Any Dell Studio Desktop experience?

I’m looking at purchasing a new PC. I may purchase a Dell Studio Desktop (recently released by Dell) and I am researching compatibility. I checked the openSUSE HCL, but its too new to appear there. I have discovered problems some openSUSE users have had with some of the components I have listed, but I have also read success stories by users in other Linux distributions.

Does anyone have experience with that Desktop under Linux, or have experience with the audio, wireless, or graphic chipsets ?

I called Dell and obtained the following on the Dell Studio Desktop I am considering:

  • Intel Core 2 Quad-Core Q9450 (2.66 Mhz)
  • 4 GB RAM, 1 TB SATA hard drive
  • motherboard chipset is an Intel G45 (according to Dell support)
  • Graphic card = 256MB Radeon HD 3650
  • Audio hardware codec = ALC888S (according to Dell Support)
  • Wireless = Dell Wireless 1505 (BCM93421 chipset according to Dell support)

My thoughts on some items:

  • I’ve read of users having trouble with 3D working on Radeon HD3650, but then I don’t use 3D. I believe openGL and/or Vesa driver should work.
  • I’ve read of Linux users have trouble with ALC888S audio hardware codec, but I’ve read with 2.6.27 kernel and with non-nvidia motherboard chipset that ALC888S codec works ok with Linux (and hence the importance of the Intel G45 motherboard chipset).
  • I’ve read BCM4321 wireless chipset works with ndiswrapper on Ubuntu. I have not researched enough to determine if there is linux firmware for that.

I very painfully chose the ATI Radeon 3650 graphic over the significantly superior (and more expensive) nVidia 9800 because of the well publicized nvidia quality/heat problems with that nVidia 9800 card. One merely has to google on this to get swamped with hits. The performance difference between the two graphics cards is staggering (as nvidia card is massively superior in performance) , but I can not accept the significant risk of the graphic card gradually failing (which is what has happened to many nVidia 9800 from the various surfing I have done - I wish I was wrong on this).

Note this is my own post, and my considerations have nothing to do with the views of this forum, nor with the views of Novell/SuSE-GmbH.

A further note, one reason I am considering dell, aside from the technical, is:

  • their price is competitive, albeit definitely no where close to being a bargain (I can build a cheaper PC myself, if I wanted to spend the time - I don’t (want to spend the time))
  • by ordering Dell I can get pre-installed Vista in English for my wife (she wants Vista) and I can get an english keyboard and english manuals, which is difficult to get in Germany from the average mail order place and difficult to get from the average computer store
  • I want to send some money Dell’s way for their supporting Linux (albeit Ubuntu), and I’ll definitely write them a favourable letter if this install of openSUSE Linux works well for me. I think such purchases (with appropriate letter of thanks) is one way to try and influence PC suppliers such as Dell, toward Linux

I know thats not much, but we all do the very little that we can.

Hmm… I’ve read of this post from a user who managed to get the BCM4321 working without ndiswrapper. … so there is hope :slight_smile:
Installing Broadcom 802.11 Linux STA driver « Djays’s Blog

Thats a typo. Should read “BCM94321” which I believe is a BCM4321 “for short”.

BCM4321 wireless chipset
Yes this will work using the hybrid drivers,but a compile will be necessary,or you could use ndiswrapper & the windows driver ( /me ducks Larry’s right hook rotfl! rotfl! )


I think I remember reading somewhere that only nvidia GPU’s between date x and y were affected by the problem. However I can’t find the source… :stuck_out_tongue:

I do know Dell worked around the problem on laptops based on the same chip by upping the fanspeed… May I ask why you’re looking at a top of the line card and post

but then I don’t use 3D. I believe openGL and/or Vesa driver should work.
Seems like a waste of money… unless your wife does make use of it under windows of course.

Don’t forget, even ignoring 3D (which I don’t plan to use) there is also play back of High Definition Video, which is still in development, but the technology is now starting to move fast. I did read an assessment that the Radeon HD3450 is “just” capable of play HD Video, which IS something I want, and that the basic Intel graphics (NOT the Intel 4500 GMA) may not handle the top High Definition Video, so that was also a factor.

There is typically a lot of flexibility with Dell, but in this case, the only graphics offered with the other features I wanted (hard drive, RAM) was the Radeon 3450HD.

Also, remember I rejected all nVidia 8000 and 9000 series, and also rejected the Intel 4500 GMA (as there were no drivers yet).

But from what I have read, the Radeon HD3450 is very far from being a top performer.

Just ignore some of my previous post … I’m getting my Laptop Studio mixed up with my desktop Studio.

