This is a read-only archive!

Dell: the aftermath

In a previous post I outlined the ways in which Dell's customer service sucks. I finally got my computer yesterday, a Studio XPS 9000. Here are my first impressions.

The bad

  1. This computer weighs so much I almost hurt my back lifting it. I thought computers were supposed to be getting smaller and lighter?

  2. The HD indicator light is tiny and on the top of the case. I can't see it with my computer under my desk.

    The optical drive is behind one of those stupid plastic flap door things. So there isn't even an indicator light for the DVD drive. I'm seriously considering taking a screwdriver the case to fix this.

  3. It didn't come with a Windows install disk or a driver disk. It only has a recovery partition on the HD.

    I found an order form which I think will get me my disks. In the mail. Seriously, Dell? Seriously? Why not come to my house and kick me in the balls while you're at it?

    The recovery partition doesn't help you worth a crap if you want to do things like repartition your drive to put Linux on it. Windows7's sucky partition shrinking app wouldn't shrink it lower than 500GB.

  4. The Dell recovery program is called DataSafe or something, and when you use it, it tries to upsell you like crazy to get a "pro" version that has a bunch of useless backup features. Uggggghhhhh.

  5. The side of the case is white. In 10 years it's either going to be yellow with age, or scuffed up beyond hope. Kind of ugly, but I don't care much. The front of the case looks OK though. Black with red highlights. About as good as I could expect.

  6. It came pre-installed with some crappy "Dell Dock" knockoff of Apple's Dock. Worthless and instantly uninstalled.

    This thing caused the desktop icons to be hidden by default. Who would possibly want to do this in Windows? I can image everyone and their grandmother being awfully confused by the missing icons.

    When quitting this dock, it said "Undo is not possible". I love a program that has no going back once you quit.

  7. I wanted to find drivers for the wireless card that came with the Dell. So I went to Dell's support site and typed in the tag number on my computer. It gave me a link to drivers for the wrong card. I had to google all over the place to find the right ones. Way to go.

    Dell's website is a labyrinth full of outdated information and dead pages in general.

  8. The instructions I got with the computer reference Vista. I don't have Vista.

  9. There's a "Windows inside" logo on the case. It will be removed shortly. They leave an awful lot of glue behind.

The good?

  1. The i7 is about as fast as I had hoped. It only took a half-dozen cores and 12 GB of RAM to let me watch full-screen flash videos on Youtube. I feel so modern.

  2. The inside of the case is OK. There are a lot of hard drive bays and lots of extra screws. It should be easy to expand if I need to.

  3. It came with bloatware and crapware, but actually far less than I was dreading. And most of it was trying to sell you Dell crap.

    In the olden days you'd get a hundred links to AOL and other 3rd-party crap. I saw a link to Skype and the obligatory nag to buy an anti-virus subscription (fat chance), but not much else.

  4. Dell delivered the computer 2 days past the original estimated delivery date. So in spite of all the bullcrap and phone-jockeying I had to go through for billing, I can't complain about how fast it got here. Two days late isn't bad.

    I've heard rumors that these computers are built in Malaysia, and mine was definitely shipped from the US (per the Purolator tracking site). So I'm surprised they can get these things delivered as fast as they can given that it was shipped halfway around the world first, and had to go through Customs at least once coming from the US to Canada.

    Purolator was the only shipping option for Canada. I would've preferred to rush it. But maybe that's not possible given that it's coming from the US. Oh well.

  5. It runs pretty quiet, given how huge the fans are. We'll see how hot it gets once I start putting some load on it.

  6. It came with a DVI to VGA adapater and a DVI to HDMI adapter. I thought that was a nice touch, though it could be that they come standard with any nVidia card nowadays.

  7. Works OK with Linux. It took 20 minutes to set up. (Not counting wiping the Windows partition and re-installing on a smaller partition from my own copy, minus the crapware. That took over an hour.) Sound, video and wireless work out of the box in Linux. All 12 GB of RAM are usable, given a 64 bit OS. (I discovered this the fun way, by unthinkingly trying a 32 bit OS first.)

  8. It didn't burst into flames (yet).

  9. It has a peanut tray on the top. Or MP3-player tray, I guess. But I really want to put peanuts in there.

Brian, you're stupid!

So why did I get a Dell? Because I had good experience with them in the past, at home and at work. Given, that experience was 5 years in the past, and a lot can change. And I'm new to Canada, and relatively unaware of what options exist here.

The other (main) reason was that they were far, far cheaper than going through to get the same hardware. But I guess you get what you pay for. Caveat emptor.

