Thursday, November 17, 2011

Racketboy VS Rob Webb Saturn Mod Chips

EDIT: As of 5th December I have since received a refund from Rob. Several days after posting this entry I decided to email Rob again and ask why he hadn't responded to my earlier emails, after which he responded, we discussed it, and we arranged the return of the chip for a refund. Problem solved! Many thanks Rob. In light of this, it is worth considering Rob's chips.

Fancy collecting for the Sega Saturn but put off by increasing prices for the rarities? Considering buying a modchip to play backups but aren’t sure which one is best? Then join us as we conduct a head-to-head BATTLE TO THE DEATH with the two leading chips on the market. As they say, two modchips enter, one modchip leaves!

First, I want to say, if you have some bizarre puritanical view against pirating Saturn games, I really don’t care. Such comments will only be posted so I can then mock you. The Saturn died over a decade ago and paying $300 for a rare game like Shinrei Jusastsu Taromaru benefits no one except eBay resellers. Great games deserved to be played and experienced – not hoarded by the rich. If you have trouble with this concept, perhaps this site isn’t for you. The biggest problem with videogames is the cyclical nature of hardware and the difficulty of acquiring and playing games the older they become – until this issue is better addressed, I say Pirate and Be Proud of it. Every Saturn owner should have a chip to enjoy these games easily. Unless a game is re-released, like Radiant Silvergun, where I advocate supporting the developer by buying it new. The other benefit is I can now playing the extra Shining Force III games patched into English.


There are only two main suppliers of Saturn Mod chips. Racketboy (RED) in America, and Rob Webb (GREEN) in England. Each appears to sell their own custom designed chip, requiring different installations. Actually there are tow other suppliers of modchip, but I’ve read very little coverage on them, so let’s just assume Racketboy and Rob are the main ones.

If you’re in a hurry, skip to the conclusion at the bottom.


I first bought Rob Webb’s modchip, as found on this website, and as detailed by this guide. Although he was forced to remove the chip from the listing on his site, he still stocks them and he still sells them - do not be fooled.

I did this because someone I know, who is a very skilled console modder, recommended Rob. And when a buddy recommends someone, you don’t bother checking reviews. Plus Rob’s chip was cheaper than Racketboy’s, was easier to install, required less complicated soldering, plus he was British, meaning it could posted domestic.

I emailed and he gave me his bank details for a direct transfer. Chip arrived about a week later. As a veteran console modder I know my way around a soldering iron and motherboard schematics – this stuff is easy. And Rob’s chip was even easier to install.
1) Identify model of Saturn motherboard. In my case Model 0014(new).
2) Apply single drop of solder on back to join two points.
3) Attach ribbon cables.
4) Plug power cable into green slot

I did all as instructed and triple checked it. Nothing worked. The Saturn wouldn’t even boot legitimate games anymore. So I emailed him asking for advice. Rob then took several days to reply and sent me back a generic pasted reply with bullet points, the tone of which implied I was an idiot who installed it wrong. As he said: “Other people said ‘my chip doesn’t work’ but then saw they put the ribbon cables the wrong way around and magically then it worked!”

Even more insultingly, I had specifically told him in my original email that legitimate games do not work, whereas they worked previously without the chip. And yet FOUR of the bullet points were addressing issues with my laser not working, recommending I first try legitimate games to see if it works, and if legitimate games do not work then I should try tweaking the power settings on the laser.

Hello Rob, HELLO! The first thing I said was that legitimate games stopped working despite having worked previously, you nimrod.

He also recommended moving the power cable from the green plug to the 5V pin on the power adapter. I did this but it still refused to work. I went and triple checked everything again, making sure that no pins on the chip accidentally crossed each other. The chip was just born broken.

Still, I wanted to give Rob the benefit of the doubt, so replied saying that maybe I’d made a mistake with the soldering, and asked if I could please buy another chip off him, this time asking if he could check it in a Saturn first. Two weeks later I still have had NO REPLY from the lying cad.

It’s only at this point did I start to search for online reviews. I found several stating that Rob’s chip did not work for them, whereupon they decided to buy Racketboy’s and then had success. I only found one negative review for Racketboy’s chip, on his feedback page, where the buyer stated that after returning the chip Racketboy sent a replacement which worked just fine. His chips even come with a guarantee.



