RANT: Maintainability of some Dell laptops

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Ben Myers, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. Ben Myers

    Ben Myers Guest

    If Michael Dell and his cohort, now out of the scrutiny of Wall Street and investors, are looking for something to do, they need to take a very close look at exactly how serviceable and maintainable their newer laptops are, and maybe figure out why they aren't selling so well. Yeah, yeah, I know. Windows 8 is toxic, plus tablets and other fondleslabs are all the rage. But try to repair some of these laptops. Me, oh, my.

    Some of the models that have shown up here and are really vexing are most any Dell XPS I've ever seen, the Studio 1558, the Inspiron 1545, all of the Inspiron N-series that has shown up here.

    Just try to replace a slot-loading DVD/CD drive in one of these buggers. Well, tear it down completely, remove the motherboard and (VOILA!) there is the drive.

    Or, just try to clean out the heat sink/cooling fan thoroughly. Again, tear the system down completely, remove motherboard, and now you have access to the heat sink and fan.

    Or, replace the power board in an Inspirion 1545. It's really nice that there is a $10 power board, so that the whole motherboard does not have to bereplaced. Yet again, tear down the system completely and remove the motherboard to get at the power board.

    Last of all we have the wonderful Inspiron N5010 and N4010, and, so you want to put in a larger hard drive or an SSD? Yep, tear it down, remove the motherboard, flip over the motherboard, replace hard drive.

    What was so hard about removing two screws to extract a hard drive or one screw to remove an optical drive? The Latitude E6400 and E6410 may have hadsome other issues, but one turn of one screw and a bottom plate comes off to expose the hard drive, wifi, memory, heat sink, cooling fan. It's all right there for easy repair or upgrade.

    There seems to be only one organization in these United States with a focuson electronics repair: iFixit. Not sure where they get their income from,but they do a good job the products they tear down. Wouldn't it be usefulto see some maintainability ratings for laptops BEFORE you buy, rather than a year down the road when your cat sheds and clogs up the laptop heat sink?

    Michael, I'll be happy to come to Austin with my trusty screwdriver kit andgive all the hot shots some real lessons about laptops designed or not designed to be serviced. But get out your checkbook, 'cause I don't take BitCoin yet... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Jan 27, 2014
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  2. Ben Myers

    Ron Hardin Guest

    Or replace a coin cell battery on a vostro 1520.

    It's motherboard extraction time.

    I broke the thing somewhere in the process, but
    the old coin cell battery was good anyway.

    The directions in dell's online manual were wrong.
    Remove coin cell battery happens about ten steps
    before it's actually available, leading you to
    believe that you can do it yourself.

    That the remove coin cell battery page has all
    other other steps after it might have given me a
    clue, but who expects incompetence at that level.
    Ron Hardin, Jan 27, 2014
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  3. Ben Myers

    Ron Hardin Guest

    By the way, what's the official method to keep
    track of parts and screws as you go, so that you
    can reverse it easily?

    You wind up with quite a pile.
    Ron Hardin, Jan 27, 2014
  4. Ben Myers

    Ben Myers Guest

    Official? Take photos with a digital camera during teardown. View photos in reverse when putting back together. There are also a number of YouTube videos that are pretty good, too, although tedious to view from start to finish.

    I generally segregate the screws into a number of small piles, rather than mixing them all together. With some models of Dell laptops, surely only the older ones, the designers had enough sense to use screws almost all the same size, making for one big pile of screws and no ambiguity about which screw goes in which hole... Ben
    Ben Myers, Jan 27, 2014
  5. Ben Myers

    Ghostrider Guest

    I use a muffin baking tray. It's the different screws
    that present the most problem. But the thing I dislike
    the most are the thin ribbon connectors.

    Ghostrider, Jan 27, 2014
  6. Ben Myers

    Ben Myers Guest

    That's not even a half-baked suggestion. An egg carton would also suffice for those lacking baking talent in the family. I've got my eye on that egg carton in the fridge... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, Jan 29, 2014
  7. Ben Myers

    Bob_Villa Guest

    ....or that SSMTWTF pill-box thing late aunt Betty used! *L*
    Bob_Villa, Jan 29, 2014
  8. Ben Myers

    Ben Myers Guest

    Don't have one of those pill boxes yet. Nobody left me one in their wills,either. Rigid mental discipline keeps me on the few meds I take. Mind like a trap. Snap! But, yeah, I guess that one of those would work, too, aslong as there are not more than 7 different types of screws in a laptop. And, you know, if a laptop has more than 7 types of screws, it deserves to be run over by a steamroller. No self-respecting manufacturing type would sign off on a design that used so many screws.

