Dell reaching out to fix PCs with faulty Intel chipset

Free motherboard replacement is being offered to customers who bought certain Dell computers

Dell on Wednesday said it will start reaching out directly to affected customers to replace motherboards in PCs with Intel's flawed Sandy Bridge chipset.

The company will offer a free motherboard replacement to customers who purchased the XPS 8300, Vostro 460, Alienware Aurora desktops or the Alienware M17x R3 laptop and received it prior to March 1. Some PCs could contain a faulty Intel chipset code-named Cougar Point as the systems were shipped prior to Dell becoming aware of the issue, the PC maker said.

"Our teams will begin contacting customers with affected motherboards this week to offer them a new replacement motherboard that corrects the Cougar Point chipset issue. The replacement motherboard and the associated service (service options may vary by region) will be provided to affected customers at no charge," the company said in a blog.

"We ... will work through these motherboard replacements over the next several weeks," the company said.

Intel in late January announced a design defect in the chipset, which was used in PCs alongside new Sandy Bridge processors, which were announced in early January. PC makers such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo halted shipment of PCs that paired Intel's latest Core i5 and i7 processors with the defective chipset. PC makers also provided remedies such as refunds or motherboard replacements to customers who had already purchased systems.

Intel said the Serial-ATA (SATA) controller within the defective chipset could degrade over time and could impact performance or functionality of storage devices such as hard drives.

Intel quickly fixed the problem and in mid-February started shipping new chipsets that corrected the error. New consumer and business laptops announced by Dell, HP, Lenovo and other PC makers are not affected by the issue.

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