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My wife's computer is exploding

WybornWyborn GET EQUIPPEDRegistered User regular
edited December 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Sort of.

My wife owns an XPS M1330, and it has given her no end of trouble, but today's trouble is perhaps the worst trouble.

She has had enough problems with this computer that we have sworn off ever buying Dell for anything again, but we've got this one now and we need some advice on what may be wrong with it.

It bears mentioning that she has, before this point, had the motherboard replaced in its entirety. This would be about six months back, I think.

So for the past few weeks, the laptop's sound and camera have been cutting out and failing to work. Not immediately, though, always after the computer has been on for a certain amount of time, and only after these functions have been used for a certain amount of time. She went to Dell's website to download and re-install up-to-date sound drivers, but that did not work: the drivers could not detect the device at all. Meanwhile, everything is still cutting out while she's trying to talk to her mom on Skype. She can get sound with my USB headset, but that's not an acceptable solution.

This bad boy's under warranty so I call up Dell while she's at work, and after a bit of a screw-up where my repair order apparently was not recorded (they had no record of my call, and I made two of those) I get it arranged so that a repair dude is coming out to fix the computer up. The technician to whom I am speaking has a conversation with his supervisor, and the two of them work out that it's probably a motherboard problem - that, they figure, is probably the only way that they would be affecting the camera, the speakers, and her microphone plugin. Fine, I say, that's cool. The guy on the help line is really nice - says he's sending out a technician to replace the motherboard, the speakers, and the camera, just to make sure everything is kosher. Happy times! My wife will have a functioning computer again.

Repair guy shows up today, remarks how this is an unusually thorough repair job, since he has to take apart everything in order to replace the camera and the speakers.

We have a conversation while he's doing all of this. My mistake for not pressing him for more technical details, because this is where things went to shit. All I remember is that he mentions that this motherboard may be different, having a different nvidia chip than her current one.

So he gets everything replaced, flips it, and turns it on.

It won't boot. Not into Windows, not into safe mode, not into the more thorough diagnostics, not into anything. It starts to boot. It does not finish booting into anything.

The speakers make this high-pitched screech, so high-pitched the repairman can barely hear it but like nails on the chalkboard of my freaking eyeballs, an electric sound kind of like static discharge but much longer, more sustained. That's the only signal I get from the damn thing except when I go to watch him attempt to boot it - standard, safe mode, deep diagnostic, whatever. Won't run Windows repair mode.

He asks for a CD, so I give him one - one covered in Chinese characters, which my wife may or may not kill me for using. He inserts it. He can't get it back out, because this is one of those auto-loading disc drives. The face buttons - the media buttons, you know the ones - are not working, though they were working before he took the computer apart.

The guy says he doesn't really know what could be wrong except for the hard drive being corrupt which would, according to him, explain all symptoms. He calls Dell. Makes a repair order. We're sending it to "The Depot", apparently.

He was in a hurry, so he could not stick around after making the repair order, apparently.

My wife says that the hard drive isn't the problem, or else everything that broke after he replaced the hardware would not have been working when she played with it. She figures he messed up the hardware replacement, possibly with the motherboard.

Anybody have any idea what might be wrong, based on what I've said? Could the hard drive be corrupted? Could the repairman be incompetent? Could I have messed it up by sheer virtue of a field of radioactive unluck?

Help!

Wyborn on

Posts

  • SilverWindSilverWind Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Posting from my backup computer. I asked Wyborn to post this because I've been on the line with Dell for the past hour (not my longest call with them, funnily enough) and I am pretty damn ticked off, possibly to the point of incoherency.

    I'm almost completely sure that the current problem is because the repairman either a) put in a totally incompatible part or b) messed up with the wires or some part of the repair.

    What's going on right now: they want me to send the thing to the depot, and I will--hard drive removed because I don't trust them not to format it just to be safe. So, assuming that a) they can fix it and b) the guy didn't melt my hard drive through his bungling I should okay.


    I'm just wondering what the chances are that his bungling did screw over my hard drive, though-- I can make the computer go into a very brief diagnostic where it can at least read the date and time, so I have some hope. Other than that, it's just a loading screen (with the windows bar but with a black background, no logo). Piiiiiiiiiissed.

    This computer has given me the most grief of any I've owned in my life--it came to me with a busted key and a faulty CD drive; the video card has cut on me two or so times. Thank god it's under the fucking warranty still.

    3DS: 0473-7774-3652
  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Unless he took the drive out and dropped it/hit it, or exposed it to static/shock, it would be hard to screw up the HD.

    You can get a variety of different enclosures/connectors to turn that drive into an external USB and/or Firewire drive. I'd get one of those to ensure the data/drive is working fine and back it up in case they refuse to service it without the drive. If it's a newer computer, it's probably a sata drive, those should be cheap and easy to find.

  • SilverWindSilverWind Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    It's a SATA drive, yes.

    Phew, that is a bit of a relief--thank you, EclecticGroove.

    The sort of cable you're mentioning--is it something like this: http://www.xpcgear.com/usbdsc5.html ? We'll probably go get that, if that's the case.

    3DS: 0473-7774-3652
  • Count FunkulaCount Funkula Registered User
    edited December 2009
    Yeah, it sounds like he put in the wrong replacement motherboard. Hopefully, you can convince them of that and get them to replace it properly.

  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    SilverWind wrote: »
    It's a SATA drive, yes.

    Phew, that is a bit of a relief--thank you, EclecticGroove.

    The sort of cable you're mentioning--is it something like this: http://www.xpcgear.com/usbdsc5.html ? We'll probably go get that, if that's the case.

    Yes, that's one type. And if you are not lugging a drive around externally those do just fine (some are enclosed in a hard shell you put the drive in).

    As for what went wrong. Honestly, it could be everything from him screwing something up, to the replacement MoBO being defective. Much of the time the boards they put in a system to replace are simply refurbs they got back and checked out, sometimes they don't check them out well enough (or at all), and sometimes it's just bad luck.

    And if he honestly did say "this may not be the right type" or anything to that effect, he should have stopped right there to verify it. Dell is notoriously bad for having several variations of any given model, it's quite possible there was a mismatch with parts if he just plowed right ahead.

  • SilverWindSilverWind Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Alright, thanks again Eclectic.

    3DS: 0473-7774-3652
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