I couple of years ago I purchased a Dell m1330 laptop. I was one of the first ones on my block to get the sleek new thinbook. I ordered every possible option including 4 gib of memory, a creative labs sound card, a finger print reader (useless in a docking station) and the camera.
For about 6 months I was the happiest geek in town......then the problems started. One Sunday evening while goofing off at work I heard a screeching noise come from the onboard speakers. Squiggly lines and pixels began appearing on my screen. The computer would no longer respond to keyboard and mouse commands. My only alternative was to power down the unit. On reboot the computer would work normally for about 10 minutes then the scenario would repeat itself. I booted the machine in safe mode and the problem subsided.
After a brief bit of troubleshooting I determined that in safe mode Windows was using a generic driver. I removed the NVidia driver and booted the computer normally with the generic driver. I contacted Dell tech support (it was about 1 am est). An Indian gentlemen requested I set up my computer for remote access and remotely probed my computer for possible problems. "It's the Bios!" I was told. "You don't have the latest version. Download the new version, load it and call me back." I upgraded the Bios and contacted tech support. When he declared the problem solved I reloaded the NVidia driver: Squiggly lines and frozen screen. I contacted tech support again (by this time it was around 5 am). I was told that the problem was beyond the technicians expertise and that I should call Dell USA in the morning. I contacted Dell at 8 am. The tech told me that this was a known problem and that NVidia was coming out with a new driver that would fix the problem. I just had to wait about 30 days or so.
At this point I was beginning to get skeptical. I logged into Dell forums to see if any other 1330 owners were experiencing these problems. Wow! Several people described the exact problem I was experiencing. One of the posters described a heat sync problem on the motherboard. Dell uses 3 heatsyncs for the dual processor and the NVidia Chip. To cool the chips off A copper strip runs from a fan to the top of each heat sync. The strip is J shaped and the NVidia video chip is the last processor in the chain. Apparently this setup does not provide sufficient cooling which leads to the eventual failure. This made much more sense to me than old Bios.
I think you're talking about a heat sink
, rather than a heat sync
I tested this theory by taking my laptop out on the computer floor (I work in a datacenter) and sitting the unit on an air conditioning grate. The computer ran fine. I then moved the laptop back into the office. Within 20 minutes the screen freezes started again. Convinced I had identified the problem I contacted Dell Support. This time I was directed to the senior tech. I explained in detail the problem I was seeing and the tests I had run. The tech was convinced that the problem was caused by a corrupted Operating System. He insisted that before we move any further I reinstall Windows Vista and install the latest Dell Drivers.
Unfortunately for me Dell failed to provide me with an OEM copy of my OS (my shipment actually included an additional laptop and a Russian users manual. Knowing what I know now, I should have kept it). Luckily Dell stores a backup image on a separate partician. After restoring the image and reloading the drivers (to no avail), I contacted tech support. Again the senior tech accused the OS reasoning that the image could be infected as well. Keep in mind we are now into the 4th day of all day troubleshooting. I was then directed to customer service where I had to explain why no OEM copy of Vista Home Premium was included with my shipment. Finally to avoid further delay (they really weren't going to provide me with a copy) I went out and purchased an OEM copy of Vista Ultimate online ($166.00).
This was your first mistake. You own a license for your OS. You didn't need to buy a new one. In fact, I'm willing to bet that your laptop has a sticker on it somewhere with a serial number. If not on your laptop (doubtful), it would be in the documentation received with your laptop. That sticker entitles you to as many digital copies of the OS installation as you need. Take the laptop to any authorised MS reseller and they will give you a copy of the OS. Install the OS with that serial and you are good to go.
If you can't find that sticker or suspect it wasn't shipped .. well, you should have caught that when you first opened the package from Dell. Always ensure that you've received everything that you've paid for.
After loading and upgrading I contacted Dell. A couple of days of driver upgrades later I had had enough. I contacted Dell finance and told them that no further payments would be made until the issue was resolved. Clearly this was a hardware problem. No driver no matter how corrupt could be causing the symptoms that I was seeing. Dell agreed to perform a depot repair of the laptop. I received a shipping container from Dell (via DHL). I packed the laptop and shipped it off to Texas. About a week later the laptop was returned. I found a note attached. "Unit was water logged. Dried and cleaned unit and returned to customer." The video problem was never looked at.
At this point I had stopped all payments.
At that point, you've voided your warranty and completely destroyed any obligation on Dell's part to offer you any service whatsoever. You should have continued to argue, fight, and return the laptop for warranty but never, ever stop paying on an open contract. At this point, you owe them money and they owe you nothing. You've gone from having the upper-hand to being completely powerless and at the mercy of their credit department and lawyers.
This is not a moral argument I'm making. It is a legal argument. Morally, you may or may not be in the right .. that doesn't matter. At all. What you think
you may deserve has no bearing on the issue at all. You screwed yourself.
I contacted customer support and they agreed to send a technician to my office with a new motherboard. Once again I had doubts. Undoubtedly the motherboard would include a new video chip but problem with the heat sync would be the same as the previous board. Eventually it would fail as well. After completion the technician assured me that my problems were over. "I added extra heat sync compound to the video chip," he said (later on inspection, the heat sync compound was added to the CPU no compound was place on the video chip). Just to be safe I went out and purchased a cooling dock for the laptop. The dock ran on USB power and blew air directly into the computer vents. This allowed me relatively reliable use for about two years.
So, you stopped paying them and continued to use their product for 2 more years?
Of course the cooling doc was used at my office. When I traveled with my laptop the cooling dock did not go with me. This past weekend the problem returned, progressively getting worse with each restart. Yesterday the chip failed completely. Within seconds of booting the screen goes completely white. I attempted to contact tech support but because the warranty has now expired, they refuse to talk to me. I still have several payments left on the laptop which is now completely unusable. I feel that even though the warranty has expired Dell is still liable. This had to be a known problem. Google m1330 and NVidia and at least 10 posts show up describing the same problem. Clearly Dell sold a defective product. In my opinion the Nvidia issue was never properly dealt with. Do I have a leg to stand on?
No. Not a leg, not even a torso. You're lying in the dirt and Dell is standing over you, laughing and kicking sand in your face.
If you'd kept up with the bills, you had a chance. But by stopping payment on the loan you took out to buy the product, you lost all recourse.
It is probably worse than that, actually. If you check the fine print, I suspect that you'll find that you owe money on a loan to Dell Finance. This is a different company from the Dell that sold you the laptop. In this case, things are different. In this case, you borrowed money from Dell Finance to buy a laptop from Dell. Dell received payment in full from Dell Finance. By cutting off payment, you didn't impact Dell at all
. In this case, your warranty would actually still be good .. if it extended several years (it doesn't, though, does it?). You stopped paying Dell Finance, who actually have nothing to do with the hardware side and did not impact their decision to offer you support. Basically, you stopped paying a loan that you took out on an unrelated product because the names of the companies are similar.
In summary: either you screwed yourself by not paying Dell and ruining your chance at service, or you screwed yourself by not paying Dell Finance and destroyed your credit while letting your warranty with Dell run out.
Either way ... you screwed yourself. Completely.
Sorry about your laptop. Apparently, most of them were fixed using a new heatsink.