This required a credit card purchase from a slick looking online store and cost about £10 more than Rob Webb’s chip. But despite coming from the US it actually arrived quicker than Rob’s! Now that’s service. I also received email confirmations and other nice things that you expect from reliable professionals.

The chip is unfortunately a bit trickier to install. You need to slot the chip itself into the Saturn’s motherboard, though be careful because the red plastic is more fragile than Rob’s green chip. You then lead the power cable around to the 5V pin and solder it in place. There’s also a trick with the signal wire, where you can solder it from point A to B on the back of the chip itself – but I chose to use the older, more difficult method of soldering the wire to Pin 14 on the chip.

I’d already been screwed over with a dud chip, so I thought it best to stick to the older methods of installation, even if people praise the new method for its ease. I’m a dab hand with a soldering iron anyway, so pin 14 was a doddle.

Everything installed, I booted it up. SUCCESS! Shinrei Jusatsu Taromaru loaded fine. So did my legitimate games. Everything worked immediately.

I couldn’t believe how simple it ended up being.


Basically Rob Webb will sell you a piece of shit that doesn’t work, treat you like an idiot, and then ignore your emails, whereas Racketboy has the kind of slick professionalism that you wouldn’t expect for such an item, and his chip actually functions as described. Racketboy is my new personal hero.

Racketboy also offers a year’s guarantee, whereas as I’ve said, Rob will just take the money, screw you over and then pretend you don’t exist.

If you give your money to Rob you’re an idiot. I’ve already lost the £15, don’t make the same mistake as me. Buy from Racketboy and you can’t go wrong.


(and me, because now I can enjoy Shinrei again)


  1. Out of curiosity, what is the advantage of using a mod chip over an action replay-type device?

    1. action replay does not allow you to play back up copies, it only helps you play real games from other regions.

  2. I've bought a few things from Rob Webb although never chips, I got a premodded saturn from him which is still working and a modded s-video cable for the N64 which is fantastic. Sorry to hear you had so much trouble with after sales service, just glad I never ran into trouble. Anyway thanks for the article, I bought a saturn for christmas for my girlfriend and was thinking of getting it chipped later on so will go with racketboy.

  3. I'm pretty sure an action replay cartridge doesn't allow you to play back-up games. I have an action replay cart, and it only allows me to play imports.

    Interestingly, the mod chip does not allow import playing. You need to mod your Saturn separately for that (not easy!), or use an action replay cart in addition to it.

  4. With an action replay device you can't use games that require Ram cartridges. Also some games like Panzer Dragoon Saga won't work, which is a biggie because it's one of the best reasons to own a saturn. For that you need an action replay 4 in 1 with a cheat code to get it to work. Best set up is chipped with an action replay 4 in 1 and if it's PAL then a 50/60 Hz switch.

  5. What upset me with Rob was that I didn't ask for a refund. I asked to buy another chip, albeit one that he'd tested already. I was quite happy to send him another £15 if I knew it was going to work.

    But he just ignored all my emails. :-(

  6. There seems to be some solder missing from the hole under 0019 on the Rob Webb chip?

  7. Great games deserved to be played and experienced – not hoarded by the rich

    That's where libraries can play a role, archiving "obsolete" technology in order to allow patrons to play games that would otherwise be unavailable to them ... Here's a good article on just that subject:

  8. I had wondered that, and had asked that very same question in my first email to him, which he replied in copy and pasted bullet points.

    On Closer inspection the inner circle appears to be metal, so there *should* be an electronic connection to the line coming off it.

    Once I was convinced the chip was dead I tried applying solder there, but it wouldn't stick to anything.

    His instructions mentioned nothing about needing to do such a thing though.

    1. Wow!! you had an issue with him to? I thought I was the only one!!!

  9. I picked up the Racketboy chip in a previous run (I believe they ran out, didn't stock them for awhile, and then produced more), and it's worked excellently for years. I recall the installation was fairly easy (only one wire to solder). Combine that with the AR 4-in-1 and my Saturn is a beautiful beast.

  10. I recently grabbed a couple of "new" Saturn games, only to discover that I've sold my Saturn quite a while ago. :(

  11. I still have one. You know what to do. :P

  12. Rob your house CJ?

    Thanks for the link regarding the libraries. That's an excellent, excellent read. I like the fact that they're even archiving stuff like emails by Warren Spector regarding Deus Ex.

