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  IOSS RD1 Bios Saviour review

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Ever flashed your BIOS before? If you are anything like us itís for sure you have done it at least once, if not dozens of times, either because of CPU compatibility issues or just because you want to keep up with the latest release from your motherboard manufacturer in hope of getting some extra tweak-ability. Now what would happen if the flashing process failed for any reason? You know this may happen to you, but this time it happened to me, I was left alone in the cold with a corrupt BIOS and no possible way of booting.

While looking for a simple solution to my problem I came across the ďRD1 BIOS SaviourĒ from IOSS, itís a sort of backup device for your BIOS. See the following picture for all parts included in the package:

On the left is the PLCC BIOS extractor tool, since this BIOS chip is located inside itís socket you need a special tool to remove it, and that is what the PLCC extractor tool is for. The extractor is made of plastic and metal, it has a very high-quality feeling, and works really well. In the middle of the picture what you see is a switch that will let you choose between your standard BIOS and the backup BIOS. It has a 9-pin COM port standard size frame so you can install it at your place of choice. A metal bracket (right side on the picture) is also included so that you can place it at a spare expansion slot in the back of your computer.

Then we have the most important piece of the package, the Bios Saviour itself. The version I got is the 4mb/512kb PLCC version that is meant to fit PLCC motherboard BIOS sockets. Other versions in different sizes and shapes are also available, check with IOSS so that you get the correct version (hereís a list of supported motherboards). A 40 page English/Japanese manual is included, which describes the physical installation of the Bios Saviour, as well as how you flash the chip. The manual was well laid out however the grammar could need some extra work (like most Taiwanese manuals ;)).

The actual BIOS chip is located underneath the white sticker on the left picture (see below), the chip on the right is my original motherboards BIOS chip, this is placed inside the socket as it is seen now on the left (above the white sticker) Be careful with the orientation here, the noted corners must match or you will fry the chip and mainboard!

   

In the right picture is the underside of the BIOS Saviour that fits your mainboard and the small circuit board will thus rest over the motherboards PLCC socket. This is perhaps the only drawback I could find with the BIOS Saviour, it adds a few millimeters (ca 7mm) in height to your BIOS, which could pose a problem when installing expansion cards for example.

The yellow cable that extends out from the BIOS Saviour connects to the included switch and is what allows you to select between the original BIOS or the RD1 backup BIOS.

 

Installation

Here are a few pictures from the RD1 installation:


Original chip installed

Removing the original BIOS
with the PLCC extraction tool

Empty PLCC Socket

RD1 BIOS Saviour + original BIOS inside

Voila! A very simple process to get your BIOS backup device installed, no need to worry anymore if the power goes out or a virus wipes your bios clean (CIH anyone?), the computer can hang during the flashing process or you could flash the wrong BIOS, the only thing youíll need to do is flip over the switch and your backup BIOS will be able to boot up your PC.

Note: When the switch is in either mode there is no physical connection between the two chips, so there is no way that both BIOS chips could be wiped out at the same time according to IOSS.

 

My Personal Experience

However there is one drawback, what if you already killed your BIOS? Since the Bios Saviour actually comes empty you must have your original BIOS working before you can flash the BIOS Saviour, before that itís completely useless. Of course we hope you wonít suffer from such a problem now that youíve been warned, but indeed that was what happened to me, no beeps, no floppy access, no picture, nothing at all.

You could RMA your board but you would end up paying and waiting more than intended, luckily there is a simpler thing to do, many of the retailers selling the BIOS Saviour will offer to program a BIOS of your choice for a small fee, in my case I bought it from Eksitdata here in Sweden, they sell all of IOSS different BIOS Saviors, and sent the product programmed for my motherboard for extra $10, they also happen to ship worldwide but there are many retailers out there that may be closer to you.

I ordered a IOSS PMC-4 BIOS Saviour for $30 and the pre-programmed option cost an additional $10, this got me a package within two days of ordering that allowed me to use my computer again, and the good part, also flash my original dead BIOS. I should also mention in case you may be interested, Eksitdata also accepts you to send your dead BIOS chip via mail to have it programmed and sent back.

Overall Iím very satisfied with the Bios Saviour, it certainly saved me a lot of time and the fact that you can get it pre-programmed (depending on the retailer) is a neat feature. It installs quickly and works like a charm, I have not had any problems with this product during my time with it and has found a permanent home inside my computer.

 


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