird artifacts to either side of the screen or missing pixel columns. There are some issues though. The install is largely identical to the OC OSD Q5 backlight kit (#13) but with an increased power consumption (over the OC version), more convoluted controls, and no way to adjust the position of the image on-screen. The last point should be negated by the release of Funnyplaying’s IPS Ready custom molded GBC shells but for those wanting to stick with different shells, it means manually aligning the LCD within the shell again. Regarding the controls for the kit, there is a required touch sensor and optional button controls. You can toggle every feature of the kit with the touch sensor only but hooking up the button controls does not provide an easier or better experience like usual. The button controls are used in conjunction with the touch sensor. Hopefully this decision is revised in future iterations of this kit. (see my install here

  11. Funnyplaying ‘Retro Pixel 2.0’ Laminated Q5 IPS kit – Much like the 1.0 Retro Pixel kit, this kit will replaces the old version (which is still sold until stock depletes) and uses Q5 LCD but is this time laminated directly to the lens, much like the 9380 SP kit. Image quality and size is much the same as the previous Q5 kit except that the clarity significantly improved and the edges of the LCD are much better hidden due to the much closer LCD. Additionally, this kit features a backlit lens logo and the color is programmable. This kit supports the same pixel grid emulation as the previous Q5 version. There are five different options for the pixel grid emulation – a feature unique to this kit – and some of the options are rather compelling. Performance seems to be the best yet of any GBC kit – no frame dropping or tearing and no weird artifacts to either side of the screen or missing pixel columns, much like the previous iteration of this kit. There are some issues though. The install is pretty unique to this kit due to the laminated LCD but is possibly the easiest kit to install when used alongside funnyplaying’s custom GBC housings. Again, same as the previous kit, this kit features an increased power consumption (over the OC version), more convoluted controls, and a small quirk rendering brightness controls nonfunctional if start and select are pressed simultaneously but not long enough to go into the menu. Power cycling or holding the buttons to enter and then exit the menu again is enough to work around this bug, however. Regarding the controls for the kit, the button controls are used in conjunction with the touch sensor. The touch sensor controls brightness and pixel grid emulation settings whereas the button controls (and touch sensor together) control the position of the display on the LCD (a feature previously unique to the OSD kit, #14) and to change the colors of the GBC logo on the lens. (see my install here

  12. One Chip 9380 IPS kit v1 – THERE IS NO V2 (console and kit) – Outwardly, this kit appears the same as the funnyplaying kit above because they use the exact same Blackberry Curve 9380 LCD. The difference, however, is in the function and appearance of the adapter that makes the LCD work with the GBC. The install is pretty much identical to the FP kit except that there is one extra touch sensor. This sensor is used to adjust the color palettes that the kit uses. While this function is not very useful on Game Boy Color games, it can be very usefull on original DMG games or palette enhanced DMG games. One such example is Pokemon Yellow (NA) since you cannot use the built in DMG palettes that the Color has. This kit, however, can override any and all color palettes, even on full color games. As is, this kit does have a few small issues though. The kit does have solder points for button based controls instead of touch sensors but per the manufacturer, these controls are actually not yet implemented (tested and confirmed). Additionally, my kit seemed to have quite a few issues with booting flash carts on full brightness on any batteries that weren’t fresh alkalines. When I did manage to get the flash cart booted, I would experience regular screen glitching (see the album or the install video for more info). I got a replacement kit and it looks like these issues were due to a defect with my original kit. They finally implemented the button controls as well in a new quiet revision. Unfortunately, there is no meaningful way to visually distinguish between the early, buggy kits and the latest, stable kits unless the retailer you buy from actually pays attention and knows what they have (not common but RGRS is a confirmed seller of the latest revision of kit). See the new new linked install. This kit looks really good but until these issues (button control and frame dropping) get fixed, I can’t say I recommend the kit and has my recommendation for a kit if you want to keep the stock LCD size (can’t get a custom lens in the style you want). (see my install here)

  13. Freckleshack v2.5 “Aioli” 690 TFT kit – this kit should be pretty similar to the AIO kit above in both performance and install but should be a lot better on power usage and will actually have the proper framerate. It’s hard to say anything else until people start getting these kits in hand with CGB ribbons. I know these have shipped recently but I have not heard of anyone getting theirs yet. The Palm Centro 690 LCD that this kit uses is transflective which means that with the backlight off, the LCD is perfectly viewable in direct sunlight, just like OEM LCDs. I do not plan on getting one of these.

