Cheaper Components Do Not Make For A Good Experience

I spent nearly 90 minutes (and the rest!) yesterday spending time investigating a problem with a colleague’s Dell XPS 15 laptop. He mentioned that Bluetooth suddenly stopped working and wasn’t able to find any Bluetooth devices within the Windows 10 Device Manager.

I spent a bit of time doing a bit of Googling and basic diagnostic checking and we couldn’t persuade Windows to pick up Bluetooth at all. My colleague told me that this happened immediately after coming off a Zoom call, but I doubt that even Zoom (which has had some pretty nasty bugs in the past) could cause an issue like this.

So I eventually jumped on a TeamViewer session and had a look myself and despite my best efforts could not persuade the blasted machine to detect the Bluetooth transceiver. I re-installed the Killer chipset and Bluetooth controller drivers from the Dell site and.. absolutely nothing worked. I tried restarting the Bluetooth services, checking for new hardware, etc. Nope. Bluetooth was definitely pining for the fjords (well, Bluetooth WAS the King of Norway after all), or quite possibly Hedy Lamarr.

Then I came across this discussion thread which reminded me why I despise Window’s Fast Start and that we should ideally disable it. While Fast Start saves time when starting the computer (because it’s simply saving the memory that’s currently in use and reloads it back in) – it doesn’t clear out any lingering instabilities/bugs introduced in a session that a proper full restart or shutdown might get rid of.

So I disabled Fast Start and got my colleague to shut down the computer (rather than restart it), unplug all peripherals – including the power supply – and wait 60 seconds. Then I got him to plug in the power and start the machine.

Hooray! Bluetooth was back in action again. From the same thread, I enjoyed this summary of Dell’s support:

Thanks for this, I tried everything including updating chipset and BIOS and this worked! a FULL SHUTDOWN and UNPLUGGED the PC for 60 seconds… and to think Dell wanted to charge me $35 to trouble shoot the issue because my PC was just out of warranty, that still upsets me honestly… at least its fixed, it only took me 4 days to figure it out on my down time at work all the while our store has had no music due to no BT!

So the final solution after those four days? Effectively just turn the damn thing off and on again.

But if this post is correct:

It has to do with the wifi card installed in the laptop… I had issues with both wifi and my bluetooth would start failing and disconnecting my bluetooth mouse.

After troubleshooting by reinstalling drivers, factory resetting and rolling back the bios, the issue couldnt be fixed.

Then after waiting on dell technical support for over an hour and half, I said frick it and installed another wifi card I had on my older gaming laptop.

Voila, no issues with wifi anymore and bluetooth no longer disconnects. 

The qualcomm based wifi cards are garbage and in terms of specs is as basic a card can be. It has a lot of issues based from a lot of users discussing wifi/bluetooth issues… 

then Dell might want to look at improving the components in its higher-end laptops (the XPS range is not cheap). My biggest complaint with Dell is that their specs keep changing and it’s often difficult to spec out a machine with a specific component such as a network card – it’s usually whatever’s in stock.

That said, is the problem really with the hardware or is just the drivers that Qualcomm provides for Windows 10? In any event, I’d always tend to go for Intel networking above all else in Windows and Linux based PCs because the drivers have always been found to be consistently stable in comparison to other manufacturers.

In so far as actually using cheaper components, it looks like a few SSD manufacturers such as Western Digital and Samsung are swapping out more expensive components in their SSDs with cheaper, substantially underperforming parts. This has the potential to be very bad for the consumer in terms of the performance and longevity of the drive they buy.

I have no qualms with manufacturers looking to save some of the costs of the manufacturing process – heck, even Apple does this, but absolutely not at the cost of reliability and performance for the end-user.