How to choose best BMW ICOM, ICOM A2 and ICOM A3 Rheingold ISTA-D ISTA-P?

With the born of newest BMW ICOM A3 pro + V1.40.05 diagnostic programming tool, BMW ICOM series including ICOM, ICOM A1 and ICOM A3 get most people confused, they have no idea which one to buy.


FYI, BMW ICOM A3 pro + V1.40.05 comes with a internal WIFI chip, just get one wireless adapter and plug into the computer, then the wireless adapter will communicate with the wifi chip and perform diagnostic and programming function on all BMW vehicles e.g BMW Cars, BMW Motorcycle, Rolls-Royce, Mini Cooper.

Wireless Adapter

Part 1: Similarities- BMW ICOM, ICOM A2 and ICOM A3 Comparison Table

                                          BMW ICOM, ICOM A2 and ICOM A3 Comparison Table
Products               BMW ICOM                 BMW ICOM A2           BMW ICOM A3
Item No. SP101 SP101-B SP110 SP168-B SP168-C SP168-BA SP168-BO SP168 SP234 SP234-B SP234-C
Features best quality made by Yanhua Company, without software Not made by Yanhua Company, without software Full set with external HDD General version, most users buy SP168-B. SP168-B (ICOM A2) has the same hardware SN as ICOM A1. With new hardware SN which is different from SP168-B/C; SP168-BA comes with no software, SP168-BO contains HDD. Wifi Version, which allows diagnosis and program via wireless connection. ICOM A3 V1.38 with software  A3 V1.38 with no software ICOM A3 V1.40.05 built-in with WIFI chip
OS requirement It depends on which version of BMW Rheingold ICOM interface run with. ICOM software is tested ok on Win 7 and win8.
Computer requirement BMW ICOM Laptop Requirement: EVG7, DELL D630 or others with required configuration.
Reset the computer system date and time to the current time
Set to achi mode
Advise you use Lenovo or Dell with CPU 2.0 above and memory with 4GB.
Otherwise the ICOM will freeze when boot.
Packed Software BMW ICOM, ICOM A2 and ICOM A3 share the same software version, for the detailed autorized software, I attach below.
Language All ICOM,ICOM A2 and ICOM A3  are multilanguage available.
Function Generally speaking, function including BMW Diagnosis, Programming, Coding and Car Modifying
Workable car models Generally speaking, covers BMW Cars, BMW Motorcycle, Rolls-Royce, Mini Cooper
Update 1)Software update and 2) firmware update, for details as below.
ICOM VS ICOM A2 1. ICOM A2 support WiFi connection.
2. ICOM A2 has better computer compatibility, 2014.9 BMW ICOM A2+B+C support almost 95% PCs on the world with Intel chip (I3/I5/I7 series).
3. ICOM A2 is especially modified for vehicles with OBD port and boasts a significantly more powerful processor and a 4GB memory, ensuring faster running speed and wider storage space.
4. Newest BMW ICOM A2+B+C support latest BMW cars made in 2013 and most MINI Cooper in full system diagnose and offline programming.
5. ICOM A2 features an Aluminum case, which is strong and solid to protect the machine from damage in harsh environments.
6. ICOM C for old series come with a diagnostics socket, and will be additionally equipped with a long cable around 20cm, which improves the connection of the ICOM A2.
7. To protect the MOST connector, the ICOM B for vehicles with optical MOST access will be equipped with a soft cover made of rubber instead of plastic cap.



  1. BMW ICOM Packed Software (In details)

BMW ICOM, ICOM A2 and ICOM A3 share the same software version, for the detailed autorized software

No. Software Name Software Function
ISPI-NEXT Admin tool
ISPI Admin Client ISPI-NEXT Authorization management and environment Configuration software
ISTA+ Diagnostic and repair guide, including Diagrams and disassembly Figure
ISTA-P(ISSS-NEXT) Programming and coding software system
HDD-Update Navigation Software upgrade back-office services (function with ISTA-P, need to Import map files)
KSD Work software
ETK Accessories Catalog
E-SYS Engineer Software for F series (available for programming and coding)
WINKFP Engineer Software for E series, for programming
NCS-Expert tool Engineer Software for E series, for coding E
INPA Engineer Software for E series, for diagnosis
Tool32 Engineer Software for E series, able to run directly
BMW Coding Tool Auxiliary Software of Engineer Software for E series (Available to import model data to WINKFP and NSC)
Ncs Dummy Auxiliary Software of Engineer Software for E series (Available to modify NCS data)
ITool Radar Used to recognize ICOM, activate or release ICOM Port
Easy Connect Used to Configure the Environment Parameter of Engineer Software for E series, can activate or release ICOM Port



  1. ICOM A2 update:
  • Firmware update

icom firmware is able to update, tak ICOM A2 V1.40.05 for example, here are on how to update BMW ICOM A2 firmware to V1.40.05


icom a2 firmware v1.4 bootimage bin free download how to update icom a2 firmware to v1.4

Newest BMW Rheingold ISTA-D  ISTA-P  Download

  • Software update:

BMW ICOM software is able to update when the newest version is tested ok and released, you are required to pay the newest software.