  14. One Chip OSD IPS Backlight Kit Q5 Version (kit) – This is the first kit that uses a LCD that has a larger image size than stock. All kits before this used large LCDs but the image was either stock sized or even smaller. The result includes much thinner bezels and a much clearer and larger image. The tradeoff is the hit to battery life (compared to AIO kits) and the more complicated install*. My testing did not show a slight intermittent cropping of one pixel column from the right side of the screen or one row on the bottom of the screen but I did not see any other issues such as screen tearing or unexpected frame dropping and due to the lack of pixel overdrive artifacts present in kits that use the BlackBerry Curve 9380 display, this kit actually performs even better than the other IPS kits available right now. Speaking of the 9380 kits, while this kit does require more shell trimming, the install is actually a bit easier as no positioning bracket is required. As long as you get the LCD in the shell straight and not askew, you can adjust where the image displays on screen to ensure that your lens cutout is lined up perfectly. Soldering is optional but for full functionality (custom palettes, image position, more brightness levels, battery display*), highly recommended. The only quirk that I noticed, if you can even call it that, is that the button combo to pull up the OSD and navigating the menu itself still sends inputs to the game. Depending on your game, this could be highly annoying. Also, there are some games, such as Link’s Awakening (DX), that will trigger the OSD just from normal use. A workaround would be to disconnect the button controls (or use dip switches) so the OSD is disabled when not in use. The color palettes are a neat gimmick and it’s cool that you can set custom palettes with this kit. Unlike the MGB version of this kit, the color palettes are more like color filters though as you can set how much red, green, or blue appears in the image (0-100% in 16 or 32 steps). Much more interesting is going to be the pixel grid emulation. Personally, I prefer it off as it lowers the image quality and contrast but I know that is an appealing feature for a lot of people. This kit is my all time favorite for Game Boy Color. (see my install here)
    • Install is more complicated than AIO kits as it involves shell trimming. Install is about the same level of difficulty as previous IPS kits.
    • PGE photo from AndehX on the Game Boy discord
    • Battery indicator not working on my kit and is apparently a known issue with the kit itself.
    • Pixel row/column cropping is pretty minimal and not a deal breaker IMO. This issue is also seemingly intermittent so sometimes will not display the symptom.
    • The H/V pos menu also seems to skip number steps. This is a visual bug and doesn’t affect the placement of the image, it just means that the programmer cannot count (h pos missing number 33, v pos missing number 7, 27, 37)
    • Not all kits have the above three issues. There was a software revision very early with the release of the kit and it’s impossible to tell which kit you have until you have it installed and test it out.
  15. Other kits – No new kits are being worked on that aren’t already listed above but I’m sure that will change soon so I’ll leave this item. There are some unconfirmed kits though. BennVenn mentioned that he was working on a “GBC XL” and an OLED kit. I don’t know the details of either and I don’t know if they will ever make it to market. There is also yet another kit on the way from the “One chip” makers that uses a different LCD than the BB Curve 9380 LCD. Allegedly the end result should be similar but because the new (unknown) LCD is smaller, the trimming and install is easier. I’m also hoping to talk them into using the Blackberry Q5 LCD (Funnyplaying Game Boy Pocket kit) to make a GBC XL kit but, again, that’s not confirmed. We got the Q5 kit ;)

AGB

Game Boy Advance

There are a few options here that work on both GBA and GBA SP but I’m going to keep these sections separate as there are some different considerations for certain mods I believe. All of the kits have some downsides but between price and performance and availability, I like the Funnyplaying IPS v2 kit (item #8). It does require a bit of shell modification but pre modified shells are available from several vendors now. I don’t think the AGS-101 TFT LCD (item #2) really holds up compared to a more modern LCD, especially with the release of FP’s “ITA” kit (item #9) but it is still a worthwhile mention. On that note, FP’s “ITA” kit (item #9) is actually a really nice option both for visual appearance, power usage, and price. I prefer the look of their older 9380 kit (#8) but with the price, power usage, and as soon as the new shells start rolling out, it will be difficult to make a valid argument against this kit. The ‘One Chip’ ‘drop in’ IPS kit (item #14) is pretty good, especially if you absolutely must not cut up your console, and there are very few downsides that make it difficult to recommend over the Funnyplaying kit. The ‘Drop in’ IPS kit does not require shell modification (or a replacement shell) and the image quality is very good in comparison to the Funnyplaying 9380 kits but the 9380 LCD (even toppoly) is still better and cutting is highly recommended so the LCD can sit flat against the shell. Install will be significantly improved if you don’t mind cutting up the shell a little bit (not nearly as much as the 9380 cuts) but this is not required.

AGB Full Size Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
1. Front light Yes No Yes No 1x Yes No No No
2. AGS-101 TFT mod Yes No Recommended Yes 1x Yes No Some No
3. Fake AGS-101 IPS LCD Yes No Recommended Yes 2x No No Some No
4. Taobao IPS kit (“Galaxy Screen”) Slightly Larger Recommended Yes Yes 2x No No Button Control No
5. Taobao IPS kit - “C Screen” Yes No No No 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
6. “Cloud Game Store” “Drop In” IPS kit Yes No No Recommended 2x No No Touch No
7. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit (v1) Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended For non-IPS-ready shells only 2x No No Button Control Major Frame Tearing
8. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit (v2) Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended For non-IPS-ready shells only 2x No No Button Control No
9. Funnyplaying ‘ITA’ (DSi) TFT LCD kit Yes No No Yes 1x Yes No Button or Touch No
10. “One chip” 9380 IPS v1 Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended For non-IPS-ready shells only 2x No No Button Control Frame Dropping
11. “One chip” 9380 IPS v2 Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended For non-IPS-ready shells only 2x No No Button Control No
12. “One chip” 9380 IPS “2 in 1” Slightly Larger Recommended No Yes 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
13. “One chip” 9380 IPS “TV Version” Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
14. “One chip” IPS “TV Version” Yes No Recommended Recommended 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
16. insideGadgets Micro TFT adapter Much Smaller Recommended No No 1x No No No No
  1. Front light – Of course you can just frontlight your console. I suppose I should have included this in the GBC section but I never frontlit a GBC before. I did do a NGPC but that’s another story for another time. It’s technically an option and I am just now realizing that it’s one I should include in my wiki. Honestly though? Don’t seriously consider it unless you are weird like me and just want one of every mod. There are two different types of frontlight panels. The first are salvaged from older devices (like say an AGS-001 or Palm Pilot) or there are new aftermarket panels.. My experience should be pretty obvious from those images since both of those consoles are mine. If you really want a frontlight, and you cannot find a legitimate afterburner kit, just swap in a whole AGS-001 LCD. Don’t bother trying to salvage the panel only. They are absurdly delicate and nearly impossible to clean (so touching it with bare fingers will ruin it). The new aftermarket kits can look good, so I hear, but I’ve yet to see one that looked as good or better than an old salvaged panel.

