Dell and Sony report mass hardware failures

Hardware is having a rough season.

After all the attention heaped on the iPhone 4 and its antenna and screen woes, two big PC manufacturers have come out today with bad news about their machines. According to Gizmodo, documents have been unsealed that show Dell shipping 11.8 million Optiplex computers in 2003-2005 with a 97% failure rate. Apparently, the capacitors built into those motherboards were almost always going to fail, and Dell was perfectly aware of the situation. It was a cost-cutting measure, one that they shockingly didn't expect to get stung by in the future. According to the NY Times investigation of the issue, employees were told to obfuscate the real reason for the failure from upset customers. In an email exchange uncovered by lawyers working on the ongoing case, one employee said, “We need to avoid all language indicating the boards were bad or had ‘issues’ per our discussion this morning.” Ira Winkler, a former NSA analyst and technology consultant, did not have good things to say about the venerable PC maker.

“They were fixing bad computers with bad computers and were misleading customers at the same time...They knew millions of computers would be out there causing inevitable damage and were not giving people an opportunity to fix that damage.”

The other fiasco was started by Sony, who is recalling 500,000 Vaio laptops today, citing temperature control issues that can distort the shape of the notebooks and cause actual burning of human skin, according to. There is a download that Sony is making available that will allegedly fix the defect, but Sony is offering free physical repairs to ameliorate the problem as well, according to Gizmodo. A commenter on Gizmodo's story reported that his Vaio actually comes with a bright yellow warning label that cautions the user to never use the computer while the laptop is touching your skin.

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Our firm owns several Dell Optiplex computers, which have suffered capacitor failures. We're currently investigating complaints regarding Dell's capacitor failures.

A NY Times article revealed that Dell systematically concealed the known defects of the capacitors in its Optiplex computers. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06...wanted=1&ref=technology

We'd like to hear from anyone who owns, or previously owned, a Dell Optiplex computer. In addition, if you're interested in pursuing legal action against Dell, please contact us.

Ryan Keane
rkeane@simonlawpc.com
The Simon Law Firm, P.C.
http://www.simonlawpc.com

[Please disregard this solicitation if you have already engaged a lawyer in connection with the legal matter referred to in this solicitation. You may wish to consult your lawyer or another lawyer instead of me (us). The exact nature of your legal situation will depend on many facts not known to me (us) at this time. You should understand that the advice and information in this solicitation is general and that your own situation may vary. This statement is required by the rule of the Supreme Court of Missouri.]

Dell hype. Let's buy a dell crap! Every moron who buys just for the brand name deserves this. I'd never touch a dell if it was the last maker on the globe. Rubbish products, expensive products and guarantee services. If you want screwed, buy a dell! That should be their marketing slogan.

sigh, that's why I went with Toshiba. thus far I've been VERY pleased with my laptop. I always recommend Toshiba to everyone from experience

Having known about this for years in the field, this has meant wonderful job security. Yes, it sucks that people got bad computers from Dell. In the corporate and home desktop fields it meant I got a lot more work due to their mistake which my wallet happy even though it made their customers unhappy to have to repair their computer many times since purchase in essence making the unit cost almost double if not more than.

They also had a an issue with their chipset heat sink clips coming loose. The part that was stuck into the motherboard would always pop out.

First of all this has been open knowledge for at least a couple years, we have many of these bad computers from Dell and I was about to find out where the capacitors came from and why they are all suddenly going bad. I am very skeptical about Dell knowing about this and selling them anyways, the company truly responsible is the capacitor manufacture not Dell, and I am not sure how Dell could have possibly known about this since the capacitors take several years of run time before they pop. The hardware itself is also not bad, and the capacitors can be replaced for less than $20. As usual with our society people would rather learn who to point a finger at so they can play the blame game rather than learning some simple soldering and how to fix something. I have been able to fix 15 of these computers infected with bad capacitors.