I wouldn't recommend Dell to anyone else, given how chaotic the whole buying process was. Too much uncertainty, too much room for mistakes.

Dave asked in my previous post why I didn't just a computer myself, like I had in the past. I said I didn't have time, but what I meant wasn't build time, which should be an hour or two max. I meant research time. Trying to match up compatible hardware, trying to find the best prices on all the components, checking for Linux compatibility, this takes forever and a half. I don't have hours / days to dork around with this any more.

On the other hand I can just google "xps 9000 linux" and see instantly what problems people had. I can be semi-confident that the hardware would all be compatible. And that did work out OK.

And the last reason I got Dell is that unfortunately I need Windows for work and gaming. Blarg. Paying the Windows tax to Dell is bad enough, let alone buying one off the shelf for $6,000 or however much they cost nowadays.

July 08, 2010 @ 4:11 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants
Tags: Hardware, Dell


Quoth s on July 08, 2010 @ 5:44 AM PDT

The other (main) reason was that they were far, far cheaper than going through to get the same hardware.

Wow, I never thought that would be the case. Is this a Canada-specific thing, or would it apply to the as well?

Quoth Brian on July 08, 2010 @ 6:05 AM PDT

Not sure. I just priced it again, and getting the parts individually from is around $400-$500 more expensive than what I paid

I always used to get my stuff from in the states. They always seemed to be the cheapest, and had really fast shipping.

But I was going to order an sd card from one day and discovered it was crazy expensive, and costs $15 to ship. It was actually cheaper to get from Staples.

another Brian
Quoth another Brian on July 08, 2010 @ 10:56 AM PDT

It didn't come with a Windows install disk or a driver disk. It only has a recovery partition on the HD.

I think Microsoft mandates this now in exchange for discounts to the manufacturer. You won't get Windows install disks from Dell but another recovery partition only on DVD.

The idea is that if you want to do anything serious or have a reliable machine, you'll have to buy a full price Windows license for lots more money. The crappware pollution on your machine is more valuable if you don't have a way to do a clean install, too.

And what are you doing using Windows? Shouldn't you ahve upgraded to Linux by now? Ubuntu is faster and easier to install than removing enough of the Dell 'partner' crapps to make the system usable. And it's much nicer to use.

Quoth Brian on July 08, 2010 @ 11:05 AM PDT

I already use Arch and/or Gentoo on three of my computers. I need to hop into Windows once a month for gaming and work.

Quoth s on July 08, 2010 @ 3:57 PM PDT

I don't game, so for my purposes I've found that an old copy of XP in a virtual machine works just fine for running Windows-only applications. It's pretty funny how XP just won't die.

Andres F.
Quoth Andres F. on July 09, 2010 @ 1:38 AM PDT

From what I understand you already got rid of all the Dell software crap, but just in case, make SURE to get rid of DataSafe completely. Otherwise, it will eventually corrupt grub.

Of course, uninstalling DataSafe will ALSO corrupt grub. Fun.

Quoth Brian on July 09, 2010 @ 2:00 AM PDT

Wow, now that I know what to search for, I see that you're right. Thanks for pointing that out. Thanks again, Dell.

I have yet to try to boot Windows again since I installed Linux, and now I don't want to try.

Quoth InsanityBringer on July 10, 2010 @ 2:39 AM PDT

The load of software you got seems vaguely better than this old HP I once got from someone I knew (even if it isn't all functional). A look into whatever they called "add and remove programs" at the time revealed all sorts of programs that, along with the fact I would never use them, the original owner never used them, making them a pure waste of HD space.

Also, your search for the webcam drivers reminds me a lot of this free acer tablet pc my dad got. The idiots setting up the machine failed to provide many of the proper drivers, and a look on acer's site didn't reveal the drivers for the webcam. Appearantly for this model there are '3' different webcam models available, each with their own drivers. Trying to install any 3 of them failed. heh.

Quoth Bleys on July 10, 2010 @ 2:49 AM PDT

I already use Arch and/or Gentoo on three of my computers. I need to hop into Windows once a month for gaming and work.

That often? I don't think I've booted into Windows since...March? Maybe February.

Quoth jobias on July 15, 2010 @ 3:53 PM PDT

I'm not sure where in Canada you are, but it's been my impression that or are the Canadian equivalents of newegg. I live in Western Canada however, so shipping for me is typically quite reasonable. Also, I like tinkering with my machines a lot, so a pre-built option like Dell would never be a consideration for me, so I haven't bothered comparing how much an equivalent system from them would be.

Quoth on August 04, 2010 @ 8:08 AM PDT

Big fans have to turn slower to move the same amount of air as a smaller fan. Small fans are noisy.