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Print 44 comment(s) - last by shortylickens.. on Dec 5 at 6:35 AM


Dell Latitude E6400, one of Dell's "problem children"
Dell is aggressively trying to keep its hardware failures under wraps

Apparently Apple is not the only major OEM to have some serious quality control issues/BIOS issues.  Dell is facing what is being dubbed as "throttlegate" -- what boils down to a mess up performance problems on its popular E6400, E6500, and XPS laptops.  And to make matters worse for itself, Dell has begun to censor user posts -- a technique that seldom works on the internet world of vocal opinions and cached pages.

What appears to be happening on the select Dell models is that when the processor warms up slightly, a throttling mechanism kicks in, cutting the CPU performance by 95 percent or more.  Any running applications are thus slowed to a crawl -- the computer acts as if it is frozen.  The CPU slowly kicks back in, but even after regaining its composure slightly, only reaches about 50 percent of the initial clock speed.

Dell's users have been complaining about the problems on the company's support forums.  In what appears to be a desperate attempt to save face, the company has begun banning troublesome complainers and deleting their posts.  One prolific user that has been banned, "Tinkerdude", has actually release an extensive 59-page analysis of the problems dubbed "Performance loss during normal operation in a Dell Latitude E6500 laptop due to processor and bus clock throttling".  That document can be found here (PDF).

The issues affecting the Studio XPS 1645 appear to be similar, but less debilitating.  Its issues seem to center around an inadequate AC adapter, according to a forum thread.  While Dell hasn't respond to the E6400/E6500 problems, it is shipping beefier replacement adapters to XPS owners who call and complain.





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stupid idea
By rika13 on 12/1/2009 2:12:42 PM , Rating: 5
bad for business to attack your customers, it WILL get out and cost you sales

best business decision is to just eat the damn crow and fix the things




RE: stupid idea
By kattanna on 12/1/2009 2:20:37 PM , Rating: 5
unless your apple, then its OK


RE: stupid idea
By amanojaku on 12/1/2009 2:39:43 PM , Rating: 5
What are you talking about? Apple doesn't produce faulty products.

<On the Internet, no one can see you smirk>


RE: stupid idea
By Samus on 12/2/2009 3:22:51 AM , Rating: 2
similarly, my last dell was a 700m, and i will never buy any of their shit again after the plethora of problems that laptop had.

http://www.notebookforums.com/thread137989.html

for years there was a website called www.recall700m.com but it no longer exists (rumors are dell shut it down for slander) asking dell to resolve just the audio issues with the notebook by sending pcmcia audio cards to customers who requested them. the audio circuit in the motherboard was faulty and there was no other reasonable fix since replacing the motherboard was the only internal solution.

owners of the 700m were further insulted with the release a year later of the 710m, a refresh of the 700m, which had the same fucking problems.

they had a year to fix the problem, and didn't. i remember over 10,000 users signed a petition asking for a recall of the 700m. thats 10,000 customers dell may have lost. that's a shitload of customers.

this company must imagine their hardware problems don't exist.


RE: stupid idea
By bennyg on 12/2/2009 8:38:55 AM , Rating: 2
I have Vostro 1500, this thing is rock solid

... [touches wood] ...

but I bought it as a second with no warranty and have regularly serviced it myself (cleaning, thermal goop etc) for 2 years. Maybe that's why it's fine.

I could also say I've had no issues with TS since I've never had to call them... well only once, hung up when I heard what they wanted me to pay for a new AC adapter !?!!!


RE: stupid idea
By kellehair on 12/2/2009 9:39:51 AM , Rating: 2
I have a Vostro 1500 myself. I've had no problems so far but I do have the ticking time bomb 8600M in it. Both Nvidia and Dell are to blame for that fiasco.


RE: stupid idea
By Cypherdude1 on 12/2/2009 11:21:40 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
One prolific user that has been banned, "Tinkerdude", has actually release an extensive 59-page analysis of the problems dubbed "Performance loss during normal operation in a Dell Latitude E6500 laptop due to processor and bus clock throttling". That document can be found here (PDF).
The link you provided:
http://www.sigmirror.com/files/44490_iweoz/throttl...
is not valid or cannot be accessed by non-members. I did a search for this PDF and found nothing.