Check out this site if you have some of these bad capacitors in your computers.
http://www.badcaps.net/

Yes they can be fixed for cheap but I don't think it's easy enough for the average person (or even average IT person) to be able to do it. Semi-precision soldering is not easy. Even if Dell didn't predict the cheap parts would fail they shouldn't cover it up and play dumb. Take some responsibility and make sure it doesn't happen again.

I don't know why people are upset. Companies exist to make a profit, and the PC industry the only way to do this is to cut costs wherever you can. How else can you get to a $300 PC? This kind of failure rate is really normal for this industry, and we should be happy to have the variety of companies competing to constantly lower prices on our computers. Hey, if you don't like it go spend all your extra money on an expensive computer like an Apple, sure they don't fail as much but you're out hundreds of dollars at the outset.

heroinsmoker said,
This kind of failure rate is really normal for this industry

LOL, wow. Can you please cite the source for that poo-poo-bomb? I've been in the industry for nearly 20 years and these failure rates are nowhere near what is "normal." I smell a troll.

ir0nw0lf said,

LOL, wow. Can you please cite the source for that poo-poo-bomb? I've been in the industry for nearly 20 years and these failure rates are nowhere near what is "normal." I smell a troll.
Agreed. I'd like to see those stats myself. I hardly think this is normal.

heroinsmoker said,
I don't know why people are upset. Companies exist to make a profit, and the PC industry the only way to do this is to cut costs wherever you can. How else can you get to a $300 PC? This kind of failure rate is really normal for this industry, and we should be happy to have the variety of companies competing to constantly lower prices on our computers. Hey, if you don't like it go spend all your extra money on an expensive computer like an Apple, sure they don't fail as much but you're out hundreds of dollars at the outset.

Really? I had a B&W die, a graphite G4 die, two of my iMacs are paperweights, their notebooks are a mess, and don't even get me started on when I worked in the computer lab on campus servicing Apple products. We used to often have failures right out of the box or within two weeks. Apple products are anything but reliable... unless you have a good Apple Care plan... and the person you are talking to is in a really good mood.

I think you pretty much pulled those figures on so-called commodity PCs out of your ***.

Never bought a DELL, Never bought a Sony )After this, never ever gonna think of buying them)

HP (even though CS sucks) and IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads are the way to go

dimithrak said,
Never bought a DELL, Never bought a Sony )After this, never ever gonna think of buying them)

HP (even though CS sucks) and IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads are the way to go

Agreed, I have been recommending Thinkpads for years (since the 2x series) My own laptops have always been TPs. X20, X30 and currently an X31, soon to be an X60..... 2nd hand X series FTW built like tanks...... Even the lenovo ones are better than anything else out there I'd love a X201i

and yep I had a client with 29 Dell OptiPlexs of which 29 failed and were had the boards replaced by Dell, but this was 4 years ago and dell gold support told me that the caps were known to be rubbish.......

That's funny. They even told us back then that there were problems. We replaced some 500 GX270 motherboards because of the blown capacitors. It also didn't help due to the idiot(s) that came up with the design by putting the fan facing out the back of the case and onto them.

Every Dell computer I've come in contact with have all died one way or another. I've had to fix a lot of them after Dell themselves could not do it over the phone. I've never recommended a Dell to anyone and I never will.

likedamaster said,
Every Dell computer I've come in contact with have all died one way or another. I've had to fix a lot of them after Dell themselves could not do it over the phone. I've never recommended a Dell to anyone and I never will.
Are you remembering to consider the age of the PCs and the types of users?

I still have a Dell Dimension 8100 that was purchased in August of 2001 and still works well. Only a memory upgrade, new PSU (Dell supplied), hard drives and a GPU. It still has the same mobo. I don't use it as my main PC, but it runs everyday, all day (when not hibernated).

In generally, my experience has been that home models are fine (exception might be hard drives), but business class computers (both workstations and notebooks) do seem to have issues.

