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.

Contents

About this page

I, /u/Admiral_Butter_Crust on reddit 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 make a video on just the GBC portion of this but it’s pretty old and only covers obsolete kits. 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 as those consoles play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance titles) and just stick with the summary at the top of the section. While there are no direct links to kits in this page, there are links to my videos on these kits and often those will contain a link within the description, if the kit is still available.

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 but do note that some liberties are taken for sake of brevity. You should check out the notes below the table or the full video for more information but it should be pretty easy to follow. 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 where noted. Measurements are approximated to the image size on the LCD (at the lens) and not the actual size of the LCD. Cuts are presumed to be for OEM style housings but there are aftermarket no-cut housings available for some models (marked with asterisk, see section in full list below for more info). Some cuts are significantly more difficult than others (marked with bold or caps or both). All LCDs have a screen door effect (or pixel grid) but some some LCDs are less prominant than others due to pixel density. Some kits emulate this prominent OEM feature by blacking out columns or rows of pixels. Adjustable brightness can be achieved for every kit, even when not natively supported though some DIY will be required. In some cases, tables are divided into groups by kit category, which, while somewhat arbitrary, is distinguished by features, compatibility, inherent problems, fitment, or availability. Only kits that fall into later/current sections are recommended.

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 top (pending reorganization) but similar options are 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 frontlit model) use passive reflective displays. This means that behind the screen is a reflector that is used to reflect natural light off the back of the screen through the liquid crystal pixel elements and back into your eyes for the purpose of illuminating the images on 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, micro LED, 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, depending on which source is brighter. 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 advanced 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 Laminated Q5 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.

DMG

Original Game Boy

I have several different recommendations for “best” kit as each kit seems to have different strengths or weaknesses. Overall cheapest would be an inexpensive LED panel and hex inverter for modifying the OEM LCD (item #10). 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 an option. My pick for ease of install, performance, and function is probably going to be the funnyplaying ‘Retro Pixel’ kit (#11). This kit gives doesn’t give you the most features but what it does give you it does extremely well. Trimming is required unless you use an IPS Ready replacement shell (which funnyplaying also makes). For better color palette customization or even TV Out functionality, One Chip’s OSD and TV Out kits are pretty good choices (#12 and #13 respectively).

Cat 3 / Current DMG Kits Full Size (2.5”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
10. Traditional B&B Yes (2.5”) No Required No 1x Yes No No No
11. FP Q5 IPS “Retro Pixel” Backlight Larger (2.6”) Required Speaker Only Required 4x Emulation Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
12. OC Q5 IPS “DMG Backlight OSD” Larger (2.6”) Required Speaker Only Required 4x Emulation Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
13. OC IPS “TV Version” Yes (2.5”) No Speaker/TV Required 2x No Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
14. CGS 2.6” IPS Larger (2.6”) No No Required 2x No Touch Sensor Touch Sensor No
Cat 1 (Obsolete) DMG Kits Full Size (2.5”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
1. BennVenn 3.0” LCD kit Larger (3.0”) Required Speaker Only Required 1x Yes No No No
2. BennVenn “Aioli” TFT kit Smaller (2.2”) Recommended Required No 2x No No Button No
3. CGS 690 TFT kit (AIO) Smaller (2.2”) Recommended Required No 2x No Button or Touch Button or Touch Frame Drops
4. OC 690 TFT kit (AIO) Smaller (2.2”) Recommended Required No 2x No Button or Touch Button or Touch No
5. “Rainbow Screen” IPS Backlight Yes (2.5”) No Required No 3x No Yes Yes No
6. OC IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v1”) Yes (2.5”) No Speaker Only Required 2x No Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
Cat 2 (Outdated) DMG Kits Full Size (2.5”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
7. “Moon Screen” IPS Backlight Smaller (2.4”) No Speaker Only No 3x Emulation Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
8. OC IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v2”) Yes (2.5”) No Speaker Only Required 2x No Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No
9. OC IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v3”) Yes (2.5”) No Speaker Only Required 2x No Contrast Wheel Contrast Wheel No

Current Kits – Can’t go wrong with any of these options

#10. Traditional backlighting methods (console and LED kit or EL Kit) – you can backlight the original LCD by removing the reflective layer and adding a small LED (or EL) 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. Regardless of the panel you use, you will also want to do a bivert mod where you invert the colors of the screen by rotating one of the two polarization filters and then invert the signal being sent to the screen by installing a hex inverter between the screen and CPU (hence bi-vert). This results in a sharp increase to the contrast at the cost of decreased brightness (which you work around already by installing a light panel).

#11. 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 palette presets and long tap to toggle the pixel grid emulation modes. 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 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 but funnyplaying also makes IPS Ready shells that do not require a trim. Biggest downside is the battery life with an estimated 25~50% runtime after the install, depending on your brightness level. An alternative to this kit might be the OC Q5 OSD Kit (item #12) but the feature set is a little different. (see my install here)

#12. 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. If you don’t care for the pixel grid modes, this the best kit for the DMG right now. (see my install here)

#13. 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 on mostly v3 hardware. 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 but if you’re willing to suffer the drawbacks of composite, it’s a rather decent kit. For the first time yet, OC has added support for the correct aspect ratio and you can change between full screen and scaled via the OSD. Composite aside, the TV Out function does work pretty nicely. Unfortunately, the internal LCD itself is a rather large downgrade compared to the OSD/V4 kit. The lower resolution means no more pixel grid support, the image on screen is smaller (still stock sized, just smaller than the previous kit), and the kit no longer supports repositioning the image on the screen. This last point should be rather moot as the kit does come with a bracket for positioning things, however. If you want TV Out on your DMG, this is the kit to go with (you’re spoiled for choice there though) but if you want the best looking internal LCD, this is not it (see #11 or #12 above). (see my install here)

#14. Cloud Game Store 2.6” IPS Kit (kit) – this kit looks to be the same as the MGB version but with an additional front board for use in the DMG. Unlike the other DMG screen replacement kits, this kit does already have a speaker soldered on to the replacement front board (though mine specifically did need one of the joints retouched). Not recommended for install in IPS Ready shells as the necessary alignment screw posts are not present. Biggest downside with this kit in particular is that the alignment bracket and screen lens are very off center for ease of install. The purpose of being off center is to minimize the amount of triming required so if you want to get adventurous with it, and if you have a centered screen lens, then you can center your install no problem. Brightness and color palettes are toggled via the included touch sensor. Contrast wheel does nothing. Performance is very good and battery life with this kit is even better. For ease of install with stock or stock ish consoles, this is the way to go. This kit has fewer features than the Q5 or TV Out type kits but if you don’t care for those specific features, you can save some money on this kit. (see my install here)

Older Kits – These options all have more modern and better replacements or are otherwise no longer available

#1. 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 given the niche it fills but other than the size, it’s not considered an improvement by most. These appear to be permanently discontinued. (I don’t have one of these)

#2. 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. The LCD size makes these hard to recommend. DMG version looks to have been discontinued by BennVenn and is no longer listed.

