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I am writing this in because I have been personally affected by what many are calling the NVIDIA Defect. Hopefully others will be more aware of this situation should their laptop experience a premature death.

My laptop was purchased back in 2007 and upgraded to the 8400M graphics system instead of using the default Intel GMA because of light gaming requirements. A year into its use, it began to develop some quirks such as laptop restarting itself, corrupted display, etc. The charger/battery also died soon after.

A few weeks ago, the entire laptop died. Booting it gives a blank display although I could still hear the fans and hard disk functioning normally. Devastated, I contacted Dell and they told me since my laptop is out of warranty, I have no option but to either pay to have the motherboard replaced, or to get an extended warranty to the tune of RM1000 and then have the motherboard replaced for free under warranty.

I was not happy with the outcome because a laptop should definitely be expected to last more than just a mere 2 years so I did a Google search and stumbled upon the core of the problem: The NVIDIA Defect. This problem first surfaced in late 2008 and affected laptops that have the NVIDIA graphics chip. A total of 10 laptops from Dell are affected and they are:

Inspiron 1420

A09

7/14/08

1420_A09.EXE

Latitude D630

A12

6/22/08

D630_A12.EXE

Latitude D630c

A06

7/11/08

D630CA06.EXE

Dell Precision M2300

A07

7/11/08

M2300A07.EXE

Vostro Notebook 1310

A10

7/10/08

V1310-A10.EXE

Vostro Notebook 1400

A09

7/10/08

1400_A09.EXE

Vostro Notebook 1510

A10

7/10/08

V1510A10.EXE

Vostro Notebook 1710

A07

7/10/08

V1710A07.EXE

XPS M1330

A12

7/9/08

M1330A12.EXE

XPS M1530

A09

7/25/08

1530_A09.EXE

Other laptop manufacturers such as HP and Gateway also have similar problems. The common problem is that all these laptops have an NVIDIA graphics chip inside.

The problem stemmed from NVIDIA’s engineering fault which caused the graphics chip to operate at abnormally high temperatures. Error in the substrate chemicals used also resulted in the thermal cycles that will lead to the chip detaching itself eventually from the motherboard, thus leading to the ‘blank’ display problem.

Dell have acknowledged the problem and have offered a 1 Year Limited Extended Warranty to cover this defect, and they have also issued a BIOS fix, which forces the fans of the laptop to run at maximum speed for longer periods of the time to cool the laptop down. This led to a very noisy fan with low battery life, certainly not what you expect from the laptop when you first purchased it.

When I found out about this issue, I was very upset and called Dell up and demanded that they do something about the problem. All they did was apologize for the problem and offered me the RM1000 warranty extension and that there is nothing else they could do to me. I threatened to escalate the problem to the Consumer Tribunal but their position did not change. The person on the support line even said, “So are we expected to replace the motherboards of everybody who complained?”. Damn right, if you sold them with a defect!

Regardless, I went to the Consumer Tribunal and got the forms. There are 4 copies that need to be filled. I called Dell again and asked for the name of the person that I should write on the form so that the summons can be served to them. A female came on the line and we danced through the whole issue again, with me complaining about the problem. After putting me on hold for three times, she told me there was nothing she could do to help me because my computer is out of warranty and the system would just reject any request she made to issue me a repair.

I told her fine, just give me the address and name of the person I should serve the summons to. She gave me the address of Dell in Penang but did not offer a name. After I insisted, she put me on hold once more. When she came back on, she told me there’s no need to put a name, but she has conferred with ‘upper management’ and they have decided to give me a free replacement of my motherboard for this issue, because apparently I have never claimed warranty so presumably the money I paid for the warranty will be used to cover this one time fix.

So the moral of the story is, if you have experienced a similar issue, please do not lose hope and try phoning to Dell and demand them to fix your FAULTY/DEFECTIVE laptop. If it doesn’t work, try using the Tribunal to pressure them, and if need be, take the case directly to the Tribunal because no company should be able to sell you a defective product and offer a 1 year extended warranty expecting that is sufficient to cover the problem, especially when the laptop WILL fail, just a matter of how long. I am now happily waiting for Monday for a Dell representative to come over and fix my computer.

If you want to confirm the problem, start the laptop while holding down the ‘D’ key and your laptop screen should flash different colours (confirming its not a LCD problem). Then restart the system holding down the ‘Fn’ and ‘Start’ button and after 5 minutes, the laptop should give a loud beep. That’s how the Dell personnel confirmed the defective chip.

Inspiron 1420

A09

7/14/08

1420_A09.EXE

Latitude D630

A12

6/22/08

D630_A12.EXE

Latitude D630c

A06

7/11/08

D630CA06.EXE

Dell Precision M2300

A07

7/11/08

M2300A07.EXE

Vostro Notebook 1310

A10

7/10/08

V1310-A10.EXE

Vostro Notebook 1400

A09

7/10/08

1400_A09.EXE

Vostro Notebook 1510

A10

7/10/08

V1510A10.EXE

Vostro Notebook 1710

A07

7/10/08

V1710A07.EXE

XPS M1330

A12

7/9/08

M1330A12.EXE

XPS M1530

A09

7/25/08

1530_A09.EXE