Before I was starting college, it wasn’t the dorm I would be staying in or the classes I would be taking that excited me most: it was getting a new laptop. I had spent time looking into what would be the best for college. I knew I wanted something that had Windows on it, for no other reason than I just wanted to be able to play games on it when I had free time, and I wanted to be able to upgrade the different components when I wanted to. This led me to find it: the 2020 XPS 15. The design had just been refreshed, having a beautiful screen with excellent colors, and I could even switch out certain parts. I placed my order just a few days later and was the most excited I had ever been.
About a month later, during a summer class, I saw a UPS truck pull up, and I ran straight out of the house, signed for the box, and went straight back inside. I had ordered a RAM kit to help make the computer faster, bumping it up from 8 gigabytes to a whopping 32, making it lightning fast. I had to ask my uncle to come help me switch out the RAM, which we had to do outside since it was during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once it was finally ready, I was thrilled. It could do everything I needed it to, and it even ran games well too thanks to the RAM upgrade I had purchased.
I did notice one small problem though… the trackpad was noticeably stiff. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but as the days passed by, I started to see more and more articles talking about how this was an issue with multiple people who had purchased the same laptop, and I started to get worried. When looking at the inside of a laptop, the battery usually sits right below the trackpad, and when your trackpad starts to get stiff, it can usually be a sign that the battery has already begun to expand, and in some cases, even explode. Knowing this, I decided I wasn’t going to take any chances, and decided to send the laptop back into Dell. This made my idea to upgrade the RAM a problem since I knew I would most likely have to get a replacement from them, rather than just a simple repair. I was lucky though, getting to experience the saving grace of Dell: the customer support team. Since I had just purchased the laptop only a month ago, I was still in the warranty period, so they were kind enough to just ship me a brand-new laptop, and they even let me keep the old one until the new one arrived. This made the process significantly easier, as I could simply just move the RAM I had bought into the new laptop. I still didn’t feel confident doing it on my own, so I had to call my uncle to come back to help. He returned, wearing a Sailor Moon mask with a face shield, and guided me through the process from a six-foot distance on our porch, since he was extremely concerned about contracting COVID. As I was finishing up and just about to reseal the laptops, I noticed a drop of rain land inside the laptop. Panicking, I rushed the two machines back inside to get them to safety, since I knew if I sent Dell back a water-damaged laptop, then I would have much worse problems than before. I let both laptops dry out overnight, and to my surprise, both were entirely fine. The rain hadn’t been a problem, so I sent back the original one to Dell and thought that would be the end of my troubles.
For a while, it was. I finished up my online class, moved into my dorm on campus, and was just about to go to bed for the first night in my dorm when I noticed that it started to act strangely. It wasn’t responding to the mouse or keyboard, and it felt like nothing I could do would fix it. At first, I assumed it was because of the RAM I had installed into it, but since I was up in college, I couldn’t ask anyone for help on it, so I was on my own. While fumbling through the laptop’s internal settings, I managed to find out how to run different diagnostic tests on it. Everything came back perfectly normal it said, even the RAM I had installed which was a relief. I spent a few hours trying different ideas to get it to work again, only to inevitably give up and have to reset it from scratch, losing everything I had on it. Thankfully, since I had just gotten it a couple weeks before starting college I didn’t lose much, but it was still extremely frustrating to deal with.
My troubles did not stop there. Later that same year, Windows suddenly couldn’t update itself anymore. I went through the classic steps of simply rebooting the system then when that didn’t work, waiting to see if it would just somehow fix itself. Of course, it never did. I dug deeper into the issue, eventually finding the specific error code it would give me each time it failed. Armed with my newfound knowledge, I began to search for solutions before finding that Windows surprisingly came with one built-in, but it was with the command line. When you use the command line on Windows or any kind of computer, you need to be careful of the syntax that you follow, or else it just won’t do anything. After several attempts, I figured out how to type in what it wanted, and I watched the computer dash through lines of processes, looking through my hard drive to determine the error before finding it. One specific file had somehow become corrupted, but that was all I could find. I couldn’t figure out how to repair it, or any other steps to take from there. After weeks of looking up solutions, I was stuck. All I could do was tell Windows to stop updating for as long as I could, and once it forced an update, waited for it to fail just for me to tell it to stop again. This continued for several months until I finally made it to summer break, at which point I immediately contacted Dell to ask for a replacement. This time, unfortunately, I would have to send it back in, as I had gone over the return and exchange limit. Exhausted with the process, I sent it back to Dell and received it back in perfect condition.
By my third year, the problems that the laptop gave me went from manageable to absolutely hellish. Sometimes just trying to power on the laptop wouldn’t work, and it would just flash through several different colors for five minutes before finally starting up, or when I would get Windows to properly update, the laptop wouldn’t want to work again because I hadn’t used a separate program to make sure a bunch of other software was up to date beforehand. One of these times was on April first. It took me around two hours to fix, making it one of the worst April Fool’s pranks I had received. It was overall a miserable experience, but I tolerated it because it had stuck with me for so long. The final nail in the coffin though was when it just started shutting off for no reason. When a laptop does this, it is usually when it gets too hot and shuts itself down to prevent itself from getting damaged. When I would inspect the laptop myself though, it wasn’t hot at all, and the fans usually were not even running when it would shut down. It never gave me any kind of error code for the system when I turned it back on – it would just act like nothing happened – even if it had just shut down in the middle of a class, causing me to miss some of the notes for the day. By this point, I was done. As much as I had loved that laptop, it had just given me too many problems to want to keep using it. I ended up just buying a Macbook and I haven’t looked back once. As much as I would have loved to keep my old Dell, it just wasn’t working for me anymore, since the problems it had just kept getting worse.
I ended up dumping the old laptop onto my mom, who needed it for her new job. It’s her problem now.