Part 2: Differences among ICOM A2, ICOM A3 and ICOM A3 Pro+


Their difference mainly at Outlook


ICOM A3 V1.40.05 with WIFI outlook and ports (Item No. SP234-C1 and SP234-C)


ICOM A3 V1.38 mux outlook and ports (Item No. SP234 and SP234-B)

ICOM A3 V1.38 with software (SP234)


ICOM A3 V1.38 without software (SP234-B)

SP234-B has no software in package. Users can buy it in addition.


BMW ICOM A2 V1.37 mux outlook and ports (Item NO.SP168 and SP168-BO)

bmw-icom-a2-b-c-diagnostic-tool-with-programmer sp168 and sp168-bo


Part 3: BMW ICOM Rheingold ISTA-D ISTA-P issues and solutions:

Question: When EasyConnect is processed done?

Answer: Only you get following picture can it means EasyConnect is processed done.

 easyconnect well done

Question: ICOM or ICOM A2 fails to work on old BMW (one system or new car)

If you find ICOM or ICOM A2 fail to work on old BMW or one system or new car, just disassemble ICOM and test this 39K resistance. Another reason is unstable voltage.

39k resistance


How to reset the language you want:

Reset the language is possible, some customer feedback they receive the ICOM hardware and find the language is not they want, but don’t know how to reset. Jjust open diagnostic software ISTA/P, and then click this “Tool” icon to reset shown as follows.

change language


Using 2015.8 Windows7 BMW ICOM HDD (Item No. SS151-8B), get error message “The screen resolution is insufficient to run this application”, how to fix?

ista-p warning


After open ISTA-P, click “Reset settings”, then close, open again ISTA-P, click “ Reset Settings” then reset “Resolution”.

Check your computer system resolution setting, make sure it is as the same as the ISTA-P resolution setting.

 reset settings

 reset settings (SS151-8B)

Using ICOM 2015.7 ISTA-D 3.50.10 ISTA-P (Item No. SS151-7) and these function displays gray, ISTA-D is working, ISTA-P is not working, how to do?

 icom gray not work

Possible reason: Your exit ISTA-P then directly turn off the computer, it results in the software is damaged.Normally, you are required to exit the software then follow the general procedure to turn off the computer.

Solution: Now, the solution is to send the software back to repair.


Q: Buy ICOM External or Internal Hard Drive

A: As we all know, ICOM  is available with both external and internal hard drive, which version to choose, it is specific to individual users. In the following parts, I would like to sort out their advantages and disadvantages.


External hard drive of ICOM is a much more versatile solution, and it was my initial choice. If laptop broke, you could just plug it into another machine.


Only downside is it’s a lot slower than running it from disk, because of VMWare overhead.


Now I have it loaded on a machine-specific hard drive (internal hard drive) which I have installed in the machine. Much faster.


If you use it 2 or 3 times a year, a VM solution is perfectly fine. I did that for a few years myself.


If you use it quite a bit (with 3 MB’s in the house hold, I use it all the time) then go machine-specific hard drive.


Also remember the external hard drive hangs off the machine and can be damaged as you move the laptop around. If you pick up the laptop, the USB drive unplugs, then it will fall to the ground and you’re cooked.


Internal is so much nicer because now I just have the multiplexer and laptop to carry to the car. Nothing to unplug or fall off.


Q: Buy SSD or HDD


ICOM, ICOM A1, ICOM A2 Software SSD VS Common HDD in Terms of Running Speed
D630 with 4GB Time to boot Time to shutdown Time to use Xentry test one single vehicle model
SSD About 1Min 30Secs About 20Secs About 2Mins 25Secs
Common HDD About 4Mins About 50Secs About 3Mins 27Secs
D630 with 1GB
SSD About 3Mins 15Secs About 22Secs About 4Mins 28Secs
Common HDD About 5Mins About 2Mins About 5Mins 07Secs