Dell on the Nichicon Capacitor Issue

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Some of you may have been reading about faulty capacitors in some of our older OptiPlex desktops. Before I get into more details, I want to make some points clear:

  • This is an issue we addressed with customers some years ago. The Advanced Internet Technologies lawsuit is three years old and does not involve any current Dell products.
  • Dell did not knowingly ship faulty motherboards, and we worked directly with customers in situations where the issue occurred.
  • This was not a Dell-specific issue, but an industry-wide problem.
  • Dell extended the warranty for up to five years for customers who had affected machines.
  • This is not a safety issue.

Update: Many customers who bought systems with Nichicon capacitors during the 2003 – 2005 timeframe did not experience an issue. In other words, the overall failure rate of systems with Nichicon capacitors was dramatically lower than what's being reported.

We understand that our company’s continued success is based on a common theme—putting customers at the heart of everything we do. We’re proud of our recent strides in service, such as Gartner ranking us as the leader in global enterprise desktop PCs, No. 2 in the x86 server sector, and as the leading PC supplier across all professional segments. And just today, TBR survey results show that Dell ranked No. 1 for customer satisfaction among corporate IT users. While this reflects our progress, we understand that we must continually improve.

As noted in a New York Times article about the lawsuit, faulty capacitors were manufactured by Nichicon, a respected, long-term supplier to many industries. These capacitors were used by Dell suppliers at certain times from 2003 to 2005. The faulty Nichicon capacitors affected many manufacturers, including Hewlett-Packard, Apple and others, as discussed in the initial story and several blog posts afterward. Again, this was an industry-wide problem.

Dell suspended use of Nichicon capacitors after we discovered a problem in its manufacturing process. As we routinely do with product issues, we actively investigated the failures, audited the Nichicon plants and worked with customers to fix OptiPlex computers on a case-by-case basis. Beyond that, Dell voluntarily extended the warranties on all potentially affected OptiPlex motherboards up to January 2008 to address the Nichicon capacitor problem. The capacitor failure rates varied depending on customers’ environments and the number of Nichicon capacitors in the customer’s motherboards.

It’s also important to note that AIT was using the OptiPlex systems as servers, a use for which they weren’t designed. The company also admitted in its complaint that Dell fulfilled its warranty obligations to AIT until AIT decided to stop paying for the OptiPlex computers.

We know that some of you may have questions or concerns related to this issue. We welcome your comments here.

Update: If you are a customer (US) who has questions or needs support, please use the following Technical Support numbers:

  • Small Medium Business (1 – 499 employees): 877-293-1196
  • Large Enterprise (500+ employees): 877-671-3355
  • Public (Government, Federal, Healthcare and Education customers): Go this Dell.com link, Choose Business Product, then chose Public Sector Customer, then choose the respective link to get the specific number.

Outside the United States who has questions, you can also contact your sales teams or technical support. To contact support, customers outside the U.S. can do the following:

  • Go to support.dell.com
  • Choose your country or region from the drop-down list in the top left banner of the Dell.com masthead.
  • Choose Contact Us
  • Choose Technical Support
  • Choose Call Technical Support

Update: Whle looking through Dell's case studies site, I came across one that feated the St. Louis Veterans Affairs Medical Center report from August 2008. Since it focused on how we supported a customer through this issue, I thought it made sense to include it here. I've also added the PDF as an attachment to this post.

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  • BlueShrub

    Lionel,

    Dell had two choices:

    1. Offer secret warrantees for a extended time to customers who had equipment that failed quickly.  Hope that other customers just replaced the bad systems without noticing the systemic problem.

    2. Notify customers that they may have equipment with a problem.

    I just had a GX270 desktop fail on me last week due to this issue.  If we had known there were problems with the systems I could have repaired them easily during the extended warrantee period.

    I suspect that when I open the cases of the remaining few systems I will see leaky capacitors.

    At this point I would be happy with the some new motherboards to install or perhaps an extra discount on replacement system (my employer needs to choose).

  • mikeg3

    Could someone explain to me how using a PC as a server makes it more likely to fail than any other 24/7 use?  If anything, a computer room has better environmentals than an office.

  • akalb

    Lionel,

    As a frequent, and I should note satisfied, Dell customer the part of the story I find troubling is the following (taken from the same NYT article you reference above):

    …But Dell employees went out of their way to conceal these problems. In one e-mail exchange between Dell customer support employees concerning computers at the Simpson Thacher & Bartlett law firm, a Dell worker states, “We need to avoid all language indicating the boards were bad or had ‘issues’ per our discussion this morning.”

