Intel Cougar Point Chipset Issue: How Dell is Supporting Affected Customers Worldwide

I first
blogged about the Cougar
Point chipset issue
in early February, and a second time on March
1st
. Some customers received their system orders before the Cougar Point
issue was known. The point of this post is to explain how we plan to support
those customers.

XPS 8300, Vostro 460, Alienware
Aurora
desktops or Alienware M17x
R3
laptops that were received prior
to March 1
are potentially affected by the chipset issue. Dell
plans to offer all worldwide customers who received one of these systems prior
to March 1 an option for a new replacement motherboard.

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.

Update: My previous paragraph has caused some confusion. To clarify: we
have worked to inform affected customers throughout the process through
various channels including my
post on Feb. 2nd
and information
on support.dell.com
which outlined our approach with customers based on different
scenarios. We've contacted customers to work through
pending orders and as I mentioned, this week we've begun reaching out to customers
who kept their affected systems to replace motherboards with new
ones.

Update 2: Over the last couple of months, the team continues to make progress. One area that’s slowing things down is that machines being purchased from retail outlets are not registered to an owner. If you purchased one of the following four systems from a retail outlet on or before February 15, you may be affected by the Intel chipset issue.

Our technical support team can determine if you are affected, but before they can, we need you to register the system in your name. To do so, please visit: Dell.com/register. From there, choose the country that you purchased in (click on the image below to go to the US registration page). From there, choose the retailer you purchased from:

Dell.com/register

This will take you to the form where you can enter your personal information:

Dell customer registration form

The registration process will take about 24 hours. After you are registered, please contact Technical Support. Customers in the United States can use phone numbers on this page to do that.

For customers outside the United States, here’s the best way to find pertinent Technical Support details:

  • Go to support.dell.com
  • At the very bottom of the page, select your country in the Choose a Country/Region field
  • Choose Support for Home Users, Support for Small Business Users, or Enterprise IT (if you’ve visited support.dell.com in the past, you may not even see this page)
  • Choose Contact Technical Support under the Contact Us section
  • Click on the green Telephone button under the Call Tech Support section

If you have any questions about the registration process, please let me know in the comments below.

In case
you haven't dug into the details until now, here's a quick recap. According to
Intel, SATA ports within the chipsets may degrade over time. This means they
may never degrade, or if they do, it may take a few months for them to do so. If
the issue does occur, it affects the functionality of SATA-linked devices such
as hard disk drives and DVD drives. The issue can prevent access to SATA
devices inside the system or attached externally. These devices include hard
drives and DVD/Blu-ray optical drives. The Cougar Point chipset is embedded on
the system motherboards that provide support for second-generation Intel Core Sandy
Bridge processors.

I know
several of you have been asking for details on how this process will work.
Bottom line, we will start contacting affected customers this week and will
work through these motherboard replacements over the next several weeks.

Until
then, thanks for your continued patience. 

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