I've downgraded my Inspiron 1545 to XP Pro and I've successfully installed the drivers that I need (at least I think so!).
All of a sudden I hear a single clicking/popping noise while browsing the hard drive. And it got more frequently. I was told it might be the audio driver but I've reinstalled it and its still happening. It only tends to happen if I'm doing something with the hard drive so I have a feeling it might be coming from the hard drive itself rather than the speakers. I've muted the speakers and it is still happening.
I do not hear it so much when listening to music or playing a video but that might be because I cannot hear it over the sound already playing. The sound plays fine. There is no crackling noise and no distortion.
Does anyone have any suggestions to what this might be and how I can fix this or if Dell will take my laptop in to find what it is.
Try listening through headphones, perhaps in another room away from the computer or with a blanket over the computer to muffle the sound. If you can't hear it in the headphones then it is probably not an audio problem.
Hard drives can make clicking noises for a variety of reasons, including failure but even healthy ones do. You might try running diagnostics on the hard drive. To run diagnostics restart the computer and as soon as it starts to boot up hold down f12. Select 'Diagnostic' from the boot menu. The computer will run its pre-boot assessment tests (PSA) first. The PSA tests include a brief hard drive test.
After the PSA tests finish Dell Diagnostics tests will open. Select 'custom', then the hard drive test. [If you wiped the Diagnostic partition from your hard drive when you reformatted then the Diagnostics won't appear as an option.] Be on the lookout for degrading performance and/or slower boot up times as signs of a failing hd.
I don't know what Dell will do. They only support the OS that the computer was shipped with so it is possible that you might have to reinstall Vista to get service ... I'm not sure.
If this is a new noise coming from the hard drive that you have never heard before, it most likely indicates a failing hard drive. It really should not be related to the OS at all, and I think that it is a coincidence. This noise is usually referred to as "the click of death". If you do not back up data on that hard drive regularly, now is the time to start before it completely fails. If the computer is still under warranty then see if you can get it replaced. If not then you can buy new hard drives pretty cheap these days. Just make sure that you get the right type (IDE, SATA). Dell's instructions on replacing parts in their computers are very good.
Running the hard drive diagnostics is a good idea and probably the first thing that Dell tech support would have you do. If it does not test bad with the diagnostics then Dell might not replace it yet. Hard drives are the most common thing to break in a computer.
Dell also has all the drivers for XP for your laptop on their website so it should not be a problem finding them.
Hope this helps.
I contacted Dell and they were unable to help with the issue.
I dived a bit a further in and found that it may be caused by the IDT High Definition Audio CODEC driver that is installed. I uninstalled it to discover that the noises stopped happening. Unfortunately, it also stopped any audio from being produced at the same time, but at least I've know it's not an issue with the hard drive destroying itself.
Does anyone have any solutions to the problem caused by this driver? May it be clashing with any other drivers? Is there any known issues with this driver and is it possible to install a different driver and still get the Audio to work?
I had not previously heard of a symptom of noises while browsing the hard drive (does that mean when you are using Windows Explorer?), but you can check out the tips in the thread Choppy/Skipping Audio Workarounds. Those noises are more common with Vista than XP. You will need to reinstall the audio driver while testing out the workarounds. There is no other audio driver supplied by Dell for your machine.
The driver is still on DELL site. Go to http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/us/en/04/Product/inspiron-1545 , choose the XP dropdown, under audio, you will see 2 versions of the driver, the 2009 version works for sure.
I no longer have this notebook. I think DELL may have fixed the problem so the 2/7/2012 should work as well.