Dell Acknowledges NVIDIA GPU Defect with ‘Fix’

Having a laptop (Dell XPS M1330) equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS, I was understandably curious about the reports of widespread defects in the die packaging of the G84 and G86 discrete video chips. That means all 8400M, 8600M and 8700M video cards are included in this issue. NVIDIA reported they would be taking a $150 to $200 million charge related to the repair and compensation to hardware manufacturers for the defects. It was that number along with some more recent reports that really put the extent of the problem into perspective.

A couple days ago, Dell officially acknowledged the problem with a post to the Direct2Dell blog. Along with the acknowledgment were ‘fixes’ for the problem for various affected laptops, in the form of BIOS updates. Now I say ‘fixes’ in quotes because these aren’t fixes. The defect centers around weakness in the die packaging. Packaging material is failing at a higher than expected rate due to both temperature variations and high temperatures. For laptops, poor thermal conditions and temperature fluctuations are a sure thing and Dell’s solution is to run the fan longer and harder, in an attempt to maintain a more constant, lower temperature. However, this has the side effect of degrading battery life and increasing noise. These are hardly things we, as customers, should have to bear due to a known manufacturing defect. Why should we be the ones to pay for their faults? The BIOS updates are mere bandages designed to control the amount of problems encountered.

We’re not talking about early adopter issues like with the Phenom’s TLB bug. These NVIDIA mobile chips have been selling for more than a year and it has only recently become apparent that the problem is quite extensive. Whether NVIDIA and/or the manufacturers were aware of the problem earlier is a whole other can of worms I’m not quite ready to open yet.

Dell says they’re going to work with each issue on a case by case basis. From my point of view, that means if you’re out of warranty, you’re screwed unless you complain a lot. But I don’t want to have to jump through hoops to get service on an acknowledged issue. After learning of the problem, I preemptively called into Dell, with the goal of extending my warranty. My standard 1 year warranty is up in a couple weeks’ time and to save myself the hassle of a possible issue down the road, I wanted to cover my bases. However, after being quoted $300 for a single year’s extension or the ‘promotional price‘ of $550 for 2 years, I decided to take the chance and go warranty-less from here on out. If I have to fight tooth and nail for the issue I hope I never have, you can be certain I’ll do so.

I applaud Dell for acknowledging the issue that NVIDIA’s been somewhat cryptic about, but at the same time, I cannot condone the ‘solution’ that’s beeing offered to customers. Running the fans more is not a solution to a hardware problem. How about offering warranty service for customers who run into the problem down the road, even if it’s outside of the standard warranty period? It seems to me the level of defects are outside of normal levels and that would be a fair tradeoff. Read: Xbox 360.

Lionel over at Direct2Dell has made it clear that there will be more updates as they become available; I’m certainly interested in seeing what more Dell is willing to do to address the issue.


20 Replies to “Dell Acknowledges NVIDIA GPU Defect with ‘Fix’”

  1. I had a friend who was an early adopter and had bought her m1330 when they first were released. Her laptop’s motherboard failed within the past month or two, to which I told her it was probably the graphics card issue. Unfortunately there’s no way to just run your computer into the ground (thermal shutoffs and whatnot), but maybe it’s time to “wrap it in a towel and run the Crisis benchmark in a loop”, as one Interneter said. I got a 3-year on-site warranty with my EPP purchase, but still, I don’t like what they’re doing. I expect and demand at least a heavily discounted warranty extension (useless for me because I don’t need a 3-year warranty turned into a 5-year warranty) or some hefty cash back. I will be watching for possible class action lawsuits to jump in on that though. 😀

  2. I have used my Dell M1330 for about 4 months and i have just got the problem with my NVIDIA GPU fan stop working. I emailed to dell and they just tell me to update the BIOS driver. Iam really wonder

  3. I also got my M1330 when it was released (mid August of 2007 because of all the delays) and my motherboard died around March. Let me say that it’s not the greatest issue to be dealing with (anyone who’s ever had to call Dell could probably understand) before exams. Luckily they made some sort of internal system mistake that saved me the time of sending my laptop to the factory – which got me on site for the fix.