    I remain an advocate of the free-flowing approach. Take the screws out andleave them on the table. If one falls on the floor, no matter. Take a jar full of laptop screws for that brand, and use screws out of it. Very tidy, because you always have enough screws. Downside is you never know if left a screw out, because there is no count of unused screws. Oh, well! ;>)... Ben
    Ben Myers, Jan 29, 2014
  9. Ben Myers

    micky Guest

    My mother taught me to arrange them in a pattern corresponding to where
    came from when they were removed.

    But I don't always do that anymore. I found that pill dispensers with
    7 sections, one for each day of the week, make good containers, and show
    which set of screws came out last.

    For a dollar I got a pill dispenser with 3 or 4 sections per day, 7 days
    a week. I havent' had a big enough project to use that.
    micky, Feb 9, 2014
  10. Ben Myers

    Bob_Villa Guest

    Ben...I just worked on an N5050 (bought it for $40) and there are 16? screws on the bottom (only 2 being different from the rest), remove the keyboard, 2 more screws, 2 palm rest connectors, pop the palm rest off...slide the HDD over and it's out!
    I don't know if I would have gotten it for 40 if it was 2 screws to get it out! ;^)
    Bob_Villa, May 1, 2014
  11. Ben Myers

    Ben Myers Guest

    Exactly. Well, take solace in the fact that the N5050 is an improvement over the previously lamented and lamentable N5010 and N4010. At least you didn't have to pull the motherboard out. Maybe enough people bitched about the N5010 and N4010 early enough? Who knows? But still not as easy as popping two screws... Ben
    Ben Myers, May 6, 2014
  12. Ben Myers

    Bob_Villa Guest

    I worked on a Toshiba A665 that was one screw to remove the HDD...any who, I like the N5050 and I'm keeping it! 8^)
    Bob_Villa, May 17, 2014
  13. Ben Myers

    clare Guest

    All this is why I find most Dells, when they start to misbehave,
    become "the dell from hell" in short order.
    clare, May 17, 2014
  14. Ben Myers

    Ben Myers Guest

    Don't tar and feather all the Dells with the same brush. I can easily teardown and get at the important insides of most any Dell Latitude in a matter of minutes. I can't speak favorably for many other Dell laptops. The designs are all over the map, evidently managed by different product managerswith different Dell engineers and other personnel involved with the original manufacturers, Foxconn and others.

    I absolutely had to pick on the ghastly Inspiron N5050 and the other Inspiron N-series laptops.

    So I'll continue to repeat and repeat and repeat...

    ALL the so-called computer "manufacturers" sell different product lines to businesses than to consumers. In selling thousands of laptops to a business or govt agency, Dell and others do not have the luxury of selling cheaplydesigned computers made out of even cheaper parts. The risk of significant financial loss is too great because either the lousy products will be returned for not performing properly or the company will not be invited to bidon the next computer refresh cycle.

    Now consumers are different. A consumer buys a computer that turns out to be a piece of garbage, and the consumer buys another brand next. Loss of sale of one computer. What's the monetary loss? Maybe $100 for a high end laptop?

    So I tell people to buy business-class laptops, I sell them some or they buy some elsewhere, and they are all happy campers because they took my advice. But I willingly repair most any computer when I can get the parts and repair instructions to do it.

    For Dell, Latitude generally equals good quality. For Lenovo, it's Thinkpad. For HP, I dunno. HPaq has been schizophrenic ever since they bought Compaq.

    I have an Acer here that I took in to replace a $10 part. I had disassemble it completely. Guess what? The screen was attached to the carcass anchored in flimsy plastic, and it simply broke off once I had removed the palmrest. I don't think the owner will go for another $70 part (bottom chassis)plus the cost of my time to put it back together, crossing my fingers while I do so. Did you ever have to put a computer back together with all yourfingers crossed? It ain't easy.

    You wanna buy an Acer, or, as I call them, Acer-eGateMachines? Good luck! Toshiba, idem. Sony computers, R.I.P... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, May 19, 2014
  15. Ben Myers

    clare Guest

    The change started way back when they bought Pakard Bell.
    clare, May 19, 2014
  16. Ben Myers

    Ben Myers Guest

    Right. Packard Bell got such an awful and deserved reputation in the US, that it went either Chapter 11 or Chapter 7, then liquidation. Today, Acer courageously carries on the Packard Bell brand name in Europe. What a grabbag is Acer!

    Back in the day of Pentium II computers, Acer towers were really nice. Sturdy and reliable. They blew it by going low end, especially with the acquisitions of PB for Europe and eMachines (via Gateway). Today, Acer "Veriton" business class desktops seem to be taking over the crappy weird designs that Sony favored so much... Ben Myers
    Ben Myers, May 23, 2014
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