RE: stupid idea
By Viditor on 12/2/2009 6:40:32 PM , Rating: 2
His link worked fine for me...


RE: stupid idea
By stimudent on 12/1/2009 2:37:28 PM , Rating: 3
These tactics will ensure that the customer never fully learns about these things. Then there's the marketing - cute jingles, colorful logos, and pretty female models smiling in the ads will be an added distraction.


RE: stupid idea
By jonmcc33 on 12/1/2009 4:26:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
These tactics will ensure that the customer never fully learns about these things.


What are you talking about? Apple never uses any cute models in their ads.

/sarcasm


RE: stupid idea
By The0ne on 12/1/2009 2:52:58 PM , Rating: 2
Thinking twice to not go with Dell for laptops now. I hate shady businesses but who doesn't :D


RE: stupid idea
By MrBlastman on 12/1/2009 3:00:32 PM , Rating: 1
Their new un-slogan:

Oh hell, what's that smell?

His Dell expoded, toss it in a well!

:-|

To companies that silence their customers in retribution for their complaints, I send a big:

<^> {O_O} <^> to them. I salute you Dell.


RE: stupid idea
By Parhel on 12/1/2009 3:03:33 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
best business decision is to just eat the damn crow and fix the things


I think first I would try rolling out an automatic firmware update that rendered all Dell computers incapable of viewing anti-Dell material on the web. If that didn't work, then maybe I'd fess up.


RE: stupid idea
By shortylickens on 12/5/2009 6:35:12 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, a computer company should know in the modern world, you really cant keep information a secret. It only takes one person to leak the story and in an instant, the whole world knows.
Of course, the flip side of that is infamy only lasts about 15 minutes and in a little while no one will remember this and sales will jump up again.


Cause of the problem already found?
By dijuremo on 12/1/2009 3:32:28 PM , Rating: 4
I would take this with a grain of salt, but according to neowing.net, the problem seems to be due to an underpowered power supply. Apparently, the laptop ships with a 90 Watt PSU but needs a 130 Watt PSU.

http://www.neowin.net/news/main/09/12/01/throttleg...

http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=4...




RE: Cause of the problem already found?
By Inkjammer on 12/1/2009 3:58:37 PM , Rating: 2
I took a look at one of our E6400s... confirmed, they do have 90 Watt power adapters.


By steven975 on 12/1/2009 5:44:28 PM , Rating: 2
My E6400 has a 130W adapter...19V 6.7A

Well, my comp gave me one AC adapter for the road...19V 4.62A...90W. Must be why it sucks on the road.


RE: Cause of the problem already found?
By icrf on 12/1/2009 4:11:16 PM , Rating: 2
I have an M6400 mobile workstation and it requires a 150W PSU. It came with a 150W and a 130W. When the 130W is plugged in, a message pops up informing me that it is inadequate and may not be able to keep up with power demands. If done while the laptop is on, it's a pretty Windows pop-up from their power management software. If done after the computer was shut down, the BIOS detects it at boot-up and prompts me with the same information.

Do these models not have similar features?


RE: Cause of the problem already found?
By Inkjammer on 12/1/2009 4:17:00 PM , Rating: 2
I've plugged in a wrong power adapter and gotten a similar warning from an E6400, so...


By bennyg on 12/2/2009 8:42:06 AM , Rating: 2
I plug in a correct spec 90W adapter in my lappy and about about 1% of the time I get that error.

So I'm in the habit of ignoring it.

Also got it for the 100W yumcha generic adapter (where you change the tips) but it ran at full powa anyways.


Link to document does not work
By Lord 666 on 12/1/2009 2:11:28 PM , Rating: 2
Just went to try to read "Tinkerdude's" dissertation, but the link does not work.

Just purchased two E6400s, very interested in this.




RE: Link to document does not work
By GaryJohnson on 12/1/2009 2:52:00 PM , Rating: 3
I'd like to see it too as I'm wondering how the heck it manages to fill 59 pages. Even Jason McRambles-a-Lot was able to describe the problem in about as much detail as neccesary with just 1 paragraph.


