Despite Blog, Dell Still Forced To Recall Exploding Batteries

from the boom-boom-boom dept

Dell has announced it is recalling 4.1 million laptop batteries following a spate of well-publicized incidents of its computers catching fire. The battery problem, which had been kicking around for a while, was but one facet of consumers' growing frustration with Dell's customer service -- a frustration the company noted was hurting sales and which it intended to rectify. The most high-profile aspect of this was the launch of a corporate blog, a move partly intended to try to fix some of the damage Dell had taken from pissed-off bloggers. While perhaps the launch of the blog had some symbolic meaning of Dell "joining the conversation", it can't, on its own, solve the company's customer-service woes, or indeed, its deeper problems. While the blog may prove a valuable tool to humanize the company and with which to communicate with customers, as long as faulty products like exploding batteries and many other aspects of the company's service remain a problem, Dell's woes are going to continue. It's doubtful Dell ever assumed blogging would solve all its problems, though the comments of some bloggers would make you think otherwise. But even a blog can't solve the most fundamental problems that are turning people away from the company, something Dell continues to try to fix.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Lay Person, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 8:44am

    Hmmm...

    Seems to me that the blog is a way of keeping the pulse in the market and an ear as to what peopel really feel about their services.

    Good way to save money without having to do research.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 8:48am

    As someone that supports primarily Dell hardware, I have seen several examples of Dell outright putting substandard components into their systems. Components that are an issue over and over again and that Dell replaces, with the same substandard component, over and over again. Customer service is great... but you've got to put out a quality product to begin with.

     

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  3.  
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    motopsycho, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 9:01am

    We just recently had a SATA hard drive completely fry the mobo on one of our Dell Ultrasmall Form Factor machines.

    I didn't even know a hard drive could DO that! Apparently Dell didn't either, and before they would send out a replacement drive, we had to put it in another machine, which it subsequently fried.

    So two machines down because of one hard drive.

    Then, with ANOTHER hard drive from one of these USFF machines that failed, we tested it in two machines and it wasn't detected, and before they would send replacements, we had to reset the NVRAM. How the heck would NVRAM on two different machines cause a single hard drive not to be detected?

    Moran's I tell ya.... ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Dell pyromania, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 9:02am

    Explosions

    Yeah- Dell may have exploding laptops- but it's still not as impressive as a mentos in a diet coke.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Loser, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 9:03am

    Batteries

    They were Sony batteries, is this going to cause issues for Sony, HP, and Gateway laptops as well?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Dell pyromania, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 9:04am

    Pinto

    I hear Ford is bringing back the Pinto and updating it for the 21st century.

    It will have a dell computer running it's internal systems and gas tank fuel-management software.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Dell-Bq 2006, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 9:35am

    Burnin' Down the house!

    Dell customer service may suck..but they didn't waste any time when my relatives called and reported thier housefire appeared to have been caused by the laptop! They sent an investigator out pretty quickly to sift through the remains of the fire!

    The determination: the laptop exploded-
    The result: yet to be determined between Dell and the insurance company!

    http://tinyurl.com/s2zsn

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Lay Person, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 9:54am

    Re: Burnin' Down the house!

    Woah dude!

    Man, that is the coolest story I've yet read in this place!

    Tell us more: What model, was anyone home, anyone get hurt, is Dell giving you a hastle, how long have you had it before it caught fire?

    What a trip. I thought it was all just exagerated press coverage. We use only Dell at my company, all I buy are Dells. I would hate to burn down one of my employees homes.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Dell-Bq 2006, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Burnin' Down the house!

    All I really know is that they were using the laptop in the living room, sat it down to get up something to munch on and when they came back, the entire living room was in flames and they lost half the house, brand new living room furniture and a new big screen tv! No one was hurt luckily.

    I don't have much more detail than that as I haven't spoken to my "aunt-in-law" in awhile -they are in Florida and trying to rebuild-clean up and salvage before Hurricane season takes over!

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Burnin' Down the house!

    Hrmm...

    This is really making me rethink my laptop cooler tray thingie with built in fans.

    If the laptop is going to burst into flames, I really don't want to be force-feeding it...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Richard, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 10:21am

    Dell, Blogs and so much more......