    Though it doesn't seem like it would be easily accessible for the general public. And even if it was, I'm not sure I'd want anyone touching slowly disintegrating originals, when a duplicate disc is easy enough to make.

    I want to make this full clear:
    I 100% support piracy of games not currently available because right now it's the best method of preserving them while also making them available for anyone to play.

    I hope someone, someday, convinced a judge that any game over 20 years old, if it's not being rereleased, is then free game to copy.

    1. If you are able to convince the judge of that, you will still have a few years to wait before you can play any Saturn games.

  13. I have my doubts about getting a Saturn because of the game rarity issue. I've never modchipped a console before, so I'm not sure if I can do it without destroying the console. >_>

    @Sketcz: I have the EXACT same opinion on pirating older games. I even had concluded that 20 years is enough for a game to die. Apparently, game companies don't want you to "be able" to play older games. Nintendo states on their official website that they don't want people to be able to play their older games, in order to maintain an exploitable market demand for them.

  14. I chipped my Saturn a long time ago, mainly because I didn't want to pay $150+ on a copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga. I'm still looking for a copy at a reasonable price point, though!

    I'm not even sure which chip I'm using right now. It looks a bit like Rob's, but I don't think it is. I can't confirm without cracking the system back open, and I'm not gonna do it. Installing that was my first soldering experience as well, although I'm pretty good at it now, I was super-nervous about it then.

    At any rate, I'll echo the above sentiments about using an Action Replay 4M Plus in conjunction with a mod. I had been rolling with a Game Shark, but having the RAM cart is really useful.

  15. I thought chips for Saturn would disappear by now, thankfully not. I'm glad you're promoting a reliable source that still sells them, but the way you handle your bad experience with the competition isn't professional.

  16. I still really want to get a modded Saturn with a 50/60hz switch and Robb is the only one I have seen selling them :\
    No idea where to try now!

  17. --
    "the way you handle your bad experience with the competition isn't professional."

    I don't really understand this. I'm writing on a blog - that's like going to Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park and telling someone who is ranting against the government that they're not being professional. This blog is not my profession, therefore I'm not beholden to any rules.

    Which is a mute point, because I would totally hand in such an essay for one of the print magazines I write for. If you don't even have the basic decency to reply to an email, then you deserve everything you get. I don't handle anyone with kid gloves - and Rob's ignoring of my emails is unprofessional.

    If we spent more time punching unpleasant people in the face, rather than worrying about whether we're being nice or not, the world would invariably be a nicer place.

  18. I always had an awesome experience dealing with Rob. He's a cool guy, really.

    Dunno what happened here with you... but out of everyone I know who's dealt with Rob, you're the only one who's had a problem.

    I'd encourage everyone to give Rob a chance still. Maybe something came up in his life that prevented him from replying on time?

  19. i received my mod chip the other day from rob and was fitted in under 10 minutes with no problems at all.

    ALL games work perfectly and am now playing panzer dragoon saga among other great games.

    every body i know and speak to on the forums all say the same thing and they are more than happy with their chips.

    oh and racketboy is well too overpriced.
    £15 inc postage vs $30+ excl postage

  20. to anyone who uses action replay 4mb+ cards when playing backups.


    just download the satakore region patch and patch them before you burn them. one ckick and 2 seconds later done.

    i have a chiped saturn with robs v2 chip and i just patch them all to j and done.

    i only use my replay card to add RAM for the capcom fighter ect.

  21. @Speedinin60Hz
    Considering that Rob's chip didn't work I'd say he's overpriced, by about £15.

    Still not had a reply from Rob after emailing him on 1st November. Should I give him more time? What's the point? I already got a working chip from someone else. lesson learned: don't buy from Rob.

  22. perhaps your approach to the situation was too confrontational perhaps ?

    using tact works better than steamrollering into something, also you are ill informing people costing them money. you are basing your argument on your personal experience which is fair enough.

    but you are just one in a few a very few i can find just as many people as you SAY you have spoken to who would say the exact same thing about racketboy.

    you have nothing at all to say racketboy is better than robb other than your opinion.

    i am so happy with robs chips i am buy 5 more off him next week at £13 inc postage as a bulk order and a victor v saturn when its in :)

    i emailed him yesterday and received an email today. rob is UK based cheap and has a high success rate with all models. and they are so easy to it not possible you made an error and nackerd the chip because thats probably what he thinks

    hence he offers no technical support as stated when you purchased it other than the clear easy to read instuctions which covers anything you needed to know.

    if you still have the chip i will happily have it for postage if it really 100% doesnt work :)

    dont be ill informed people do your research and ask on the specialised forums sega saturn users one for instance and ask everyone who they use and get their feedback.