RE: Link to document does not work
By Inkjammer on 12/1/2009 3:56:34 PM , Rating: 2
To play Devil's Advocate, what if the 59 page PDF was so completely off base to the real issue that Dell was censoring to prevent "crying wolf" and getting customers up an uproar over something that may or may not be the real issue.

Granted, I don't know and I can't say. I'm no Dell loyalist by far.


By GaryJohnson on 12/1/2009 4:22:24 PM , Rating: 3
It's really looking like they only banned that one guy. In his last post on the dell forums:

quote:
BTW, my current contact at Dell (in the Executive Escalation Team at the Resolution Expert Center) turned out to be a complete joke. Turns out she doesn't even remotely understand the problem. I'll put together a separate post on that - the situation is astonishingly ludicrous.


I'm betting he put together his "seperate post on that" and went into detail about the person who he thought was a joke, probably including their name or some other personal information. Which is probably why he was actually banned.

The report, which has vanished, looks to have been hosted on his domain. So I don't see how dell has anything to do with that disappearing.


Ouch - talk about shooting on self in the foot
By BZDTemp on 12/1/2009 2:28:14 PM , Rating: 4
I just googled "Throttlegate" and the story is all over. Not only does Dell seem to have an hardware issue but they look like scumbags for trying to cover it up.

It seems the pdf-mentioned is not to be found at the moment but there is plenty of info and interestingly it may be the problem is in fact due to under-powered PSU's. If it is the PSU that means an easy fix (which again means Dell is even more stupid).




By StevoLincolnite on 12/1/2009 10:52:39 PM , Rating: 3
That's what I find funny, what do these company's achieve at censoring people on there websites? All it does is make the customer angry and plaster it all over the Internet. - You get worst publicity when the customer is angry compared to when a customer is looking for a solution to there issue, and censoring isn't going to fix there problem.

Dell has lost the plot and it's touch with it's customers in my eyes, they used to make decent machines, probably part of the reason they are no longer the top dog as far as sales is concerned.

I was impressed with Toshiba, I spilt an entire cup of coffee all over the keyboard about a week after I just bought it, and they happily replaced the entire machine despite it being my fault, free of charge.

Then the Power Supply Units... In general PSU's from Dell, Acer, HP etc' are usually never top-quality units anyway, and most of the time they are "Just good enough" to power the system.


Dell's Response
By BillatDell on 12/1/2009 11:01:07 PM , Rating: 2
We’re aware of concerns raised in this post. At this point, our teams are looking into the details. When we have more information to share, we’ll update customers via a post on Dell’s blog, Direct2Dell.

Bill B
Dell Social Media and Community




RE: Dell's Response
By Agentbolt on 12/2/2009 3:28:52 AM , Rating: 3
Oh please, Dell Person. I can tell you right now what kind of post we can maybe kinda-sorta expect to see on your site someday, in the future, maybe.

"Dell values the opinions of its customers very much and we look into all concerns raised about the quality of our products very seriously. A very small minority of our customers are reporting an issue with throttling issues on our E6400/6500 series laptops, and rather than let a potentially damaging conversation occur organically, we elected to simply stick our fingers in our ears, whistle showtunes, and ban anyone saying anything remotely unflattering about our product. We will of course pretend such bannings never happened, create such monumental levels of spin that the Earth's rotation may reverse, and generally infuriate the small group of people paying attention to this even further by being as obtuse as humanly possible in regards to how we handled the situation"

Look, products fail. You can see from the conversations here that whatever this problem is, it's affecting a small minority of E6400/6500 owners. Nobody's going to crucify Dell over that.

The inevitable response where Dell eventually kinda-sorta owns up to a small problem with their product, but completely and utterly disregards the far more damaging problem of how they HANDLED said problem, is just going to piss people off far more.

