PhD Student at the University of Victoria

The HP Pavilion M9340F and the Case of the Buzzing Fan

I bought this mistake on Canadian boxing day at Futureshop.  At the time, I thought what a deal. 800 dollars, for a pretty well equipped machine.  It was a refurbished model with a 90 day warranty, but it was refurbished by HP. I got it in the mail a few weeks later, and was happy as can be. But then the buzzing started.

It was about a week after I got the machine in the mail.  At first it was not too loud.   A little bit more than what you would expect in normal operation. But day after day, it got louder and louder.  Then one day it froze, dead in its tracks.  No error messages or anything, completely locked up.  Finally, I took the lid off to take a peek, the sound was coming from the video card.  The fan was on its last legs, it was barely moving.

A reboot fixed the freeze, but soon after it would freeze again. Okay, this sounds like a problem for HP's world class support.  After three calls, and well over 6 hours HP agreed that the sound was in fact coming from the graphics card. But only after excellent conversations like:

"refurbished machines don't have warranties"  -  *read the warranty card to him*

"your warranty is expired"  -  *I bought it 4 weeks ago, and its a 90 day warranty*  -  "No, you didn't, my records show you got it a year ago"  -  *had to send him the invoice*

"you paid too little for it, it must have been stolen"  -  *had to convince him Futureshop was actually a store, and the machine was on sale*

"Why would you expect a machine you got for that cheap to have a warranty"  -  *speechless*

"Video cards don't have fans, only CPUs do"  -  *I'm looking at one right now, with a fan on it*

"Buzzing is normal"  -  *hold phone up to case*

"This is because you installed software"  -  *It happens before windows loads*

"I think your problem is that the fan on your video card is broken"...

They arrange to have it shipped with in 10 days. BUT, the deal is I have to swap the new video card in, and ship the replacement back to them within 5 days, or they charge me for the replacement.  I say "are you sure, I'm leaving on a trip in two weeks, if you don't ship it right away I won't be there to receive it.", "Its no problem, we'll ship it today".

One week into my trip the replacement card arrived, while I was in a completely different part of the continent.  Well after when they said.  I had called HP support the day before I left, to warn them that they had taken too long. Apparently, that does not matter, the system is automatic, and no matter how much the support guy felt my pain, I would be charged.

I had a friend check my mail for me while I was gone, and he was able to ship the part back.

I installed the new (and exactly same) card into my machine. And things were as good as can be. Silent and fast. Well, at least for a week, until the exact same buzzing happened to the new card.

Further interneting revealed that lots of people are having the same problem.  And they just send the exact same model video card right back out.

I went somewhere else to get the second replacement card. It is now silent and happy. And I can safely say I will never buy another HP product no matter how cheap it is.