Dell Vostro 1400 Nvidia 8400M GS Problems

25 07 2009

My Dell Vostro, purchased back in December of 2008, has decided to die. Not even 2 years old, I was hoping to get at least 4 out of it. They don’t make them like they used to?

The problem appears to be a heat related video problem with the Nvidia chipset, which is part of the motherboard and not easily replaced. When I turn it on and let it run for a while, it will randomly get strange colors, lines, blinking nonsenual characters, and double images. Once it dies like this it will continue to die until I let it cool down. Once I got an error in Windows that the nv4_disp driver was stuck in an infinite loop. Another time I got a RAM error with a parity check problem, so I removed one stick of RAM, ran it until it crashed, swapped sticks, and repeated. It has done this in both Windows and Linux, and once at the boot loader screen itself.

I ran all the BIOS self diagnostics, as well as memtest and some software to stress test the video RAM. When Googling I ran across this link,

http://en.community.dell.com/blogs/direct2dell/archive/2008/09/12/nvidia-gpu-update-limited-warranty-enhancement-details.aspx

The good news: it’s a known problem that all sorts of laptops are having, and Dell says they will fix.

The bad news: Dell tech support, like all tech support, sucks. After the usual hours of transfers and sitting on hold, I finally get to a tech support person who ends up telling me that my laptop isn’t one with the extended warranty, and that it would be $200-$300 to fix. I try to get his email address so I can send him that link, but instead he asks me to read it off to him. I do, hear no typing while I’m doing it, and then he says it isn’t loading. After a few minutes of silence he comes back and says that it is an issue for laptops older than mine, even though if you Google problems with nvidia chipsets on Dell laptops you find mine falls right into the average timeframe for being one to die.

I gave up at that point and sent some PMs to people that seemed to be helpful with that Dell blog post. If they don’t get back to me within a few days I’ll go back to calling tech support and try and get someone that will actually listen to me. Meh.

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2 responses

6 08 2009
Dell Vostro 1400 Nvidia 8400M GS Problems (part 2) « PherricOxide’s Technology Blog

[…] GS Problems (part 2) After nearly 2 weeks I’ve finally gotten Dell convinced of the problem and that my laptop is covered under the warranty, and just got the box to ship it today. […]

9 08 2009
pherricoxide

From what I’ve read it detects if it’s running in a VM now. Your best bet around it is to use a hacked version that someone reverse engineered, such as this,
http://hak5.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=6056&st=60

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