#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 several iterations of this kit and some do drop frames. Historically, this was also the only AIO kit that actually came with the proper wiring for DMG. 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. The CGS 2.6” IPS kit (#14) replaced this one. (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 several iterations of this kit and some do drop frames. Historically, 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. The “RIPS” series of kits replaced this kit (see #12 and #13) (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 kits 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). Images taken from the thread made by u/TheChineseGuy2019. This kit was made obsolete by the “Moon Screen” kit (item #6).

#6. One Chip IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v1”) (console and kit) – 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)

#7. 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, this is a fantastic kit. With how difficult these are to acquire and how expensive they are, there are much better kits for the money. If you can get one and if you don’t mind paying a bit in the process, it’s a great kit. (see my install here)

#8. One Chip IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v2”) – This kit is identical in hardware to the v1 kit but with the LCD data lines swapped in software. The install is identical to v1 EXCEPT that you do not have to swap the LCD data lines yourself manually. 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. Decent kit but obsoleted by newer iterations. (see my install here)

#9. One Chip IPS Backlight kit (“RIPS v3”) – Very similar to the prior RIPS 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)

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).

Cat 3 / Current MGB Kits Full Size (2.6”) 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
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. CGS 2.6” IPS Kit Yes No Recommended Required* 2x No Button or Touch Button or Touch No
Cat 1 (Obsolete) MGB Kits Full Size (2.6”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
Despite the staggering amount of GBC kits, the MGB list is much smaller and thus this table shall remain empty for now.                  
Cat 2 (Outdated) MGB Kits Full Size (2.6”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
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
9. Freckleshack v2.5 “Aioli” 690 TFT kit Much Smaller Recommended Required No 2x No No Button No

Current Kits – Can’t go wrong with any of these options

#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. Some people report power related issues after a mod like this that can usually be mitigated by either: 1) using better batteries like constant voltage juggees or the like, 2) installing an auxiliary voltage regulator to power the GB itself and leaving the stock voltage regulator for the backlight (must have load on the 5v rail or will not properly power the LCD too), or 3) installing a Lithium-Ion battery mod (advanced users only!). (see my install here)

#4. Funnyplaying ‘Retro Pixel’ Q5 IPS kit (kit) – this is the mostly the same as their DMG IPS kit. 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 (which means the stock DC regulator must be left intact). 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. Constant voltage batteries like juggees are 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. Funnyplaying makes a shell for the Pocket designed to be used with this kit which will make the install no longer require any shell cutting. (see my install here)

  • 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. This was a software update to the previous kit only and all the same pros and cons still otherwise apply. This should be considered the same kit. (This was formerly line item #5 but I removed it without re-ordering the list).

#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 #8) offers similar 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 or to just wire the inputs to different buttons. 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. If pixel grid emulation is a killer feature for you, the funnyplaying implementation is a LOT better. There’s more variety and the options better looking. (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. On the same note, a funnyplaying IPS ready shell may be used here too to make the install cut free. However, soldering will be required to use the OSD to adjust the viewing area into the proper place.
  • PGE photo from AndehX on the Game Boy discord using a GBC

#8. Cloud Game Store 2.6” IPS LCD Kit (formerly 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 except that 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 for such a feature. I noticed no frame dropping or tearing. Despite the lack of high brightness levels and some options in similar kits, 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. This kit has an excellent price to performance ratio. (see my install here)

  • You may use a funnyplaying IPS ready shell for this kit if you do not want to trim but a bracket or manual alignment will be required. Cloud Game Store also makes shells of their own, however and those will be a much better fit for this kit than funnyplaying’s shells
  • If the trend continues, this kit is due for a refresh very soon to add some feature parity such as settings memory (so you don’t have to tweak it every time you boot up if you do not want the default brightness and palette), pixel grid emulation options, and maybe others.

Older Kits – These options all have more modern and better replacements or are otherwise no longer available

#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 would 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. These iterations should have the frame dropping fixed as well. Soldering is no longer required but still highly recommended. Install is otherwise drop in with no other mods required, even in OEM shells. 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)

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 but availability seems extremely limited and I never ordered one (and no longer can). 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 Version looks to have been discontinued by BennVenn and is no longer listed.

#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.

CGB

Game Boy Color

My pick for overall best balanced kit is definitely the Cloud Game Store 2.45” TFT kit (item #17). This kit does require minimal soldering but the actual ease of install, feature set, power usage, and price make it extremely compelling. If you don’t mind putting in a little more work and using an aftermarket housing, the funyplaying (FP) ‘Retro Pixel 2.0’ Laminated Q5 kit (#12) 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, but does require soldering one power wire. The latter kit is arguably easier to install as it requires no brackets, technically no custom lens, and no longer requires soldering. 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. The first kit is stock sized and compatible with OEM lenses but the second is much larger and has very thin bezels. Those two kits exist on total opposite ends of the spectrum but if you want something nicely balanced in the middle with more of the higher performance features with less of the performance cost, the CGS 2.6” kit (#16) is absolutely fantastic. It’s bigger than stock like the Q5 kit but much easier to install in a stock shell. It’s not as bright but the power usage is much lower. You’ll still need a custom lens but the kit should come with one anyway.

