Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Beware of Ahtec laptops

A year and a half ago I bought an Ahtec laptop from one of its Spanish distributors (Ampliware), the price was competitive enough and was one of the few places I knew that sold laptops without Windows installed so back then it seemed a good idea.

The computer worked fine for a year and a few months, but unfortunately after coming back from my trip to the States the laptop would not boot (yeah, two weeks away with no one using it and then it doesn't work :-S).

As the warranty in Spain is 2 years I decided to get it to the same shop that had sold it to me to ask for a free repair, but unfortunately Ampliware seems to be out of business (no shops and all the phones i find in the internet seem to be dead) so I went to a different distributor that agreed to send the laptop back to Ahtec (which seems to be based in Netherlands).

It took a while for them to answer and the answer was not satisfactory. They said that the GPU had died because of the heat because of the fan exhaust was full of dust and that the warranty did not cover that since it was not a manufacturing issue.

That's quite shocking to me, a laptop is basically a black box so I could never ever had opened it to clean it up (the screws had a "warranty void if removed" sticker) thus the only way I can think of that the GPU would not die would be:
a) Not use the laptop much so the fan would not carry that much dust to the fan exhaust and it would not get blocked
b) The laptop being manufactured better so that the fan exhaust doesn't get blocked by dust

As asking for a) is kind of a no go for a laptop ("Sir here you have the laptop, but do not use it much or it will break) so I'd go for b) the laptop was either manufactured or engineered incorrectly and in my opinion that means it should be covered by the warranty.

The problem is that the shop that sold it to me is gone so i can not ask/complain/sue them and that the manufacturer is not from Spain so fighting for my warranty to be honored will be too expensive.

So anyone wants to buy some laptop parts? 2GB PC3-8500 RAM stick? P8700 CPU? 320GB HD?


Boudewijn said...

Ahtec is kind of know to be crappy in the Netherlands... But I find that most laptops fail fairly soon if you don't regularly blow them through with compressed air. What I do with mine is remove the keyboard and harddisk and blow the air through all apertures, taking care that the can doesn't get so cold that the air is liquid when it gets out.

Vishesh Yadav said...

Its mostly bad design. My laptop died because of the very same reason. Laptops with exhaust at back are more prone to this problem, as the air often gets blocked when you keep it on your bed or couch or even your lap.

aka said...

I was a happy owner of a ahtec xel80 for 4 years or so... Until it stop working with no reason.... Ahtec is a assembler company so you have to take a (deep) look to the machine that really is under the hood.
However, I already have another ahtec (signal X-9600M ), which is 10 years old and is working like the first day.

Detox said...

had a problem with a clogged fan on a Dell Latitude the other day. Just sucked out all the dust with a vacuum cleaner without actually opening the computer and now it's much better.

Don't know whether this can be recommended in general though. Since I was spinning the fan at very fast speeds I was afraid of actually generating too much electricity for the motherboard to handle but in my case all went well.

Albert Astals Cid said...

@aka: I am not saying all Ahtec laptops are bad, I am just saying if the GPU dies because of me using the laptop it should be covered by the warranty, otherwise what are warranties for?

ahiemstra said...

Another interesting question is: What kind of graphics chip was in it? Because there is a range of mobile 8xxx series Nvidia chips that are known to die due to heat differences. See for more information.

Albert Astals Cid said...

@ahiemstra: It was an Intel chip

Anonymous said...

I don't know how that works, but I've never had to clean my Thinkpad's fan. And that is not because my room is so dust-free. I rarely use the vacuum cleaner before there is visible dust.

Stefan Majewsky said...

Dust in the fans is a very usual problem for notebooks. If I were to buy a notebook today, based on my experiences, I would always prefer one that can be opened for maintenance easily and legally.

Currently I have a Dell Inspiron 9400, which I bought five years ago. It comes with a very extensive maintenance manual which tells you how to take it apart completely.

I usually disassemble it once or twice a year to clean the fans. And as I said, it still serves me well after over five years.