Dell and HP balk at replacing bad Nvidia chip

Dell and HP balk at replacing bad Nvidia chip

By Michael Lasky

An old urban myth claims that the microprocessors used in PCs and other consumer electronics are designed to fail within days or weeks of their warranty expiration.

For tens of thousands of people who bought Dell and HP notebooks whose motherboards fried — often a few weeks after their warranty expired — there’s nothing mythical about it.

The cause of the machines’ fried motherboards is an overheating Nvidia graphics chip. The failure rate is so huge that Nvidia had to take a $196 million charge against earnings in the second quarter of its 2008 fiscal year in anticipation of the reimbursements that would result from the faulty GPU.

What’s particularly scandalous, though, is how HP and Dell first handled the deluge of complaints from customers with notebooks that failed after their warranties expired. The companies either charged the customers (victims?) for repairs or refused service because the systems were past the warranty period.

Even worse, HP and Dell continued to sell notebooks with the same Nvidia chip long after the companies were aware of the problem. (Ultimately, Nvidia released a new version of the GPU that didn’t cause overheating.)

Unwary consumers who purchased the affected notebooks — no doubt based in part on the heady reputations of the vendors — were left in the lurch when their PCs failed, which usually occurred after 18 months or so. The purchasers had no recourse except to yell and scream at clueless tech-support reps.

When the heat from consumer complaints became as hot as the faulty Nvidia chip, HP and Dell relented and published a list of defective model numbers on their Web sites. Dell extended the standard one-year warranty to two years for the systems they identified as having the problem. HP offered a 24-month warranty extension for the specific issue.

However, instead of issuing a recall — as you would expect in such a clear case of a defective part — the vendors instead merely offered a BIOS upgrade. The “patch” for the affected notebooks made their fans run continuously in an attempt to lower the GPU-induced heat, which was cooking the motherboards onto which the chips were soldered.

This “fix” merely extended the time before the motherboards finally burned out while simultaneously devouring the machines’ battery life — sort of like putting a Band-Aid on a coronary. Of course, notebook purchasers became further inflamed by the power drain on their systems due to the constantly running fan.

via Dell and HP balk at replacing bad Nvidia chip.

To see if your Dell laptop could have this issue and is eligible for the extended warranty, click here

To see if your HP laptop could have this issue and is eligible for the extended warranty, click here


2 Responses

  1. I came across this problem when researching a different problem with a Dell laptop.

    The scary part is that they knew of the problems yet failed to address them. Their forums are filled with complaints over the Nvidia overheating issue, and they have totally ignored the feedback from consumers.

    Against my advice, my daughter wanted a Dell laptop, and for 3 whole months it was fine, then it died! Not overheating though this was a problem created by the ‘Dell custom MediaDirect partition’ (their pathetic attempt at media center software) – which deleted the C drive!

    I spent hours working on it starting with the obvious by popping the installation disc into the drive, refused to load. Format C, no different.

    Called Dell…..well, their monkeys anyway who said it was a Microsoft problem and they don’t fix MS software! Excuse me? Dell custom MediaDirect is nothing to do with MS!
    Not satisfied with dealing with screen readers who read their finely tuned script parrot fashion, I took it higher and a few weeks after my initial calls my daughter now has a replacement laptop…..but I shall be watching it very closely.

    Recommendation – Dell should rename themselves Hell Computers!

  2. My personal favorite saying is this, “The road to Hell is paved with Dell.” They are and never were anything special. Apple had a better track record before so many PC parts started to creep in. In a partial defense of Apple, ASUS, Dell & HP they weren’t directly responsible for getting stuck with defective vendor-supplied parts. Right now I see lots of failed WD Scorpio Black sata drives in Dells. Any drive can and will fail but not in high numbers on new machines. Each of these computer makers should have brought intense pressure on Nvidia for selling defective parts to them. Apple has handled this more admirably than other makers have, going so far as to issue reimbursement to people who previously paid for repairs. I don’t see HP or Dell doing that. Their reputations will be damaged forever for it, Their market share’s will erode as a direct result. Serves them right for turning their backs and a blind eye on loyal customers who’s business paid for their salaries, 401k’s and their healthcare. Customers don’t cotton to being treated like gutter trash. Take Canon for example. I and my sister both had S1Is cameras that failed out of warranty but they replaced them with the next better model for free. Now THAT is customer service and support and we both will only buy a Canon camera from here on out.

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