Tuning boxes are not an intelligent device. They do not adapt to your engine and they do not have any measures that will protect your engine.
You should not look at tuning boxes as being in the same category as an ECU or a basic remap
Tuning boxes should be viewed as a bolt on modification ie tuning boxes should be viewed in the same way as camshafts, bigger turbo, intake system, downpipes, race or de cat etc.
As with any other bolt on modification it is up to the car’s factory systems to keep the engine safe. Again, a tuning box not is not a smart device, just like any other bolt on modification, it is up to the car’s ECU to keep the engine safe.
So is a custom reprogram better/safer?
A tuning box does not change the factory software and you have to imagine that the car manufacturer has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars perfecting the engine safety measures. An aftermarket tuning company probably has not.
In my opinion there is nothing safer than the factory software so if you want to keep the engine as safe as possible while increasing the engine power, a tuning box has to be the way forward.
The problem with keeping the car’s factory software unaltered is that the power gains will be limited by the same factory software.
You have to decide if a tuning box is giving you the power you need vs the safety aspect.
You should also bear in mind, if you are planning on bigger modifications in the future ie camshafts, bigger turbo, then you will have to choose a custom remap. As I stated at the start of the article, a tuning box is a dumb device like any other bolt on part, you will need to alter the factory software to use big modifications. You need to alter the intelligent system (the car’s original software maps) if you make big changes to the airflow going through the engine.
Tuning boxes need to be looked at as being in the same category as any other bolt on modification eg bigger turbo, camshafts, downpipes. All these products will give more power but the maximum power will be limited by the factory ECU software. You need to assess if your car’s factory software can give you the power boost you need unaltered. If not, you need a custom remap.