    My screen now has a white circle (looks similar to light leaking). Not fun.

  4. i bought an XPS 1710, and 13 months later my Nvidia card stopped working. My warrenty ran out a month before the defect had happened and Dell will NOT extend the warrenty unlike HP. I spent a lot of money on it and i think it’s disgraceful that dell will not do anything about it. I could buy another card then again the same thing could happen again. I spoke to a supervisor at dell and she called me pessimistic since i had doubts about the card!!! You can see dell is very understanding to their customers…NOT

  5. This is an excellent resource (the comunity)
    I have a XPS M1710, and also ran into the dreaded problem, vertical lines, then blue scren.

    I was wondering if anyone has tryed changing the video card that came with the Del, for a different brand card… tha’t what I’m pondering now. My M1710 makes lots of wierd noises now, probably the fans overworking to cool the ideo card. I don’t know what to do about that.
    Has there been any updates on this thread??

    Dissaponited with Dell’s customer service (I’m also out of warranty).


    1. Hi you have a standard 2 years EU law warranty and dell will not let this go to court.
      Speak to dell and ask for a manager and write to BBC watchdog and also PC Advisor they will support you.
      The thermal heat in these is a joke and Dell are swapping these for either m1730 which have problems as well or Ailenware laptops.
      Do not give up Dell will replace because they have no leg to stand on.

  6. HP DV9700 Laptop with 8600M GS GPU Died this month (2 months out of warranty). I am moving to the other side. I will replace this useless paperweight for MAC.

    Here is part of HP Technical Support response:
    (HP) Ramiro : To resolve the issue, I recommend to install the BIOS update and then install the display drivers on
    (ME) LauraRami : So this is a known problem?
    (HP) Ramiro : It is not a known problem Laura. But it happened to many people.

    Note: BIOS update forces fan to run harder and longer to bandage the problem.
    Note: HP lied saying it was not known problem. NVIDIA publicly acknowledged a higher than normal failure rate for G84s and G86s graphics processors.
    Get even madder: Google “Nvidia Mobile Defect”

  7. @LauraRami: NOOOOOOO!!!! Buy an HP or whatever with AN ATI CHIP INSIDE. Your new Apple has (for sure) an NVidia chip, and your nightmare would repeat itself again. A sure way to end this is: DO NOT BUY NVIDIA-POWERED NOTEBOOKS! (and that includes, unfortunately, Apple notebooks)

  8. You are right Alejandro! Sad for laptop manufactures because they are taking all the heat. I spoke with HP Corporate Office and thier Customer Relations Manager is going to replace the motherboard in my laptop. Of course the same Nvidia chip will be inside. It should hold me over for another 6 months to save money for a NEW NON-NVIDIA POWERED NOTEBOOK. I have been using Compaq/HP products since early 1990’s and have always experienced an excellent product with great service. I can not totally blame this misfortunite event on HP as it is NVIDIA that caused the problem. HP is honoring my commitment. I will continue to use HP products. As far as Nvidia…well, they are not providing a full solution to the problem they caused….they are only providing a bandaid (small amount of money to cover damages) to the Laptop manufactures. I have lost confidence in Nvidia.

  9. At this point, there’s little to do but hope that your laptop company takes care of you. My year warranty extension from Dell will be up in a few months so I only hope it doesn’t die shortly after that.

    At this point, I’m planning on replacing the M1330 with something with integrated graphics. Putting something hot and powerful in a small laptop just doesn’t seem to jive well with the laws of physics so I’m going to make do with integrated graphics.

  10. i own xps m1330…. same problem….. out of warranty….. no help from anywhere…. dell sucks…. ill make sure no one goes for dell in my place….

  11. Hi..
    Dell is actually replacing the motherboard/GPU for the know Nvidia issues. So if u have any troubles with the Nvidia graphics card, call Dell Tech Support even if the system is out of warranty.