  2. AGS-101 TFT mod (console and adapter) – The defacto backlight most people think of in Game Boy consoles. I have two issues with this method, the first is that people are still cutting up AGS-101 consoles for it (despite the modern alternatives), and the second issue, a direct result of the first, is that it has made aftermarket AGS-101 consoles so absurdly expensive. Unfortunately, stock of aftermarket LCDs (honestly, I’m pretty sure they were just NOS OEM) is nearly dried up so prices have skyrocketed for this mod, but if you already have a LCD AND if you do not have an AGS-101 console that it should go into, this is still a good mod for consideration. As the screen itself is pretty much drop in compatible with the AGB electronics, it has by far the best battery life of any backlight AGB kit. In fact, since the LCD itself is largely just a backlit 32 pin LCD, it even makes redundant the extra voltage regulator in 40 pin AGB consoles and may even save battery life. My tests were inconclusive but a larger sample size might have better results. Anyway, this mod is basically the ideal LCD mod for an AGB. It’s as authentic as an aftermarket mod can be. If it weren’t for the price and that nowadays you effectively have to convert two consoles into one, it would still be a good option. I think I’ve done like four of them. Oh, and one more strange quirk, you do have to adjust the potentiometer after installing one on an AGB for optimal image quality. Most ribbon cable adapters are passive and just convert the 32/40p (AGB side) connectors over to 34p connector (AGS side) but there are some active adapters that add other features like extra brightness or brightness control. I don’t really recommend these as I believe they take away from what makes this mod so great, but you do you if that’s your thing. If you need to get one, try finding one of the 2018 reproduction batch units. They are much higher quality than the new old stock (or consoles) that the other LCDs come from and are still fully compatible. These units are identified by the “XF2018” stamp on the ribbon cable connector. (I assembled mine before I started filming youtube videos)

  3. Fake AGS-101 IPS LCD (screen) – Yeah, you read that right. Weird, huh? Well, it’s basically the funnyplaying IPS mod except in the form factor of an AGS-101 LCD. It drops right into an AGS-101 console with no mods necessary and will install into an AGB with the exact same process as the original AGS-101 mod. Despite being more at home in an AGS, I put this in the AGB section because this screen seems to be commonly sold as an AGB kit with a 32 or 40 pin adapter. This has the same image size as the OEM AGS-101 LCD (unlike the IPS mod which is bigger) but it has the same 2x linear scaling as the IPS kit. It seems to be a bit harder to find for sale as it seems to be listed as an AGS-101 LCD, but most sellers will still refer to it as a “new” version or “clone” or “copy” version. It should be a bit cheaper than AGS-101 screens as well. All in all, I think it’s better in every way than AGS-101 LCDs EXCEPT that the power usage much more closely resembles the IPS mods rather than the AGS-101 mods. Interestingly, this kit doesn’t seem to suffer from any of the visual artifacts or bugs that the other IPS kits have (no tearing or jittering) and even the ghosting is significantly reduced. (see my video here)

  4. Taobao IPS kit - “Galaxy Screen” (console (bottom) and kit) – From the same person that made the taobao kit for GBC, here is the taobao kit for GBA. It looks like the same LCD to me (as the GBC version) and the electronics on board are pretty much the same. Install and functionality is the same again. It does require a not insignificant amount of shell trimming but this was the first kit that introduced linear scaling (on GBA). This kit is pretty straightforward to install despite all the trimming and soldering, but, especially with these funnyplaying IPS kits, I cannot recommend it. The price is high, the waitlist is (was?) long, and the quality is not as good as the funnyplaying IPS kit. It works, but like the GBC version, it is a battery HAWG and the colors seem a bit off. Also, it only works on 40 pin AGBs. The plus side is that these kits had no screen tearing or other frame rate issues and they’ve been on the market for a few years at this point. Nonetheless, I do not recommend it. (see my install here)

  5. Taobao IPS kit - “C Screen” (console and kit images taken from item listing) – I finally got my kit in and I’m a little disappointed. Yes, it does require absolutely zero modding to the console itself, no soldering or cutting, yes it does not have any frame tearing or dropping, and yes it does have digital brightness control with touch gestures, but the install is a bit too involved to really call it “drop in.” It also has, by far, the biggest affect on battery life I’ve measured on any kit. The white balance on this kit seems to lean on the very cool side. While not a huge deal, I’ve grown accustomed to the warmer appearance of the other kits so this one feels “off.” When side by side, it’s very noticeable but when actually playing, it’s perfectly fine. This is a good kit, especially if you do not want to cut up your GBA (though there are alternatives now if you are reshelling) but there are better kits. I’d go with the funnyplaying kit still. (see my install here)

  6. “Cloud Game Store” “Drop In” IPS kit (console and kit image taken from item listing) – This kit is all that the C Screen (above) promised to be and more. It uses a slightly different version of the same LCD but the conversion hardware is significantly improved. Unfortunately, there are no more gesture brightness controls (if you like that sort of thing) or on screen brightness indication but the trade off is a SIGNIFICANT improvement to battery life. Like, this kit may just be the most efficient yet (before modding for increased brightness at least). No soldering or cutting is required but for some model GBAs, soldering may be recommended for increased brightness on 40 pin models. Cutting is recommended to get the LCD to sit flat though all that needs to be cut is bumps on the inside that the OEM LCD sit on, much like what is needed for the other LCD kit installs. No walls need to be trimmed. Funnyplaying and similar kits that use the 9380 LCD tend to have warmer colors wheras the LCD used here tends to be on the cold side. It is nowhere near as blue as the C Screen, thankfully. IPS Ready shells may be used but a bracket will be required (or you can just yolo it with adhesive and hope for the best). (see my install here)

