Monday, October 24, 2011

Dell Vostro 3400

One of the guys at the office travels a lot and the Dell Vostro 3400 that he was using is a bit of a brick so we upgraded him to a nice light Toshiba Portege 800 series laptop.  When I reclaimed the Vostro, I thought that it would be prudent to reinstall it with a clean installation of Windows 7 since he had been having some issues.  Simple right?  I thought so.

First I ran some exhaustive diagnostics to try to rule out any hardware issues, and it passed, Then I had dell send me original media since he didn't provide it to me.  Dell OEM windows 7 and a drivers disc.

- Windows 7 x64 installation, no problem
- Load drivers disc... nice feature that scans the hardware and tells you what you have.  recognized everything, um, except that video and the wlan card.  Must be a mistake... so I try all the video drivers, but not of them work and I am stuck at some default resolution.  Try all the wlan drivers, none of them work.  Frustrating.

Go to the Dell website and research the laptop.  Hmm, wifi card is listed as 802.11 n network.  That doesn't help.  No guidance on the video either.  Mind you, what I write in 2 sentences took hours and hours and 2 full reinstalls of the Windows as I was sure that something MUST have gotten corrupted.

Finally I have the bright idea to ask someone else with the Vostro 3400 to look in the device manager and tell me what video card and what wlan adapter he has.

Nvideo GoForce 310M.  Hmm, that driver isn't even on the disc, but it is on the website.  Actually there are two, on labelled as switchable and one as discrete.  I have no idea what that means.  I'll just try one.

DW1501 Wireless-N wlan Half-Mini Card.  Also not on the disc but it is on the website.

Download to a USB drive from another system, install and voila, video and WLan are working properly.

Amazing.  How can Dell send out a driver disc that does not recognize the hardware in the system of have the right drivers on it?

How can searching Google not turn up ANYONE who has had this issue and figured it out.

I bet that the 32bit version of Windows 7 would have found the right drivers, though looking at 'all' drivers on the disc, I may be wrong as I do not actually see these present.

What a colossal waste of time.  At least it is working now.

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