NVIDIA GPU Update for Dell Laptop Owners

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NVIDIA GPU Update for Dell Laptop Owners

Note from Lionel: Here is a link to the fourth and latest post on the NVIDIA GPU issue. It explains how Dell is supporting our customers who are affected by it.

Update: 9-30-2010: I just published details regarding the NVIDIA class action settlement. For the latest information, please refer to that post. Below is a paragraph excerpt from it. To centralize the discussion on this topic, I've closed the comments on this thread. Please go to the updated post to comment. Clicking on the image below will also take you to the there. 

Earlier this month, sites like Ars Technica and ZDNet blogged about NVIDIA’s statement regarding a potential issue with some of NVIDIA's Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) used in notebooks. According to NVIDIA, these affected GPUs are experiencing higher than expected failure rates causing video problems. Though this issue is not unique to Dell, some of these affected GPUs are used in certain Dell laptops. That's why I wanted to take a few minutes here to explain the issue and to let customers know what to do next.

The issue is a weak die/packaging material set, which may fail with GPU temperature fluctuations. If your GPU fails, you may see intermittent symptoms during early stages of failure that include:

  • Multiple images
  • Random characters on the screen
  • Lines on the screen
  • No video

Dell recommends that you flash your system BIOS (see links in the table below). Each of these BIOS updates listed in the table below modifies the fan profile to help regulate GPU temperature fluctuations. Note: if you are already experiencing video-related issues like the bullet points above, updating the BIOS will not correct them. Dell will provide support for customers who have experienced GPU failure according to the terms of the system warranty.

These BIOS updates will help reduce the likelihood of GPU issues. New systems are being shipped with the updated BIOS revisions. Here's the list of the latest BIOS versions. Click on the links below to download them.

Dell Product Name
BIOS Revision
Date
Update File Name
A09
7/14/08
1420_A09.EXE
A12
6/22/08
D630_A12.EXE
A06
7/11/08
D630CA06.EXE
A07
7/11/08
M2300A07.EXE
A10
7/10/08
V1310-A10.EXE
A09
7/10/08
1400_A09.EXE
A10
7/10/08
V1510A10.EXE
A07
7/10/08
V1710A07.EXE
A12
7/9/08
M1330A12.EXE
A09
7/25/08
1530_A09.EXE

Update: As Direct2Dell reader foduekid noted, the A09 BIOS update for the XPS M1530 was made available yesterday after I published this blog post. I've updated the table above with the link.

Update 2: I'm getting e-mails and comments that are similar to those of Direct2Dell readers like Customer, fr and barryd. Like I mentioned in one of my responses, this will not be the only blog post on this topic. When I have new details to share, I will share them here. Several of you have expressed concern over potential battery life issues. The reality is that these BIOS updates will not have any noticeable effect on battery life or overall system performance. These updates do not make the cooling fan run all the time. The fan may cycle on more frequently, but when it does, it will run at half or quarter speed.

Update 3: Since Kara Krautter unveiled the Vostro 2510 on the Small Business blog yesterday, we've gotten some questions about it since it uses an NVIDIA GPU. Take a look at some of the comments in the Vostro 2510 Engadget post to see what I'm talking about. The Vostro 2510 will ship with the latest BIOS updates.

If you need help flashing your system BIOS or experience any of the video-related issues listed above, please contact Dell Technical Support. Our teams are committed to working with affected customers to resolve issues on a case-by-case basis.

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  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Just sent my inspiron 1420n w/ geforce 8400m gs back in for a new mainboard...  It was hanging and then not booting for a while..

    ..doesn't quite fit the bullet points, but we'll see.

    Do I get a summary of the fix when I get it back?  I'm kinda anxious about my $1K companion..

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Thanks for the update Lionel.  Just curious here, but is there another resolution planned?  IMHO having the BIOS activate the fans sooner to compensate for a defective chipset is a band aid solution.  This will result in reduced battery time and shorter fan life - correct?  Is there any data to counter this?

    Again, thanks for updating the community.  There has been too much speculation about which chips were faulty.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    So when is Dell going to be sending out corrected or fixed GPUs without this weak die/packaging material as this seems to be defective within all our laptops. I have a M1330 with a 8400M GS and the temperature fluctuations are still large with the indicated BIOS. Is Dell going to replace the GPU with an equivalent like the 9300M GS or the 9500M G so that the GPU does not die in the future when the warranty ends due to the defective GPU?

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Is there a certain time frame on the XPS M1330s or does it potentially affect all?

    Thanks,

    D.C.

    Small-Laptops.com

     

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Well, since this BIOS update won't mysteriously change the die packaging material, the only real thing you can do is to extent warranty or premium support to the amount of years you wanna use the computer, and still then live with the fact that your computer could die on you any time.

    My M1330 GPU reaches temperatures of up to 105C/221F, and even a complete mainboard and heatpipe replacement did not change that. I like the laptop a lot, but I have the feeling I can't fully trust it, which is very sad.

    Cheers

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    So the inspiron 1520 with the nvidia 8600gt gpu is not effected?

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Is the Dell Inspiron 9400 / E1705 also affected with it's Nvidia Go 7900 GS?

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    So rather than replacing the faulty parts you are going to just turn up the fans, at the expense of battery life and noise.  I would rather just leave the bios as it is and get a proper fix if the problem occurs.  Even if the problem occurs out of warranty I think there is a strong case for Dell fixing it for free since there is an admitted manufacturing defect.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    With this solution, you try to push the issue outside the customers warranty-time.. but what's after that time? will you repair the notebooks for free? 