  7. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit (v1) (console and kit) – The v1 kit was, quite possibly, one of the best things to happen to the GBA mod scene. It obviously wasn’t the first aftermarket LCD kit (taobao kits have a few years on these kits) but it was the first one to really hit the US and EU markets and actually make a splash. For those unaware, taobao is not normally available outside China. It’s expanded internationally in the last few years but some people in some locales and for some sellers especially still need to work through an agent and the site is still all in Chinese. Now, the v1 kit definitely had it’s fair share of problems but when it came out it was about $35 USD. That made it the cheapest AGB backlight mod, ever, and especially in 2019 by a fair margin. So yeah, of course people (myself especially) were excited. It looked so damn good on paper. Now imagine everyone’s disappointment when the kit got into their hands and they saw that awful screen tearing effect that resulted from the rotated LCD. It still looked amazing in pictures, but in motion it was not great and it was a deal breaker for many people. Nonetheless, I was still very pleased with my kit, especially since it would lead to a whole new generation of even better kits. This kit is no longer available and has been replaced with the v2 version. I wouldn’t recommend one of these unless the price was right. V2 is better in every other way. (see my install here)

  8. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit (v2) (console and kit) – Yeah, I modded a limited edition. Get over it. The v2 kit came along shortly after the v1 kit bombed (and v1 customers could upgrade to a v2 ribbon for less than $10) and that fixed the screen tearing effect in its entirety. For GBA, this kit right here is the best bang/buck kit. That’s not to say there aren’t any issues, however. When playing emulators via a flash cart (NES especially) or any of the NES classic GBA games, there are some visual artifacts on the LCD. Additionally, there are quite a few games that will show flashing sprites. This flashing is technically not a bug rather a sneak peak at a shortcut a lot of devs used on the GB and GBA. The LCDs had such poor refresh rates that it was a cheap way (as in, low system resources) to achieve transparency. On an OEM screen, this flashing blurs together with the background and just shows as transparency but the new LCD shows the actual flashing. The shell does require some irreversable trimming for install but the kit does not require any soldering (brightness control is optional). FunnyPlaying does sell IPS-ready shells which make trimming or cutting unnecessary, but keep in mind their newer line of ITA-compatible shells do require a very minor trim to fit the 9380 panel. If you use the included adhesive, the install is PERMANENT. Because the DPI on this kit is smaller than OEM AGB screens (after the linear scaling), it does result in a larger display image than stock. It’s not that much bigger but it does require a custom screen lens and some extra trimming of the view window on non-IPS-ready shells, but losing the little bit of space at the edges is not even noticeable in any games that I play and it does not bother me. All that to say I definitely recommend the v2 kits. For an AGB, this is probably my favorite kit. I don’t really recommend the v1 kits though but I don’t think those are for sale anymore except maybe in some already assembled consoles (from third parties). No, you cannot put this in a GBC with an ElClono adapter. I checked. There’s a version of this kit for GBC now though. (see my install here)

  9. Funnyplaying ‘ITA’ (DSi) TFT LCD kit (kit) - Main claims of this kit is the much lower price (compared to previous IPS kits), better power usage, and a much more pronounced screen door effect, similar to a stock AGS-101 LCD. So far, the pricing seems absolutely great (as of time of writing, kit is less than $30 USD) for the performance that you get. Funnyplaying has released these pictures so far and while I was skeptical at first, but after installing one myself, I believe Funnyplaying is using (and distributing) cherry picked LCDs. Compared to an original DSi, the LCD that comes with the FP kit does appear higher quality with better color saturation and less ghosting. LCDs are not totally free of ghosting but the observed ghosting does appear pretty minimal and much less significant than AGS-101 LCDs. Biggest downside right now is the amount of cutting required to install one of these in an AGB but custom molded shells are now available and the screen can be adjusted after install (similar to the OSD kits). This is a big LCD and modification is required both for IPS ready and OEM style (OEM and repro both) shells. Overall, this is a very nice kit. (see my install here)

  10. “One chip” 9380 IPS v1 (kit) – This uses the same LCD as the Funnyplaying version so the outward appearance is identical. Install and performance are actually pretty damn similar. Both kits will show some flickering sprites in some games and both kits even have that odd image retention on NES games (albeit they both display different issues, check out this direct comparison here). Even the external appearance is the same. My kit seemed to have some frame dropping issues and was a little bit more power hungry than the funnyplaying version. Unlike the funnyplaying version, this kit will store the last used brightness level and restore that next time you boot it up. If you have a choice, I think the funnyplaying version is the better buy for now but this kit is not a bad option either. (see my install here)

  11. “One chip” 9380 IPS v2 (kit) – In typical “one chip” fashion, they quietly released a revision without actually marking it as such. This is a software revision only so visually the kit is indistinguishable from v1. Allegedly this release fixes the stuttering that I noticed on the v1 kit and improves some of the flickering artifacts in some games. I do not have one of these kits to verify. Everything else should be identical to v1. I’m actually not so sure anymore because the new “2 in 1” kit is also marked as v2. I think the “v2” designation on the kits that look like v1 is purely for marketing reasons. There should actually be a software revision for this kit that fixes the stuttering and frame dropping and I have stumbled across one but this kit was marked the same as the stuttering ones and is otherwise visually identical. It should be assumed that any “one chip” ribbon cable kit that is marked as “v2” could be the initial version that I reviewed above.