    Just read your comments about Dell...and not sure anyone ever suggested the blog was a cure-all to anything. It is a way for dell to engage with customers, as we noted when we entered the blogshere. Appreciate your reference to numerous other matters Dell is dealing with. However, thought it helpful to also reference just a couple of initiatives Dell is taking to invest in its business for the long haul. For example, we have announced $100 million for improving the customer experience; a "make-over" of our website (one of, if not the largest e-commerce site around). Find more info at our blog. Not sure our competitors are investing for leadership and the long haul and they certainly cant replicate our direct connection with the customer. You will also see our investments and focus are starting to pay off. Look at the recent results from University of Michigan Study (again discussed on our blog or http://www.theacsi.org/second_quarter.htm). No one is perfect. However, we our focused. We are working closely with customers to resolve and address issues-- all to make sure we do what we have to for the customer and Dell's direct relationship with them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 10:41am

    bleh

    Dell is a horrible computer service. They employ dirty means to keep ignorant computer users shelling out money to them. Hey, let's make someone think they're getting a great deal on a computer but we'll only put in 256 megs of ram, set the page file fairly low, and load it up with services (some the equivalent of trojans) that, out of the box, are already using up more memory than the physical ram they have... after they run a few of their own applications the page file is filled up and it starts to run like shit. But hey, you can always then upgrade your computer...

    it's crap... i've seen out of the box computers from dell with 50+ processes running... wtf is that? 30+ of those processes aren't needed at boot time or at all (reminds me of hp's 'let's give you a shitload of services that aren't needed to print but we'll make you think they are)... it's shady i tell you...

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Lay Person, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 10:49am

    Re: Dell, Blogs and so much more......

    Thanks for the feedback Richard,

    I hope that you are correct in that your efforts will result in Dell being viewed in a more favorable light.

    However, is that going to correct #12s entry about the packaged trial/bloated software?

    Also, what about the subpar components? I've had issues with USBs going out on several flagship laptops. Dell wanted to charge me for replacement motherboards even though the users never broke the USB and it was under warranty!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Lay Person, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Burnin' Down the house!

    Yeah, then it wouldn't be a cooler tray but a back-draft tray!

    Ha Ha!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Primitive, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 11:09am

    Human Evolution

    Dell Laptops were essential to human evolution- it is through one exploding that Homo habilas was able to discover fire.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    mike, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 11:15am

    Grrr.. first dell laptop and very unhappy

    I take excellent care of my electronic equipment and my Dell laptop has already had two hardware failures in just over 1 year. I own the Inspiron 8600 and so far have ha a hard drive failure, which luckily was still covered under warranty - unfortunatly the data on the HDD wasn't and neither was it recently backed up. Then outside of the warranty my USB ports failed on me.

    Several times the computer has locked up on me due to heat, it gets so hot, touching the bottom can almost give a burn.

    Hopefully the new batteries will run cooler, anyone have a direct link to get a new battery?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Xcetron, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 11:20am

    Its true, these companies like to load your computer full of trial softwares and when those softwares expired, inexperience users would order them then start to pay a subscribtion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Seth, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 11:23am

    http://www.dell.com

    ..^....^.. I can't believe dell.. "What next," are we going to have to take .......
    Caution of computers blowing up in our faces from a electrical defect.?
    .............>>

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 11:25am

    Good to see that outsourcing 'customer service' is having the effect everyone said it would. Too bad Dell's too short sighted to care about anything but the bottom dollar.

    All too often these companies don't think - while outsourcing your customer service may save you a few bucks in the short term - in the long run, it will be a bottom line killer.

    I won't recommend anyone I know to buy a Dell now, since my last 'customer service' experience with them - look at it this way - for many in my family I'm the 'go to guy' for computer matters. So while Dell doesn't really consider any customers important unless they are buying in mass - that's still a number of customers gone to other companies.

    I'd say about 20 or so people I know, perhaps more would give me a ring and ask what PC I'd suggest if they were buying a new one..

    Truthfully - the only place you can see to get decent customer service anymore is local computer shops.

    Afterall, each family member Dell can't help ends up being another 'tech call' for me, lol. I don't mind helping friends and family - but like I tell them: If you're paying for a warranty and tech support - use it.