Reference the fair question … the price I was looking at for the Dell 3640 was either 10 or 20 euros more to upgrade for 3450 to 3650. So thats why I considered it. My reasons for the 3450 are in the previous post.

Does that mean you will be changing your name to ‘BrandSpankingNewCPU’? rotfl!

The Dell Studio is a nice looking pc. I kind of like the Hybrid.

In either case Dell would not be my choice in case of trouble. I just don’t like it when I can’t just walk into a shop and say ‘Please fix this.’ Building my own would be my choice.

I know, a bit of a useless post but I couldn’t resist the quote :wink:

The thought did occur to me. rotfl!

The HP dv5 looks attractive. When I was searching/purchasing, none of our local storeshad the HP dv5 configured the way I like.

But I see one now has a nice HP dv5.

Still, the Dell Studio 15 runs pretty good on openSUSE-11.1 beta5. The only item that I am not happy (yet) with is the audio, although I am getting there. The headset/mute function does not work well.

I also want to carve up the disk more (reduce Vista more in size, it takes up FAR TOO MUCH hard disk space).

I’ve read of HP dv5 users having problems with their audio. I confess I’ve stopped tracking this, now that I have a Dell.

Maybe building your own is not a bad idea? Have you got a friend who knows how to build if you don’t want to spend an evening doing it? This way you get the hardware the way you want it so you know OpenSUSE will work.

I am still useless on the actual topic since I do not nor have I ever (and probably never will) owned a pre-build pc. I build my own and have never had problems. A lot of people I know get pre builds and they die after a while. Probably due to mass produced, infirior quality components. Mainly Dell, Acer and E-Machines so far. Only prebuild I own is a laptop. And if I could build my own I probably would :slight_smile:

My wife and I built our own PC 7-years ago. I still use it (an athlon-1100). I’ve upgraded it over the years. It now has 1GByte RAM (it started with 256MB) and it now has a 300GByte hard drive (we started with a 40GB drive).

It worked fine immediately upon building. It was an evenings worth of effort.

But we both can make more money working over time for an evening, than the money we save on building the PC for ourself.

Our local PC store used to charge around 100 to 150 euros to build a PC, if we purchased all the parts for them. … I don’t know if that is still true. We have had 2 PCs that we procured from them (and paid them to assemble).

That still is an option.

Infant mortality in electronic hardware can happen to anyone’s hardware. I’ve never owned an Acer nor an E-Machines. I’ve known a few owners of Acers whose laptops had quality problems. My old Compaq LTE-5200 (that I purchased in 1997) went back to Compaq 3 times (once in Hong Kong, once in Bangkok Thailand, and once in Ottawa Canada) and it was covered by warantee in all 3 returns. Still, it was a great laptop, as I used it like a desktop and I definitely obtained my money’s worth out of it.

My mother has a Dell Desktop (purchased in 2001 or 2002) and it works well still, many years later. When my brother was alive (living with my mother) he used it constantly (practically 24hrs / day doing analysis over night). Still my mother uses it for a couple of hours/day, … as she likes to play solitaire with it, when she is not browsing, checking email, or chatting with friends via online chat. So the durability of that Dell has left a good impression with me.

I have heard to many horror stories of Dell support to be recommending them. Altho all our pc’s at work are Dell and they work fine. Good luck with your search I suppose. Buy it and try it I suppose. If it does not run Opensuse maybe it’s returnable under warrantee? :slight_smile:

Most individual parts also come with a warrantee as long as they are used as intended (Ie No overclocking or running a CPU with no fan, etc…) so that should also be ok. I ones returned a HD to western digital and it was replaced quickly. Same for a graphics card I blew up when a broken molex connector caused a short. Altho I might have forgotton to mention that. Leadtek, who made the card, repaired it free of charge and it’s still going strong today in my neighbours PC. That’s 3 years ago.

There’s for and against for both. I personally feel that if you have the know how, use it.

Good luck in your search and let us know how you get on.

I’m too conservative to take the chance. So typically I ensure I have read of other’s success before I purchase.

Still, its not like it was 5 years ago, when a lack of SATA compatibility meant a higher level of risk of Linux incompatibility with the mother board’s SATA chipset. A lot has been done in the Linux area re: SATA and things have improved for compatibility.

I’ve taken a break briefly in the search. We moved into a new apartment a few weeks back, and we are still shuffling furniture, building new furniture, etc … Plus I’m still spending some time on new Laptop, learning its ins and outs, and helping out re: 11.1 beta5. Thats all on top of my normal openSUSE stuff and some other hobbies.

I missed a short window (of me having the time to research) to purchase the desktop last week, so it may be a couple of weeks, before another “time window” opens.