  12. “One chip” 9380 IPS “2 in 1” (kit) – The “2 in 1” versions of this kit may be shipping with a new brand of LCD which is considered lower quality than the original. Some vendors have old-stock LG, some have new-stock LG, some have Toppoly. The old LG LCD is still 100% compatible but these come with Toppoly LCDs instead. Install and performance are actually pretty damn similar to the v1 version and the funnyplaying version. Both kits will show some flickering sprites in some games and both kits even have that odd image retention on NES games. However, it looks like the frame dropping issue has been resolved on this version and a new color palette/filter feature has been introduced. This kit comes with both wired control support and touch sensor control support for solderless installs. Unlike the funnyplaying version, this kit will store the last used brightness level and color filter and restore that next time you boot it up. If you have a choice, I think the funnyplaying version is the better buy for now but this kit is not a bad option either. (see my install here)

  13. “One chip” 9380 IPS “TV Version” (kit) – This kit performs largely identically to “2 in 1” version above when not outputting to a TV. Brightness and color palette settings are retained between power cycles but the internal LCD is always enabled after a restart (did not test with GBA sleep mode). Palettes are supported in TV out mode (as is GB/C games) but brightness only affects the internal LCD and is thus irrelevant when TV Out is enabled. When wired up properly and holding L+R+Select for a few seconds, the kit will switch off the internal LCD and enable the TV Out encoder on the adapter PCB. When you use the included custom TV out cable and hook up to a supported composite receiver, the kit outputs a relatively solid composite video signal. The included cable also plugs into the headphone jack to carry the audio signal to via RCA jacks. Quality seems pretty good but my experience is hampered by my lack of composite compatible TVs (CRT) and an extremely low quality USB capture card. Output format is full screen (4:3 typically) which distorts the original 3:2 signal, though this can be fixed with some post processing via an external analog to digital converter (like an OSSC or framemeister) or via post-processing with a capture card (though the input delay with the latter could make playing difficult). Overall, this is a very solid kit. While soldering is not technically required to use the backlight kit, it is required to use the TV out functionality. Aside from an additional couple wires, install is largely identical to the ‘2in1’ kit and other 9380 based kits before it. (see my install here
    • note that there are two different versions of the cable that comes with this kit, one requires wiring the composite video signal to pin 1 of the link port, the other requires pin 3. Both cables have downsides. As of the original release of this kit, using the pin 3 variant would effectively disable most functions of the link port aside from aux power. Pin 1 would preserve function of the link itself but you lose aux power. In both cases, the wireless adapter will no longer work. There is another variant of the cable that has a link port pass through so you can use the link port while the video cable is connected. I believe this is only for the pin 1 variants but follow the instructions from the seller for confirmation.
  14. “One chip” “Drop in” IPS “TV Version” (kit) – This kit performs identically to “TV Version” version above except uses a different internal LCD. Brightness and color palette settings are retained between power cycles but the internal LCD is always enabled after a restart (did not test with GBA sleep mode). Palettes are supported in TV out mode (as is GB/C games) but brightness only affects the internal LCD and is thus irrelevant when TV Out is enabled. When wired up properly and holding L+R+Select for a few seconds, the kit will switch off the internal LCD and enable the TV Out encoder on the adapter PCB. When you use the included custom TV out cable and hook up to a supported composite receiver, the kit outputs a relatively solid composite video signal. The included cable also plugs into the headphone jack to carry the audio signal to via RCA jacks. Quality seems pretty good but my experience is hampered by my lack of composite compatible TVs (CRT) and an extremely low quality USB capture card. Output format is full screen (4:3 typically) which distorts the original 3:2 signal, though this can be fixed with some post processing via an external analog to digital converter (like an OSSC or framemeister) or via post-processing with a capture card (though the input delay with the latter could make playing difficult). Overall, this is a very solid kit. While soldering is not technically required to use the backlight kit, it is required to use the TV out functionality. This kit uses a lower quality LCD than the 9380 version (similar to the “Cloud Game Store” kit mentioned above in #6 but seems to be higher quality than that screen). This results in an easier install with an OEM shell and is claimed to be “Drop in” but with the soldering required to actually use the full functionality of the kit, this seems to be a change made for the wrong reasons. (see my install here

  15. Popsicle Kit – I don’t know much about this kit at all other than it looks visually similar to a funnyplaying design but with a completely different LCD. This kit popped up on taobao and then aliexpress. Specifics are not yet known but it looks to be “drop in” for AGB and AGS but the AGS kit is literally the AGB but with the 34->32 pin adapter (#1) in the AGS section and with a lens attached to the LCD for the AGS kit. Spacing does not look correct for either console in the seller images posted and performance is difficult to speculate on with only the provided pictures.