    In other documents about how to handle questions around the faulty OptiPlex systems, Dell salespeople were told, “Don’t bring this to customer’s attention proactively” and “Emphasize uncertainty.” …

    The quote "Emphasize uncertainty" is the most troubling. Dell knew there was a problem and rather than be open and forthcoming about potential issues, they chose to leave their customers in the dark. It's not like the failure rate was 5 or 10%, we're talking about problems occurring in 97% of the Optiplex machines containing the effected capacitors over a 3 year time span. This number comes straight from a Dell study.

    I'm sure Dell has learned from this experience. Having to write off $300,000,000+ to cover the costs might have something to do with that. Speaking as a typical consumer, I have a MUCH more favorable opinion of a company willing to fess-up to problems and do what it takes to make the situation right. That is how you earn repeat business, not by sweeping problems under the rug.

  • bilgich

    A little arithmetic exercise: With a price tag $300M and possibly more to come, what could Dell have done to avoid this kind of a problem in the past 20 years?

    $300M/20 years=$15M.

    $15M/$100K/year/engineer=150 engineers

    So Dell could have employed an additional 150 engineers in its Quality Control department

    to do the required tests by random sampling of various components that goes into its products.

    If each engineer could thoroughly test 1 type of component per day on average, that would be

    150x365x20=1million+ additional components tested in 20 years.

    I'd say that would have been more than enough to assure quality.

    So it's really not a question of $$$. It all boils down to dedication and commitment to quality.

    I can only wish that those internal emails and memos indicating a deliberate and systematic

    attempt at misleading the consumers are products of the imaginations of journalists.

    İf not, it's obvious what Michael Dell needs to do: Fire all employees involved in the cover-up/mislead

    plot, go directly in front of the cameras and say, "Sorry about all that folks. We've done our housecleaning,

    and we're clean now."

    Dell perhaps should investigate how Intel handled the Pentium 75 floating point bug issue, back

    in the 90's.

  • Lionel_Menchaca

    JR00: Sorry to see that you're having problems. Feel free to send me a private message with your customer number or service tag #s, along with the best way to contact you.

  • Lionel_Menchaca

    For customers that have questions or need support for this issue, I updated the post with Technical Support contact numbers.

  • pj48

    Dell "addressed with customers" the problem?

    It did not. I am sure there are many, many customers who had no idea there were any such problems until reading this article, or probably still do not know there were any problems. I had a desktop in the time period completely melt down due to overheating, never happened before on over a dozen Dell machines.

    Never heard once about a recall, any faulty parts, or any steps I should have taken to fix it. Ended up losing about 6 months and 50 events of photography. My fault for not backing everything up more religously, but Dell never really came clean with its customers.

  • lwcovach

    > READER'S MESSAGE:

    > Thanks for your article about Dell faulty computers I had one personal desktop Dell from about that time frame and all the calls to support waiting on line for literally hours, then not being able to understand the person I was talking to in India, documenting all the different people I spoke to, replacing all different components including a motherboard, power supply, processor, RAM, video card, etc. This took over 6 months! Dell finally did send me a refurbished Dimension 9150 that seems to be working pretty well for the last few years. (Knock on wood)

    >  I don't know if I qualify for compensation but we should be. The only good thing from all that mess is that I'm sure in the end they did not save a nickel. Hope they learned their lesson.

    Below are simply the details of the computer I had.

    Dell computer bought 10/26/04

    Model Dimension 8400

    <Admin Note:Service tag removed as per privacy Legal>

    <Admin Note:Service code removed as per privacy Legal>

    >

    My costs were time, out of warranty service charge, and $120.00 for Best Buy to transfer my files from one hard drive to the others.

  • moonXPS

    Gartner was involved in a lawsuit last year and essentially told the Judge that they make stuff up, so invoking Gartner is not a good idea.  

    Sony pays a premium for the electronic components that they themselves give an A rating and I don't see them mentioned with these capacitors in any of their consumer electronic products.  

    The F.T.C should be investigating AIT http://www.ait.com/  Anyone know of a Website hosted by them?  

  • JR00

    I think Dell has bigger problems as the Optiplex 620 745 755 series have the same bad capacitos. I think that since these are the business line they should have gone to solid state capacitors long ago.

    I have a feeling this is also poor engineering and these must be over stresses. Most fail under the HD in the smaller form factors on around the CPU. Right around the 3 year mark. The place I worked for had about 3000 Dells and this was a problem that I would see at least once a week.

