How I retrofitted an OEM head-unit in my BMW 3-Series (F30)

As the car was out of warranty BMW quoted around 1.5L to replace the unit and rectify the issue.

BHPian y2s recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Back in early 2019 - The stock head unit(HU) of my 2014 F30 began malfunctioning - It was stuck BMW Logo as can be seen in the image below -

As the car was out of warranty BMW quoted around 1.5L to replace the unit and rectify the issue. I asked if they could upgrade the HU to something with carplay and to no one's surprise I was told that was impossible - If I wanted carplay then I would have to purchase a new vehicle. I was not willing to pay such a huge amount for simply fixing the basic and featureless system my car came with and therefore decided to deny BMW the repair to look for 3rd party & DIY options that were either cheaper in terms of price for the fix or gave me an upgraded system. Below is a conclusive list of the options I came across over weeks of research -

Options for fix

1. China Android-Based System 10.25" - REJECTED This was the first option I came across and it exited me because of the cheap cost of around $300 and the large feature set it offers. Quality may not be very great however seemed very worth it for the price. Rejected because I realized these systems require a working OEM HU to interface with. There is also concern for long-term reliability.

Decided OEM was the only way I wanted to go. My car came equipped with an HU_Entry CIC system (OEM Part 65129270363 9281518)

2. Replacement OEM HU_Entry - REJECTED Found this with great difficulty online in china for $75 used (Yes, you read that right) + Shipping/Tax. This would require a DIY install. Additional costs would include professional coding service @ $75, Hardware Emulator @ $50 & OBD Cable @ $10. All in I would be able to fix the system for under INR 20k to factory condition. While this would have been a great option - By the time I found this used part - I was in too deep for option 3 and the itch for retrofitting a better system had already taken hold.

3. Retrofit a newer OEM HU - Realized it is possible to retrofit the latest OEM systems from BMW into my car. The different generations of systems in BMW cars can be seen in the following image. I obviously wanted the latest and greatest compatible with my car -

3a. Plug & Play Retrofit - REJECTED There were only very few international companies that offered a complete plug-and-play solution for the same. I reached out to them and got some quotes. Please note that these options still require a DIY opening of the dash and unplugging/replacing the HU/Screen and USB. Includes remote coding through TeamViewer. One need not worry about VIN emulation / ATM emulation/coding/cable harness pinout or parts compatibility.
NBT Evo ID 5/6 - $2500 + Shipping + Tax = ~ INR 2.5L (2GB Model - Non Touchscreen)
NBT Evo ID 4 - $1500 + Shipping + Tax = ~ INR 1.5L
Rejected this option because I thought the cost was a little on the higher side as individual parts could be sourced cheaper if bought separately. After having done this project and experiencing the technicalities and nuances involved - I believe the cost these integrators charge is somewhat justified.

3b. Complete DIY Retrofit - ACCEPTED Even though I had never worked on a car in any capacity in my entire life (Not even changed as much as a wiper blade) - As my research progressed- I got more and more confident in doing the entire retrofit myself - Got up one morning and decided I was going to risk it and if things went south then that would just be the cost of learning - Decided on a budget of INR 1.5L (Cost BMW had initially asked) and I would do the best I could within that. After months of scouring for parts that were both compatible and affordable - I finally had all the parts I needed for the retrofit. I even managed to squeeze in an OEM Backup Camera in my budget. Below is the final parts list including Estimated/Actual and total cost - (eBay - Shades of Blue, Aliexpress - Orange)

Please note here that there are multiple versions of the Head Unit - There are 2GB/ 4GB and GPS Inbuilt / GPS, not Inbuilt - You should look for 4GB with GPS Inbuilt. The additional RAM is great as 2GB versions are known to crash often on ID6 software. It is fine if you plan to remain on ID4/ID5 though. GPS Inbuilt is great to have as one would not need to emulate ATM which adds both cost and complexity. If your car already has an ATM module, this might not be much of a concern. Mine did not.
There are also 2 versions of the screen - Touch and Non-Touch.

The Retrofit

Finally, one rainy Sunday in July 2019 after all the parts had arrived (took more than 2 months), I went to a friend's enclosed parking area to start the retrofit process. Followed several YouTube videos and eventually got everything disassembled and then installed, tested & programmed. At the end of the day, I had carplay working however I was unable to get any car information on the Idrive display as I could not update the car firmware as I needed a special cable. I left the car in this state as I didn't really need anything else and didn't have the time.

Fast Forward to Jan 2020 and BMW refused to carry out maintenance because no DATA - So decided to 3d print and make the harness - We Put in the new FW - Attached the OFC and voilla everything showed up. The project was finally complete.

Additional Coding
Disable the Auto Start Stop function in ECO mode
No Warnings
Video in Motion
Digital Speed in Instrument Cluster
NBT Sport Displays
cluster M Performance logo
cluster Start logo
NBT Pressure and temperature in tyre pressure monitor
NBT Start animation nbt Connected Drive 1
NBT Volume popup enabled
Convenient Closing
Maximum volume at start-up 2-%
Warning Chime/ Ringtone

Questions I had (FAQ)
Will Connected Drive (Remote lock/unlock) work? No
Are AM/FM Antennas already there? Yes
BT/Wifi GPS from Aliexpress work fine? Yes
Do I need to worry about ZGW (Kcan1 vs Kcan2)? No
Do I need MOST Loop for my Combox? No
CIC Pinout, NBT Evo Pinout Diagram? Same
Test Bench available in Mumbai? No
Bluetooth Mic Needed? No
Will USB work? Yes
Does Touch Controller use CAN2? Yes

I have been a forum reader here since 2014 and had actually decided to buy this car by looking at posts here. Thought you guys might enjoy my journey and it is my hope this thread inspires/helps someone. Please feel free to post any query in the thread or PM me. Will be happy to help all and answer any questions. Started writing this in 2019 and am finally posting now.

The retrofit added a good 3 years of life to this vehicle. I recently upgraded to a BMW 630d M Sport.

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