  23. also on the picture you have of robs chip installed which pin have you got voltage on is that the 3rd from left or second from right?

  24. did you try using another piece of wire for the power to the chip? like i said if its completely useless i will have it and pay postage

  25. Seems The RDF (Rob's Defense Force) is ready and operational...

  26. I wasn't confrontational, to start with I was the perfect gentleman, and I didn't even ask for a refund. My thinking was even if it costs me another £15 to get kit working, it's worth it. But he totally ignored my second email. I've checked out my outbox, it was sent, it's very suspicious if he received prior and subsequent emails, but not the email which - by being ignored - set me off writing this blog entry.

    I've done enough research. I bought both chips, Racketboy's worked first time, Rob's did not - I emailed once, he sent a generic copy and paste reply which didn't solve anything, I emailed again asking to buy another chip and he ignored me.

    I am not beholden to the world, as a consumer I should be assisted by the supplier. If you have good experiences with Rob, well done!

    RE 5V cable:
    I tried it in the second from the right. As shown here:

    Row of small indents at the top, cable into the hole second from the right (or 4th from the left).

    Not that it matters, since afterwards I also attached it to the 5V pin on the power board (as I did for Racketboy's chip) and again it didn't work.

    Like I said, I had considered the fact that maybe I damaged the chip, hence why I asked to buy another one off Rob, but never had a reply.

    I'd send you the chip but I've already given it to Mmmonkey, another major system modder.

  27. Fair play well you win some you lose some just sounds like you got the rough end of the deal. Still doesn't explain robs atitude towards you when so many of us deal with him all the time with no problem.

    shame really that you had a bad experience with him as he is genuinely a good dealer in mod bits in england something which is severely lacking here.

    still i have some more dealings with him coming up so will keep you posted of any bad ones. hopefully i wont be back here soon ranting myself.

    well i doubt it but you never know.

    laters i am on saturn proboards if your on there whether we disagree with each other on the whole rob racketboy issue we are all still saturn heads.

    so would be cool to see your collection and bits.


  28. I respectfully disagree. Expecting professionalism in blog posts isn't moot... or "mute" as you say. I don't think your editor would let your childish tirade into print, either... possibly fearing libel or alienating the audience. Who doesn't buy modchips from fly-by-night operations? The shady dealings come with the territory. £15 isn't a bad gamble for the chance to play extremely rare Saturn games, which cost much more than that.

  29. You'd be surprised what stuff of mine gets printed. Behold my awesome Shinobi 3 piece, credited to my editor Darran Jones of all people for the online reprint:

    As for the Rob situation I eventually contacted him AGAIN, after which he responded. He offered a refund but by this time I'd given the chip to someone else. It shouldn't have had to come to that.

  30. not so bad after all , you could have just got another one for free and saved some cash.

  31. I just can't share the bad words you say about Rob. I made much better experience with modchips from Rob. Every single one worked!
    When this was your first time installing a modchip I am pretty sure you messed something up. Your problem sounds like the modchip does not get power. Maybe the power wire gets no contact to +5V. You do not need to connect the 5V wire to the green connector of the cd unit. You can put it directly to the power supply like you did with racketboy's chip. Sometimes one end of the ribbon cable is also not connected properly.
    I am pretty sure that if I would test the modchip it would work like a charm and then I would call you idiot...

  32. There was clearly no bias here, contrary to what a few comments seem to suggest; you simply informed us all on what happened. The world is a better place for it.

    Racketboy is so sexy it's ridiculous, btw.

    the president of Sega

  33. Hi dudes robbs chips work fine i have bourght a load and all tested via me and work a charm 19 for new saturns and 14 for old ones plus the racket boy mods are good for the 20 pin saturns.

  34. Hi, I bought a Web Robbs modchip and It works fine.
    I followed this guide, attention to soldering!
    I missed one and I was going crazy
    bye bye.

  35. I had bought from ROb to. I followed his instructions exactly. The chip didnt work. He then refused to give me a refund. Waste of $25.