    I will not recommend a Dell to anyone until they get these cheap capacitors replaced with solid state.

  • Zoder

    Lionel,

    I agree with akalb.  The big problem is the loss of trust after reading about those internal emails.  The first thought I had was the experiences and problems the XPS 630i customers posted about back in 2008.  I never felt all of the big issues were fully addressed by Dell at the time and now I have to wonder how many of the technical problems that were brought up were sugar coated.  Was Dell aware of real technical defects that you kept hidden.  Defects that would have warrented engineering new parts?  Were we instead fed half thruths to save Dell money until the complaints died with the change to DCF?

    Hopefully Dell's corporate culture has changed over the past few years.   Even if the company has indeed changed, this disclosure can destroy any progress you have made in the eyes of the public.  Understandably, you are limited to what you can say about pending litigation but I feel Michael Dell himself needs to address the public on this issue.  You need to assure your customers that they can trust the company they are doing business with.

  • paindoc

    There is more wrong than just a capacitor.  The machine I am using now, XPS400,still running XP, is on its third hard drive and tower.  Dell replaced three towers under warranty.   The most recent machine was shipped to me with the processor not bolted to its heat sink resulting in the cooling fan roaring like a hurricane.  Once this was fixed, this Dell as been dependable. Never-the-less, the hours of time I wasted attempting repairs or restoring software has left me worring about the overall quality of new Dell machines.

  • MosquitoBytes

    I agree with most of what akalb has to say.  I could maybe forgive the quality control problem, but the indication of ongoing deceptions at multiple levels of Dell that were reported in the article are pretty distressing.  I don't imagine anyone will tell us (especially with ongoing litigation) but I really would like to know how long after Dell discovered the problem before Dell stopped selling systems equipped with the faulty motherboards.  The article I read indicated that HP stopped distributing components with the bad capacitors in 2004 but Dell continued well into 2005.  Did it really take Dell's engineers a year longer than HPs to realize that there was a problem?

    As an aside, I think we have two of those machines in our lab and I'm pretty sure we've already replaced the motherboard on one, and yet, I don't recall having heard of this extended warranty before now.  Both of the machines I'm thinking of have been dogs ever since we purchased them, and I've always blamed the particular OS that we installed for their sluggish performance, but now I have to wonder if maybe the system just slows down instead of outright failing, depending on which capacitors fail. I have one other Dell system that recently did this: functionally, there were no errors, but performance was awful, and the tech who corrected the problem told me that it was a hardware failure that caused the performance slowdown.

    In my book, there have only ever been a small handful of companies that I knew to be so superior that I would consistently recommend to my friends, employers, and family to buy their products without hesitation.  Toyota was one such company, and Dell was another; both were highly esteemed in my universe for close to two decades and both have recently damaged their reputations to the point where I will never feel quite as good again about their products as I once did.

    At the moment though, I feel a lot better about Toyota than I do about Dell, and it's not because of Toyota's latest (somewhat dubious) ad campaign.  Instead, it's because Toyota continues to find problems, fess up to them, and pay for recalls to correct them, even as painful as that must be to their whole organization to admit yet another recall.  My impression is that Toyota is honest (mostly) and knows the difference between right and wrong and values their reputation.  I've heard allegations that, potentially like Dell, Toyota sat on some of their most recent problems for too long before taking action, and what's far worse: in Toyota's case, people have apparently died from Toyota's alleged design / manufacturing defects.  Where I can cut Toyota some slack, at least until there's more information, is that it's not clear that anyone inside or outside of Toyota yet fully understands the causes of all the problems.  In contrast, Dell apparently understood them but suffered from a management organization that encouraged deception as a way to solve problems, a team that prized making quotas and financial targets over preserving the company's reputation.  In the short term that was brilliant (and I bet they all got bonuses for it).  In the long term, it was bleeping asinine!

    If Dell want's to repair their reputation, it seems pretty clear what they need to do.  1) Sack anyone who had a hand in implementing the policy of deception. 2) Pay anyone who has a legitimate claim.  3) Convince us that Dell is reinventing its customer service organization, and that Dell believes that customer satisfaction is priority number 1.  Work really, really hard to convince us of this.  Hire consultants away from organizations that really own the bragging rights in this respect (like LL Bean), train the offshore people that do customer support so that they at least seem somewhat knowledgeable, and beef up onshore support.  No customer should wait on hold for more than 5 minutes, even if that means that Dell has to call them back.  There should be a policy, prominently on display to all Dell customers, that they have a right to expect the world's best customer service, a live person or an option for a call back within five minutes of calling, a clearly defined mechanism to escalate to another group when the initial customer support representative clearly has a knowledge gap.  And then find someone like Lee Iacocca to tell us all, over and over, that you've turned over a new leaf and we really can trust you again,  honest.

