Dell recently issued a BIOS fix for its Studio 17 with Core i7, designed to solve a serious crashing issue. However, after the release of Intel's new Core i5 processor and a number of vocal user complaints about its Core i7 product, the company has made the lower-powered and priced Core i5 the Studio 17's default CPU choice. Though, as of this posting, we did not see a Core i7 option on Dell.com, a rep assured us that the Core i7 model, labeled the Dell Studio 1747 has not been discontinued and will return to the site within days.
When we reviewed the Dell Studio 17 with Intel's Core i7 processor (aka Dell Studio 1747) in November, we gave the notebook a 4-star rating due to its blazing performance and relatively affordable price. However, we noted two major problems we experienced with our review unit. First, the initial system we received stopped booting (and made several beeping noises) just after testing had been completed and, second, we noticed that the exterior of the chassis got hot, with the underside of the system registering a troubling 112-degrees Fahrenheit after just 15 minutes of playing a Hulu video.
We returned the first unit to Dell, which repaired it and sent it back to us a couple of days later, saying that the first issue we encountered was an isolated incident. The repaired unit worked, but we did experience experience a couple of mysterious blue screen crashes the first time we tried to play Hulu videos on it, though these seemed to disappear on subsequent tests. After we informed Dell about the uncomfortably hot temperatures, they sent us a second review unit to test. This second unit did not break or crash, but was just as hot as the original.
Without having tested an entire assembly line of Dell Studio 17s with Core i7, it was impossible for us to tell if the one defective review unit we received was a fluke or a harbinger of trouble. However, after the product began shipping, we began receiving negative reports from many users, claiming that their Dell Studio 1747s (with Core i7) had died after a few days or hours of use.
A number of users also posted on forums that their Dell Studio 1747s slowed down after intense use. For example, a French-speaking user posted this experiment, which claims that after running two CPU-intensive programs, Prime 95 and Furmark, the CPU speed dropped from 1.6 to 1.06-GHz. Notebookcheck.com, a professional review site, did not see a clock speed drop but did see their test notebook's 3DMark06 scores drop significantly after 12 hours of intense use. We did not test our review unit for performance throttling before we had to return it to Dell.
Dell's BIOS Update
Recently, Dell issued a BIOS update that fixes what they call the "7 beeps problem," the same issue that bricked our first review unit. Dell advises that, if you own a Dell Studio 1747 that is working properly, you should install the BIOS update to insure you never get the 7 beeps problem. If your Dell Studio 1747 has already stopped booting, you can call Dell support or try re-seating the CMOS battery to bring the system back to life.
Whether the new BIOS update (termed the A04 BIOS) makes the system cooler or resolves its alleged performance issues remains to be seen. If you have a Dell Studio 1747, please let us know if the BIOS update has improved your system by posting in the comments below.
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