  16. insideGadgets Micro TFT adapter (console and kit) – Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly what it looks like. 100% reversable and when all is said and done, probably the cheapest backlight kit right now. It does require using a Game Boy Micro LCD, but those are still available on the aftermarket and for reasonably cheap. This kit would go well with a custom screen lens to hide the massive gaps with bezels. The install is rather difficult due to the extreme thickness of the stacked components. It requires bending ribbon cables to a degree that makes most people (well, me at least) uncomfortable. The brightness is very low to start but it can be modded to be brighter. When installed in an AGS-001, the system power consumption actually went down which means using this LCD in place of the frontlit screen (with the light on) will result in better battery life. This is the only kit on the list that you can say that with. (see my install here)

AGS

Game Boy Advance SP

I could leave this section empty because the GBA SP already comes in both frontlit and backlit variants. Nonetheless, there are still some mods that I know about or have done so I can still talk about them. Though, I guess I do have a lot to say about SP consoles. I like the Funnyplaying SP IPS kits (item #4) because the 9380 LCDs (even the Toppoly ones) just look that good, especially when fully laminated. A unique feature of a newer kit is TV Out functionality that makes option #8, the One Chip Tv Version kit, really compelling. Those kits use a higher quality LCD than funnyplaying but since they’re not fully laminated, the quality is not as good as it can be. If you’re not a fan of the Tv Out function, the OC 2 in 1 kit (#7) is also pretty compelling as it’s basically the TV version kit but without the TV Out feature and for quite a bit cheaper. I also like just (clean) stock AGS-001s. Yeah, that’s right. I like the frontlit ones. I think the AGS-101 consoles are highly over-rated. All of the kits have some downsides but between price and performance and availability, I like the Funnyplaying IPS kit.

AGS Full Size Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
1. AGB 32P Screen Yes No No No 1x Yes No No light to adjust No
2. AGS-101 TFT mod Yes No Required No 1x Yes No Some No
2. Fake AGS-101 IPS LCD Yes No Required No 2x No No Some No
3. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit (AGB v1) Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No No Button Control Major Frame Tearing
4. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit (AGS v1) Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No No Button Control No
5. “One chip” 9380 IPS v1 Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No No Button Control Frame Dropping
6. “One chip” 9380 IPS v2 Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No No Button Control No
7. “One chip” 9380 IPS “2 in 1” Slightly Larger Recommended No Yes 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
8. “One chip” 9380 IPS “TV Version” Slightly Larger Recommended Yes Yes 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
9. CGS IPS Kit Yes* Recommended No Yes 2x No No Button Control No
11. insideGadgets Micro TFT adapter Much Smaller Recommended No No 1x No No No No
  1. Unpimp your SP (adapter) – I still don’t really know why someone made this adapter. I’ve managed to repurpose it for another mod that I’ll get to in a sec but this adapter came WELL before that other mod did. You can use it to install a non-lit 32 pin AGB LCD in your AGS. It works on both AGS (AGS-001) and AGT (AGS-101) motherboards. I guess you can use it to make a functional console out of that AGS-101 you shamefully cannibalized for your AGB? Nonetheless, it’s there and, well, it does work. You can also use this adapter to adapt any 32 pin GBA kit (or some 40 pin kits if you feel like being creative) to work with an AGS console instead. Fitment can be an issue, however.

  2. AGS-101 mod for AGS-001 – Ok, I actually don’t have one of these. I have regular AGS-101s though. My main complaint about those consoles is the brightness levels and this mod fixes that. If you use a brightness controller (and a voltage regulator), you can actually get much better control over brightness levels in this mod over a stock AGS-101. Otherwise, all other things are the same between a modded AGS-001 and an AGS-101. Mostly. I hear that AGS-001 consoles modded with AGS-101 screens have less ghosting but I think that has more to due with the actual LCD in the unit (the “2018” LCDs seem to perform much better than the OEM or other repro LCDs) than the mod. Seems like it could be a good option if you like AGS consoles but can’t get an AGS-101 normally (like for those outside the US and select areas of EU).

  3. Funnyplaying v1 GBA 9380 IPS kit (console, kit, and adapter) – I did this mod before both the SP variant of the funnyplaying GBA mod and the funnyplaying gba v2 mod came out. Why? Because I can. I like GBA SP consoles. And I had a GBA SP console with a really bad screen. It had mold damage. Anyway, yeah, you can just use a v2 kit or even get the SP kit in particular. My mod ended up using a lens from a v2 kit because the v1 lenses were offset. Because I used a v1 ribbon, my kit has all the problems of the v1 kits but there is no reason you cannot use a v2 ribbon. All you need is the strange adapter I mentioned earlier for putting an AGB screen in an AGS. It works on this nicely. One advantage of using the AGB ribbon with adapter over the AGS ribbon is that you get more brightness levels and more control over brightness as you can increase or decrease instead of just being able to cycle levels. As of the SP version of this kit, you can buy a replacement LCD with the SP lens pre-laminated so you don’t have to bother trying to fit a custom lens. This is going to be more expensive than just installing the SP version though. (see my install here)

  4. Funnyplaying GBA SP 9380 kit v1 – THERE IS NO V2 (console and kit) – Yeah, I modded a limited edition GBA SP too. It won’t be my last. This kit is basically the funnyplaying v2 GBA kit but for SP instead. This means it has the same downsides too (image retention on NES games and transparent sprite flickering). The screen comes with a custom lens already laminated to the LCD (and it really does look amazing) and already pre-cut so that it self locates within the shell. The trimming for this install is significantly easier than the AGB install. I’d recommend it over shoving the AGB kit in and, honestly, I just recommend this kit in general. It looks really good, it’s easy enough to install, and it’s pretty easy to get. This is probably my favorite option for AGS consoles. I think this is a much better buy than an AGS-101 especially since the kit works on both AGS and AGT motherboards. (see my install here)
    • Update 2021-10-05 – Funnyplaying now ships toppoly LCDs instead of LG. The quality is lower on average but they displays are still fully laminated and do still look pretty good. Please see this video for a comparison between Old LG, New LG, and Toppoly: https://youtu.be/Le97takF6Lk
  5. “One chip” 9380 IPS mod (v1) (kit) – they made one of these for the GBA SP too. Like the GBA version, the SP version is very similar to the funnyplaying equivalent. It uses the same LCD and does come with the lens already applied, same as the funnyplaying version EXCEPT that the lens IS NOT fully laminated like the funnyplaying version. This does not make a huge difference but if you install the foam behind the LCD that the kit comes with (which you are not supposed to do despite the foam being cut for install there), you will end up with a newtonian ring issue in the middle of the LCD. Performance is pretty similar to the AGB version. My kit did not have a frame dropping issue but it did seem to have the same jittering issue that the MidwestEmbedded GBC kit had. Like the AGB version, this is not a bad kit if you have one, but if you have a choice, I’d go with the funnyplaying version instead. (see my install here)