    Anything short of this, and the Dell brand is likely to be as much a liability as an asset in the future.

  • hal09

    I purchased a Dell Dimension 8300 during the 2003-2005 timeframe.

    The computer would powerdown and show a blinking amber colored light on the front and the A,B,C,D lights on back would also change to amber color in different configurations. I spent many hours attempting to fix the issue with dell support. I even purchased a new power supply directly from dell, switched memory out and purchased a new graphics card.

    None of it fixed the problem. To this day I can power it up but the computer will shut down after brief ussage and will not turn back on for hours. I have read many online forums about Dimension 8300 owners who encountered the same issues.

    I suspect the capacitor issue is more widespread than just the optiplex models but just yesterday I was assured by a dell tech associate that my computer was not effected by the faulty capacitors and that my warranty had expired.

  • Lionel_Menchaca

    hal09: Sorry to hear about the problems with your Dimension 8300. Do you still want to have someone contact you about it? If so, please send me a private message with your service tag number or order number.

  • KhanhVo

    Dell did fixed some of our problems Optiplex but only when it was in warranty.  But as soon as it was out, Dell didn't offer to fix our Optiplex even though they knew of the problem.  So because of that we end up taken out any of our Dell PC's early.  Bad experience with Dell on this issue.

  • eleslie

    I have had three Optiplex motherboards experience this problem in the last two weeks. In fact, I had this issue several years ago on two Optiplex computers, and had to pay for replacement motherboards. The tech support rep said, sorry your computer is out of warranty. Now, I am finding out that the warranty was extended, but I was never told by Dell  when I requested support about the issue. We own over two dozen of these affected Optiplex computers and was never once notified that there may have been an issue.

  • eleslie

    Just talked with tech support about this issue on another Optiplex that the issue occured on this morning. Not only is there nothing that they will do, they don't even have any replacement motherboards for me to buy the replacements. Not good, Dell. Not good.

  • Lionel_Menchaca

    eleslie: Sorry to see that you're still having problems with some OptiPlexes. Please send me a private message with your customer number or service tag #s, along with the best way to contact you.

  • Grufnik

    Mr. Menchaca:

    Does this issue affect only Dell OptiPlexes? I contacted Dell over my XPS system with blown capacitors causing my system to die about 45 days ago. I find it a little hard to believe that the motherboards are not made from the same parts…

  • eleslie

    Hi Lionel –

    I have sent you two private messages about this issue with no reply in three weeks. Any help you could provide on my issue would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Eric

  • eleslie

    Hi bliedel –

    I still haven't heard from Lionel, unfortunately. I was excited at first because it seemed like someone may have at least taken an interest in helping me resolve the issue.

    I ended up purchasing the capacitors and repairing the motherboards myself. Not a fun way to spend a Saturday, but at least I can get the computers up and running until we decide what we are going to do with these computers.

  • bliedel

    I am having the same issue as eleslie.  I sent Lionel a PM weeks ago and have had no response.

    We have replaced almost all of our Optiplex 620's due to bad caps.  We were ok with this one transgression, but now our 745's are going bad and we're talking 100+ more PCs failing to bad caps.  We were told they have maybe 2-3 motherboards in stock, so even if we want to purchase the fix ourselves we can't.

    The warranties on many of these boxes only expired a few months ago and now the caps are failing.  The 620's were the same way; About 3 months out of warranty they all started to go bad.  We now have maybe 2-3 620's left in our callcenter.

    In my book, this is simply unacceptable.

  • bliedel

    eleslie –

    I have no idea why I didn't think of that.  Guess I have just never done that type of a repair before.  Do you have a good guide you could direct me to and/or a a good place to buy the capacitors from?  Not my favorite fix, but better than junking 10 computers a month.

  • Raven-d

    If this is a problem with specific Capacitors then why do I have over 40% failure in my OptiPlex 745's all with Capacitor problems.  I am not really interested in buying any more Dell computers. Our 745's replaced the 270's. ;(

  • Lionel_Menchaca

    bliedel and eleslie: My sincere apologies about not following up with both of you. Will touch base with our teams tomorrow to see what can be done to move things forward.

