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Unhappy with Dell

2006-04-13 10:15:02

Dell used to be my favorite computer brand, since about 1994. They had cheap stuff, without all the stupid "enhancements" (read: BIOS additions that slow down boot-up and need special drivers in the OS) that Compaq, HP and IBM loved so much.

But in the past two years, the love has turned to hate. We bought a lot of Dells for work, both for people's desks and for our servers. The desktop machines have been croaking left and right: out of a total of maybe 30 machines, we've had at least 10 catastrophic hardware failures, either motherboards, power supplies or disks in two years. To me, that's horrible.

The servers have been a little more reliable (only 3-4 failures among 80 servers), but the recent new servers we got (1850 series) are unbelievable power and heat hogs, compared to the previous generation 1750 series. In a data-center class machine, power and heat are the two most important specs you care about: it's typical of Dell these days to not understand the customer needs.

Then there's the crapware, if you buy a Dell with Windows on it. Come on guys, I want a computer not an advertising platform for stuff I will never buy.

Finally, there is the web site. Dell was a pioneer in letting customers self-configure exactly what they want. But now there are so many different entry points, it's very difficult to create the same system twice in a row. Then there is the home user, small business, large business, etc. You can get significantly different prices depending on how you identify yourself. It telegraphs to me that Dell is pretty much out to trick me into paying too much, and I have to waste a lot of time digging for a better deal. I almost hate to bring it up, but Apple manages to allow customized configs that are easy to reproduce.

So, later Dell. At work, we're probably switching to HP or generic boxes for people's desktops. We have RFPs out to server vendors for blade servers or whatever. Rackable looks pretty good to me, DC power with 88 servers per rack. Or we might just go with no-name boxes for them, too.