Class action lawsuit!! I have an Optiplex from that time span, it's yet to die but... I don't like getting screwed.

We had 26 Optiplex workstations everyone failed atleast once with the capsitors that were right underneath the hard drive (some multiple times) with the following symptoms;
1) network lan adapter fail
2) intel 945GM graphics fail
3) random reboots
4) hard drive corruption (on a good drive)

I hope they come down on Dell for this

Well, that explains why my Sony VPCCW27FX gets really hot. I always wondered why the fan was blowing out hot air even when it's in stand-by mode.

HP also had a run of flaky mobo's with funked caps. Got a great picture of one somewhere of wonderful ooze emanating from a few. Not surprised Dells also had similar issues; they both likely used the same supplier for these caps.

Notice how newer boards advertise "solid" capacitors? ...Likely the result of realizing just how crappy some of the caps were in years gone by.

Luckily, this is only about one specific product line of Dell computers. Wasn't it primarily for business customers?. This is definitely bad PR for Dell...who knows what else they did?

However, all laptops I've purchased since 2001 are Dell. I recommend them to everyone who asks my opinion on the laptops. There were issues with the ones I or my friends and family owned, but they usually happened on a second or third year of usage.

Among the top PC makers nowadays, HP is the worst imho. Their merger with Compaq was a bad idea. The reliability went downhill after that.

zhiVago said,
Luckily, this is only about one specific product line of Dell computers. Wasn't it primarily for business customers?. This is definitely bad PR for Dell...who knows what else they did?

However, all laptops I've purchased since 2001 are Dell. I recommend them to everyone who asks my opinion on the laptops. There were issues with the ones I or my friends and family owned, but they usually happened on a second or third year of usage.

Among the top PC makers nowadays, HP is the worst imho. Their merger with Compaq was a bad idea. The reliability went downhill after that.

Hp's business desktops we never had a problem with but will never again buy HP servers. 2 out of our 3 servers had bad hdd backplaines .

We have never had any luck with dell desktops but their servers are built like tanks. So in my opinion the best mix is hp desktops with dell servers.

zhiVago said,
Luckily, this is only about one specific product line of Dell computers. Wasn't it primarily for business customers?. This is definitely bad PR for Dell...who knows what else they did?

However, all laptops I've purchased since 2001 are Dell. I recommend them to everyone who asks my opinion on the laptops. There were issues with the ones I or my friends and family owned, but they usually happened on a second or third year of usage.

Among the top PC makers nowadays, HP is the worst imho. Their merger with Compaq was a bad idea. The reliability went downhill after that.

I agree to that comment about HP/Compaq. Their support is also horrible. We come home to see that our computer is not longer working (It was a Compaq Presario something) and we call up and find the warranty is expired, so they try to make us renew it three times over the phone call for $50 each time? Hello! First person: Renews, passes me to higher tech level. Next person wants me to renew, doesn't know what to do, off to a higher tech level. Last person, tries to get me to renew, and is still absolutely clueless about what is going on.

It turns out it was lightning through our phone lines, but I was able to get the computer running myself a few days later.

HP has also gone down in the Printer lines as well. Color prints just look awful (I use Canon now for anything that is in color that matters to me).

As far as Dell, from my usage in school I can't stand them. Something is always going wrong with them.

Tanshin said,
It turns out it was lightning through our phone lines, but I was able to get the computer running myself a few days later.

Instead of renewing your warranty, why didn't you do the proper thing in the first place and buy a surge protector??

majortom1981 said,

Hp's business desktops we never had a problem with but will never again buy HP servers. 2 out of our 3 servers had bad hdd backplaines .

That's a shame. The Compaq Proliant line was awesome until HP got their mitts on it.
We have never had any luck with dell desktops but their servers are built like tanks. So in my opinion the best mix is hp desktops with dell servers.

Tanshin said,

HP has also gone down in the Printer lines as well. Color prints just look awful (I use Canon now for anything that is in color that matters to me).