Cat 3 / Current GBC Kits Full Size (2.4”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
12. FP ‘Retro Pixel’ Q5 IPS kits Larger (2.6”) Required Recommended* Yes* 4x Yes - x5 No Touch No
13. One Chip OSD IPS Backlight Kit Q5 Version Larger (2.6”) Required Recommended Yes 4x Yes - x1 Yes Button or Touch No
14. One Chip HDMI Out Q5 Backlight Kit Larger (2.6”) Required Recommended Yes 4x Yes - x1 Yes Button or Touch No
16. Cloud Game Store 2.6” IPS Kit 2022 Version Larger (2.6”) Required Yes Yes* 2x Yes - x3 Color and BW Touch No*
17. Cloud Game Store 2.45” Original Size Kit Yes (2.45”) Required Yes No 2x Yes - x1 Color and BW Touch No*
Cat 1 (Obsolete) GBC Kits Full Size (2.4”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
1. Backlighting the OEM LCD Yes (2.4”) No Required No 1x Yes No No No
2. AGS-101 / El Clono TFT adapter Smaller (2.2”) Recommended No YES 1x Yes No Button No
3. Freckleshack v1/v2 690 TFT kit Smaller (2.2”) Recommended No Yes 2x No No Button v1 yes, v2 no
4. McWill 690 TFT kit Smaller (2.2”) Recommended Varies No 2x No No No Frame Drops
5. MidWest Embedded 690 TFT kit Smaller (2.2”) Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No No Button Screen Jitter
Cat 2 (Outdated) GBC Kits Full Size (2.4”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
6. HiVision 690 TFT kits (AIO) Smaller (2.2”) Recommended No No 2x No Yes Button or Touch Frame Drops
7. One Chip 690 TFT kits (AIO) Smaller (2.2”) Recommended No No 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
8. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit Yes (2.4”) No No Yes 2x No No Touch See notes
9. Freckleshack v2.5 “Aioli” 690 TFT kit Smaller (2.2”) Recommended No No 2x No No Button No
10. Taobao kit IPS LCD kit (“Galaxy Screen”) Yes (2.35”) No Required Yes 2x No No Button No
11. One Chip 9380 IPS kit v1 Yes (2.4”) No No Yes 2x No Yes Button or Touch Frame Drops
15. Cloud Game Store 2.6” IPS Kit Larger (2.6”) Required No Yes* 2x No No Touch No

Current Kits – Can’t go wrong with any of these options

#12. Funnyplaying ‘Retro Pixel 1.0’ Q5 IPS kit – This kit will replaces the older funnyplaying 9380 GBC kit and uses a whole new LCD, the Q5 LCD instead of the smaller 9380 LCD. This results in a much larger image on screen for just about the same effort when it comes to trimming the shell. Like previous kits, this kit 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 and some of the options are rather compelling. I would like to see future kits include this functionality. Performance seems to be ideal for a kit like this – no frame dropping or tearing and no weird artifacts to either side of the screen or missing pixel columns and these kits do include a way to move the image on the LCD if the screen or lens are not perfectly centered during install. 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 option) and more convoluted controls. The feature parity does seem to be pretty similar despite not having an ‘on-screen display’ to manage settings. 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

  • You can use the funnyplaying laminated Game Boy Color shells for this kit if you do not want to have to trim your own shell but you will have to manually attach the LCD to the lens. This method risks permanantly trapping dust inside, newtonian rings, and does not grant an illuminated logo (though the kit, screen, and shell will support this, you’d need to find a lens that has the required printing). It is recommended to just use the laminated version of this kit if you intend on using the laminated shells.
  • Because this kit and the 2.0 version use the same ribbon, some features are available that do not work, such as logo illumination. Without the proper lens, you will not be able to see the logo backlighting but you can still configure the kit as if it were the laminated version. This is normal behavior. Logo illumination can be toggled off if it causes light bleed.

#12½. Funnyplaying ‘Retro Pixel 2.0’ Laminated Q5 IPS kit – This kit is identical to the 1.0 version but instead includes a Q5 LCD that is laminated to a custom LCD, much like the 9380 SP kit also from funnyplaying. Image quality and size is basically 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 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 option), more convoluted controls. 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, #13) and to change the colors of the GBC logo on the lens. (see my install here

#13. One Chip OSD IPS Backlight Kit Q5 Version (kit) – This kit 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*. Speaking of the 9380 kits, while this kit does require more shell trimming for a stock or cloud game store shell, 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 but an easy work around is to boot the console without a game when changing the settings. 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 or to even just wire up the controls to different buttons. 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. They have improved this feature quite significantly (copying funnyplaying’s implementation) but the specific implementation used here does not seem as polished as funnyplayings. (see my install here)

  • My early testing did 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 newer kits have resolved this issue
  • 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
  • Install is more complicated than AIO kits as it involves shell trimming. Install is about the same level of difficulty as previous IPS kits. Install can be done in a funnyplaying IPS ready shell to minimize trimming but the same caveats apply with the non-laminated retro-pixel 1.0 kits above.
  • 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. Current shipping kits are reported to have resolved this issue.
  • 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), potentially resolved with current kits
  • 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.
  • This kit allows for much more position adjustment than funnyplaying. That makes it ideal (and just about the only option) for making a Game Boy Color fit into a Game Boy Pocket shell.
  • Another iteration to this kit adds the logo illumination that funnyplaying has. It works just about as you’d expect but due to the air gap between the lens and the LCD, the alignment can be off at most angles.

#13½. One Chip Laminated Q5 IPS Kit – This is an identical version of the above kit but with a 2mm thick piece of glass laminated between the LCD and lens. Features and functions are identical to the above kit otherwise. Fitment is different as the trim is a bit more indepth. These screens do NOT work with the funnyplaying laminated housings, at least not without trimming the housing. This is due to the significant thickness of the display assembly. The kit will work with a funnyplaying laminated LCD however, but you will not get the illuminated logo. (see my install here)

#14. One Chip HDMI Out Q5 Backlight Kit – This kit is an iteration to the previous Q5 IPS kits and contains all the same features and quirks but with an additional HDMI encoder for outputting an upscaled 720p signal over HDMI. Shell trimming is very involved as there are no shells that will fit this kit and an opening for the micro HDMI port is required. The actual internal features are pretty much what we’ve come to expect at this point from Q5 OSD kits and performance is basically the same but the new gimmick this time around is the HDMI output. In usual “OC” fashion, the HDMI out is not implemented as well as it could be. The scaling is uneven and audio is captured after the volume wheel which means that while you can control the TV volume with the GB, it also means that the GB will also play sound. Due to the signal processing lag, there will always be a delay to the repeated audio too. Muting the GB with headphones is recommended. The audio capture also means that you get noisy analog signal that is highly dependent upon how good of condition your volume wheel is (and contact cleaner in the volume wheel does help). But at least the aspect ratio is correct (in one of the three modes). The screen does shut off when in HDMI mode but the efficiency of the HDMI encoder dwarfs any potential gains to be had from having the screen powered off and the console still runs over internal batteries when tethered. This kit is a compromise and I do not recommend it at all. Non-HDMI versions are cheaper and easier to install and dedicated HDMI consoles (such as the GBHD Color/Advance from Gamebox) perform much better and have more features, better scaling, and better audio handling. Not to mention, I have long term concerns over the reliability of micro HDMI used in this manner. (see my install here)