  • Lionel_Menchaca

    @Raven-d: Sorry to see that OptiPlex 745 machines are causing problems for you. Feel free to send me a private message with details like either a customer number or selected service tag numbers for a few of these systems to get things started.

  • Buyer100

    According to Dell Technical support in India Dell's policy is that they stopped replacing motherboards in 2008. I've had GX520, GX745 fail with leaking capacitors. The OptiPlex 960SFFs I bought last year had a lot of power supply failures. They were under ProSupport Warranty but Dell tech support made it extremely difficult to get replacements and tried to blame our electrical supply which is the same that runs the Data Center which has all Dell servers. This is a public relations nightmare for Dell and Dell does not seem to be handling it well. I would highly recommend that Dell set up one special toll free number to report these leaking capacitor issues. Treat the customers with kid gloves and you will have loyal customers for life.

  • quartet-man

    I'll be honest, my Dell Dimension 8400 business (non profit) computer had a problem and after hours of aggravation, transferring data, wasted man hours, I took it in and found out it was due to bulging and leaking capacitors. The shop did a workaround with a controller card for the hard drive that worked for a while. Then I had problems again. More aggravation and even though I did get it to boot since then, I was over it. I ended up having one built. I also personally have bought a netbook and intend on a desktop system soon. My current desktop is 10 years old and never had issues like this. It is another brand. I believe my problem with the Dell started during the extended warranty as in retrospect there were symptoms I never pursued that I blamed on other things. I will say, that the experience with this and the fact that there are so many proprietary parts that keep me from repairing or replacing parts (the mother board was going to be hundreds of dollars) has made me determined never to buy a Dell or recommend them. The specs are below. I can also provide links to the history of the first time the system went down (on a message board).

