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Dell software update fried my machine- now they want £241 to fix it!

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Hi all, I tried to update the BIOS on my Dell Dimension E521 last night, using software downloaded from the Dell website for my machine. I followed the instructions on the website (to install via Windows and not via floppy), but the update window came up as not responding. The keyboard and mouse were not responding either. After a while I did the only thing left and turned if off by holding the button down. As expected :( the motherboard or processor is fried. I get a solid amber light on the front of the machine and no signal to the monitor.

 

I've spoken to Dell technical and they quoted me £241 to replace the motherboard. I tried to argue that I was using Dells software and following Dells instructions, and that mine isn't an isolated incident, but they kept saying that as a technical engineer wasn't present when I was doing the update, I would have to pay. I asked why it was available for download from their website and why they gave instructions for the install but no go. I'm getting a call back from a their customer relations department this morning.

 

Am I being reasonable by not expecting to pay for a replacement motherboard?

 

If I am, any advice on arguing my point with the customer relations department?

 

Thanks, Kris

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Hi KP

 

I see you've registered with dell forums, you can't be 100% sure that the 'motherboard has been fired'.

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i use the term 'fried' loosely. the board looks physically fine, i guess the bios chip needs replacing or something... *speculates*

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Hi kp

 

I've done a quick scan of the net and their are clearly issues with updating BIOS on that PC.

I'm seeing if there are any solutions. One thing to try is switching everything off. Unplug the

the system, then give it five minutes, then power up again.

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Try removing the motherboard battery for a few minutes, and then replace it. That will clear the CMOS and reset the defaults. Sometimes you can get lucky after a bad reflash and that's all it needs. Post back if that doesn't dpo the trick, there are other things to do beside replacing the mobo.

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Flashing the BIOS is done when the motherboard needs an important update and should NOT be done unless absolutely necessary. Firstly I would say who told you to Flash the BIOS? Secondly there are always warnings about flashing BIOS on websites and the damage it can do to your motherboard if done wrong. Dell cannot be held responsible for this as it's likely the Flash was not needed.

When you Flash the BIOS you wipe the ROM Chip that's installed on all motherboards and reprogramme it. If something goes wrong during that process the BIOS is lost and the motherboard effectively broken. Modern boards now come with Dual BIOS so if this happens there's always a backup but I'm guessing Dell won't have this on this motherboard.

 

What concerns me is the quote from Dell to replace a motherboard. Do not pay them.. it's an absolute rip off. You can get a new motherboard with new processor and memory for cheaper than that. Motherboards are relatively difficult to replace but should only take about 2 hours for a professional. The mothrboard itself will cost usually between £40-70 so you're paying nearly £200 labour which is £100 per hour!!!!! You got to love Dell.

 

To give you some idea I charge Hardware + £40 labour to change a motherboard or £65 if it requires a new Windows installation. What I suggest is to find out what motherboard and processor type you have and post them here and I'll advice the best way to replace them. If the motherboard is BTX (rather than the standard ATX) then you may be stuck as they don't make them anymore and you may have to get through Dell. Yet another reason why not to buy Dell.

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rebel11, i've yet to try that link with the floppy disk and asus software, i should be able to get hold of a floppy drive at work on tuesday so will report back.

 

huff&puff, tried that but no joy.

 

qa19, agreed i wont be paying for dell to replace the board- the pc and monitor was only £350 new!

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You now need to look on the motherboard and see if you can find a removable BIOS chip. It will look like this:

 

1916-bios.jpg

 

Take the chip out, and see if you can find a local electronics place that has an EEPROM burner. They should be able to reflash the chip for a reasonable fee - I have no idea what they charge these days, but I would have thought somewhere around £20 would be in the right ballpark.

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I agree, flashing your BIOS should only be done if there is some problem or that you really need to update (sometimes newer BIOS have updated features, such as support for more hardware or features such as hibernation, etc).

 

There is always a risk when flashing a BIOS (or any device for that matter, phone, cd, dvd player, etc), and things can go wrong if the process is interupted or power is cut.

 

It wont be the motherboard or CPU that is fried, if anything, the BIOS chip will be not fuctioning, a simple solution would be to get hold of another chip perhaps from a 2nd hand motherboard and replace it, I believe that a special IC extrator tool is needed.

 

Andy

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i've found something that looks like that. looks soldered in. it's inside a white outline on the board with the letters FWH. sound correct?

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kp,

 

I'm sure these guys are correct in what there saying, but try resolving it without having to replace bits, if it doesn't work go on to plan B.

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to answer an earlier question regarding why i attempted to update the bios, the system would freeze every couple of days when booting up, on the POST screen. i looked into this and it was suggested it was due to having 'stuff' plugged into the usb ports. the latest bios version for my pc advised the handling of usb on boot had been updated, hence why i attempted the update.

 

an interesting read here, identical problem to me:

http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3514/p/18649088/18772074.aspx

 

so if none of the above work, do you think i could argue there's an inherent problem with the bios update software and go as far as i need to, to get the pc repaired?

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It sounds like your PC was trying to boot off your USB stick,a better solution would of been to remove the USB stick whilst booting, unless of course you specifically needed a bootable USB.

 

From reading the Dell forum posts, it does appear that there maybe a problem with flashing cerftain Dell MB's, but I somehow doubt you would get Dell to admit this and send you a new motherboard, is yours under any kind of warranty ?