  6. “One chip” 9380 IPS v2 (kit) – In typical “one chip” fashion, they quietly released a revision without actually marking it as such. This is a software revision only so visually the kit is indistinguishable from v1. Allegedly this release fixes the stuttering that I noticed on the v1 kit and improves some of the flickering artifacts in some games. I do not have one of these kits to verify. Everything else should be identical to v1. I’m actually not so sure anymore because the new “2 in 1” kit is also marked as v2. I think the “v2” designation on the kits that look like v1 is purely for marketing reasons. There may actually be a software revision for this kit that fixes the stuttering and frame dropping but I’ve been unable to acquire one for verification. It should be assumed that any “one chip” ribbon cable kit that is marked as “v2” should be assumed to be the initial version that I reviewed above.

  7. “One chip” 9380 IPS “2 in 1” (kit) – This is the exact same kit as the AGB “2 in 1” version (hence the name) but with an AGS ribbon cable (34 pin) and a laminated LCD. The “2 in 1” versions of this kit may ship with either a toppoly LCD or newly manufactured LG LCD, depending on the age of the stock. The LCDs in this kit are pre-adhered to the lens but are not laminated (OCA) like the funnyplaying kits. All three LCDs are direct replacements for eachother and may be freely swapped. Install and performance are actually pretty damn similar to the v2 version and the funnyplaying version. Both kits will show some flickering sprites in some games and both kits even have that odd image retention on NES games. However, it looks like the frame dropping issue has been resolved on this version (from v1) and a new color palette/filter feature has been introduced. This kit comes with both wired control support and touch sensor control support for solderless installs. Unlike the funnyplaying version, this kit will store the last used brightness level and color filter and restore that next time you boot it up. If you have a choice, I think the funnyplaying version is the better buy for now but this kit is not a bad option either. (see my install here)

  8. “One chip” 9380 IPS “TV Version” (kit) – This is the exact same kit as the above version but with TV Out functionality built in. These versions of this kit are currently shipping with a new brand of LCD which is considered higher quality than the original. The LCDs in this kit are pre-adhered to the lens but are not laminated (OCA) like the funnyplaying kits. All three LCDs are direct replacements for eachother and may be freely swapped. Install and performance are actually pretty damn similar to the v2 version and the funnyplaying version. Both kits will show some flickering sprites in some games and both kits even have that odd image retention on NES games. This kit retains a new color palette/filter feature and has the new composite out function. This kit comes with both wired control support and touch sensor control support for solderless installs but soldering is REQUIRED for TV out funciton. Unlike the funnyplaying version, this kit will store the last used brightness level and color filter and restore that next time you boot it up but will always default to internal LCD instead of composite out. Holding the brightness button for a few seconds toggles between the internal LCD and composite output. The TV out function is in the form of a full screen composite signal output via the link port and connected with a custom cable (provided with the kit). Composite signal is very low quality but it’s more than usable. The full screen signal (typically 4:3) does distort the GBA image (3:2) when displayed without any manipulation so some post processing (OSSC or the like) might be desired. If you want the TV output functionality, this is the kit to go with (not like there’s an alternative) Otherwise, the previous kit should perform just as well for slightly less. (see my install here)
    • Note that for the custom composite video cable that comes with these kits, early ones are designed to be used with pin 1 of the link port which has the same implications as the AGB kit. This means that actual link protocols should work as normal (so link cable is fine) but anything that requires aux power will no longer work (such as wireless adapter). Newer versions of this kit, such as the one RGRS stocks, uses pin 3 and the kit has been modified and now no longer breaks the link function so the link port should remain fully functional with both link accessories and aux power accessories. As always though, stock may vary so follow the instructions that the seller provides for install because pin 1 cables will not work with pin 3 installs and vice versa.
  9. “Cloud Game Store” IPS kit (kit) – This is basically the same kit for GBA but with a GBA SP specific ribbon. Function is just about identical. It’s a pretty good kit but unfortunately it is not as “drop in” as the early samples implied. No soldering is required to use the kit but will be required for brightness controls. Like the AGB version, the kit does not have any additional color palettes (and does not need them) nor does it retain brightness settings between power cycles. Unlike the AGB kit though, cutting is required to get the LCD installed if using the laminated version or recommended if using the non-laminated version (else the screen will be off-center. Funnyplaying and similar kits that use the 9380 LCD tend to have warmer colors wheras the LCD used here tends to be on the cold side. It is nowhere near as blue as the C Screen, thankfully. IPS Ready shells may be used if you do not want to trim. Non-laminated installs require a lens (not provided). The viewable area of the LCD is ever so slightly larger than the OEM lens cutout so a pixel column may be cut off on either the left or right edge, depending on how well you center the screen. No custom lenses are available specific to this kit but laminated display units are and those come with custom lenses already adhered to the LCD. Lastly, the touch sensor has been removed from kits made after the first batch so hardware controls are required if you want to adjust brightness (not really necessary IMO, it’s not that bright and it only gets darker). Overall, not a bad kit but I still like the funnyplaying version better (#4). (see my non-laminated install here and laminated install here)

  10. Popsicle Kit – I don’t know much about this kit at all other than it looks visually similar to a funnyplaying design but with a completely different LCD. This kit popped up on taobao and then aliexpress. Specifics are not yet known but it looks to be “drop in” for AGB and AGS but the AGS kit is literally the AGB but with the 34->32 pin adapter (#1) in the AGS section and with a lens attached to the LCD for the AGS kit. Spacing does not look correct for either console in the seller images posted and performance is difficult to speculate on with only the provided pictures.