    I installed the A12 bios for my m1330.. the cooler doesn't stop running anymore. That's very annoying, too! Nvidia sold bad GPUs, you sold the m1330 with a miserable cooling device (GPU idle temp between 65 and 70 degree celsius) and the customer should pay for it. Shame on you dell!

    Next time I will think twice if I buy a Dell notebook..

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    nice to see that a hardware issue is fixed by software update.   how is a physical defect suppose to be fixed by software? time to step up to the plate dell and start offering a replacement device

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Ah the 1530 is left behind again.

    Not really a surprise considering we haven't seen nVidia graphics drivers updates either, or sound driver updates, or wireless networking updates, despite those existing and being published for other notebooks, including the 1330.

    I'm suprised you're even bothered; you don't do anything else for us really.

     

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    So what about ownder of XPS M1330n laptops running Ubuntu? How do we update our BIOS?

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    And the Dell Latitude D820? Does it's A09 BIOS resolve the issue also and if not, when is it's update going to be posted?

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Fortunately I don't have Windows to install a noisy "improved fan profile" on my M1330. Lets wait till it breaks. I got 3 years warranty.

     

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Sir, i'm seeing 2 or 3 horizontal lines while playing games at times(mainly on cut scenes). before the update of bios system was running a bit on the hotter side.  i also feel the performance also gone down.while watching videos, also some artifacts are seen randomly. is the viewing angles also decrease. is this what r u talking about. my model is xps m1330 purchased just about a month or so. what i  need to do next ...i hope this is covered under warranty. Thanks

Comments
  • Just sent my inspiron 1420n w/ geforce 8400m gs back in for a new mainboard...  It was hanging and then not booting for a while..

    ..doesn't quite fit the bullet points, but we'll see.

    Do I get a summary of the fix when I get it back?  I'm kinda anxious about my $1K companion..

  • Thanks for the update Lionel.  Just curious here, but is there another resolution planned?  IMHO having the BIOS activate the fans sooner to compensate for a defective chipset is a band aid solution.  This will result in reduced battery time and shorter fan life - correct?  Is there any data to counter this?

    Again, thanks for updating the community.  There has been too much speculation about which chips were faulty.

  • So when is Dell going to be sending out corrected or fixed GPUs without this weak die/packaging material as this seems to be defective within all our laptops. I have a M1330 with a 8400M GS and the temperature fluctuations are still large with the indicated BIOS. Is Dell going to replace the GPU with an equivalent like the 9300M GS or the 9500M G so that the GPU does not die in the future when the warranty ends due to the defective GPU?

  • Is there a certain time frame on the XPS M1330s or does it potentially affect all?

    Thanks,

    D.C.

    Small-Laptops.com

     

  • Well, since this BIOS update won't mysteriously change the die packaging material, the only real thing you can do is to extent warranty or premium support to the amount of years you wanna use the computer, and still then live with the fact that your computer could die on you any time.

    My M1330 GPU reaches temperatures of up to 105C/221F, and even a complete mainboard and heatpipe replacement did not change that. I like the laptop a lot, but I have the feeling I can't fully trust it, which is very sad.

    Cheers

  • So the inspiron 1520 with the nvidia 8600gt gpu is not effected?

  • Is the Dell Inspiron 9400 / E1705 also affected with it's Nvidia Go 7900 GS?

  • So rather than replacing the faulty parts you are going to just turn up the fans, at the expense of battery life and noise.  I would rather just leave the bios as it is and get a proper fix if the problem occurs.  Even if the problem occurs out of warranty I think there is a strong case for Dell fixing it for free since there is an admitted manufacturing defect.

  • With this solution, you try to push the issue outside the customers warranty-time.. but what's after that time? will you repair the notebooks for free? 

    I installed the A12 bios for my m1330.. the cooler doesn't stop running anymore. That's very annoying, too! Nvidia sold bad GPUs, you sold the m1330 with a miserable cooling device (GPU idle temp between 65 and 70 degree celsius) and the customer should pay for it. Shame on you dell!

    Next time I will think twice if I buy a Dell notebook..

  • nice to see that a hardware issue is fixed by software update.   how is a physical defect suppose to be fixed by software? time to step up to the plate dell and start offering a replacement device

  • Ah the 1530 is left behind again.

    Not really a surprise considering we haven't seen nVidia graphics drivers updates either, or sound driver updates, or wireless networking updates, despite those existing and being published for other notebooks, including the 1330.

    I'm suprised you're even bothered; you don't do anything else for us really.

     

  • So what about ownder of XPS M1330n laptops running Ubuntu? How do we update our BIOS?

  • And the Dell Latitude D820? Does it's A09 BIOS resolve the issue also and if not, when is it's update going to be posted?

  • Fortunately I don't have Windows to install a noisy "improved fan profile" on my M1330. Lets wait till it breaks. I got 3 years warranty.

     

  • Sir, i'm seeing 2 or 3 horizontal lines while playing games at times(mainly on cut scenes). before the update of bios system was running a bit on the hotter side.  i also feel the performance also gone down.while watching videos, also some artifacts are seen randomly. is the viewing angles also decrease. is this what r u talking about. my model is xps m1330 purchased just about a month or so. what i  need to do next ...i hope this is covered under warranty. Thanks