I look forward to Dell's response to this, but mostly to be proved right. I would be the first in line to apologize and begin salaaming wildly if Dell's response reads anything like "We are aware there is a small issue with some of our laptops, and we are working to fix it. The attempts to silence legitimate complaints about this were misguided and unacceptable, and the people responsible have been disciplined"


RE: Dell's Response
By Agentbolt on 12/3/2009 1:08:55 AM , Rating: 2
I want to give credit where credit is due, I followed up with Direct2Dell today and their post is a step in the right direction. There's some disagreement over whether their fix is legit or not, but they categorically stated they did not ban anyone in the forums over the discussion, and no one has disagreed with the statement.

The person at the center of the discussion, (whoever had the 50 page report he created) has complained about not being taken seriously back in July and August, but isn't denying he was never banned or anything. Since it appears there's little to no evidence there were any KGB-style bannings in the night, this now amounts to a fairly typical only-affecting-the-margins tech issue that's bound to crop up with any product from time to time.

My 2 cents is that Jason should update this post, as more than half of it currently talks about a phenomenon that apparently never really happened.

Sorry to be so aggressively cynical, Bill B.


PR and damage control
By sandhuatdt on 12/1/2009 2:52:05 PM , Rating: 4
One would imagine that with large marketing and PR departments, damage control would be a precise science by now. Only to see large corporations bumble around like this. Welcome to Corporate America - land of the megacorp dysfunction.




By whoisnader on 12/1/2009 6:19:55 PM , Rating: 2
DLink have done the exact same thing here and you'd think these companies would know better.

DLink released a major firmware updated on all the Wireless N products a few months ago and unfortunately the firmware will not let you flash backwards. The issues with the current series are plentiful but the main ones are wireless restarts (every few minutes to hours) and router reboots randomly and often (hourly to daily).( refer to http://forums.dlink.com/index.php?board=187.0 )

However the real surprise was that the problem is across all of DLink's Wireless N products, DIR655, DIR825, DGL4500. ( Refer to http://forums.dlink.com/index.php?board=144.0 as an example )

People became very vocal about this, to the point of anger and venting, the mods did little to express any apology and in some cases, "pushed the buttons of users", which only fueled the anger more. Then they began to delete posts and ban users, which ordinarily would be expected but they where only targeting those who complained about the firmware.

It took DLink quite some time to acknowledge these two main issues but then began to ask for volunteers to have engineers come out and try to diagnose why this is happening. (Refer to http://forums.dlink.com/index.php?topic=7722.0 and http://forums.dlink.com/index.php?topic=7690.0 as examples).

DLink have released beta firmware on some of the products to help solve the router reboot issues with some mixed success ( Refer to http://forums.dlink.com/index.php?topic=8823.0 ) however the bad firmwares in question have not been pulled from their site and some have been up for more that 4-5 months, so potentially, the number of users affected is growing.




By whoisnader on 12/1/2009 6:22:49 PM , Rating: 2
There is a site tracking the deletion of posts, issues, work-arounds and beta firwmare on http://dir855.wordpress.com


In tecnhical terms....
By cyberguyz on 12/1/2009 6:06:20 PM , Rating: 3
...It's called 'damage control'.

Which means when you screw up, you hush it up as fast as you can and try to put out the fires.

This kind of tactic worked a long time ago when the Internet wasn't quite so popular. Dell is now finding out just how difficult 'damage control' is in this age of instant bad press 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I find it particularly funny when companies such as Dell & Apple creates discussion groups and websites in an effort to enhance sales & provide support discussions for their products. Most promptly seem to forget that this efficiency of communication also makes it impossible to sweep their excrement under a rug. Pulling a stunt like this (banning users and deleting 'negative' threads) is like tossing a match into a large wheat field during a dry spell.

I'm waiting to see how Dell's spin doctors try to get them out of this one.




"Dell Censors User Comments"
By DatabaseMX on 12/1/2009 3:14:49 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, not to worry. It's the new American customer service business model in action.

