Maths problems bulge PC capacitors
Our attention was drawn to this one by David Manners, on his Mannerisms blog – Dell Up Against It For Dodgy PCs.
It involves some evidence in a case against Dell that it sold faulty PCs, which was highlighted by the New York Times. It seems the problem involved bulging Nichicon capacitors…
According to Mannerisms:
Apparently Dell told one customer it had run the computers ‘too hard in hot confined spaces’, and told another customer, the maths department of the University of Texas, that it had run the computers too hard by giving them difficult maths problems to solve.
Even the outside law firm defending Dell in the trial is said to have complained to Dell about 1,000 faulty Dell PCs they had bought.
The lawsuit in question apparently comes to court in October, and if it is found that Dell resorted to ‘unfair and deceptive trade practices’ then Dell could be facing more than $40 million in damages. The case was brought by Advanced Internet Technologies, a North Carolina-based Internet services company.
According to The New York Times:
Dell’s own documents, unsealed in the A.I.T. lawsuit, state that it discovered the bulging capacitors in January 2004. By May 2005, Dell continued to investigate problems as complaints from customers like Wal-Mart arrived. Over this period of time, Dell received three bad batches of capacitors, according to the documents.
By September 2005, Dell was still investigating the matter and found that its SX720, GX270 and GX280 computers were all causing problems.
Dell itself has blogged on this issue, pointing out the case doesn’t relate to current Dell products, and it claims this was an industry wide issue, rather than a Dell-specific one. It says: “The faulty Nichicon capacitors affected many manufacturers, including Hewlett-Packard, Apple and others.”
The company also says that it extended the warranty for up to five years for customers who had affected machines.
Check out the comments below the line on the NYT piece, by the way. Here’s one interesting comment, from JamesNYC:
Having done technical support on hundreds of these computers Gx270′s, 280′s, they forgot they also effected D470 workstations (dual processor) as well. It took a while, but they finally redid the system boards and replaced the capacitors. Whenever one of these machine blew, we would call them “popcorn boards” because the “k” shape of the top of the capacitor would swell upward like “jiffy pop” popcorn, rupture and leak the liquified materials. In the D470, there would be 10 to 15 of these capacitors on a board.