    System Type: Dimension 8400

    Ship Date: 9/23/2004

    Dell IBU: Americas

    Quantity Parts # Part Description

    1 C3824 Processor, 80547, Pentium 4 Prescott DT, 3.0GHZ, 1 MEGB 800FSB, SKT-T

    1 N6835 INSTRUCTION…, DEVIATE FOR CHAS L5.5/L6

    1 2R400 Keyboard, 104, 6P, United States, Multi-Media, NMB…

    1 D1161 Kit, Mosue, UNIVERSAL SERIAL BUS…, 2 Button, Wheel Optical, PRIMAX ELECTRONICS LTD…

    2 U2414 Dual In-Line Memory Module 512, 400M, 64X64, 8, 240, 1RX8

    1 P1554 Card, Multi-media, Audio, 1394 SB0353

    1 X2749 Modem, V.92, Data Fax, Internal Donny, Dell Americas Organization

    1 J2427 DIGITAL VIDEO DISK DRIVE…, 17G, 16X, I, 5.25" FORM FACTOR…, Liteon Chassis 2001, V5

    1 D6122 Assembly, Digital Video Disk Drive Read Write, 16X, Half Height, Philips, CHASSIS 2001…

    1 N1818 Kit, Speaker, 120V, A425, Zylux Corporation, Dell Americas Organization

    1 P0151 Display, Cathode-Ray Tube, 17, D, E773C, Midnight Gray, Dell Americas Organization

    1 J3886 Card, Graphics, 128, X800, Server Enhanced, HMGA10

    1 5U692 Floppy Drive, 1.44M, 3.5" FORM FACTOR…, 3MD, NBZ Samsung, CHASSIS 2001…

    1 N4707 Hard Drive, 160GB, Serial ATA 7.2K, 8MB, Seagate-Alpine

    1 P1860 Kit, Software, OFCPRO-2K3 Original Equipment Manufacturer, English

    1 R2553 Kit, Software, Overpack, WXPHSP1ACompact Diskette/W Documentation, English

    1 G4874 Kit, Documentation On Floppy Disk, Software, PowerDVD, 5.1

    1 9N249 Guide, Read Me, Client Gold

    0 83535 INFORMATION…, PART, ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY ATTACHMENT PACKET INTERFACE…, DEVICE

    0 149DF INFORMATION…, PREPARATION MATERIAL…, DEVIATION…, PRECISION WORKSTATION…, INCREASE…, #2

    1 H3182 Guide, OWNER, DIM8400 English, Rest Of World

    1 K3103 PLACEMAT…, GETTING STARTED…, DIM8400, DELL AMERICAS ORGANIZATION…

    1 T4860 Guide, Product, Information Desktop, AMF/BCC

    0 01323 INFORMATION…, NO ITEM

    1 J4059 ASSEMBLY…, CHASSIS…, NON PFC…, TRANSFORMER SKY DIVE MINITOWER…, 350W, PWA INTEGRATED…

    1 W4254 Assembly, Heat Sink, PerformanceTransformer Sky Dive Mini Tower, TRANSFORMER METROPLEX DESKTOP…

    1 Y3798 ASSEMBLY…, BRACKET…, RETAINER/RETENTION…, PLASTIC…, PC INTERFACE EXPRESS…

  • quartet-man

    How odd that today is 6 years ago that the unit in my preceding post was shipped. I do have to add that Dell tech support for small business was good when I used it for other issues and that the breakdown concerning the caps was I think around a year and a third ago. Computers should last longer than that one did and a problem with caps like that shouldn't happen IMHO. I don't know if the accusations are true. but I feel Dell should have done better at letting people with the affected systems know and taken further steps to make them right whether still in warranty or not as these were defective parts that never should have been used and had they not been, I would have likely still been using the Dell and not soured on them.

  • quartet-man

    I am still bothered by this. The money used to buy the Dell was from a memorial for someone's mother who had passed away. When I initially took it to the shop to be repaired (authorized Dell reseller), they had another one in the shop with the same issue. I then did a search and sure enough it seemed to be an issue with Dimension 8400s. I found no information on extended warranty, the reseller didn't tell me (if they knew), and I wasn't notified even though Dell has my email. This is just not right. All of the extra (free) hours I put in trying to diagnose the problem and save them money in having to pay for a repair, all the work in transferring data (twice), setting up programs again after the "fix" (because I had transferred data thinking the hard drive was going out due to the startup problems) etc. could have been avoided had Dell been on the up  and up and met their obligations in providing a computer with quality parts or at least fixing the problem instead of hiding it. I don't care if computers were out of warranty, if people had already moved on, if it cost Dell money or what. We paid for a computer with good parts. Sure all equipment eventually fails, if out of warranty they shouldn't be repaired for free, BUT when a computer is sold with faulty parts even IF those parts last the warranty period prior to breaking down, the PARTS should be replaced because we started out at a deficit. Had the parts been quality to begin with, they would still be running. Most any other company issues a recall and makes things right even if the products are out of warranty. I am determined to never buy anything Dell again and will tell others to do the same.

  • quartet-man

    These show only part of the history and frustration due to the capacitors. We first thought it was the hard drive, but later found out about the capacitors.

    http://www.pcmech.com/…/204735-double-argh.html

    http://www.pcmech.com/…/204929-hard-drive.html

    http://www.pcmech.com/…/205105-hard-drive-swap.html

    http://www.pcmech.com/…/205126-new-hard-drive-installation-problems.html

    http://www.pcmech.com/…/205303-stupid-computer.html

    http://www.pcmech.com/…/205334-question-second-hard-drive.html

    Then around May this year is when the computer acted up again even with the controller card work around and after having to deal with transferring and trying to save data again, I decided I was over the Dell. However, I think the problems go back earlier even during the warranty problem, but we thought it was another problem.

  • mdiehl2

    Have 2 Optiplex 745's with bulging capacitors (matching screen shots found here:

    http://www.ccl-la.com/…/dell-optiplex-745-repair)

    Sent message to Lionel 2 weeks ago, haven't received response.  

  • Conosaur

    I have a client with an Optiplex GX-270 purchased in April 2004.  It had the capacitor issue and the system board was replaced in June 2006.  The computer is still in service and started having BSOD errors – a different one each time.  The machine passed Dell diagnostics but the system would shut down even when booting to a Windows CD.  Anyway, I finally looked at the system board and there were some leaking capacitors.

    Originally the leaky capacitors were located towards the rear of the computer.  These are located between the power supply connector and DIMM2 RAM socket (2) and between the processor and the DIMM1 RAM socket (2).

    Is this the same issue?  And why is it occurring in the replacement system board?  Are there any out-of-warranty options left?

  • CRML

    Mr. Menchaca,

    Good to know that you came from the early days of Dell. As a consumer, I'm from the era of PCs Limited, remember? I was very pleased when Dell was established in Brazil. Since then, I bought dozens of systems, for my own use, for family, friends, professional colleagues, and even for some companies. Always choosing to pay for a maximum period of onsite warranty. I was a satisfied customer.