#15. Cloud Game Store 2.6” IPS Kit (formerly “AIO XL”) (kit) – On the surface, this kit appears to be the same kit as the previous AIO kits except with a larger screen. Unlike those previous AIO kits, the screen itself is an IPS type and is not transflective (not mutually exclusive). 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 for proper implementation of such a feature. I noticed no frame dropping or tearing. Despite the relatively low brightness and current lack of extra features, 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. The price and ease of install makes this kit have a terrific price to performance ratio, especially with the introduction of the new Cloud Game Store shells that allow a trim free install for this kit. (see my install here)

#16. Cloud Game Store 2.6” IPS Kit 2022 Version (kit) – This is an updated version of the previous kit but does not appear to replace it (at least not yet). These kits use the EXACT same LCD but the ribbon on the LCD has been changed (for easier install) and thus means the LCDs are not interchangeable. Performance between this kit and the previous iteration are very similar due to the similar LCDs but some new features have also been added including memory for color palette selection, pixel grid options, and brightness levels. This means that the kit now retains settings between reboots. The new pixel grid emulation (or screen door effect emulation) is pretty limited due to the lower resolution of these screens. Despite the limitations, CGS implemented three different modes and I took pictures and created this album to document them. I normally dislike the pixel grid options and this kit is no exception because you lose a significant amount of brightness and contrast both by going from 2x integer scaling to 1x with blackouts inbetween each pixel. Note that in my pictures, the brightness was not changed between modes. At the very least, you do get three options, vertical lines, horizontal lines, or both (or neither). The both option is the darkest by far but if that’s what you’re into, at least you have the option now. Another update to this kit involves the backlight controller off external power instead of the LCD bus. This results in a much more stable console (as booting on slightly depleted batteries and with a flash cart has otherwise caused issues) and allows some flexibility for additional backlight control. But this also means that soldering is required, despite the maker’s insistence that you can just wrap the wire around a battery terminal (not recommended). Last, the color palette option consists of regular (unmodified) or grayscale. There are no other options this time. My install consists of a modified version of this kit so some steps may not be totally accurate. (see my install here)

  • The seller does offer laminated versions of this kit and they sell modified shells that it works with too. These laminated screen assemblies do NOT fit in a funnyplaying made laminated shell.

#17. Cloud Game Store 2.45” Original Size Kit (kit) – This kit is the successor to the previous ‘HiVision AIO’ kits. From the same maker and with all the kinks worked out, this kit uses a LCD that is physically smaller than the original Game Boy Color LCD but that produces a slightly larger image. This means that there is finally a kit that can be dropped in to literally any GBC shell without having to cut the shell AND without having to compromise on a smaller LCD. Performance and features are identical to the 2.6” kit in just about every way except that there is only one pixel grid option and I took pictures and created this album to document it. Unfortunately this screen is not an IPS type unlike the 2.6” version so the viewing angles are not nearly as good. That being said, it is still a high quality LCD and a significant upgrade over a stock LCD. The sheer size of the LCD allows for some pretty promising other mods, including relatively easy DIY lamination. Like the 2022 version of the 2.6” kit (above), soldering is required for proper functionality. (see my install here)

Older Kits – These options all have more modern and better replacements or are otherwise no longer available

#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, if such a combo exists.

#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 and its clones have 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. 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. 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)

#4. 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 native brightness adjust. (see my install here)

#5. MidWest Embedded 690 TFT kit (console and kit) – 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)

#6. HiVision 690 TFT kits (AIO) (console and kits) – Originally from Cloud Game Store, this kit works in pretty much every Game Boy console except the Advance. 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. Newer iterations of this kit have fixed the frame dropping issue. 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. 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)

  • This and the following kit are the only two kits that are 100% drop in with no cutting or soldering required. If you do not mind spending a few minutes trimming a shell or using a pre-molded aftermarket shell, there are better options available.

#7. One Chip 690 TFT kits (AIO) (console and kits) – This kit is, more or less, a clone of the previous kit but with a different controller chip. 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. This new feature will also help tell the two kits apart since the HiVision kit does not (yet?) support custom color palettes. This kit is 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. 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 but results may be hit and miss depending on the age of the stock from the seller. The number of iterations of this kit with no identifying features makes it very difficult to recommend.

#8. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit (v1 – **THERE IS NO V2) (console and kit)** – One of funnyplaying’s first offerings for Game Boy Color, this kit uses a 9380 LCD in native orientation (portrait). You get a stock sized image but the actual LCD itself is very large and requires a lot of trimming for fit. This kit requires a lot of irreversible trimming. If you don’t mind doing the trimming, this can be a decent option. Compared to the 690 based kits, 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. Unfortunately, this kit has some glitches in some games and in all v1-v4 Game Boy Color revisions and some v5 revisions. Only the v6 (late model) boards seem to work with no glitches. This kit has since been discontinued in favor of the Q5 versions. (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 CGB ribbons. I know these have shipped recently but I have not heard of anyone getting theirs yet (still true as of March 2022 somehow). 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. Based off the screen used, I feel that this kit cannot offer anything compelling over the less expensive ‘AIO’ kits.

#10. Taobao kit IPS LCD kit (“Galaxy Screen”) (console and kit) – this kit is pretty similar to the new Funnyplaying IPS kit (above) 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 2020) 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)

#11. One Chip 9380 IPS kit (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. 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 approval for a kit if you want to keep the stock LCD size (can’t get a custom lens in the style you want). There are better kits now though. (see my install here)

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 #13) as it has the highest screen quality available. 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 #14) but it is still a worthwhile mention. On that note, FP’s “ITA” kit (item #14) is actually a really nice option both for visual appearance, power usage, and price. I prefer the look of their older 9380 kit (#13) but with the price, power usage, and “ITA Ready” shells, it is difficult to make a valid argument against this kit. The Cloud Game Store ‘No Cut’ IPS kit (item #12) 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 ‘No Cut’ 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 in my opinion and cutting is highly recommended anyway 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. Cloud Game Store does also offer high quality console housing shells for this and the internal screen nubs are not present on these shells (and thus do not need to be removed unlike OEM).

A note on the 9380 LCDS used in a lot of these kits…

Like mentioned in the intro section, the “9380” designated kits use a LCD salvaged from a Blackberry Curve 9380 cell phone. These LCDs are extremely high in quality compared to the original LCDs in Game Boys (even the AGS-101 backlit LCD), That being said, there are some quirks to be aware of.