I’m still hopefull I can obtain a new desktop before Christmas.

Well, let me show you this: Inquirer: Every Nvidia Graphics Card With G84 or G86 Chipset Is Ready to Die - Gizmodo Australia
and this: Nvidia G92s and G94 reportedly failing - The INQUIRER

Now the g84, g86, g92 and g94 mean practically every nVidia graphic card in the 8000 and 9000 series is at risk.

But there is no need to believe the articles. Pick a card you are thinking of in the 8000 or 9000 series, and do a google search on it for “problems” or “over-heating”. … I did - for the cards that I was considering, and there were a lot of unhappy users who had to return those cards. As a nVidia fan (which I am, or at least I was) this is painful to see.

Im running 11.0 and 11.1RC on a Studio 15 with a 3450.

The radeonhd driver in the kernel does not seem to work, have to use ati-fglrx. Asked a few kernel guys about it, they gave some explanation and would look into it; might get fixed soon.
However graphics performance has been more than satisfactory, I have been able to play some demanding DirectX and OpenGL games quite well.

The Dell 1397 wireless card that came in mine is a crazy card. Broadcom 4321 chipset, right now could only its working with ndiswrapper. The drivers from Dell don’t work with ndiswrapper though, had to find some other similar chipset (bcmwl5).
Haven’t tried the STA drivers, definitely not working with native drivers (b43xx etc). I heard that Dell are putting/giving as an option Intel cards in the newer studio machines, you might want to look into that. Its a half-height card so there aren’t many options to swap it out.

Media buttons, of course, need setting up with keytouch or similar. Brightness control works, s2ram and s2disk work fine with “s2ram -f”.

Touchpad is a bit sensitive, needed tweaking in xorg.conf for it to feel just right for me.

If you want NetworkManager to know about the status of the wireless hardware switch, install smbios-utils from Repository/software - DellLinuxWiki

Hope this gave you some info!

Thanks. I confess I was looking for desktop experience in this thread. Still, its interesting to read of fellow Studio 15 laptop users experience.

I’m now running 11.1 beta5 with my Dell Studio 15 (1537) laptop. I also have a Radeon 3450.

I installed openSUSE-11.1 beta5 at 1024x768, and then a few days later booted to run level 3 and ran:sax2 -r -m 0=radeonhd and it configured to 1440x900 resolution for me. The graphics work fine, but I don’t play graphics demanding games (unless you consider chess graphic demanding :slight_smile: ). The most graphic demanding aspects I encounter is playing back of high definition video.

My wireless is an Intel WiFi Link 5300 AGN which functions with the 2.6.27 kernel in openSUSE-11.1.

I have not tried the suspend to ram. I did close the laptop once with it powered under Linux (when I had music playing) and the music kept playing. I assume that means the suspend to ram did not work, and I need to look into it.

I have not figured out where the brightness controls are in either Linux or Vista. :slight_smile:

My biggest disappointment so far is on the 250 GB 7200rpm hard drive, I can only reduce Vista to 123 GB. It refuses to let me shrink it any further.

I finally sorted that out with some help from this forum. I used the linux live CD gparted to downsize the Vista Partition from 123 GBytes to 68 GBytes. That created some unassigned space at the end of /dev/sda3 (which was Vista) that I was later able to use when I installed openSUSE-11.1 RC1. There were some complications that had to be sorted.

I started playing a bit with the various buttons. I need to explore keytouch and s2ram.

I did note the following:

  • Eject button - works
  • Function F10 - eject CD/DVD works
  • Function Arrow up/down (for brightness up/down) - works
  • Function F3 - to launch a menu iem with battery status - doesn’t work
  • Function F1 - to hibernate. Works (I think) in a way I’ve never seen before. When I pushed this, the screen went black. The hard drive was still accessing when I pushed it again a few seconds later. I think that 2nd push had no effect as openSUSE shut down on me. My 1st assessment was, this did not work! But when I pushed the ON switch on the laptop, openSUSE rebooted, bypassing the Grub menu, and bypassing the desktop user login (although it did ask for my password) and when it came up, all the various mozilla firefox windows were open at the websites where I was visiting. I had to restart the wireless (no big deal - two mouse clicks). Sound worked afterward.
  • The volume up/down controls work,
  • The sound mute switch works.
  • The media start key launched amarok !
  • The media stop and play/pause, keys had no affect on amarok, but they did work on smplayer !!
  • The forward >>| and back |<< keys were not mapped (automatically) to any application that I have played with yet

Note - I did not do anything (that I am aware of) to configure all of these keys that mostly did work, other than install a bunch of packman multimedia rpms. I spent no time configuring.

Still more to investigate.