  36. I'm happy I found this blog because this is just what I was looking for before buying. I appreciate it, thanks for saving me from the headache.

  37. I've had 3 rob webb chips, none of them worked. I've had 4 racket chips. all 4 of them worked.

  38. Putting my word for Rob here too. Bought one 4 years ago from him, works well till today! Nothing more nothing less.

  39. Pretty sure for the type of board you have there's a trace to cut on Rob's chip too, which you don't seem to have done.

    Also (and it's difficult to tell from your picture) the power cable seems to be connected to the far right pin of the green connector, which is wrong as it should be one pin in.

    If it IS one pin in then your wire seems to be stripped far too much anyway and is probably touching the end pin too.

    I've been purchasing and installing Rob's chips for a very long time indeed and I've yet to see a non-working one that wasn't due to user error.

  40. Having just installed Robs EMSIC7-1 type chips on that type of saturn (ENR-013A / EXL-P605 drive), I can say for sure that the reason your chip didn't work was that it didn't get any power. You really just have to jumper it to 0014 and give it power, and it'll work: but if it doesn't get any power, it won't see any disc, not even originals. Connecting the power line the the disc drive connector is stupid, get a thicker wire that doesn't break if you hold it wrong, and solder it to the +5v pin on the power supply.
    Also you may want to store the chip upside down, so it doesn't end up touching the metal heatsink, shorting out the entire thing.

    (of course, the chip could've been faulty to begin with...)

    The big problem is that there are far more different drives and motherboards on the Saturn than what people write guides for. So we end up with confusing misinformation coming from multiple sources.

  41. I installed my chip from Rob this friday (version 2, MB look close to revision 0014 - caps and traces slightly different compared to instruction) and works GREAT.
    Playing "In the hunt" backup across the RGB cable -> looks awesome.
    Definitely worth of 22€. Greetings from Slovakia.

  42. So have the prices gone up? Racketboys chips are $40 bucks & so is the postage so it would cost me over $80 to get one, that is too much!

  43. Another happy user of Robs chips here. I have both the Model 2 chip and the Model 1 chip and can happily say they were both easy to install and took all of 10 minutes. Not only that but it was quick getting here (About 2 days from ordering) and was cheap too.

  44. Racketboy chips are now $72.99 plus shipping. Ouch!

  45. i had a saturn v.2 console and had EXACTLY the OPPOSITE experience from which u describe here, my racketboy modchip failed to all whe i bought it it was only $30 USD and no idea why the price has gone up. my Robert Webb chip on the other hand functioned properly and as expected. Some things i feel u should have covered a little bit more in detail was the over all quality of the racketboy chip, the PCB is horrible, I'm aware that this is due to the need to insert the PCB into the ribbon wire connector but this makes the PCB easy to burn or lift traces on. I'm sure the racketboy chip does work but in all honesty im also sure that saturn modchips are still a hit and miss kind of thing, i don't think the systems security has been entirely reverse engineered and that is partly why we do not have any decent emulators (last i checked) for it, same thing go's with the reasoning behind the fact the modchip its self does not bypass region lock like a general modchip is expected to do. That might be in part due to the fact the region lock is written to the BIOS chip where as the ability to read backup discs is obviously controlled by the laser PCB, thats why every modchip install connects to the laser PCB ribbon wire.

    these are just my thoughts and personal experiences hopefully some day the Sega saturn can just have a custom BIOS flashed (this has at least one documented but failed attempt and the BIOS image is available for download) and we don't need these chips any more, specially with racketboy apparently price gouging the market lately for theirs

  46. Damn, 75$ for the Racketboy's chip... plus shipping!

    I've bought nearly 10 chips (plus other stuff) from Robert Webb, and they always worked like a charm.
    The first one I bought from him was in 2006, and still working (set it up on my own Saturn).
    Moreover there were a products I ordered from him but he went out-of-stock, so he just refunded me very fast...
    I just think that you had no luck receiving a broken chip and I'm pretty sure that if you send it back to him, he could check that it doesn't work and he can send you a working one or refund you.

    Anyway, welcome to a world where you can play the best saturn games without having to send a kidney =)

  47. looks more like user error to me on the OP, the different board revisions change the installation method. I've bought multiple chips off rob and all have worked.

  48. I received the chips (Version 3) from Rob Webb and they are working as expected.