  • The colors tend to be on the warmer side (not necessarily bad but it is different) which may result in a different looking experience than expected. A lot of original games for GBA would intentionally oversaturate the colors to compensate for the darkness in the original screen. Nearly all kits right now do not compensate to make up for the original overcompensation.
  • These screens also use 2x integer scaling which means that for every one pixel the Game Boy Advance outputs, the LCD uses four pixels (2x2 square) to represent that pixel. This results in a look much more akin to an emulator with really sharp details. Personally, I think this looks a lot better than stock styling but not everyone seems to agree with that opinion (and that’s fine).
  • These are portrait LCDs used in a landscape orientation. This means that a screen buffer is used which will result at least one extra frame of lag on screen. In practice, I don’t notice the lag but it’s worth considering. I will lag test all these kits at some point but I do not (yet) have the requisit hardware.
  • These screens do seem somewhat susceptible to image retention when exposed to flickering objects. Flickering sprites are often used in GB games to work around the console’s lack of a method for creating transparent objects. The pixel response on the original (non-backlit) screens was poor enough that the flickering blurred together and resulted in transparency. This is not the case with these LCDs and the flickering tends to trigger some minor retention. The retention is not permanent and the images will dissipate after a short while.
  • There are three at least four different types of LCDs used with these kits and you rarely know what you’re getting. They are all still good, high quality LCDs but some are better than others. Depending on the age of the stock and specific retailer, the kit may come with an old stock or salvage LG manufactured LCD, a newly manufactured LG LCD, or a third party toppoly manufactured LCD. I have two videos on this subject, one and two.. As of July 2022, both brands, One Chip and Toppoly, are shipping newly manufactured LG LCDs. Older stock may still exist however, so do not rely on this to be the case every time.
Cat 3 / Current AGB Kits Full Size (3.0”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
0. OC HDMI N/A N/A Yes Yes 3x* No No No No
12. CGS “No Cut” IPS kit 2022 Version Yes (3.0”) No Unk Recommended 2x Yes Yes Touch Unk
13. FP 9380 IPS kit (v2) Larger (3.2”) Recommended Recommended Yes* 2x No No Button Control No
14. FP ‘ITA’ (DSi) TFT LCD kit Yes (3.0”) No No Yes* 1x Yes No Button or Touch No
15. FP ‘Drop In’ LCD kit Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk
16. OC 9380 IPS ‘TV Version’ Larger (3.2”) Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
17. OC “Drop in” IPS ‘TV Version’ Yes (3.0”) No Recommended Recommended 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
18. “One Chip” ‘GANi’ DSi TFT HDMI Kit Yes (3.0”) No Recommended Recommended 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
19. Retrosix ‘CleanScreen’ TFT LCD No (2.9”) No* Recommended No 2x Yes LUTs Button No
Cat 1 (Obsolete) AGB Kits Full Size (3.0”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
1. Front light Yes (3.0”) No Yes No 1x Yes No No No
2. AGS-101 TFT mod Yes (3.0”) No Recommended Yes 1x Yes No Some No
3. insideGadgets Micro TFT adapter Much Smaller (2.0”) Recommended No No 1x No No No No
11. CGS “Drop In” IPS kit Yes (3.0”) No No Recommended 2x No No Touch No
Cat 2 (Outdated) AGB Kits Full Size (3.0”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
4. Fake AGS-101 IPS LCD Yes (3.0”) No Recommended Yes 2x No No Some No
5. Taobao IPS kit - ‘Galaxy Screen’ Larger (3.1”) Recommended Yes Yes 2x No No Button Control No
6. Taobao IPS kit - ‘C Screen’ Yes (3.0”) No No No 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
7. FP 9380 IPS kit (v1) Larger (3.2”) Recommended Recommended Yes* 2x No No Button Control Major Frame Tearing
8. OC 9380 IPS v1 Larger (3.2”) Recommended Recommended Yes* 2x No No Button Control Yes*
9. OC 9380 IPS ‘2 in 1’ Larger (3.2”) Recommended No Yes 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
10. Popsicle/Meoyc Yes (3.0”) No No No 2x Unk Unk Unk Unk

Current Kits – Can’t go wrong with any of these options

#0. ‘One Chip’ Micro HDMI Out Interposer (kit and install) - This isn’t a backlight kit per se. Unless you consider your TV the LCD. This is an interposer board from ‘One Chip’ made in a very similar fashion to their ‘TV Out’ kits except that instead of outputting to a built in LCD, the board sits between whatever screen you want to install (funnyplaying 9380 IPS kits highly recommended because space is very tight or otherwise any DIY laminated kit) and the motherboard and provides a micro HDMI port to output both video and audio signal to whatever HDMI device you plug it in to. When you insert an (micro) HDMI cable, the internal LCD (OEM or backlight kit) will switch off on the GBA and the HDMI signal will switch on. The only modification required to your GBA is to cut a notch in the shell for the port. The only soldering is for the two audio channels for digital audio. If you prefer analog audio (though mixing it in with your digital video signal), you can continue to use the headphone jack. Note that this interposer board pulls the audio directly from the CPU and thus should be much higher quality than the poorly shielded analog audio that the DAC on the GBA outputs though note that reports of missing or crackly audio seem to be common with this hardware. TV compatibility is unknown but this kit (like all other ‘One Chip’ screen adapters) does appear to be using a frame buffer so there should be relatively few incompatibilities. The price for this board and very wide compatibility range makes it very compelling since you can use with with ANY existing backlight kit, even AGS-101 mods (though do note that space is extremely tight with some kits to the point where some extreme shell trimming will have to be done to make everything fit). The GBA will still run off internal power though so even if you have it tethered, you’re still limited by battery life. If the manufacturer makes future revisions, I’d like to see an option for being powered by the HDMI port as all HDMI devices should be providing 5v over the cable anyway (but since the early spec is only for 50mA, that may be infeasible). I’d also like to see some options for scaling and aspect ratio. The manufacturer claims the kit will output 720x480p which is exactly 3x integer scaling but my experience was more like 640x480 for my TV and 800x480 for my capture card. I do have concerns over the long term durability of micro HDMI in a device like this though. (see my install here)

#12. Cloud Game Store “No Cut” IPS kit 2022 version (updated adapter board) – This is a revision to the previous iteration of this kit. It appears to use the same LCD as the previous kit (#11) though they have tweaked the color profile to make it a little bit more accurate and otherwise more appealing. The new screen (and its colors) are fully compatible with the old adapter board (and vice versa) if you want to upgrade an existing install though only the new screens and adapter boards are available now. Install is largely the same regarding shell trims (not required but recommended for OEM shells to trim the bumps off the inside front of the housing). Settings are controlled entirely via a touch sensor on the ribbon cable and the kit does store settings after a reboot. Another new feature is the pixel grid emulation. Like the GBC versions of CGS kits, this significantly affects the brightness level of the LCD though so I generally don’t recommend it. Power usage is a bit higher with this update too, unfortunately. Not bad enough to disregard the kit entirely but enough that it’s no longer anything too special. (see my install here)

  • Cloud Game Store now makes their own “High Quality” console shells and they are tailor made to fit these types of screen kits without having to cut anything. Brackets might be needed for other screen kits but this screen kit should come with working spacers for install in this or Nintendo OEM shells (though trimming is required for the latter).

