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Dell's laptop customisation options not very customisable

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Forward-thinking Dell customers who want to make cash savings on pre-loaded memory cards in the firm's latest range of laptops could be in for a hard time.

El Reg reader Paul contacted us after problems he had when attempting to customise a Dell XPS M1530 on the PC giant's website.

He was hoping to get a laptop loaded with a single 2Gb memory chip rather than the default option of two cards at 1Gb each.

But having failed to get the laptop specifications he wanted online he was connected to a Dell "Agent" via instant messenger (IM) to find out why it wasn't possible to install only one memory module in the machine.

Paul explained the rationale behind his thinking to the agent. He said that buying a laptop with two memory cards at 1Gb was not cost-effective if he wanted to upgrade in the near future.

He also pointed out that it wasn't good for the environment if he had to ditch two defunct 1Gb cards at a later date.

The Dell agent repeatedly told Paul that he couldn't buy just one 2Gb card because that "option is not available".

The agent also insisted that the laptop would only work with a pair of memory cards at either 1Gb or 2Gb each and told Paul that the system would crash if one card was removed but failed to explain why.

Customer: if i bought 2 x 2gb of ram and took one out, would the laptop crash?
Agent: yes.
Customer: it would crash, seriously?
Agent: yes.
Customer: does the laptop need 2 x memory cards to work?
Agent: It depends on the applications you perform on the laptop.
Customer: well, say i was just using it for standard use, like internet browsing, office apps etc. Would it crash then?
Customer: surely it will boot or it will not
Agent: I would suggest you to confirm this with our technical support team.
Customer: but i want to speak with someone in sales to get me an xps m1530 with 1 x 2gb of ram
Agent: I am afraid that would not be possible.
Agent: since we don't have such option.
Customer: but you should, that's my point
Customer: i am willing to pay extra for the option
Agent: I am afraid that would not be possible since we don't have such option.
Customer: am i speaking with a real person, or is this some type of bot agent?
Agent: You can have 2 x 512 or 2 x 1024 or 2 x 2048 but not 1 x 2048.
Agent: You are speaking to a real person.

Indeed on its website Dell punts "up to 4GB3 Dual Channel4 667MHz DDR2" for its XPS M1530 laptop model. It also points out that: "Upgrading your memory is one of the most cost-effective ways to supercharge your system performance."

But because Dell uses dual-channel architecture technology on its XPS M1530 motherboard the options for a customer to refine memory specifications are, in fact fairly limited.

We asked Dell why Paul wasn't given a simple technical explanation about the limitations of the firm's customisation options, but it has so far declined to comment. ®

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