Everyone who tweaks or is in any way into computers at a greater depth than the average Joe six pack will have had a time where they wished they never flashed their BIOS for that so called promised better memory performance or AGP card compatibility update. Every motherboard manufacture always insists we don't flash our BIOS to a newer version unless this is essential. Why the warning a novice user might ask? Simply put if the power turns off while the system is being flashed then basically you're a dead fish in the sea. The black screen or horror appears, no video signal, no beep sound to inform everything POST's correctly. One might argue but hang on a minute my friend has for example a Gigabyte board with a DualBIOS feature. Although this is true the fact still remains that the vast majority of boards do not allow two copies of a BIOS image to be flashed. Many newer boards allow recovery on a bad flash, however this is still not the same as having a complete backup copy of your BIOS as a plan B should you need it. With all this said We take a look at the BIOS Savior made by no other than IOSS With this little device you should never see the black screen of horror ever again!
The BIOS Savior is available in various types to suit your motherboard both in ROM size and ROM type. Here we look at the RD1-2M model for 32pin DIP 2MBit systems. The device itself is small and works along side your standard ROM chip. It contains its own ROM chip on a small daughter board designed to connect with the motherboard's onboard ROM chip. A small bracket is included with a wire ended with a 2 pin connector comes in the package too. To assist in the installation there is a ROM extractor making the task of removing your motherboard's ROM chip a very stress free job indeed. Last but not least the manual finds its way into the package too and surprisingly is a lot more detailed than one might expect, at least for such small a device.
The first thing is to remove the motherboard's ROM chip so we may insert the BIOS Savior into the socket. To do this we made use of the ROM extractor tool bundled in the package. Before inserting the BIOS Savior it's a good idea to insert the 2 pin connector into the pins on it. Once this is all firmly in place it's vital to allign pin 1 of the BIOS Savior with the ROM chip we've just removed from the board. A small moon shape on both these parts will hint us on the direction in which they should be connected. Once aligned it's fine to just press harder until it pops in but be careful to not bend any legs so only push once they are directly above the holes. With that done we may find an empty slot at the back of the machine to insert the bracket with a small DIP switch which we may use to select either the motherboards ROM or the BIOS Savior when flashing or booting the system. One screwed in place we are set to turn on the machine and get experimenting with whatever BIOS we feel might work on our board. The installation itself is very quick, a few simple steps and that's it you're done. The only thing I would like to put special emphasize on is to align the moon shapes so they end up on the same side one above the other. Given that note of caution it's one of the quickest installations of anything you'll do in your life.
Two is always better than one the story goes, so now you can have not one BIOS but two or more (some BIOS Savior models allow to be stacked on top to allow multiple BIOS ROM's). Flashing the BIOS is the normal standard routine with one added step along the way. From now on all one needs to remember is to select what ROM chip they wish to write to by flicking the DIP switch located on the bracket we discussed above at the back of your PC. The FLASH program will recognize the EEPROM type accordingly and flash only that segment of memory. To test its real world value we chose to flash a BIOS image that isn't intended for our board. As could of been expected the system didn't boot, a nice black screen took a step forward and situated itself on our monitor. Now normally this would get a user worried because if you damage your BIOS then it's not always so simple getting it back again (although that's a broad topic on its own). Feeling very confident we quickly flicked the DIP switch back to the original BIOS setting and wolla the system booted as if it was all just a dream. Next we took aim to reflash the faulty image with a correct one, however we bumped into a small problem. Not all flash programs like it if you flash an Award BIOS to where an AMI BIOS normally existed and later decide oh dear I prefer AMI instead. After a few attempts we found a flash program that could detect the EEPROM again and so permit a new flash to take place. Is this anything to worry about? No not really because it just means the software you're using is badly programmed not taking into account such a situation may exist (after all how many people change their make of BIOS?). Once all the mayhem (although not lasting long) we were once again the fortunate owners of two identical BIOS images. So it seems like the test was successful and it's a delightful experience to be able to reinitialize the machine on a bad flash, no more headaches or getting stressed over what to do now. Unless getting up and bending over to the rear of your case to amend the DIP switch's position each time is a demanding task, the BIOS Savior could not be an easier device to use. You really forget it's even there after a while thus it becomes a standard operating procedure, we all press the power on switch mounted on the case and don't moan about that do we?
By now we had quite some time to play around and analyze the BIOS Savior from alternative angles. What we can say for sure is that it can save a migraine should you be keen on adventuring down the path of changing your BIOS often. For the price ranging in the region of $25 (depending on the model the price varies slightly) it serves as a cost effective solution in avoiding having to buy a new ROM each time the motherboard dies on us due to a simple incomplete/incorrect BIOS flash. The Installation can be as simple as knowing your partner's name and beside that once installed the chances are it will stay that way needing no kind of maintenance at all. One factor we would like to see in later revisions (should there be any) is the ability to permit more than one extra BIOS image copy to be written. In effect we could be dealing with a computer that has five different BIOS's with the ease of booting off any in virtually seconds. One can't go wrong with the BIOS Savior, it's an investment designed to do a job well. The only people we would not recommend buying such a device is to those that don't either know what a BIOS is or have no wish to amend their existing BIOS. Their money is better spent elsewhere. You may even order the BIOS Savior with an already pre-programmed BIOS image for only $7.80 more, much cheaper than ordering a brand new BIOS ROM chip for about $60. The bottom line is this is a must have device if you experiment with BIOS's, one that is hard not to recommend.
Value for money: 7/10
Build quality: 9/10
Overall Tweak3d.net rating: 80%
Where to buy? This device is available from www.eksitdata.com as they sent us this sample to review. They are located in Sweden but will ship anywhere in the world for only USD 9.50.