#13. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit (v2) (console and kit) – I see this kit as the “gold standard” that other kits are compared to. 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. When released, this kit right here was 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 due to the afore mentioned image retention with flickering screen elements. Additionally, there are quite a few games that will show flashing sprites like mentioned in the intro at the top of this GBA section. 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. It is EXTREMELY difficult to remove a LCD without damaging it if the included adhesive was used. Luckily, replacement LCDs can be had relatively cheap. Because the DPI on this kit is smaller than OEM AGB screens, it does result in a larger display image than stock (after the integer scaling). 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. Since soldering is only required for the optional brightness control and high quality custom shells are available tailored to this kit, this kit is basically drop in. 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). There is no memory for brightness settings but the default brightness level is very reasonable. (see my install here)

#14. Funnyplaying ‘ITA’ (DSi) TFT LCD kit (kit) - Main claims of this kit (compared to previous IPS kits) is the much lower price, 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 but you can somewhat easily replace the LCD if you desire. Both regular DSi and DSi XL lower screens should be compatible though fitting the latter inside a GBA is a task in and of itself and the ribbons do tend to be glued to the original LCD. 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 is that this kit does require a little bit more work to get install compared to the 9380 versions. The LCD itself must be modified (cut the white tabs off), if you’re using a 40 pin GBA, you must also remove a capacitor, and you will need to calibrate the screen after installing by adjusting the trim pot with a LCD test pattern displaying. Overall, this is a very nice kit. Install is made quite a bit easier by using one of funnyplaying’s “ITA Ready” aftermarket console housings. (see my install here)

#15. Funnyplaying ‘Drop In’ LCD Kit – I don’t know much about this other than it’s coming soon. Probably even in laminated variants ;)

#16. “One chip” 9380 IPS “TV Version” (kit) – This kit performs largely identically to “2 in 1” version below 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 retrotink) or via post-processing with a capture card (though the input delay with the latter could make playing difficult). Overall, this is a solid kit as long as you are comfortable with the limitations of composite video and analog audio. 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. Kit may ship with any of the three 9380 variants but is most likely to be shipped with the newly manufactured LG screens. (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.
  • original releases of this kit would cause interference on the link port and cause accessories (that require communication) to fail. Current shipping versions should keep the link port functionality intact when not using the TV out. YMMV
  • there is a less expensive variant of this kit that does not have the TV out encoder chip installed from the factory (and has the TV functions disabled in firmware). The kit is identical otherwise, even down to the label and AV solder pad (that does nothing)
  • these 9380 based kits can be used in a funnyplaying IPS ready shell (or ITA version shell) but some extra trimming will need to be done to fit the PCB adapter. The funnyplaying shells are designed for ribbon cable adapters and thus don’t fit the larger PCB based adapters.

#17. “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 retrotink) or via post-processing with a capture card (though the input delay with the latter could make playing difficult). Overall, this is a solid kit as long as you are comfortable with the limitations on composite video and analog audio. 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 #12 and seems to be of similar 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. Despite the drop in claims, you’ll probably want to shave down a bit of the shell on the inside to get the LCD to sit flat. (see my install here)

  • there is a less expensive variant of this kit that does not have the TV out encoder chip installed from the factory (and has the TV functions disabled in firmware). The kit is identical otherwise, even down to the label and AV solder pad (that does nothing)
  • While not personally tested, the Cloud Game Store “High Quality” GBA console shells might pair well with these. They should not require any trimming unlike other shells.

#18. “One Chip” ‘GANi’ DSi TFT HDMI Kit (kit) – Yet another attempt to imitate the competition, this kit combines a DSi LCD, similar to the funnyplaying ‘ITA’ kit (except this time around using the top LCD instead of the bottom) and an extremely high power HDMI encoder. On the internal GBA side of things, just about everything works as we’ve come to expect so far. Screen quality is pretty good and because it’s a DSi LCD, there is no image scaling, the screen door effect is quite prominent (on par with an AGS-101 LCD), and the pixel response is slow enough to mask most flickering sprites much like an AGS-101 LCD. Brightness control is controlled via touch sensor (despite soldering being required, there appears to be no documented button controls), same with the color filters (idk why they even include these) and the kit does recall settings after reboots. The internal GBA side of things is nothing too special but notable things are that the install does require A LOT of trimming (even when using a funnyplaying ‘ITA’ ready shell) and the overall image quality isn’t an improvement over the funnyplaying ‘ITA’ kit despite being double the cost. Where things diverge, however, is the HDMI functionaliy. On the bright side, at least this thing uses integer scaling (though x is scaled at a different integer than y which results in the wrong aspect ratio) though this can be changed by tapping one of the touch sensors. In HDMI mode, the brightness touch sensor will change the scaling between full screen and correct scaling/aspect ratio. I did not realize this in my initial video (because undocumented at the time) but this does almost redeem the kit in my eyes. HDMI mode is enabled automatically when plugging in a micro HDMI cable. As long as you have a good enough battery installed. The HDMI encoder used in this kit is EXTREMELY power hungry to the point where I had to use constant voltage jugees just to get the thing working at all. Fully charged NiMh (IKEA LADDA specifically and I mean the new ones, not the same ones I’ve been using for years) was NOT enough and there was too much voltage sag. A rechargeable LiPo mod should also work but you’ll basically need retromodding’s battery pack just to stand a chance. Without the HDMI function, the funnyplaying ‘ITA’ kit is just better in every single way. And without the portable function, a consolizer type mod like the GBHD Advance from Gamebox is just better in every way. This mod is an expensive compromise between the two and ends up doing both poorly. (see my install here)

  • I have no idea what ‘GANi’ means, I just saw it in one of the listings. Probably a play on funnyplaying’s ‘ITA’. Game Boy Advance and DSi?
  • I had a chance to look at the dock accessory for this kit and it turns out it’s not actually compatible. Womp womp. You can kinda make it work (though the alignment with the dock itself WILL be off) but it requires literally flexing the backlight kit PCB and this can result in a dead backlight kit. I absolutely do not recommend this iteration of the dock with this kit. Which is a shame because electrically it works great, it just doesn’t fit. I think there a few things the dock could do better but by and large, it does do exactly what it says. See my video on the dock here.

