What the Hell do Dell do to their systems?!

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Epona, Dec 24, 2003.

  1. Epona

    Epona Guest

    OK, I installed my 250GB drive from my other system (which was destroyed by
    Parcel Farce). partitioned it with PM and prepped a partition in order to
    install Linux (SUSE as it goes). Now, the system (8300) came with an NEC
    1100A DVD+ burner as a sole drive. I 'bought' an open source distro from a
    friend of a friend which the NEC doesn't want to read (there are far too
    many read/write errors when attempting installation. So I took the Sony DVD
    (ROM) from my old system (which still worked - Parcel Farce only destroyed
    the motherboard and associated cards) and installed it as slave to the
    burner. It works perfectly under XP Pro - but the system will not boot from
    it (and yes the boot order's correct) - nor will it work if the positions
    are reversed (I know burners should always be set to master, but these days
    it doesn't appear to matter - at least not on the half-dozen systems I've
    built). If I set the DVD (ROM) as the only drive the system won't recognise
    it. It appears that Dell have somehow (though I'm damned if I know how) set
    their systems to only boot from the devices they have installed.

    One other thing - does anyone know where I can find a Dell-compatible PSU
    (300W+)? This one is faulty and the system is not under warranty. The only
    one I have has a rocker switch that falls where the hole for the power
    connector should be.

    Any thoughts/assistance...?
    Epona, Dec 24, 2003
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  2. Epona

    Tom Scales Guest

    OK, I'm lost. So I'll start in a somewhat random order.

    On an 8300, neither burner, nor any device should be jumpered either Master
    or Slave. They should all be jumpered Cable Select. The master is the device
    attached at the end of the cable.

    If there were read errors on the DVD, the DVD itself is likely bad, as the
    NEC 1100 should read it fine. If it won't, then it could be broken.

    The Sony should also work fine if jumpered properly.

    The power supply in the 8300 is underrated. It is unlikely that you need a
    bigger power supply. For example, my 4550 has an internal DVD+-RW, a CD-RW,
    a WD 250GB drive and a WD 100GB and an external USB powered 20GB drive. It
    also has an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro video card and a Linksys Wireless-G PCI
    card. All fine on the '250 watt' powersupply. If you really want one, try

    One last query. The 8300 is under a year old. Regardless of the warranty
    purchased, it should still be under warranty. Why isn't it?

    Tom Scales, Dec 24, 2003
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  3. Epona

    Epona Guest

    They are - I refer to them that way because of they way they're cabled.

    Just funny that it reads everything else - I still put it down to the dye.
    I'm 99% certain it is - I'll fiddle around with it in the AM.
    That's as may be. It is, however, faulty. I have a 9800Pro (in fact, my
    system is much the same set up as yours - sans wireless card and external
    drive). I have a problem with 'shimmering' - if you look at the screen it
    shimmers as though you're looking through a heat haze. I spent a long time
    with a friend attempting to troubleshoot (it's neither the card or the
    monitor - as I have another 9800 Pro here and it does the same thing with
    that - and the problem doesn't occur with a GF4 MX420 salvaged from an old
    Pavilion. Ergo, the logical conclusion would be that it's a power issue -
    as, obviously, the GF is powered by the AGP alone).
    Because the warranty isn't recognised in this country. It was a gift,
    purchased in the US (I'm in the UK) and Dell UK refuse to honour a US
    warranty. I love this system - if only it didn't sound like a damned
    hurricane; you have to admit that Dells aren't the quietest systems known to

    My apologies, Tom, I appear to have been stuck in rant mode. Answers

    Yuletide blessings

    Epona, Dec 24, 2003
  4. Epona

    Tom Scales Guest

    I can't imagine why an 8300 would be underpowered compared to a 4550. My
    9800Pro drives two monitors, both analog, a Mitsubishi 21" CRT and a Samsung
    17" LCD. Both rock solid and stunning. Darn fast performance too.
    Particularly given that I'm running so many drives in my system. What
    monitor are you using? The only experience I have with that symptom is when
    the speakers or othe magnetic source are too close to the monitor or when
    the power itself is a problem.

    Have you tried rearranging your desk and moving equipment around? Have you
    tried using a UPS to filter the power?

    I don't think a big PS is going to sold the problem.

    Could be right about the dye if it is not a 'real' disk.

    Tom Scales, Dec 24, 2003
  5. Epona

    Epona Guest

    OK then - explain why the issue clears up when I use a GF4 MX420 that
    doesn't hook into the PSU then? It isn't the speakers (they're way up on a
    shelf - about 6' above the monitor).

