pcns - blog - eric braun, owner.


feb 2007 - dell financial services pc's

Was called out to setup a PC the customer purchased from Dell Financial Services, http://www.dfsdirectsales.com.  Based on this unit, a Dell Optiplex GX260, I wouldn't recommend buying from this leg of Dell, for several technical reasons.  DFS sells mainly off lease computers.

1.  My new tool the Ultra-X hardware diagnostics, from uxd.com, discovered the systemboard had a bad memory controller.  Although the Dell diagnostics revealed no problems, a freshly installed Windows XP Professional (more on this in a moment) would frequently blue screen crash for no apparent reason.  A freshly installed copy (without any add on software or utilities installed) should never blue screen.  Numerous "stuck bit" errors were revealed in testing.  I took the same software suite and ran diagnostics on a known good GX260, and it passed with flying colors.  The Ultra-X test suite runs on its own proprietary operating system, and it does not depend on Microsoft Windows.

2.  The installed memory was third party.  Now Dell uses third party memory - as of lately from a wider variety of sources.  However in the GX260 generation, the majority of OEM memory originated from Samsung or Micron (i.e. Crucial.com).  Also, it was not uncommon for Dell to have Dell part number stickers on the memory.  This memory had an Avaya and a unbranded memory module (768 megs total).  You really don't know if this was Dell who changed the memory, or if was the previous owners.  Whatever the case, we confirmed a bad memory controller by removing the memory and installing Dell branded Crucial memory modules.  The problem and blue screens did not go away.

3.  Dell Financial Services has limited access to repair parts, including system boards.  Dell can offer a service provider such as PCNS up to $50 towards the repair of the system, but owing that the system board was bad, this doesn't come close to the expected repair bill.

Recommendations:  First off, I do not recommend buying from Dell Financial Services, as their spare parts inventory is nil.  Only by reading the DFS Sale Terms and Conditions were we able to return the computer for a refund.  Based on the parts installed in the Dell these Dells appear to be the tired, bottom scraper PC's.  The PC was purchased with Windows XP Professional, and came with a COA sticker, but the hard drive was blank.  There was no keyboard, power cord, or mouse - just the box..