Been using a Dell XPS M1330 at work from December 2007 until last fall (October 2009). It worked well until it in September 2009 started to act suspiciously, crashing from time to time. Problems escalating and in October it died. The symptoms were thin verticals colored lines that successively grew more intensive until the screen was all white.
Called Dell support who said “sorry – you had a one-year warranty – it expired in December 2008”. Frustrated with a month of crashing Vista I upgraded to a MacBook Pro (great machine btw). The Dell laptop found a resting place in a drawer.
I’ve kept the laptop in good order, not banged it around too much, always upgraded with latest BIOS and Vista updates etc.
You would think that’s the end of the story… Not so.
A few days ago I stumbled upon a forum post where people were upset about Dell’s poor attitude towards users having problems with their GPUs in certain Dell laptop models. Turns out their problems were the same as I experienced on my M1330 (which has a 128 MB NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS). Also seems Dell has been aware of the problems for quite some time, but not issued a recall or even a warning to customers who had bought the affected models.
Btw, a way of testing whether it’s the GPU or display that’s causing the problem is to hold down the “D” key while pressing the power button. The display should now cycle between various solid colors (red, green, blue etc) before continuing to boot in graphical mode (which will fail if the GPU is broken). But if you see the solid colors ok, your display is fine.
So is this an isolated problem for Dell only? Of course not:
Dell has acknowledged there are issues with the Nvidia GPU and offer a 12 month extended warranty to cover for those affected.
Same thing for Sony, their take is to offer a good and relevant extended warranty: “Sony is offering to repair yours for free within four years of the purchase date, irrespective of warranty status. ”
Apple finally is not immune either, but they also offer a good extended warranty: “If the NVIDIA graphics processor in your MacBook Pro has failed, or fails within three years of the original date of purchase, a repair will be done free of charge, even if your MacBook Pro is out of warranty.”
Here is where I am starting to get really upset.
I was told by Dell support in October that the laptop was out of warranty and they wouldn’t repair it. They told me nothing of extended warranty to cover for defective GPUs.
Six months later (=now) I find out that I was in fact eligible for the extended warranty back in Octobert, but now Dell tells me it’s too late – “You are two months past the warranty period”.