    Really - a faulty battery problem can be overlooked - pathetic customer service cannot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    outsourcing the truth......., Aug 15th, 2006 @ 11:28am

    RE: Dell, Blogs and so much more

    What a load of crap. Dell customer service sucks. After speaking with someone overseas with a connection so bad it sounds like darth vadar getting it on with a vaccum (not to mention the accent), all you get is a replacement piece of crap. Sorry to rant here, but Dell has gotten too large to care anymore. For example, I had a 26" LCD go bad on me. They sent a replacement (after 4 hours of dealing with the vadar call). It did not work either. Another round of discussions, another replacement did not work. They kept sending refurbs in lieu of a new TV. I finally got pissed and told them I wanted my money back. They refused to refund my money. 4 out of the 5 machines I have bought from Dell over the years have crapped out or crashed mulitiple times. Anonymous hit it on the head when he brought up sub standard parts. Maybe Dell and Walmart should join forces since they both like to cater to the ignorant by offering lower prices for lower quality merchandise. Just my rant for the week!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Obvious Man, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 11:37am

    Um duh.

    That's what you get for buying from a mass production computer company that doesn't sufficiently burn-test new parts together before mass production - some things fry long afterwards, and you've got a conflict that could've been forseen long before this company pays dearly for a recall.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    anna, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 11:43am

    Chill Mats for Laptops, Anyone?

    Has anyone seen the cooler fans that plug into a USB port? Chill mats, I think they're called. You can pick them up new and cheap on Ebay. My cheapo Thinkpad runs hot and I'm going to get one of these things and try it out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Richard, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re: Dell, Blogs and so much more......

    Lay,
    1. You might find this vlog helpful on bloatware: http://www.direct2dell.com/default.aspx?p=3.
    Add your comments and weigh in....we are listening.
    2. We want to follow up on the USB component going out and replacement motherboards but need you to contact us at: Customer_advocate@dell.com When you email us, please mention this exchange so we recall who you are.
    Waiting to hear from you :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 12:57pm

    Where I work, we standardize on Optiplex PCs and Latitude laptops, which are usually a bit higher quality than the home user stuff, but not by much. If it were up to me, I'd be building all our PCs from scratch. So far I've had to replace approx. 20 motherboards (maybe more) in less than a year, with the sole cause of failure being blown capacitors. Usually I don't have much trouble at all getting replacement parts shipped out (especially if the PC has a Gold support contract), but there shouldn't be that many failures, period. We either have to pay for 3-year support contracts or for tons of replacement parts. Do NOT buy a Dell without a 3-year support contract, because a lot of these failures are showing up 2-2.5 years in.

    I think the problem is Dell's business model, which limits the R&D that goes into their products. The manufacturing of ost (if not all) of the components in their products is outsourced, which means loss of quality control. You know the third party manufacturers are gonna use the cheapest crap they can find. At least Dell quit using Maxtor hard drives, for the most part anyway. I can't even begin to tell you how many of those I've replaced. I do not buy prebuilt PCs, because I build my own. But if I had to buy a prebuilt one, I would not buy one unless I am told the brand names and model numbers of all the parts so I know what I'm getting. Places like Dell refuse to give you any brand names for parts like motherboards, RAM, and hard drives on their website, which is a pretty clear sign that it's cheap crap that they don't want you to know about. Unfortunately, most people don't care because they wouldn't recognize the bad parts even if they saw the brands. But that doesn't give Dell an excuse to exploit their ignorance. They should be educating people on the parts that go into a PC and how to make a good buying decision. I can't wait for AMD-based Dells, because they won't be able to use cheap, crappy Intel chipsets on the motherboards. A Dell with AMD/nForce wouldn't be half bad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    MrPaladin, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 4:35pm

    Replacement battery

    I'm actually hoping my battery is one of the ones listed for recall... this ones only been holding a 66% full charge for the past mth...

    If it does burn down my house tho, it wouldn't be too good, but it would give us the extra push out the door to move :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Agonizing Fury, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 6:29pm

    Check out this Video.....

    of a Lithium Battery being overcharged. Looks fairly similar to the flame in the picture from the conference.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    brian gantt, Aug 17th, 2006 @ 6:28pm

    stop the insanity!

    so, due to "safety issues" in airline travel, I cannot board a commercial airplane with a half-ounce of eye drops! - but it's perfectly fine to carry on (or check) an exploding dell laptop computer?

