So here is my final update to this thread for as long as I can foresee.
Right now, if you are looking to buy a laptop and considering the XPS 13, look elsewhere.
I've been talking about this issue for 2 weeks now with various members of Dell technical and customer support. Let me preface anything else I say beyond this point by stating that everyone I talked to was courteous and respectful. I am not knocking the individual's I spoke to at all, but the customer service experience I had still left me frustrated. Let me explain:
My issue is more so that Dell is continuing to sell a broken product that they have no fix for, and as far as I know, don't know how to fix\when it will be fixed by. I have gone through two XPS 13s in the past week that both have the coil whine issue, even after specifically asking to not be sent a second XPS 13 without having someone at Dell check it for the problem before sending it to me. I was ignored, and now I have two laptops I don't want which I have to return.
The thing is, I was willing to overlook all this. Despite the headache so far, I would be willing to give it a go with yet another XPS 13 as long as it didn't have the problem. There must be at least ONE XPS 13 that Dell is producing today that's not defective, right? Nope. They couldn't even promise me that they have a single machine not suffering from the coil whine problem. However, they have no problem continuing to sell their defective hardware hoping customer's don't notice I guess.
Every time I have asked about the status for a fix, I am told something warm and fuzzy such as "the engineers are looking into it but there is no ETA for a fix." I can't get a concrete answer about anything. I understand there is some unknowns with any technical problem, and that Dell can't provide any answer with 100% certainty about when a fix would be available; however, they have provided me with no information that builds confidence that the problem is actually being worked on and that a fix would ever be issued. When I described the symptom's problems and all of my results from performing various trouble-shooting experiments, it seemed to be largely ignored as I was given generic answers that did not really pertain to the conversation I was attempting to have with Dell. Except for one or two of the techs I spoke too, most individual's seemed to just want to get me off the phone\chat or did not really care to help me (and their company) resolve the problem. This is not assuring at all, and does nothing to help me besides telling me I should probably buy computers from somewhere else.
Dell, this post is a wake-up call. Your top-of-the-line laptop is broken, and you are continuing to sell while knowing you can't produce one laptop today that does not have the coil whine problem. I have practically begged you to take my money and give me a functioning laptop without problems, and you can't even do that. For everyone's sake here, and your own, FIX YOUR HARDWARE!!!
On my side despite this annoying noise, I like my xps13 developper edition sputnik.
Not so many laptops with Linux preinstalled out there.
And some other people seem to appreciate it too:
Interesting thread here. In an attempt to solve my XPS problem I have read so many threads, wasted so much time, it’s sad actually. In my opinion, you guys have it all wrong. In my opinion, the XPS13 has a major design flaw. The fan and fan vent is at the bottom instead of on the side, with maybe a 1/8 of an inch of clearance when sitting on a flat surface. From the very beginning my XPS was getting super hot while on my lap (not a flat surface, vents blocked by pants) and making all sorts of crazy noises. Now granted I RARELY used this laptop the first year I had it as it was the replacement of an old E510 desktop. So to already have the thing making such loud noises and getting so hot just 4 months in was a huge red flag. I should have returned it. And it only got worse from there. About 10 months in the fan noise was getting louder and more frequent. It would make a high pitch sound that would get louder and louder, faster and faster, until it would do a hard shutdown on its own (overheating). Next time on, black screen. This is what I have been dealing with since I got this machine in August 2012. Out of warranty now, so I am <profanity>. I have upgraded to bios A08 (which some techs are saying will solve the issue) and have it sitting on a flat metal grate which increases the fan vent clearance to about an inch and a quarter. Same issue, new noises. What a waste of 800 dollars. I will never buy another Dell product again. Do a google search of this issue and you will find a ton of <profanity> people. <solicitation>.
I've just posted this reply to Barton's blog post:
Some great reviews, and as the owner of one of these laptops I can say it's a pretty great machine. Like Carin I too have just moved across to it from a Macbook.
Unfortunately there are also quite a few of us owners who are having problems with the XPS13. There's an active thread in the Dell support forums:
Some of us are prepared to wait for a resolution, but others are losing patience. Are you aware of a solution for this issue?
It is currently awaiting moderation...
My replacement machine will be here tomorrow. I'll update the thread once it arrives to let you guys know if my replacement is the same, worse, less or doesnt have the issue at all
I have same situation.. I REALLY like it, other than the noise..
So I have the same problem with my XPS 13 i7/8gb/256gb etc... Before I found this thread I got the following replaced with no luck: motherboard (new cpu etc.) speakers.