  11. insideGadgets Micro TFT adapter (console and kit) – Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly what it looks like. 100% reversable and when all is said and done, probably the cheapest backlight kit right now. It does require using a Game Boy Micro LCD, but those are still available on the aftermarket and for reasonably cheap. This kit would go well with a custom screen lens to hide the massive gaps with bezels. The install is rather difficult due to the extreme thickness of the stacked components. It requires bending ribbon cables to a degree that makes most people (well, me at least) uncomfortable. The brightness is very low to start but it can be modded to be brighter. When installed in an AGS-001, the system power consumption actually went down which means using this LCD in place of the frontlit screen (with the light on) will result in better battery life. This is the only kit on the list that you can say that with. For installing, you probably want this bracket/bezel and one of these ribbon cables.(see my install here)

Sorry about the pillar of text but don’t act like you have anything better to do than talk about Game Boy mods ;)

tl;dr I spend too much money on mod kits. Each section has a summary for a better tl;dr

edit 2020-02-04: added notes on DMG “one chip” IPS kit

edit 2020-02-10: added notes on GBC MWE kit

edit 2020-03-15: added notes on “one chip” IPS kits, fake AGS-101 kit, and left space for the funnyplaying MGB/DMG IPS kit

edit 2020-05-27: added notes on the new GBP kits and the new OC GBC IPS kit. I also overhauled all the images to add an image of the console as an end result example and an image of the kit for identification purposes. Created new page in the wiki for the content since I hit the character limit.

edit 2020-05-28: split up the AIO TFT kit sections for each manufacturer to add a mention of the new one chip color palette versions of the kits. Added mention of the image retention on the funnyplaying AGB and AGS kits. Added mention of the TFT transflective outdoor viewing.

edit 2020-05-30: added the names for the taobao kits. Do keep in mind that something may be lost in translation so the names could be inaccurate or difficult to search by.

edit 2020-06-12: added my thoughts on the DMG Moon Screen and added new section for the funnyplaying DMG kit (because as it turns out, they are not the same kit)

edit 2020-06-14: added disclaimer on OC GBC AIO kit from thor-odenson

edit 2020-06-20: added my thoughts on the FP MGB IPS kit

edit 2020-07-06: added version numbers for kits that keep getting mislabeled

edit 2020-07-15: added my thoughts on the FP DMG IPS kit and revised all TL;DR sections (some more than others)

edit 2020-07-20: corrected color palette AIO GBC kit end blurb (pending full revision soon)

edit 2020-07-29: added notes on OC IPS V2 kits for AGB and AGS, added notes on iG AGB Micro kit, revised DMG backlight kit notes, and updated OC IPS GBC v1 notes

edit 2020-08-05: moved existing one chip v2 kits to v3 section and added entries for the actual v2 kits

edit 2020-08-07: revised the OC IPS v2 section again because it appears that this is just a marketing stunt and not an actual hardware revision

edit 2020-08-18: added notes on new one chip q5 IPS kits for DMG and MGB. Also added new AIO XL kit for MGB. Since compatibility is only assumed and not yet confirmed, kit has only been added to MGB section.

edit 2020-09-02: Added tables for each section and copied the Micro TFT from the AGB section to AGS since that’s where I ultimately installed it.

edit 2020-10-02: added foreword about LCDs and modded section on OCB AGB “v2” with my updated findings

edit 2020-12-15: added CGB Q5 OSD kit notes

edit 2020-12-29: added MGB Q5 OSD kit notes

edit 2021-01-29: added placeholders for two new kits, updated FP MGB IPS kit and Cloud Game Store AGB kit. Also added Q5/9380/690 LCD info to foreward

edit 2021-02-13: added placeholder for FP GBC Retro Pixel kit and added my notes in for CGS AGB kit

edit 2021-02-28: added FP CGB Retro Pixel Q5 notes

edit 2021-05-04: added CGS AGS notes and placeholder for new FP GBA screen and placeholder for OC TV Out kit

edit 2021-05-11: filled in notes for OC TV Out kit and updated opening section

edit 2021-06-17: added new entry for new OC TV out kit, updated FP GBA “ITA” screen kit section, added 690/9380/Q5 designators for kits that were missing them (basically all but some Q5 kits)

edit 2021-06-29: added new entry for FP RP 2.0 kit and updated GBC kit recs section

edit 2021-07-15: added foreword on LCD lamination

edit 2021-09-27: added mention of FP AGB IPS-ready and ITA-ready shells, adjusted table for V2-style kits

edit 2021-10-05: added DMG TV out kit section, cleaned up agb tv out notes for all tv out kits, added sp tv out section, added popsicle kit sections, and removed bennvenn agb kit section (will add back if that ever comes out – section has been there for two+ years and the kit is still MIA).