    (please don't shoot the messenger...)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Steve, Aug 19th, 2006 @ 11:19am

    Dell Batteries

    So... I agree with the comments about lousy support for retail and home customers. I've dealt with it on numerous occasions, and to say that it is sadly lacking is to emulate a master of understatement. Lousy connections, unintelligable voices speaking semi-english with heavy accents, and them using meaningless flipcharts trying to solve your problem. And they call this customer service??
    But I see no response from Dell here on what to do about the exploding batteries. Nor on the website... at least not easily found. What models of LT's have these batteries? How do I get a replacement? Is that even possible? I have 4 dell LT's, and I am NOT enthusiastic about burning down my house.
    How about some REAL action, Dell, before you lose another loyal customer?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Queen, Oct 26th, 2006 @ 8:28am

    The dell computer blog that generated so much atte

    Could someone please e-mail me the article and person who started documented there negative experience with Dell. I am writing a paper on blogging and would like to cite the case. It's very important that I have this information to make my case. Also, if any one could send me additional information on blogging, including history, how it's useful for educational purposes, businesses, etc. I would really appreiciate it.

    Thank you in advance

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Grumpy, Apr 19th, 2007 @ 7:28am

    Re: Dell Hell

    After talking to a informed source at Dell by the name of Jeff Scully. I have changed my mind about how things or support is done in this country and not by just Dell. Nobody repairs the products they sell in this country. A employee of GM does not replace your alternator on your car. But a employee from the nearby GM dealership does. A GE employee does not come to your house to fix your washer. A employee of the local GE dealership does. And they do not work for GE. I recently had a Sears Dish Washer go out still under warranty. Did a employee of Sears come to my house? No Sears contracted RotoRooter to come out and repair it. So it is not a big stretch to figure out that the person from BancTec whom has been at my house three times now. Has nothing to do what so ever with Dell. Other than he is the person from the company that bought my support contract. And he passed the test for certification by Dell to work on the products they sell. So knowing this now I will never call into Dell and yell at them when the BancTec employee is two hours late. It is not their fault they only troubleshoot over the phone. And send the part out overnight. It is the BancTec employee that drives over to the DHL and picks up the part. And calls me with a time for him to be late. When you reach this reality it is not hard to figure out the rest. All Dell does is manufacture a computer. They rely on you to maintain it. Troubleshoot it including opening it up. And depending on your warranty you may be asked to repair it yourself! When you call into their tech support they are following a script. The same script that is on their web page. The other day I called in and told the phone tech to go to step G which confused him. But after a while he did and cut the troubleshooting down to half. I also figured out that depending on the time of day you can be transferred to India, Manila, Panama city. And they all follow the same script. So it does not matter if you cannot understand them. Just download the script and read it back to them. You will get it fixed. I also figured out that depending on how the unit was sold. To a business or just to a home account. You may not leave North America in support if it is a purchase for a large business. But even if you talk to someone in Alabama or Canada. They are still following the script. Also on the weekend you always go to India for support regardless of the account. I have found that I get the best support from Dell when I call in on my business units. And sometimes I will use a service tag from one of those units to get answers to my questions. Instead of the home unit or personal purchase. This was also explained by Mr. Scully as to those who have and have not. Meaning most of the people on the business side of support in the US and Canada. Have most of the items they are supporting. Like computers, digital cameras, web cams, memory keys, MP3 players. And know how to support them. As opposed to the support in the third world countries that may only touch a computer when they are at work. Which makes total sense to me. The support techs overseas are looking at pictures and articles of the items we take for granted. Often when they are saving up their monies it is for necessities and not luxuries that we take for granted. So knowing this I can forgive them for not knowing how to install my USB finger print reader that I did not buy from Dell. So Dell I forgive you!!! Also thanks for hiring people like Jeffrey Scully whom after you escalate to for having three repairs on a broke computer. And a angry customer who missed several hours of work to meet with the late BancTec guy on three separate days. By the way he told me that I had a bad L2 cache in my processor. This was the reason I was never able to reinstall XP on my three year old 8400. Something that never came up on any of the scripts!! Memory, hard drive, motherboard all replaced multiple times. But not the processor. And I believe him by the way. Promptly told me that with that many replaced or refurbished parts. That he would not consider it a option to pursue a further repair. And that it would be a better business decision to replace my three year old 8400 with a used 9200. That was tested and configured in the Dell used exchange department. And I accepted this because my 8400 was three years old and at least I would again have a working computer. And with newer technology in it. He called it the three strike rule by the way. Well this did not work out because the used exchange department could not find me a used 9200. So they built me a brand new 9200 instead. Mr. Scully even asked me what I wanted in it since it was being built from scratch. And I told him and he put it in there and when I got it. It had everything I requested in it as he had promised it would be. So to sum it up you can be mad at Dell but be mad for the right reasons. Meaning it is up to you to maintain your own computer. They can assist you but you need to be self reliant and have the expectation. That if you use their website and read the forums and some of the blogs. You may be better informed than most of the people you speak to over the phone at Dell. And most of the people who fall into this category are smart enough to escalate you to someone like Mr. Scully who can deal with your situation if needed. Knowing all this before would have save me a ton of grief!

