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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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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.


"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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