I tried to return it to dell, but I had it for like 20 days (the law says you can return within 14 in Denmark) so they did not care..
Even after they admitted it was a fault on the computer and they had no fix, I could not get a refund.
The only fix so far is playing with the keyboard blacklight key, like others have said.
Really hoping for a solution soon!!!
Btw. guys.. Do you think its legal for them to just say "we KNOW its a fault, but we don't care.. because "its working" ?
Sadly, I am here to report the same issue on a new XPS 13 DE I received yesterday 2/1/14.
Dell XPS 13 Developers Edition -- Haswell I-5 Processor -- 8GB of RAM
From the minute I took it out of the box and turned it on, one of the first things I noticed was the strange high-pitched electrical noise coming from the right-side, underneath the keyboard area. When I cycle through the back-lit keyboard settings, the frequency/intensity of the noise changes. In my case, the noise seems to disappear when I have the back-lit Keyboard at full strength and is most intense when I have the back-lit keyboard turned off. While this might not be the worst of circumstances, having my battery eaten up during the day on a brand new laptop because I have to run the keyboard light at full strength is not acceptable. For a $1300 laptop, there should be an expectation not to have such a wide-spread/reported issue such as this; period.
In having spent a few months looking for a good ultrabook with the right combination of size, weight, screen resolutions, ram, and other specs, this Dell XPS 13 seemed to be the best combination I could find -- especially considering that I was looking to run Linux. The fact that I have spent the first day of ownership looking to see what other options (from other companies) are now available to me so I can return this laptop is disheartening to say the least and does not speak well for Dell. I really love everything about this notebook but to experience a constant high-pitched noise takes away from that experience.
After reading through this forum, including several others, it seems like the issue as been narrowed down to "Coil Whining". Based on it tie-in with the back-lit keyboard setting, I can only guess that it is probably an electrical issue inherent in the design of the system. This means, unless they re-design the motherboard, or change out some of the internal parts, the issue will persist. This would explain why the noise continues even after Dell Service Technicians replace the motherboard among other things.
I would be interested to hear back from Dell as to an Official Update on this problem. As an IT Consultant (20 years and counting), and considering some other recent issues I have had with Dell Laptops for clients, I am having a harder time recommending their products. If this was a $400 Best Buy off-the-shelf Dell, that would be one thing ... but this is the DELL XPS High-End Laptop. It begs to ask, Why am I spending my Sunday morning, first 24-hours of ownership, posting in this forum?
Here's the response to my comment on Barton's blog post:
I know they are actively working on this. Since we havent been able to replicate the issue in house, support is setting up system exchanges with customers reporting the problem, to get these systems to the labs and test them and work on a solution.
I realize this isnt ideal but since we havent be able to recreate the whine this is how we have to proceed. I apologize for huge inconvenience and appreciate your patience!
See here for the full post: http://bartongeorge.net/2014/01/29/sputnik-3-great-reviews-from-the-blog-o-sphere/
Whilst it's encouraging that they are looking into the problem (and therefore acknowledge that there is a problem) it's a concern that to date they haven't been able to recreate it in the labs. Regrettably, for me I don't think there's any option but to request a refund, which I will do tomorrow.
Follow-up to my last post ...
Talked to one of my tech associates who took a quick look at my notebook and immediately recognized the noise -- over his years of hardware support, he has heard similar electrical noise from various devices. His thoughts ... while there is possibly a manufacturing or design issue with the motherboard (or other internal component from which the sound originates), maybe related to bad soldering, whether or not any random laptop experiences this particular issue could come down to an acceptable range of fault tolerance, for the part in question. To put in simpler terms ... given all things being the same with the XPS 13 design, some will suffer from this issue and others will not, until Dell can identify the design flaw or manufacturing issue and fix it. Of course this is all just hypothetical ...
In the meantime, I have called Dell Support and they were very helpful. While working through the process, and after some quick research, the Dell Support Agent did find many references to this issue and offered to either have a technician work on the computer or to send me a new one. I opted to have a new laptop sent. As someone else had shared on this board, for a computer that is no more than two days old, I'd rather have it swapped out than to have it opened up and worked on. Based on what others have shared on this board, having various parts replaced have not successfully resolved this issue.
To end on a positive, I am keeping my fingers crossed that the new laptop will not have the noise issue. I am very impressed and happy with the design, the functionality, the feature set, and the overall performance of this laptop. Further, I am very impressed with how quickly Dell Support was able to respond to my issue with a very acceptable solution.