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    squ504, Jul 19th, 2008 @ 12:04am

    laptop battery

    squ504 laptop battery are specifically designed for most of squ504 laptop battery brand and model. offers a complete line of laptop battery or other parts and compatible replacements for most squ504 laptop battery models.It will guide you in choosing the correct squ504 laptop battery for your squ504 laptop battery

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Product Blog, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 6:58pm

    Product Recall

    It seems like there is a new product recall every few days. I am especially concerned about all the recalls on batteries and office products. I now have a personal file that alerts me to office product recalls. I also receive timely notices when one of my batteries has been recalled. You can receive the recalls and update notices at the product blog page.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Product Blog, Nov 5th, 2008 @ 9:41pm

    Recall

    It seems like there is a new product recall every few days. I am especially concerned about all the recalls on household items and office products. I now have a personal file that alerts me to office product recalls. I also receive timely notices when one of my household products has recalled. You can receive the recalls and update notices at the product blog page.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Used/Refurbished Laptops, Mar 24th, 2009 @ 4:57am

    Dell support really sucked

    Well I have to say that Dell support really sucked. My grandma called them asking about a problem she had and they wouldn't help her cause her warranty expired and that they wouldn't help her unless she paid for the warranty for another year. She told them no way. She is on a fixed income and doesn't have the money like she used too. She is busy taking care of my grandpa who is about to pass away any day since he has lung cancer and they just don't have the money like they used too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Used Refurbished Laptops, Apr 15th, 2009 @ 4:07am

    Used Refurbished Laptops

    We've already had some experience with big, wide desktop monitors. One of them, the Sony GDM-FW900, is a CRT with a 24-inch diagonal display (22 inches viewable), but it's no longer manufactured (you can sometimes find refurbished units for about $1,200). LCDs have begun appear in widescreen format in the past couple of years, and these typically cost several thousand dollars. One of them, the Samsung 240T, weighs in at around $2,000. The best price we've seen for another, Sony's 23-inch SDM-232, was a bit over $1,600. And apple's 23-inch Cinema HD can be found for under $1,600 if you look hard enough.
    Now Dell has decided to drop the price bomb. The UltraSharp 2405FPW 24-inch widescreen LCD will cost a measly (by comparison) $1,199. It's the classic Dell approach: Not pioneering a new market or category, but entering it later and at high volume, usually with a significantly lower price.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Cheap Computers, Jun 19th, 2009 @ 11:12pm

    Cheap Computers

    I think this blog is made just to know what people feels for Dell and their services offered t its customers

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    online store, Sep 8th, 2009 @ 4:01am

    online store

    The Best Online Store, buy a Computer, Camera & Photos, Watches, Wireless Accessories, Netbook, Cell Phones, Electronics, Books, Printers, Scanners, LCD Monitors, Wireless Accessories

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2009 @ 2:12am

    And a angry customer who missed several hours of work to meet with the late BancTec guy on three separate days. By the way he told me that acer travelmate 3260 battery I had a bad L2 cache in my processor. This was the reason I was never able to reinstall XP on my three year old 8400. Something that never came up on any of the scripts!! Memory, hard drive, motherboard all replaced multiple times. But not the processor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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