The GameBoy Advance SP Slate shell is a prime way to take one of gaming’s most beloved handhelds to the next level, and I can’t be more excited about it. As one of the last iterations of the GameBoy line of handheld consoles, the GameBoy SP was a fantastic system, selling over 43 million units and becoming an instant favorite. Now, nearly 20 years after its initial release, the GameBoy Advance SP Slate machined metal shell is bringing new life to this classic console.
As a work-in-progress for several years, the Slate represents a lot of hard work from dedicated creators, all collaborating in tandem to provide the best after-market GameBoy Advance SP shell. Today, I’m taking a look at this sleek, quality mod, which transforms the original flip-style console into a form-factor reminiscent of the original GameBoy and GameBoy Color systems.
"Overall, the Gameboy Advance SP Slate by Mahko is an excellent kit and one of the best SP mods you can perform on your system."
How the GameBoy Advance SP Slate Redefines the System
The GameBoy SP Slate shell is the brainchild of retro enthusiast Makho, a talented modder who has been brewing up the project for quite some time. In collaboration with the metal machinists at RetroCNC, Makho has created a quality product that’s resilient, attractive, and oozes craftsmanship. Thankfully, this kit is available via the lovely folks at Retro Game Repair Shop in a variety of colors (make sure to use coupon code TITO for 10% off your total cart order).
When you purchase your GameBoy Advance SP Slate kit, it comes neatly packaged in a hard plastic shell, containing the metal shell, as well as various machine screws needed for installation. While the Slate works with the original rubber buttons, you can also order custom Game Boy Advance aluminum buttons as an optional upgrade. To complete your SP Slate, you’ll also need to grab the Slate Laminated Backlight Kit, which was created specifically for this mod. This includes the custom IPS screen, an LCD driver board, a ribbon cable, and some wiring. Of course, you’ll also need a traditional GameBoy Advance SP console to supply the necessary core components.
Installing the GameBoy Advance SP Slate isn’t a terribly convoluted process, but it does require a bit of soldering skill, wiring management, and finesse. The bulk of the installation involves removing the motherboard from your existing console, rewiring it to work with the IPS kit, and situating everything neatly in the Slate shell. For basic guidance, be sure to check out this GameBoy Advance SP Slate overview video. If you are in need of more in-depth instructions, this start-to-finish Slate SP installation live stream should do the trick!
The Pros, Cons, and Alternatives to the GameBoy Slate
I can’t commend Makho, RetroCNC, and Retro Game Repair Shop for their combined efforts on the GameBoy Advance SP Slate. The design is impeccable, offering the vertical-style SP that fans have always dreamed of. While it can be quite heavy to hold, especially if you’ve chosen a brass casing, the system feels great in the hands and can easily be pocketed for gaming on the go. It truly feels like a premium upgrade to an already amazing system, with a crisp IPS screen and intuitive brightness controls that remove unnecessary buttons.
That said, there are a few alternatives to the Gameboy Advance SP Slate shell, most notably the two Unhinged metal casings from Boxy Pixel. In comparison, the SP Slate is slightly smaller and thinner than both of the Unhinged kits, but lacks the option for USB charging and a headphone jack. While the extra features available with the Unhinged kits are nice, it does require a more complex installation, making the Slate a better choice for newcomers.
Overall, the Gameboy Advance SP Slate by Mahko is an excellent kit and one of the best SP mods you can perform on your system. I really appreciate the pre-installed LED light pipe, the premium design elements, and the general feel of the casing. Apart from the fact that it lacks compatibility with other IPS screens, there aren’t many issues to speak of. If you’re looking to upgrade your GameBoy Advance SP and want something that will last a long time but remain polished and stylish, the Slate is one of the best options you have.