#19. Retrosix ‘CleanScreen’ TFT LCDEthical issues with the retailer of this kit aside, this mod just plain isn’t good. On paper, if we believe every spec listed, it looks fantastic. Unfortunately, the listed specs don’t conform with reality. This is one of the first kits that offers proper LUTs to compensate for the intentional bad color saturation of some GBA games (not counting the Analogue Pocket) and even one of the first kits that offers frame blending to help mask sprite flickering to show proper transparency (also not counting the Analogue Pocket), both features I’ve been trying to ask kit makers to add for years. Both of these features work pretty well, especially since you can toggle them on and off on the fly per game. Unfortunately, the cons vastly outweigh these pros and that’s where all the good stuff ends. The first batch of kits are just plain defective and do not run efficient at all. Power usage is one of the highest I’ve ever measured to the point where I actually had to bump up my current limiter on my power supply. The “fix” suggested by the vendor also doesn’t actually fix the power issue. Yes, it is lower after the fix but the power usage is still significantly higher than other similar kits. The suggested fix cuts the screen brightness in half and if you do what is suggested to fix the brightness too, the power usage shoots back up to over a watt. The screen is smaller than stock, despite what the listing says, and the white frames around the edge of the LCD poking under the lens should be evidence enough of that. The screen itself, albeit small, is totally fine. Nothing to write home about though. I sincerely cannot recommend this kit with the issues it has, even disregarding the issues with the vendor. (see my install here)

  • I also did a direct comparison between this kit, funnyplaying’s ‘ITA’, funnyplaying’s 9380, and Cloud Game Store’s “no cut” IPS: https://youtu.be/CzIG4VZ47Qw
  • Oh and a quick addendum if you read the comments on that video – I did do the “fix” per the manufacturer’s recommendation. Power usage is better but it’s by no means fixed: https://youtu.be/rPwQimaURzM

Older Kits – These options all have more modern and better replacements or are otherwise no longer available

#1. Front light – Of course you can just frontlight your existing LCD. I did do a NGPC but that’s another story for another time. It’s technically an option but quality can vary wildly based off the quality of the panel itself (NOS Afterburner kit? Salvaged DS Lite backlight diffusor panel? Salvaged AGS-001 panel? etc) and the method of install (LOCA/OCA vs airgap). Honestly though? Don’t seriously consider it. 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.. A good, usable result is very tricky to pull off. Do not be fooled by the price. 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. I messed up my install but the general process is shown here. This is a lost art from a bygone age. This is one of the worst options you can choose for a GBA.

#2. AGS-101 TFT mod (console and adapter) – The defacto backlight most people think of in Game Boy Advance 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 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 decent mod for consideration (as of March 2022). 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. One strange quirk is that 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. Alternatively, apparently another batch was run in 2021 that resulted in LCDs that do not have the characteristic screen door effect of the originals. Another consideration is that these screens were designed in the early 2000s and LCD tech has come a long way since. There are much higher quality options nowadays that use more modern LCDs with better pixel response times (reduced ghosting), better color reproduction, contrast, brightness, viewing angles, and so on. (I assembled mine before I started filming youtube videos)

#3. insideGadgets Micro TFT adapter (console and kit) – Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly what it looks like. 100% reversable and one of the least expensive options for backlighting a GBA when available. It does require using a Game Boy Micro LCD, but those are still available on the aftermarket and for reasonably cheap so gutting a Game Boy Micro for the LCD is not a requirement. 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. Unfortunately, these are no longer stocked. (see my install here)

#4. Fake AGS-101 IPS LCD (screen) – This is fundamentally the funnyplaying IPS mod except in the form factor of an AGS-101 LCD (albeit a different LCD and different conversion electronics). 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 integer 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)

#5. 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 integer 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)

#6. Taobao IPS kit - “C Screen” (console and kit images taken from item listing) – This kit is pretty disapointing. It does a lot of things right but the things it gets wrong are by far the worst out of all other kits. Yes, it does require absolutely 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 to the point where it looks like everything has a blue filter on it but when actually playing, it’s perfectly fine. This is a decent 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. If they fix the power usage related issues with this kit, I may change my opinion. (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. All of these kits came with original/salvage LG LCDs. (see my install here)

#8. “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. All of these kits originally came with original/salvage LG LCDs but nowadays may come with any of the three. (see my install here)

#8½. “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.

#9. “One chip” 9380 IPS “2 in 1” (kit) – This seems to be a form factor revision of the previous ribbon based kits. Function and electronics appear to be identical. 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. These kits may come with any of the screen variants listed above. (see my install here)

#10. Popsicle Kit – Translation errors aside, this kit looks to be referred to as “Meoyc” but I called it something different because that’s an easier way to identify it until I can confirm the naming. 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 and unfortunately, mine arrived DOA so I cannot investigate further unless I purchase another kit and I have no immediate plans to do so. That’s probably unfair of me but I see nothing compelling about this kit and I haven’t seen anyone else grab one either.

#11. 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). Unfortunately, this kit is no longer available and has been replaced with a newer version. While the newer version does have some more features and a better looking LCD, it does come at the cost of more power usage and requiring soldering to install. (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. Additionally, all 32 pin AGB kits are electrically compatible with all AGS/AGT consoles. The extra two pins on the 34 pin AGS LCD connector are for the frontlight or backlight, every other pin is identical, even down to the pin number. Though do keep in mind that the connector itself is inverted so you can’t just plug things in without an adapter (#1).

For the actual kit stuffs, I like the Funnyplaying SP IPS kits (item #5) because the 9380 LCDs just look that good, especially when fully laminated. A unique feature of a newer kit is TV Out functionality that makes option #11, the One Chip Tv Version kit, really compelling, but only if using the GBA on a TV via composite out sounds appealing to you. As the LCDs in ‘one chip’ kits are 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 (#10) 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 as direct sunlight performance is second to none and nighttime performance is not blinding either. Not to mention the battery life is much higher before adding an IPS kit. I think the AGS-101 consoles are highly over-rated (what is the difference between AGS-101 and AGS-001?). All of the kits have some downsides but between price and performance and availability, I like the Funnyplaying IPS kit.