 

You no doubt could get the 'PC repaired' but I doubt this would be cheap.

 

Personally I'd try..

 

1) Try reflashing the firmware, there must be a boot/flash (non-windows option). I'd try getting hold of as many different firmwares as poss., and try them all. (Also remove/repalce the CMOS battery first and also do a jumper CMOS reset if your mother board allows).

 

2) If unsuccessful then you could (if you feel confident enough) replace either the MB or just the BIOS chip. You could actually use a similar MB and it shoulkd work ok if it uses the same chipset.

 

3) Hassle Dell for a free replacement.

 

4) Enquire at a local PC repair service/shop, you can find many cheap (even no fix/no fee services) in your yellow pages.

 

5) MY CHOICE - Take the opportunity to rebuild the PC (maybe using higher spec eqpt), bearing in mind your HD may not boot and you may need a reinstall of the OS.

 

Andy

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i discovered my board is BTX, which limits my options. would i be able to fit a different sized board (ie ATX) in my case, or is it likely the ports at the back will not line up? i've been looking at some barebone set-ups, a new case and motherboard, and psu, then i could just swap over my video card, optical drive, memory and hard drive.

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No you cannot use ATX with BTX tower and personally I would count my loses and get a new ATX computer from a company who's sole aim isn't to rip you off. Yes the barebones system will work out cheaper but make sure your memory is compatible (will probably be DDR2), video card (will probably be PCI Express) and if your drives are IDE make sure the new mobo has one IDE slot so you can run your HDD as master and optical drive as slave.

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thanks, hard drive is sata and memory is 240-pin DIMM DDR2 PC2-5300 (according to crucial)

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it doesn't get any easier...

i got hold of a couple of floppy drives and some disks, installed the .bin file and flash software (from one of the links above), then discovered that the floppy wont work in my machine! my guess is that bios is only looking for a usb floppy instead of an internal floppy (my machine has this option in the bios). so now i need to find a way to activate the floppy without getting into bios (which im pretty sure can't be done).

 

alternatively, i could try and flash the bios via a usb floppy- does anyone know if this is possible? will the system see any usb devices at this early stage?

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It depends on your motherboard but all modern ones do. Your BIOS will have an option to boot from USB Device so put that first in the boot list or press F12 (sometimes ESC) for boot menu to select the device. However all motherboards are still standard floppy compatible and most will have the floppy connector. Maybe your BIOS isn't configured properly or the flopp drive isn't connected inside. It should have 2 leads attached to it: one ribbon into the mobo and one for power from the PSU.

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Does the PC give you any options when you start it ?. Or is it completely dead ?

 

Booting from a floopy is (I would of thought) a default option, (thus resetting the CMOS should bring it back), especially as your PC is oldish (some newer PC's have no floppy support at all).

 

You could try to see if there is a boot option when you start the PC, (F11 or F12 ?) which may let you choose HD or Floppy, etc without actually going into the BIOS.

 

Despite all this, I think a new build using a new MB (ATX size maybe), even if it involves getting a new power supply (you can get them for £20-£30.

 

Andy

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i didn't spec a floppy drive and i think the default option is to look for a usb floppy drive.

 

but on to the fun stuff. i need help with choosing a motherboard.

 

i want to use all my existing bits (as far as reasonable) to keep the cost down. i dont know whether to go MATX or ATX at the moment. the only problem i can see with using MATX is the boards i looked at only have 2 memory slots and i have four dimms (2x 1gb and 2x 512mb) so i could only utilise 2gb instead of 3gb. and i guess if i want to use my psu i need an ATX...?

 

my current spec:

processor: AMD 64 X2 4000 dual core

memory: 3gb DDR2 667MHz

drives: SATA HDD and DVDRW

video: Geforce 7300LE 256mb (pci-e x16)

chipset: NVIDIA, don't know specifics, maybe NFORCE 430?

psu: 305W, does 90-135, 180-265 @50/60hz mean anything?

 

i think i need an AMD2 socket for the processor, ddr2 memory slots, sata connectors, pci-e x16 socket.

 

i need help with chipsets and psu's, i don't know what part of the system they are linked to, ie is the choice of psu affected by the motherboard or the processor? the same for the chipset?

 

this is one of the first i looked at. how far am i off the mark...?

http://www.microdirect.co.uk/home/product/47046/asrock-motherboard-n68c-s-ucc-amd-am3-am2--ddr3

Edited by kp278
googling, chipset i think is NFORCE 430

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you will need an AM2 (or AM2+) motherboard doesn't matter about chipset. Recommend ATX rather than mATX as latter are inferior quality but cheaper (approx £35 mATX or £50 for ATX). An AM2 board should be compatible with your DDR2 (check its not ddr3) and the only other thing you need to check is what pin format the motherboard is. Newer boards need 24 pin (20+4) PSU. Older PSUs are only 20 pin but you can pick up PSUs now for £15-20. You will also need to reinstall windows as it's setup for your old system and will blue screen if you don't.

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thanks. the heatsink on the processor looks like its linked into a plastic fan assembly on the dell. i guess the heatsink screws into the motherboard, thus i would probably need a new heatsink, is this a safe assumption?

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]21429[/ATTACH]

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