Dell Sucks

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Dell Sucks.

I have a Dell Workstation (Precision 220 to be precise), which is quite an old machine now. It's a dual processor. 1Ghz Pentium 3 box, with 512Mb of RDRAM and is a perfectly capable office machine, but modern games stress it a bit much, so I decided to upgrade it with a decent mid-range graphics card, an Nvidia 6600GT (The AGP version).

<ASIDE: this is my Windows box, which I mainly keep for playing games on. It isn't my primary workstation, which is a Linux box, nor is it my secondary workstation, a Mac Mini.)

That should be an easy enough expansion — unplug the old card and plug in the new one (after attaching the extra power connecter these more recent cards need) — but complications were to follow.

The first complication was that the power supply isn't powerful enough to power the card. Nvidia reccomends 300 watts and the Dell only has 235 watts.

"Fine", I thought, "I'll just go out and get a nice beefy power supply. They're cheap and a standard component. In fact, I have a 300W power supply in my pile of spare parts somewhere. Hey?! What the?!"

Yep - Dell uses non-standard power supplies in it's workstations. I can't just buy a third party item - I have to order one direct from Dell at a cost of probably much more than the entire computer is worth, Honestly, the cost of redesigning standard Intel motherboards to use non-standard power supplies much grossly outweigh the extra revenue from people having to buy power supplies from you.

So, this is a bit frustrating. an Nvidia card will start up in a reduced-power mode if it can't get enough power to run at full-throttle:

so I can still use the card and play games. It's just that some games will override the power manager, grab full power from the PSU and crash the PC. Still - Quake III based games are rather nice looking and churn over at 90fps (frames per second) which is OK.

One day, while trying to tweak my Linux box a little, I had a thought - why not move the Linux disks to the Dell, and move the Windows bits to the home-built PC with the 400W power supply? After all, the Linux box is also a dual-processor 1Ghz PIII box, it has more RAM (768MB) and it is a standard ATX board in a standard ATX case. Basically all that's involved in a brain transplant like that is moving the disks and graphics cards.

So, last night, I strip the Dell down to the bare bones and do the same for the Linux box and then I discover something truly annoying: the Dell has non-standard 5.25" bays! There's a sliding mount for CD-drives which screws on the bottom of the drive on the outside. The standard brackets for mounting a 3.5 inch hard drive don't work! As there's five hard disks in the linux box and only two available mounting points in the Dell, clearly I can't continue with putting the disks in the Dell case.

Perhaps if I move the motherboard? Nope, that's non-standard too! I can't even buy a standard motherboard for two Slot 1 Pentium III chips, as they only have one heatsink between them, which is finely fit for the exact size and layout of the (non-standard) motherboard!


Dell Sucks


Smudge said:

I'm in the exact same boat, 'cept my 220 is my most powerful 'puter. I've max'd out this box with 1G o' Rambus(pricey), a promise card 3 big harddrives(160's), 2 optical drives. All this on the 230watt ps!! When people hear this they say wow, your ps is still holding out?! So I bought another 230W on Ebay, and am going to buy a spare board for $45 bucks; as there is just no upgrading this puppy. I put a NVidia Quadro4 980 XGL onboard, which is older but good for 3d graphics, and so is under the wire in terms of the power ceiling for 220mobo. Getting the spare parts is still cheaper than buying a whole new computer!

Dennis Hagans said:

I too have a dell precision 220 i got used, it had a single 800 p3 in it,

I have upgraded to dual p3 866's and curently have 512 of rambus in it.

I added a WD 2500, 250 gig HD and an ATI 800 xl agp card with 256 mb ram.

i had down load a bios update from dell and my old a08 bios is no a13 rev.

it now recognizes the full 250 gig hdd, and runs AOE3 quite well with maxed settings.

John said:

Got new Vostro desktop. After 2hrs and 14min with tech support he said I had a defective motherboard. 5 days later service guy arrives with new board and guess's bad too. He calls Dell and arranges for a whole new tower to be shipped. It arrived yesterday. Another session with tech support cause it won't recognize the keyboard and the disc-drive door won't open. Looks like this lemon will be heading back too. After many wasted hours with tech support,service guy,repacking/taping boxes,waiting for DHL's safe to say that Dell must be competing with Yugo for the worst products of the century. Michael Dell supposedly came out of retirement to make things right. If this is his idea of righting the ship then he should back out the door and return to the shuffleboards.

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This page contains a single entry by dave published on January 20, 2006 8:39 PM.

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