  12. Hey guys. thousands of HP customers are experiencing this defect.
    The website HPLIES.COM has a database of ALMOST 1000 unique machine and serial numbers of laptops that suffer this defect but HP has refused to replace since they are not under warranty. Some, by days. My laptop died a year & 1 month from it’s purchase date, just barely past the 1 year warranty. HPLIES.COM helped me get a free repair!

  13. I thank the author for their perspective and I wish the mainstream consumer-tech-media would publish more info regarding this issue. From my perspective however, Dell/nVidia’s “compassionate” acknowlegement of problems with nVidia’s 84-8700 series is just more legal-ese bull-pucky! Plain and simple: they are just trying to cover their corporate butts and keep shareholders (and the SEC) happy (for now) about… WRITE-DOWN$! Big Poo-poo is eventually going to hit the fan. Beacuase these video cards in mention ARE NOT the ONLY nVIDIA GPUs that are supposedly affected—- To Wit: problems with my DELL XPS M1710 (purchased in Oct 2006) began around mid to late 2007, with flickers, pixalations, wierd lines, et. al., and by Sept 2008 the GPU completely failed. Went through all Dell’s tech-support BIOS updates, driver updates, re-install Windows, blah, blah blah, etc., and since that time Dell has replaced my Go 7900/7950 series cards FOUR FREAKIN’ TIMES! Additionally, they’ve replaced the mobo TWICE. Thankfully I’ve been covered by warranty through this whole ordeal and YES, I bought the extended warranty for $350-PLUS, just this year. Now, let’s do the numbers: Including my original GPU and mobo that makes a total of FIVE nVidia cards and THREE motherboards for my laptop alone! If like myself, you have priced a replacement Go 7950 GTX 512mb card (and they are out there!) the cost is around $550 bucks retail… so I guess my extended warranty was cheaper in the long run, eh? This nVidia GPU issue is a corporate chess game and we as simple-Simon consumers are up against mega-bucks lawyers who play hardball and play it for keeps…. Question: Is there anyone out there who can think of a reason NOT to file CLASS ACTION? And I digress…

  14. dell sold me a 2 year warranty on my xps m1330 guarantee by tech to fix trhe vertical lines problem they guarantee it was adriver update took 2 hrs was not fix.
    call back again and after 2 more hrs they are going to fix the mb it took that much longer to get a refund approval from tech and it has not been issue yet on my dell preffered acc the charge was for $239.00 us.they said i have to call cust serv to check for the refund been issue.i am now affraid after reading the forum that maybe the replacement of the mb will not sove the problem.i have a mac book and so far is been perfect all the time plus i live in the city ny city and we have a few apple stores in the city where you can just bring your macbook and they take care of it.

  15. If your having the vertical lines issue from a defective nvidia card caused by poor Quality manufacturing please sign the petition below. I have an XPS M1710 laptop with an Nvidia 7950 GTX GeForece Go 512mb and have the same issue. Nvidia should recall all mobile GPU chips and issue decently manufactured replacement cards, not ones of poor quality. ATI and Intel don’t appear to have to problem. I have found the issue is affecting not just XPS M1710 users but all laptops containing an Nvidia chipset. Link to petition below. Thanks.

  16. Is there a way to get the video cards repaired? like using different solder to hold the GPU on.
    I have read that the solder they used contains no lead could this be the cause of the GPU separation?
    I have a M1710 Dell replaced the MoBo and 7900GTX out of warranty.

  17. Don’t accept those so called “repairs” from Dell. This issue cannot be fixed. I accepted the free motherboard replacement from Dell, and my laptop has failed again. I’m not going to let them get away with this. I am accepting no less than a replacement laptop or a refund from Dell. I called their out of warranty repair center and they are trying to charge me $199 just to give me another defective motherboard and just six months warranty. And they called that a generous offer. There’s no way I am wasting anymore money on this laptop.

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