Forums

Shady Dell laptop practices

Started by bitrex January 8, 2018
oldschool@tubes.com wrote:

> On Mon, 08 Jan 2018 17:09:52 -0600, Jon Elson <jmelson@wustl.edu> wrote: > >>I love Dells! I have found the commercial-grade models to be VERY good. >>I have had several Dell destop (Optiplex) machines run over 12 years in >>24/7 > > The commercial Dells might be a lot better. I never saw one of them...
I have lots of Optiplex machines all over. I buy them used on eBay for about $70 - 90 each, and have had great luck with them. I have a slightly more expensive one for my main desktop. There are tons of them on eBay all the time. I finally did have one get the capacitor plague. Jon
On Mon, 08 Jan 2018 16:07:56 -0600, oldschool@tubes.com wrote:

>I woundn't own a Dell if it was free. They are the worst brand sold. >They use parts made only for their systems. Even their case fans are >made just for Dell, and they cost a fortune. I have my preferred brands, >even though I build my own desktop machines, but Dell is not even on my >list. I'll leave them in the store so someone else can waste their money >on them and then dispose of them. > >Dell is Garbage !!!
When I need to replenish my bank account in order to support my decadent and lavish lifestyle, I fix computahs for money. In a few weeks, I celebrate my 35th year in the business. My favorite brand and most common computer is Dell. The reasons are: 1. The price point is high enough on fairly new hardware that I can make a profit. 2. Parts are readily available from the scrap dealers on eBay at a tolerable price. 3. They are common enough that any problem I run into has been previously experienced by hundreds of users and is likely to be well documented on the internet. 4. Experience has demonstrated that most models are quite reliable. Sure, there are some design errors, inferior parts, mechanical abominations, and compatibility issues. However, they are few and normally not a problem. The worst was the bulging capacitor problem, which Dell knew about, but continued to ship known defective product: <https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2010/06/suit-alleges-that-dell-shipped-12-million-faulty-computers/> Replacing the capacitors was easy enough and added to my revenue stream: <http://www.learnbydestroying.com/jeffl/pics/repair/slides/bad-caps.html> 5. The machines look nice and are generally built well. For desktops, that means more metal than plastic. 6. My customers pay me first to deliver a reliable computer, with features and performance further down the priority list. Dell is not perfectly reliable, but does better than the competition (mostly HP and Lenovo). 7. Dell supplies updates to the BIOS and drivers for somewhat longer than other vendors. 8. Some other reasons that I don't want to discuss here. My home computah is a Dell Optiplex 960. The office computah is a Dell Optiplex 755 (both of which now run hacked Xeon processors). <https://www.ebay.com/itm/321860375143> I also have several later Optiplex machines (790, 7020, 390, etc) in stock which will eventually replace the 960 and 755. There are also several generations of Dell laptops on the shelf. Needless to say, I like Dell and am well experienced with their computer products. I don't know what to say about the charger problem. I've been waiting for laptop and charger model numbers so I can do some research. Lacking those, I can offer nothing. Well, maybe something. I haven't seen any problems with clones of Dell laptop chargers. I buy them regularly to replace lost chargers at amazingly low prices. Most of what I see are damage caused by "universal" chargers. I should know because I managed to blow up my Dell XPS M1210 laptop by reversing the "tip" on the adapter, thus applying reverse voltage. -- Jeff Liebermann jeffl@cruzio.com 150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558
On Wed, 10 Jan 2018 14:02:37 -0600, Jon Elson <jmelson@wustl.edu> wrote:

>oldschool@tubes.com wrote: > >> On Mon, 08 Jan 2018 17:09:52 -0600, Jon Elson <jmelson@wustl.edu> wrote: >> >>>I love Dells! I have found the commercial-grade models to be VERY good. >>>I have had several Dell destop (Optiplex) machines run over 12 years in >>>24/7 >> >> The commercial Dells might be a lot better. I never saw one of them... >I have lots of Optiplex machines all over. I buy them used on eBay for >about $70 - 90 each, and have had great luck with them. I have a slightly >more expensive one for my main desktop. There are tons of them on eBay all >the time. I finally did have one get the capacitor plague. > >Jon
I have never heard of a Lenovo getting the capacitor plague. Maybe they use better caps....
Am 11.01.2018 um 06:23 schrieb Jeff Liebermann:
> On Mon, 08 Jan 2018 16:07:56 -0600, oldschool@tubes.com wrote: > >> I woundn't own a Dell if it was free. They are the worst brand sold. >> They use parts made only for their systems. Even their case fans are >> made just for Dell, and they cost a fortune. I have my preferred brands, >> even though I build my own desktop machines, but Dell is not even on my >> list. I'll leave them in the store so someone else can waste their money >> on them and then dispose of them. >> >> Dell is Garbage !!! > > When I need to replenish my bank account in order to support my > decadent and lavish lifestyle, I fix computahs for money. In a few > weeks, I celebrate my 35th year in the business. > > My favorite brand and most common computer is Dell. The reasons are: > 1. The price point is high enough on fairly new hardware that I can > make a profit. > 2. Parts are readily available from the scrap dealers on eBay at a > tolerable price. > 3. They are common enough that any problem I run into has been > previously experienced by hundreds of users and is likely to be well > documented on the internet. > 4. Experience has demonstrated that most models are quite reliable. > Sure, there are some design errors, inferior parts, mechanical > abominations, and compatibility issues. However, they are few and > normally not a problem. The worst was the bulging capacitor problem, > which Dell knew about, but continued to ship known defective product: > <https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2010/06/suit-alleges-that-dell-shipped-12-million-faulty-computers/> > Replacing the capacitors was easy enough and added to my revenue > stream: > <http://www.learnbydestroying.com/jeffl/pics/repair/slides/bad-caps.html> > 5. The machines look nice and are generally built well. For > desktops, that means more metal than plastic. > 6. My customers pay me first to deliver a reliable computer, with > features and performance further down the priority list. Dell is not > perfectly reliable, but does better than the competition (mostly HP > and Lenovo). > 7. Dell supplies updates to the BIOS and drivers for somewhat longer > than other vendors. > 8. Some other reasons that I don't want to discuss here. > > My home computah is a Dell Optiplex 960. The office computah is a > Dell Optiplex 755 (both of which now run hacked Xeon processors). > <https://www.ebay.com/itm/321860375143> > I also have several later Optiplex machines (790, 7020, 390, etc) in > stock which will eventually replace the 960 and 755. There are also > several generations of Dell laptops on the shelf. Needless to say, I > like Dell and am well experienced with their computer products. > > I don't know what to say about the charger problem. I've been waiting > for laptop and charger model numbers so I can do some research. > Lacking those, I can offer nothing. Well, maybe something. I haven't > seen any problems with clones of Dell laptop chargers. I buy them > regularly to replace lost chargers at amazingly low prices. Most of > what I see are damage caused by "universal" chargers. I should know > because I managed to blow up my Dell XPS M1210 laptop by reversing the > "tip" on the adapter, thus applying reverse voltage. >
Jeff, I share your point of view 100%. I have bought 4 Dell laptops new and never regretted it. The last one was a XPS13 last summer. Its first job was to survive a month long motorcycle trip, most of it on the gravel that they call streets in Iceland. Absolutely no problem in that machined alu case. The Dell power supplies tell the laptop what they can deliver. I once used a customer's Inspiron power supply (80W) on my "Dell Precision Portable Workstation" that normally has a 240W supply. The precision accepted it, but cut down on CPU and charging speed. That is the way it has to be, not frying underrated Chinese wall warts and being fried then in return. Gerhard
On 01/10/2018 12:51 PM, Tim Williams wrote:
> "bitrex" <bitrex@de.lete.earthlink.net> wrote in message > news:MOo5C.256967$qV5.167500@fx37.iad... >> You could sell aftermarket bricks with the hypothetical readout >> exploit pre-installed, and then once the laptop was owned use its own >> network connection to phone home with the goods > > Might as well toss in Wifi, Bluetooth and cellular modules, mostly to > listen but occasionally poke at things perhaps. > > Such things are also quite available today, a little Wifi AP to throw > behind a bush, or plug in to an out-of-the-way outlet. > > Lots of fun/hijinx in the IPSec crowd these days. :^) > > Tim >
There are thousands of miles of high-tension lines most of them running through the middle of nowhere; what's to stop someone from scattering a bunch of little $5 computers with WiFi around that capacitive couple to the near field for power and route the data to run whatever scammy hustle thru the open WiFi AP at the nearest gas station?
On Wed, 10 Jan 2018 03:58:17 -0600, "Tim Williams"
<tiwill@seventransistorlabs.com> wrote:
>Not a very practical one, though. If you have physical access to the >computer, you can plug in a USB drive and perform tons of already well known >attacks. > >Maybe as a tracker and logger system, but who knows what kind of data is >accessible over the battery bus. (If it's on the SMBus, potentially quite a >lot!)
No need to reinvent the wheel. All you need to do is install Dell System Detect: <https://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/19/sln117738/dell-system-detect--overview-and-common-questions?lang=en> As far as I can tell, it reports to Dell what's currently inside your machine. Quite handy for troubleshooting if you ignore the privacy implications. -- Jeff Liebermann jeffl@cruzio.com 150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558
On Tue, 09 Jan 2018 14:20:58 -0500, Phil Hobbs wrote:


> (Posting this from a 24-core AMD server that doesn't have a management > engine and doesn't suffer from the recently-disclosed hardware bugs.)
There is Meltdown and Spectre. AMD supposedly is not subject to Meltdown but may be affected by Spectre. http://www.zdnet.com/article/amd-processors-not-as-safe-as-you-might-have- thought/
bitrex wrote on 1/8/2018 10:03 AM:
> On some of the inexpensive Dell laptops they implement a hardware-lockout > system intended to prevent you from using aftermarket charger bricks to > charge the battery. The way they do this is there's a chip in the Dell > charger that contains a unique identifier which a chip on the laptop mobo > requests from it on startup over a one-wire interface. > > If on boot the BIOS can't confirm that the lockout chip on the mobo has > asserted the "OEM OK" pin or whatever the BIOS then proceeds to muck around > with the processor MSRs (model-specific registers) and alter their state, > specifically the BD_PROCHOT register, which is a flag bit that is usually > controlled by the motherboard temperature sensor. > > Flipping that makes the processor think the motherboard is overheating, > which disables battery charging and has the additional nice "feature" of > throttling the processor down to around 400MHz from 2.8 GHz or whatever. So > not only can you not charge the battery you can't really use the laptop on > an aftermarket brick even when plugged into the wall. Also there's then no > way to tell if the laptop mobo is _actually_ overheating in that state. > > Good news is that the MSRs are accessible via software, so it's not hard to > write a script that runs after the OS start to flip the bit back, and > everything is back to normal.
I have a Lenovo laptop which has a special 3 contact connector roughly the size and shape of a USB connector. It reports the capacity of the power brick via a resistor. When I bought the laptop a 135 watt replacement power brick was more than a yard. So I bought a cheap eBay model that was rated for 95 watts which was more than enough to power the unit if you weren't charging the battery. But the laptop doesn't see the right resistor value and pops up an alert every couple of minutes. So I could use the cheap brick to charge up the battery with the laptop off, but it wasn't really practical to run the computer from it. So I just didn't worry with it and now 135 watt power bricks are much cheaper. Probably doesn't matter. This thing is such a POS that if the power brick goes bad, I'd likely just get a new machine. The only thing stopping me from tossing this hunk of crap anyway is that now they not only mucked up the mouse pad, the new laptops seem to all have the arrow keys scrunched two keys into the size of one! Why do they like making my life difficult? My old Toshiba was great in regards to the touch pad and the keyboard. I can't believe other users don't seem to care about these usability issues. -- Rick C Viewed the eclipse at Wintercrest Farms, on the centerline of totality since 1998
On 01/16/2018 01:14 AM, rickman wrote:
> bitrex wrote on 1/8/2018 10:03 AM: >> On some of the inexpensive Dell laptops they implement a hardware-lockout >> system intended to prevent you from using aftermarket charger bricks to >> charge the battery. The way they do this is there's a chip in the Dell >> charger that contains a unique identifier which a chip on the laptop mobo >> requests from it on startup over a one-wire interface. >> >> If on boot the BIOS can't confirm that the lockout chip on the mobo has >> asserted the "OEM OK" pin or whatever the BIOS then proceeds to muck >> around >> with the processor MSRs (model-specific registers) and alter their state, >> specifically the BD_PROCHOT register, which is a flag bit that is usually >> controlled by the motherboard temperature sensor. >> >> Flipping that makes the processor think the motherboard is overheating, >> which disables battery charging and has the additional nice "feature" of >> throttling the processor down to around 400MHz from 2.8 GHz or >> whatever. So >> not only can you not charge the battery you can't really use the >> laptop on >> an aftermarket brick even when plugged into the wall. Also there's >> then no >> way to tell if the laptop mobo is _actually_ overheating in that state. >> >> Good news is that the MSRs are accessible via software, so it's not >> hard to >> write a script that runs after the OS start to flip the bit back, and >> everything is back to normal. > > I have a Lenovo laptop which has a special 3 contact connector roughly > the size and shape of a USB connector.&nbsp; It reports the capacity of the > power brick via a resistor.&nbsp; When I bought the laptop a 135 watt > replacement power brick was more than a yard.&nbsp; So I bought a cheap eBay > model that was rated for 95 watts which was more than enough to power > the unit if you weren't charging the battery.&nbsp; But the laptop doesn't > see the right resistor value and pops up an alert every couple of > minutes.&nbsp; So I could use the cheap brick to charge up the battery with > the laptop off, but it wasn't really practical to run the computer from it. > > So I just didn't worry with it and now 135 watt power bricks are much > cheaper.&nbsp; Probably doesn't matter.&nbsp; This thing is such a POS that if the > power brick goes bad, I'd likely just get a new machine.&nbsp; The only thing > stopping me from tossing this hunk of crap anyway is that now they not > only mucked up the mouse pad, the new laptops seem to all have the arrow > keys scrunched two keys into the size of one! > > Why do they like making my life difficult?&nbsp; My old Toshiba was great in > regards to the touch pad and the keyboard.&nbsp; I can't believe other users > don't seem to care about these usability issues. >
That's a shame, I've never owned a Lenovo laptop but the Lenovo/Motorola Mobility "Moto" series of cell phones are some of the best "budget" Android smartphones available in the $150-250 price range
On Tue, 16 Jan 2018 01:14:16 -0500, rickman
<gnuarm.deletethisbit@gmail.com> wrote:

>bitrex wrote on 1/8/2018 10:03 AM: >> On some of the inexpensive Dell laptops they implement a hardware-lockout >> system intended to prevent you from using aftermarket charger bricks to >> charge the battery. The way they do this is there's a chip in the Dell >> charger that contains a unique identifier which a chip on the laptop mobo >> requests from it on startup over a one-wire interface. >> >> If on boot the BIOS can't confirm that the lockout chip on the mobo has >> asserted the "OEM OK" pin or whatever the BIOS then proceeds to muck around >> with the processor MSRs (model-specific registers) and alter their state, >> specifically the BD_PROCHOT register, which is a flag bit that is usually >> controlled by the motherboard temperature sensor. >> >> Flipping that makes the processor think the motherboard is overheating, >> which disables battery charging and has the additional nice "feature" of >> throttling the processor down to around 400MHz from 2.8 GHz or whatever. So >> not only can you not charge the battery you can't really use the laptop on >> an aftermarket brick even when plugged into the wall. Also there's then no >> way to tell if the laptop mobo is _actually_ overheating in that state. >> >> Good news is that the MSRs are accessible via software, so it's not hard to >> write a script that runs after the OS start to flip the bit back, and >> everything is back to normal. > >I have a Lenovo laptop which has a special 3 contact connector roughly the >size and shape of a USB connector. It reports the capacity of the power >brick via a resistor. When I bought the laptop a 135 watt replacement power >brick was more than a yard. So I bought a cheap eBay model that was rated >for 95 watts which was more than enough to power the unit if you weren't >charging the battery. But the laptop doesn't see the right resistor value >and pops up an alert every couple of minutes. So I could use the cheap >brick to charge up the battery with the laptop off, but it wasn't really >practical to run the computer from it. > >So I just didn't worry with it and now 135 watt power bricks are much >cheaper. Probably doesn't matter. This thing is such a POS that if the >power brick goes bad, I'd likely just get a new machine. The only thing >stopping me from tossing this hunk of crap anyway is that now they not only >mucked up the mouse pad, the new laptops seem to all have the arrow keys >scrunched two keys into the size of one!
IME, there's no longer any reason to buy aftermarket power bricks. I can find Lenovo's (or Dell's, for that matter) for a reasonable price.
> >Why do they like making my life difficult? My old Toshiba was great in >regards to the touch pad and the keyboard. I can't believe other users >don't seem to care about these usability issues.
Everyone seems to have mucked around with keyboards at one point or another. "The nice thing about standards...". I *hate* touchpads. The cursor is always going off into hyperspace while I'm typing and dragging just doesn't work. I much prefer the Lenovo TrackStick. I have the touchpad turned off on my ThinkPads. Not possible with the POS Dell at work.