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Roasted Laptop

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http://popey.com – Some time ago I bought a Dell Inspiron XPS Gen 2 laptop. At the time it was the fastest thing I could buy. It was also the heaviest! With a 17″ 1920×1200 screen and all the toys, it’s a bit of a dead weight. It was always intended to be a desktop replacement, so it mostly sat on my desk all of its life so the weight wasn’t an issue. Having nice big screen was lovely for desktop use and playing the odd game. It has a 1.8GHz Pentium CPU and an nVidia 6800Go video card. Not long after I bought it, the video card failed. I blogged about the issue and the rubbish Dell Support. Well, it happened again just after the warranty ran out. Convenient, huh? Exactly the same problem as previously happened – corruption on the screen indicating hardware failure. I contacted Dell and they basically said they couldn’t help, but if I wanted they would sell me a new video card for £200. I was torn and frustrated. I could get a cheap entire laptop for not much more than that, but not one with a decent 3D card and 17″ 1920×1200 display. I was irritated that they couldn’t see that this was a recurrent issue with the machine which made me less inclined to pay more money to them. Whilst on the phone the guy asked me at the end if I was ’satisfied’ with the support. I said ‘no’ of course which he was surprised at and after trying to argue that I should change my mind, he forwarded me on to his manager. The manager then proceeded to argue that I should change my answer to ‘yes’ because the agent had provided me with the correct answer – which was that he couldn’t help me. I was pretty peeved by this point that someone asked for my opinion of whether the transaction was a success and when I voiced displeasure, was badgered for a further 20 minutes to change my mind. I didn’t. So since then (October last year) my dell laptop has sat in a drawer, unused, wasted. I have jumped on ebay now and then to try and get hold of a 2nd hand video card – it’s a modular MXM 6800Go – but never bought one. They’re quite rare and command similar prices to what Dell quoted me. A few weeks ago I was chatting with a co-worker about his broken Playstation 3. He’d read threads online about how the fault he has may be a common one, where many online suggest slamming the motherboard in the oven for a bit to ‘reflow’ the solder. Many reports online say this works. I was in one of those moods yesterday, and dug out the laptop and managed to figure out how to take the thing apart and get the video card out. I wound the oven up to 200 degrees C and put the card in for 9 minutes. I figured I had nothing else to lose. If all those posts online were a massive conspiracy to get thick people such as me to put delicate electronics into a hot oven then they succeeded! 30 minutes later the card was cool enough for me to put it back in the machine. I carefully put it all back together and booted it up. It worked! The video corruption had gone. Well, almost. I was left with one vertical purple line about 3 pixels in from the left, which I can totally live with. In the drive was an old Crunchbang CD which booted up just fine. So now, have I joined the ranks of the internet crazies who say putting electronics in the oven might cure it? Yup. Don’t do it though, because it might all go horribly wrong and I wouldn’t want you to blame me would I? (Distributions)