Dell, Fix Your Bios

This issue has been a problem for me for some time now. I have spent hours with Dell support, with no real help. I basically gave up hope of any solution until I listened to “What Would Google Do?” by Jeff Jarvis. He described how writing a blog post about his Dell issue resulted in a solution. I don’t have any kind of following like he has, and I don’t know if anyone from Dell will ever actually read this. Hopefully they do, because it is their only chance on getting me back as a customer. Since this Dell, I have bought an ASUS and a Gateway laptop, and will be keeping with that trend unless something is done.

My problem isn’t related to anything that Dell stated that my Inspirion 1520 laptop could do, and doesn’t do. It is related to what it should be able to do. I upgrade all my machines as much as I can, although I don’t really get into overclocking and pushing them more that way. I mostly just upgrade with parts that work in them or at least should work in them. I ordered my 1520 with about the highest specs I could at that time 2GB memory, 2.2 GHz Core2, and 8600 GT. I upgraded the hard drive a few times, upgraded the CPU to a 2.5 GHz Core2, upgraded the memory to 4GB (Dell’s listed max), and added an internal turbo memory card. I was even running 64 bit Windows, instead of 32 bit that it came with. Everything was going good, until I took a machine learning class that I needed to process large amounts of data in memory, which I discussed some of that in a previous post.

I needed more memory, and I did not know how much more… I looked up the chipset and around a lot of blogs. They told me that the chipset max is 8GB. When laptop memory got down to $400 per 4GB module, instead of $800 per module, I bought a pair. I installed them, started it up, and it was stuck on the bios screen… Maybe one of them is bad. I run it with just one, boots fine. I try just the other, and that boots fine too. Maybe the limit really is 4GB. I try a 2GB and a 4GB, and that boots fine… Maybe it is still really only using 4GB. I loaded up a lot of apps, and was about to use over 4GB of the memory… Then, I chat with Dell, and after maybe 45 min, the guy I was talking to though maybe it was just a little over the 8GB with those modules and that was the issue.

After spending a lot of time looking around in forums and blog posts about similar setups, I look at a blog from a Microsoft employee again. He originally pointed me to the memory I bought, so I was going to let him know of my issue. He had a Dell, but it was in their business line. He said that with that model, they had the exact same issue, until Dell fixed it in the bios. He said there for some reason, memory over 7GB was causing that issue until they fixed it. He suggested I contact Dell again with that info, and let them know, so they can fix it.

I chatted again with Dell support. This time the guy was saying that there was no way I could use over 4GB in that laptop model. I told him I was running 6GB fine. His response was “well good for you”. WHAT?!? I don’t remember if it was more of that support person or another one during the few more times I have tried to contact support since then, but I was also told that they have no control over what gets fixed or doesn’t get fixed in their bios because it was up to whatever the developers wanted to do. I highly doubt that is right because I am a developer and we don’t get to make that kind of decisions when there are issues.

Although I could have returned my other 4GB module, and take a large hit from the restocking fee, I decided to keep it, in hopes that one day Dell would fix it. So far that day has not come. Hopefully this post isn’t a complete waste of time because I really want to be able to use my machines to the level that I should be able to use them. If this is not fixed though, I will not be buying another Dell, because if I can’t upgrade them to the hardware limitations because there are bugs in their code, I would rather shop somewhere that I can do that.

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