And really, why buy Dell when we have Fujitsu ? (seriously)

mx




E6400
By Inkjammer on 12/1/2009 3:54:17 PM , Rating: 2
While I can't comment on Dell's censorship (I highly frown upon it) I figured I'd comment that we've got about 60+ E6400s and about 30+ E6500s floating around in the office and we've never had an issue like this. I sort of wonder how widespread the issue is - 1 or 2 out of 100? More, less? Dell sells thousands of these a day, so a rate of failure can be fairly high while still being within industry standards for acceptability (sans censorship BS).




worrying
By semo on 12/1/2009 4:30:17 PM , Rating: 2
just had to replace an HP with a faulty nvidia 8400(well known problem linked partly to overheating) with a studio 1557 (i7). I hope we haven't gone from bad to worse...




its funny cause...
By xDrift0rx on 12/1/2009 5:08:29 PM , Rating: 2
It's funny because my job just started ordering dells, saying our white-book Compals were trash...

The best part is all of our laptops have been E6400/E6500s....LOL




By tobrien on 12/1/2009 5:30:55 PM , Rating: 2
so I own an E6400 and I personally have not experienced this problem. I'm not saying it doesn't exist, perhaps because I got mine about two months after the E6400 was introduced in 2008 and this is something just on the later revisions.

but anyways I can't help but notice how this article is worded, I mean let's be honest here: is Dell the ONLY (major) company that sells systems and censors out user problems on forums and reviews and whatnot? I definitely know of a few (like Apple) needless to say.

I definitely agree Dell shouldn't be doing this censoring, but Dell isn't the first to have ever used this tactic.

plus Jason Mick wrote this article!

Maybe a possible motive for this censoring is because Dell did experience a profit decline (54% according to DT) and they're trying to get things back up. I don't know, I'm not affiliated with Dell, I'm just speculating.




HP just as bad
By UMUJU on 12/2/2009 8:04:27 AM , Rating: 2
HP has been doing similar things when the nvidia chips started frying their motherboards. They did a warranty extension for some of the models from 1yr to 2yrs, but not all models with those chips were included. Mine was one of the unlucky that died right b4 the 2yr mark, but wasn't eligible for free repair. The "fix" HP came up with.... turn the fan on 100% to hopefully extend the life a little so it didn't look so bad. Now they're rated with a 25% failure within 3yrs of ownership. I went all the way to corporate and the BBB and all I got was an offer for $200 off a new system $400 or more. Sure, so I can replace that again in 2yrs. Their $200 doesn't even cover the extended warranty if I wanted to guarantee it a 3yr lifespan.




By Havok423 on 12/2/2009 11:36:30 AM , Rating: 2
I've been using one for about 6 mos. now at work and never once had a problem with processor throttling or overheating. It stays on for a good 8-10 hours straight each day. Best work notebook I've ever had.

Maybe fixes were already being put in place by mid-summer. I did hear of issues when they first started shipping...




By TranceFat on 12/2/2009 1:24:12 PM , Rating: 2
Dell laptops are no strangers to overheating. The exact same thing happened to me with GeForce GO 7800/7900 GS equipped laptops. I did everything I could to solve the issue and they refused to acknowledge that this was a manufacturing defect. Even NVidia spent millions of dollars correcting the problem. Yet, Dell refused to acknowledge the problem. I wrote personal letters to senior executives at Dell, and all I got in response was some stupid lady that parroted the fact that I was out of warranty. IMHO, being out of warranty does not preclude taking responsibility when it comes to negligent product making.

I wrote about this entire horrible custom service experience here: http://goldenrain.xanga.com/696454008/dell-hell/

Search for it on Google or click through the links I provided in my blog post above. There are hundreds and hundreds of users that experienced the same thing. I had to actually get my credit card company to fix it for me since they offered an extended warranty for items purchased with their card.

And guess what, the "repaired" laptop failed for exactly the same reason three months later. I never have played games on the laptop either, and it still died. Clearly this was a manufacturing or design failure.

Now the laptop sits in a corner collecting dust.




Buy Desktops
By Headfoot on 12/3/2009 10:03:20 PM , Rating: 2
I really don't understand why people love laptops so much. Sure some people actually move around with them, but the vast majority of people (that I know at least) leave them in one spot almost all the time. I do understand business users move around with them.

If you were using a desktop you probably wouldn't be facing this problem, and if you were you could just replace the part and not the whole thing. Laptops are super overrated. I'm a firm believer in the Desktop + Netbook combo.




Please keep this relevant to my bowels already
By ggordonliddy on 12/1/09, Rating: -1
"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer













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