    Until 2007 the only major problem I faced was with a GX270, after the 3 years warranty expired. Dell Computers Brazil has never publicly mentioned the issue of faulty capacitors. But as I knew the situation in the USA, pleaded with the support service in Brazil, until they finally replaced the “out of warranty” motherboard. This GX270 is still in use and running smoothly. I kept a faithful and satisfied customer.

    In early 2008, however, I bought two identical systems 755, four year warranty ProSupport, now at BIOS version 17! Please give me a little of your valuable time, reviewing the following list of events:

    DELL OPTIPLEX 755 (original Service Tag <ADMIN NOTE: Service tag removed per privacy policy>, 02/23/2008)

    11/18/2010 – amber power light – FoxConn motherboard replacement (47 days)

    10/01/2010 – amber power light – FoxConn motherboard replacement (473 days)

    06/15/2009 – amber power light – FoxConn motherboard replacement (237 days)

    10/21/2008 – amber power light – FoxConn motherboard replacement (196 days)

    DELL OPTIPLEX 755 (original Service Tag <ADMIN NOTE: Service tag removed per privacy policy>, 02/23/2008)

    05/10/2010 – amber power light – FoxConn motherboard replacement (147 day)

    12/14/2009 – amber power light – FoxConn motherboard replacement:  defective NIC in “new” mobo  (3 days)

    12/11/2009 – amber power light – FoxConn motherboard replacement (134 days)

    07/30/2009 – amber power light – FoxConn motherboard replacement (261 days)

    11/11/2008 – amber power light – FoxConn motherboard replacement (252 days).

    I have other Dell computers on my network SOHO, and nothing similar happened to them. Naturally ProSupport has always been attentive and quickly providing the replacement of motherboards. But I wonder if you think that the situation described is normal or natural. I cannot continue to be a satisfied customer, and it seems that at least I will have to abandon my loyalty to Dell. I suppose you can imagine the time loss and professional damage I have experienced until now (how much more mobos during the 829 days of remaining warranty?). Today I feel like a Dell's hostage, imprisoned by a 4 years warranty that proved useless and harmful beyond any doubt.

    I live on an avenue crossed by a water channel very pleasant and picturesque that flows into the beautiful beach of Leblon – Ipanema. As I do not accept remain subject to systematic defects and subsequent repairs, I will not have another alternative and I intend to shortly notify the local media to attend the public ceremony in which I will throw out both Optiplex 755 into the channel waters (without the hard disks, of course). Surely I will be arrested by the police because it is forbidden to throw objects or garbage on this pleasant city site. But at least attentive journalists will love the scene and can take beautiful pictures that may be printed in their newspapers, perhaps even including the interest of TV crews in an event so unusual.  And – who knows? – all this can even go to YouTube as an example of the refusal of a large company to respect its own products and his valued customers around the world.

    Carlos Roberto Maciel Levy

    Art Critic and Historian

    Rio de Janeiro – Brasil

  • kkchan2

    Lionel,

    May I seek a clarification regarding the extended warranty.  You mentioned that Dell extended the warranty for up to five years for customers who had affected machines.  I am wondering whether you actually mean to say that Dell extended the warranty TO up to five years.

    When I contacted Dell support regarding a Dimension 8400 shipped in Sep 2004, I was told that the original warranty expired in Sep 2007 and the extended warranty expired in Sep 2009.  To me, that means the warranty was extended to 5 years rather than for 5 years.  If the warranty is extended for 5 years, then I expect the warranty to expire in 2012.

    Thanks for your time.  

  • BS Zoldak

    I was wondering if it is just a coincendance that out of 150 Optiplex 745 system i have purchased, that 25 have capacitors that are bulging and show signs of corrosion?  They were purchased in 2007

  • DMambo

    Just to keep this issue alive, I have a GX620, purchased in June, 2006, with a classic blown cap (ironically, I work for a company that makes a different type of capacitor).   Dell's 3rd party tech support, though polite, was unable to do anything for me.   I remained on the line during both a chat session and a phone call despite many attempts to transfer me to "sales".   I ended up speaking with a supervisor who assured me that on Monday, an actual Dell supervisor would contact me.   I work for a premier large enterprise Dell customer and this is the 2nd GX620 that has had an obviously blown cap that I've dealt with.

    My plan is to be polite and patient until Dell has agreed to replace the mobo.   If according to the above, Dell has extended the warranty for 5 years, then I should have a couple of months left.   I'm not asking for a support visit, I just want the  board replaced.   I hope someone out there sees this post, and I'll post again if and when Dell contacts me.   I plan to be very persistent on this issue!

