Dell laptop died... wipe & install, or send back?

So my wife got a Core 2 Duo Dell laptop. It was running great, but it had a nasty habit of running out of power and fading to black without shutting down properly. No “dim screen for five minutes”, no nothing. It was annoying to my wife (who evidently wasn’t very on top of watching the battery meter), but it seemed like a mere hassle.

But after having this happen repeatedly over the course of a couple of months, the system started getting seriously flaky. Hard disk errors on boot, increasing slowness, general Windows trouble. We got one complaint about the “Intel Matrix Storage Manager” which led to installing updated drivers for that, whatever that is. The drivers didn’t help much.

Finally it’s devolved to the point where the thing won’t even boot at all. It hangs at the “© Microsoft Corporation” pre-boot screen, with the progress bar rotating forever (and no hard disk activity). Rebooting goes to “The last boot failed. Do you want to run Windows Startup Repair?” which also hangs forever.

I would like to stick in my Vista Ultimate DVD and wipe the hard disk and reinstall Vista from scratch. But since it’s a Dell, with weird Dell drivers and shit, I am not sure if that will work. And I’m also not sure whether Dell will get snitty if I try a clean reinstall, it fails, and I send it back in that condition.

On the other hand, I’ve heard crappy things about Dell’s service lately, and I’d like to do whatever I can locally to get the thing back into a known good state. (Also, I never did a crapware removal pass on it when she got it, so it might be nice to put it into a minimal Vista install condition and see if it’s any happier.)

In retrospect obviously I should have taken the sudden power-downs more seriously and found whatever power management control panel controls that behavior. Hindsight, 20-20, etc. Anyway, now what? Any suggestions on whether to take the bull by the horns myself, or punt it back into Dell limbo?

(Fortunately she only lost one file she really cares about…)

does it have an nvidia mobile gpu? those suffer from early meltdown.

The graphics seem fine; the symptoms don’t at all look like a GPU failure. Seems much more like disk / OS corruption. I don’t know offhand what model of GPU it has, but we bought one of the less expensive ones, so I doubt it’s pushing the envelope on GPU heat/performance.

You should try to determine if it’s hardware or software based. Did you run the Dell diagnostic tool? There’s a key for it on bootup. Run the complete test which may take a few hours.

“Core 2 Duo Dell laptop”

Sounds recent and still under warranty. Short answer: don’t mess around with it. Call Dell. Worst case, they are made aware of a possibly new issue. Best case you get help with a known issue and they either step you through what to do or send you replacement hardware.

I don’t know what you’ve heard but I have had no problems with Dell service. I purchased a laptop for my son and they’ve come to my house many times fixing stuff like the keyboard, the screen, the whole top cover, the clips that hold it shut, the screen hinge (all stuff caused by my son being too rough and/or thinking his backpack could absorb shock when he tosses it down with the computer in it - none of the issues are really the laptop fault’s, yet they are all covered by the warranty).

OK, the self-test says the hard disk be dead-o-rama. Thanks GuildBoss.

Off to Dell with it. Good to hear they aren’t always terrible.

No need to send it to Dell if it’s the disk. Just call Dell, tell em the error codes from the testing, and they will send out a replacement and you can swap it out in about 5 minutes. The replacement will come preloaded with the OS and, unfortunately, all the other crap. But all you need to do is slap it in and you’re good to go!