Yeah, same

majortom1981 said,

Hp's business desktops we never had a problem with but will never again buy HP servers. 2 out of our 3 servers had bad hdd backplaines .

We have never had any luck with dell desktops but their servers are built like tanks. So in my opinion the best mix is hp desktops with dell servers.

Have to completely disagree with you there. Dell just plain sucks in servers (and desktops & laptops). I've had multiple projects recently where we were bringing in groups of new Dell servers at the same time in a virtualization migration project and time and again we had over half of them have issues right out of the box. Bad drives, drives that click, power supplies with low voltage, bad RAID controllers, weird errors showing on the LCD screens, memory errors, etc. I've had this same experience with their junky servers for years now. They're cheap and their tools suck. The DRAC doesn't hold a chance against the HP iLO not to mention the SmartStart CD's from HP are so much better than the Dell equivalent. For years I used to recommend Dell to my clients but in the past 3 - 4 years their quality has gone down drastically. They were always the low ball player with cheaper products than their competitors which was acceptable if you were looking to save money but it becomes unacceptable when they're cheap AND they fail. I can't have servers that fail right out of the box. On the other hand my luck with HP servers has been very very good. If you read the reviews you'll see the DL380's have always been the server to beat including the new G6 line. Their more expensive but imho they're definitely worth it. I don't have much of a comparison on desktops between the different vendors. I think they all suck. I also personally own several Dell laptops that disappoint me but I won't go into that. They were priced right so I have to be willing to take the short-comings.

I think the Everex Stepnote XT5000T and XT53000T had a fail rate similar to this after about two years. Some lasted a few weeks, some lasted a few years, but all seemed to fail before they should have. It was a integrated GPU on the mobo issue. I doubt, however, Dell will go out of business unlike Everex.

I remember I had over 150+ GX280's and at least one a week would blow... To the point I had 5 spare M/B's from Dell in stock in the office.

This particular problem has plagued our shop. Our techs have replaced more than 100 GX270 failed motherboards, and it's rumored the 745s will likely have the same problem. Sheesh. So far, Dell's been good to us about it but we've had several units that we replaced with newer equipment simply because the old hardware died 1-2 months outside the already extended warranties.

Yup. had these issues on GX280s, GX270s, and I think a few 620s. I dont remember how many motherboards we had to call in for warranty. Was not happy at all.

They went cheap with the capacitors on the mobo

thats really bad, 97% failure rate, now that should be the basis for suing the company, thats incredibly bad practice. You expect better from the bigger manufacturers.

REM2000 said,
thats really bad, 97% failure rate, now that should be the basis for suing the company, thats incredibly bad practice. You expect better from the bigger manufacturers.

*cough* Microsoft *cough* *cough* XBox 360 *cough* RRoD

Shadrack said,

*cough* Microsoft *cough* *cough* XBox 360 *cough* RRoD


At least Microsoft offered to repair/replace it. Dell straight up lied to customers to save their own butts.
Definitely not recommending Dell to anyone ever again. This kind of customer service even back then....this is just depressing. Screw them.

andrewbares said,

Even that's only like 25% failure rates, right?

According to who? Microsoft? I don't know a single person who has owned a 360 since its release that hasn't had at least ONE RRoD (I have had 2). The issue is widespread enough that I'd bet that the first few years of XBox 360's saw something like a 90% failure rate.

But, true. MS did (after several years of denying the existence of the problem) eventually, after threats of class action law suits, pony up and offered free replacements. But they did so kicking and screaming.

andrewbares said,

Even that's only like 25% failure rates, right?

i heard AT LEAST 33percent+ (and for measure... i don't know exact stats but i would assume most decently made electronics devices are probably under 10percent failure rates. so even IF it was 25 percent that's still a faulty product.)

but honestly i would not be surprised if it was in the ball park of half or so, possibly more because you see many people online saying they either had one die or know someone who has had one die on them.

i personally know 2 people who had a RRoD myself. 'so far' i been lucky to not have my 360 die on my yet (mine was made June 2006. so it's older) but i would not be surprised if it eventually died. the original XBox's where MUCH more reliable and built like a tank as i am confident those will last for many years possibly decades.