    I have a Sony F520 21".

    My system is as follows

    2 HDs (120GB/250GB)
    2 opticals (DVD+RW and DVD_ROM)
    9800 Pro
    Audigy 2 Platinum
    Hauppauge WinTV 250
    56K modem (which I never use)
    Canon i9100
    Epson 1650U
    VideoLogic ZXR-750 speakers
    Logitech MX900 Bluetooth mouse
    MS Natural Multimedia board
    On board ethernet (it's networked to an Optiplex)
    ASDL 'modem'

    Whoops - should have said I was
    Nothing to do with the size - I believe (though I cannot verify as I don't
    have a voltmeter) that the graphics card is being underpowered (unless you
    have any better suggestions) - especially when a card that gets its juice
    directly from the AGP doesn't produce the same symptoms (had it been a
    speaker - or monitor - issue, then the MX420 would have produced the same
    results; the PSU is the only differing factor. ergo logical conclusion is
    that there's something wrong with the power as the other factors are
    I don't know what you mean by 'real' - it's an open source distro.
    Epona, Dec 24, 2003
  6. Epona

    Tom Scales Guest

    I admit I am at a loss. Clearly the MX420 uses less power. Have you tried
    pulling the other cards from the system (audigy 2, WinTV, Modem) and
    disconnecting the second hard drive?

    If it is power, than removing all those should give enough power 'back' to
    fix it, shouldn't it? Obviously not a permanent solution, but it would
    confirm that power is the issue.

    You do have one more PCI card than I do, but the modem should require almost
    nothing. Can't say for the WinTV card -- I have their PVR2 USB2 version, so
    it isn't an issue. I'd unplug everything USB also, for the test.

    I think you may be right, but it is interesting that you're seeing this and
    I am not.

    Tom Scales, Dec 24, 2003
  7. Epona

    Gimpy Guest

    Um, I don't seee any reference to refresh rate in all the words posted -
    that can often be a contributor
    to a shimmering display if the local power line frequency magnetic field is
    close to, but not exactly the
    came as the image refresh. If that puts you on a track, look for other
    possible sources of magnetic
    field, like a lamp ballast or transformer. Or, more easily - just try
    changing refresh to something
    quite different from 50 Hz (say 75 Hz) and see what happens.

    Gimpy, Dec 24, 2003
  8. Epona

    Epona Guest

    It is *NOT* a refresh issue - a 21" monitor should be well capable of
    handling [email protected] I have been in the tech business for 20 years so I
    know what a refresh issue looks like and this isn't refresh.
    Epona, Dec 24, 2003
  9. Epona

    lazya Guest

    Man, just makes you want to jump right out there and suggest a possible fix doesn't it??
    lazya, Dec 25, 2003
  10. Yeah. Sounds like no one with less than 21 years in the "tech
    business" need speak up, since they'll get their head handed to them
    if they do.
    Ogden Johnson III, Dec 25, 2003
  11. Epona

    goop Guest

    Do you have any friends stateside? If you want to get dell to honor the
    warranty, call Dell's US support line, pretending you are at the stateside
    address. troubleshoot with them down to the power supply. when they say
    they'll send out the power supply, insist on them only sending you the part.
    they'll send it to your friend's address stateside, and you can send them 20
    or 30 USD to cover the shipping to the UK.
    goop, Dec 26, 2003
  12. Epona

    Tom Almy Guest

    Long distance charges would be greater than the value of the power
    supply. Better to just order a replacement from Dell spare parts.
    Tom Almy, Dec 26, 2003
  13. Epona

    Paul Guest

    The monitor may be capable, but is the VGA cable capable? If the monitor
    has a detachable M-M VGA cable, perhaps you could try replacing that with a
    higher quality cable. I have seen "shimmering" problems go away when
    manufacturer supplied VGA cables are replaced with a quality aftermarket
    cable. Look for one with individually shielded R,G,B conductors within the

    Have you tried stepping through the resolutions, starting at 800x600 and go
    up from there to see when the shimmering starts? If the picture is good at
    800x600 and 1024x768 but starts shimmering beyond that, it would suggest a
    lousy cable to me.

    -- Paul
    Paul, Dec 26, 2003
  14. Epona

    Gimpy Guest

    Yep - I've been in the DISPLAY business for more than 20 yrs, and I know
    interference can look like.

    So *PLONK* to Mr. Epona

    Gimpy, Dec 26, 2003
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