  • Jude4U2

    I purchased an XPS400 and was not aware of the capacitor issue. When my capacitor blew (not knowing that was the problem)  called Dell and was informed: 1. my warranty was expired, 2. it was either a faulty power supply ( which I replaced, wasn't the issue) or 3. a fried motherboard. I was told I needed to set up an appointment to have a technician replace both the power supply and the motherboard, not guaranteeing the problem would be fixed. I took my computer into a Microcenter and was told I had a blown capacitor. I found this article this morning and promptly called Dell who informed me the only problem my computer had an extended warranty was for the video card….I can honestly say that I will never buy from Dell again. I spent a lot of money on this computer and replaced the  dvd drive and had other software issues all within the first year of owning this computer. The tech support, when I could understand them, tried to make it out like I broke the computer and would have to pay for them to fix it.  If you want to keep customers you need to make them happy and when I read articles like this one, knowing I was never contacted about this being a problem with my computer, Dell loses my business and I inform friends and family not to purchase computers from Dell.

  • NetMD

    IT'S NOT JUST A DELL ISSUE.

    I am a private technician in Florida, servicing Dell and other PCs since the "innovation" of 8", 90 kilobyte data-storage floppy drives (CPM, anybody?). To my memory, I've seen the the crowning capacitor (caps) issue in Dell and non-Dell computers as a recent (within the past 10 years) phenomenon, and in any brand or model I've serviced.

    It's not just PCs having this problem, either. I have also seen failed, leaky or crowning caps in too many LCD TVs I've serviced, for instance. To wit, my 2.5 year old 46" TV failed, and the diagnosis was not only leaky, crowning power supply capacitors, but to my surprise they were under-sized capacitors for the task – 10v capacitors in a 13v circuit. Shame. Design standards always dictate voltage ratings exceeding nominal designed circuit voltages. This was no mistake.Someone made a decision to deliberately cause this problem in this TV model. In fact, I've seen it twice on two completely different brand TVs. To compound the issue, replacement parts are difficult to come by, and usually by "cadaver" excess inventory only.

    That said, here is what perplexes me: I have serviced electronics since the glowing age of 5U4GB tubes and have the burned fingertips to prove it. I've seen "solid state" TVs and general electronics literally last a generation, sometimes two, only to be removed from service reluctantly because of newer HD technology. But now, I see TV sets last only 2-4 years due to circuit failure, PCs, 4-6 years. This new lifespan is becoming common in all types of electronics, regardless of brand, make or model. I tell my clients buying servers to buy one extra motherboard, have it shrink-wrapped, sealed and placed in their freezer for future use. It's rare to find new replacement motherboards 3-4 years after date of manufacture.

    Also, Isn't it bad enough that the PC software industry are mandating software OS and application program changes that relegate older PCs to pasture – do we have to have help from the hardware industry too?

    To Dell's credit, they addressed the issue, regardless of manner. Other PC manufacturers have not, to my experience. It's not just Dell's issue, however. It's a deeper issue. It's a electronics industry issue. In the "olden days," capacitors used to just explode when they failed, scattering wadding, chemical and aluminum around the insides a radio or TV, sometimes causing fires. Now almost all capacitors are "scored" with either an X or a Y indent at the top to assuage and permit the emission/eruption/failure process when it occurs. It's confined, crusty and orderly now. As if it's expected it to happen.

    But all of this brings to light a much broader issue about the electronics industry as a whole. Look at what is being left on the table! A repair industry! For one, we're filling landfills with electronics laden with metals and chemicals, and faster than we should. Two, electronics is, in its current modular state, very reparable. You used to have to know your way around an oscilloscope and a soldering iron to repair; now you can unplug and swap boards. Think of the troubleshooting skills that could be taught; repair people that could be working, and parts that could be sold (wasn't it Henry Ford that recognized that auto parts sales was almost more lucrative than selling the car itself?) and the sub-industry that could manage it all. But no. Throw it out. That's the smart thing to do. Arrgh.

    We need to be more responsible. I don't think the capacitor issue is non-fixable. It's a business issue. So-called "super capacitors" with 30,000 hour life capacities are available. But saving a few cents per capacitor increases profits, and failed parts exposure (liability) costs down-the-road are only a percentage loss from those profits. We'd all gladly pay a few dollars more for a more reliable product.

    But one other question- what ever happened to the capacitors that used to go into our electronics??? They seemed to work!