GreyWolf said,
Does Dell use Intel-fabricated motherboards? I've had two fail with bad caps in the past 3-4 years.

Not for consumer products... if I remember correctly they use a combination of Foxconn, ECS (EliteGroup), and somebody else who I can't think of the name of.

vaximily said,

Not for consumer products... if I remember correctly they use a combination of Foxconn, ECS (EliteGroup), and somebody else who I can't think of the name of.

Bad-Caps-R-Us apparently.

vaximily said,

Not for consumer products... if I remember correctly they use a combination of Foxconn, ECS (EliteGroup), and somebody else who I can't think of the name of.

The other one starts with a G

Luckily I run a Studio laptop so it isn't an issue for me, nor is it for my family either. (Inspiron's for home, Vostro's for my parent's work).

We had this problem with our dell optiplex gx 280's. The motherboards always died. we had to et all 20 dell optiplex gx280s motherboards replaced.


ALSO missing from this is the gx 620 power supply and motherboard problems also.

majortom1981 said,
We had this problem with our dell optiplex gx 280's. The motherboards always died. we had to et all 20 dell optiplex gx280s motherboards replaced.


ALSO missing from this is the gx 620 power supply and motherboard problems also.


We had to replace over 130, 280's, and over 70 PSU's on the 520's

vincent said,
We had to replace over 130, 280's, and over 70 PSU's on the 520's

Yep, we had to replace 220x GX520 PSUs on the Small Form Factor units.
They wouldn't admit the defect, despite them all failing within a month or two of each other. I told them to check our inventory, see how old they all were (300+ PCs over 4 years old) and that if they didn't resolve this 'issue' that when the time comes to replace them we would replace all our PCs with HPs. Got a call 5 mins later to say they would have a tech come to each of our sites and replace all GX520 PSUs for free. Failed or not.
The replacement PSUs were slightly larger with a bigger fan.

NCalliari said,

Yep, we had to replace 220x GX520 PSUs on the Small Form Factor units.
They wouldn't admit the defect, despite them all failing within a month or two of each other. I told them to check our inventory, see how old they all were (300+ PCs over 4 years old) and that if they didn't resolve this 'issue' that when the time comes to replace them we would replace all our PCs with HPs. Got a call 5 mins later to say they would have a tech come to each of our sites and replace all GX520 PSUs for free. Failed or not.
The replacement PSUs were slightly larger with a bigger fan.

Were Dell certified and were shipped refurbished psu's. A lot of which didn't even work out the box.

dotf said,
dude, you're getting a dud.

This.

Dell has been pulling these kinds of stunts for years, it's about time they got caught in the act. I would say I hope hefty fines are handed down, but ultimately that won't help my tax burden any because it'll end up in some Senator's pocket. Oh well.

vaximily said,

This.

Dell has been pulling these kinds of stunts for years, it's about time they got caught in the act. I would say I hope hefty fines are handed down, but ultimately that won't help my tax burden any because it'll end up in some Senator's pocket. Oh well.

Hefty fines wont bother them at all, they will just raise the prices and cut wages.

vaximily said,

This.

Dell has been pulling these kinds of stunts for years, it's about time they got caught in the act. I would say I hope hefty fines are handed down, but ultimately that won't help my tax burden any because it'll end up in some Senator's pocket. Oh well.

Agreed. That and the heat problems of these things, we got a 17" dell laptop with a quad core processor in it, and we have to have a USB fan running up its backside or it overheats..

They need to change their approach a bit here

Never liked Dell or Sony...

Dell to cheap for what you get...

Sony to pricy for what you get... The Mac's of the PC world imo...

Looks and style... Thats about it...