Cat 3 / Current AGS Kits Full Size (3.0”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
3. Fake AGS-101 IPS LCD Yes No Required* No 2x No No Some* No
5. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit (AGS v1) Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No No Button Control No
6. Funnyplaying SP ‘ITA’ Kit Yes No Unk Yes* 1x Yes Unk Unk No
7. Funnyplaying ‘Drop In’ Kit Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk Unk No
10. “One chip” 9380 IPS “2 in 1” Slightly Larger Recommended No Yes 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
11. “One chip” 9380 IPS “TV Version” Slightly Larger Recommended Yes Yes 2x No Yes Button or Touch No
Cat 1 (Obsolete) AGS Kits Full Size (3.0”) Custom Lens Soldering Cutting Integer Scaling Pixel Grid Color Palettes Adjustable Brightness Stuttering or Tearing
4. Funnyplaying 9380 IPS kit (AGB v1) Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No No Button Control Major Frame Tearing
8. “One chip” 9380 IPS v1 Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No No Button Control Frame Dropping
9. “One chip” 9380 IPS v2 Slightly Larger Recommended Recommended Yes 2x No No Button Control No
14. insideGadgets Micro TFT adapter Much Smaller Recommended No No 1x No No No No
Cat 2 (Outdated) AGS Kits Full Size (3.0”) 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
12. CGS IPS Kit Yes* Recommended No Yes 2x No No Button Control No

Current Kits – Can’t go wrong with any of these options

#3. Fake AGS-101 IPS LCD – This is a weird one because it looks like someone had a bunch of these made looking to imitate original AGS-101 LCDs but they are commonly sold in kits to install into a AGB. In an actual AGS-101, these work as a drop-in IPS kit and everything works the way you’d expect a stock AGS-101 to work except that this is an IPS screen with much better viewing angles, 2x integer scaling and an increased power footprint to match. Battery life with one of these screens is going to be a lot more similar to regular IPS mods as opposed to a stock AGS-101. Given that these only work “drop in” with AGS-101 consoles, it’s a hard sell and modification is required to get them to work with AGS-001 consoles or AGB consoles, both of which already have easier to install mods. External voltage regulator or backlight driver is required for AGS-001 installs. (see my overview here)

#5. Funnyplaying GBA SP 9380 kit v1 – THERE IS NO V2 (console and kit) – 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
  • Update July 2022 – Funnyplaying had new 9380s made and is now shipping another variant of newly manufactured LG LCDs. Quality is consistent with the newly manufactured LG LCDs that one chip is using. Again, YMMV depending on the age of the stock from your specific retailer though.
  • ‘IPS Ready’ GBA SP shells work great with this kit and prevent the need to trim your OEM shell if you don’t mind reshelling your SP. The upcoming funnyplaying SP shells should work too.

#6. Funnyplaying SP ‘ITA’ Kit – Like the GBA version, this is uses a DSi LCD for the backlight kit. The actual kits are not out yet (coming soon though) but if you want to jury rig something together, the GBA ‘ITA’ kit should work just fine with the passive adapter mentioned below (same one I used to put the GBA 9380 v1 kit in a SP). Unlike the GBA kit version though, this version should be fully laminated to a glass lens. This is a placeholder for now. Kit will be launched alongside funnyplaying’s custom GBA SP shells, also coming soon

#7. Funnyplaying ‘Drop In’ Kit – I have no idea if the GBA ‘Drop In’ kit that funnyplaying is currently working on will be made for the SP too but just in case, here’s a placeholder.

#10. “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 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)

  • This is the kit used for the Slate mod but with some minor changes. We have a different lens pre-applied to the LCD, the LCD itself is fully laminated (newly manufactured LG, not old stock and definitely not Toppoly), and the button controls from the AGB firmware have been enabled for GBA SP. Color palette functionality has been removed at the firmware level.
  • ‘IPS Ready’ GBA SP shells work great with this kit and prevent the need to trim your OEM shell if you don’t mind reshelling your SP. The upcoming funnyplaying SP shells should work too.

#11. “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 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.
  • ‘IPS Ready’ GBA SP shells work great with this kit and prevent the need to trim your OEM shell if you don’t mind reshelling your SP. The upcoming funnyplaying SP shells should work too.

Older Kits – These options all have more modern and better replacements or are otherwise no longer available

#0. ‘One Chip’ Micro HDMI Out Interposer (kit and install) - While this kit is not technically compatible with the GBA SP, it is still electrically compatible. Solder points are the same and the wiring is the same with the addition of the adapter below. See the AGB entry for more info.

#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 – I don’t have one of these but I do 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” marked aftermarket 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).

#4. 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 to think of it more as a proof of concept. 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)

#8. “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)

#9. “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.

#12. “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). If given the option between non-laminated and laminated and you are not intending on getting a custom lens, get the laminated version always. (see my non-laminated install here and laminated install here)

  • ‘IPS Ready’ GBA SP shells work great with this kit and prevent the need to trim your OEM shell if you don’t mind reshelling your SP. The upcoming funnyplaying SP shells should work too.
  • The AGB version of this kit just got an update with some new features and a new LCD. Presumably this kit will get that same update soon though it is likely pretty simple to DIY the AGB kit into an AGS if you want though the wiring is unconfirmed (albeit likely the same).

#13. 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 and unfortunately, mine arrived DOA so I cannot investigate further unless I purchase another kit.

#14. insideGadgets Micro TFT adapter (console and kit) – This is 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. Unfortunately, it looks like these are no longer offered by insideGadgets (perhaps custom order?) (see my install here)

Update History

Just for quick reference. Ever since moving to github, full history is available there but most commits will consist of formatting/spelling corrections without actually updating the content.

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).

edit 2021-11-22: updated popsicle kit notes, added OC HDMI interposer notes, updated DMG tv out notes, and added 2.6 cgb cgs kit

edit 2022-01-08: updated fp gba ita kit section and fp cgb ver 2 lammy kit section and added sections for oc lammy kit and cgs dmg kit

edit 2022-03-23: added info on game boy color kits from cloud game store, revised 2.6” IPS and 2.45” TN kits, overhaul of CGB section

edit 2022-03-24: overhaul of AGB and DMG sections, added CGS DMG 2.6” kit info

edit 2022-03-25: added placeholder for new cgs update to agb drop in kit

edit 2022-07-20: I’ve been putting this off so lots of updates. Minor corrections to spelling and grammar in mgb, cgb, agb, and ags sections and intro, overhauled mgb and ags sections entirely, added hdmi gbc kit, hdmi gba gani kit, retrosix cleanscreen, cgs agb 2022 edition, some placeholders for upcoming kits and probably a few other things I forgot about

edit 2022-09-02: Revised AGB GANi kit entry and added blurb about the dock