Work and a broken laptop

Haven’t posted in a while. Been very busy working long hours on site implementing a new software system. I’m getting code withdrawal symptoms 🙂
Haven’t had any time to do any coding at all on my own side projects.

About a month ago a Dell Inspiron 9400 laptop I had bought 53 weeks before, started gettng graphics problems, 1 week out of warrranty. The BIOS loading screen had many artifacts and Vista would not boot except in safe mode. The Nvidia 7900 GS Go graphics card had given up. I read around and found a few people with similar problems so thought I might have a case under UK consumer law as the laptop was not fit for purpose.

I then spent over a week corresponding via e-mail with Dell support. In all fairness they always responded the same day and were always very professional and polite. But that was the only good thing. They obviously use a decision tree for all support and cant vary from it. They requested I run all manner of tests which I did. All tests pointed to the graphics card. The card in this system is not soldered to the board and can be replaced. Dell told me that the system was out of warranty and that I could pay for the repair which would involve replacing the motherboard and memory.

Oddly I refused this option as, aside from their unfathomable diagnosis, I believed the machine was not fit for purpose. Dell then requested I perform further tests and insisted I would have to pay for the repairs. This went on for a week while I continued to insist they repair it free of charge. They finally told me to run the system restore facility which I flatly refused to do as I could guarantee it would have no effect and I asked to escalate the matter to someone with the authority to decide whether Dell would cover the cost of the repair.

The next day I received an e-mail saying Dell would, as a one off good will gesture repair the laptop free of charge! It was quickly collected and returned a week later all fixed. Result! I knew it was a heat problem so I installed I8KFANGUI and now run the fans at max all the time. It’s noisy but always keeps the GPU temp below 70.

This was a couple of weeks ago.

In my regular trawl around the tech sites I have just seen this exact issue really blowing up in Nvidia’s face:

Laptops With Certain NVidia Chips Failing

Potentially 18 million affected units from the big manufacturers. Wow.
I know that my laptop could go again as the replacement part still has the manufacturing flaw but at least I managed to get it fixed outside the warranty period. What is Dell going to do? Replace all these machines? Their interim fix of a BIOS update to turn on the fans can’t be their final solution can it?

I shall be watching this site with interest over the coming days:


And for anyone else with a broken laptop just out side warranty period – be persistent, very persistent, with a little luck they might repair it for free.

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