How to Get Ready for the XPS 700 Exchange Program

Update, 8/13:  The link for the XPS 700 Exchange Program is now live:

We’re just a few days away from the XPS 700 Motherboard Exchange program. I’ve been getting lots of e-mails and comments from XPS 700 and 710 customers. I’m sorry for the delay in getting details out to you. Beyond this blog entry, I’m hoping to have another one that will give you an idea of what to expect before next week. I’ll try to answer more questions then.

If you are planning to do the motherboard installation yourself, I encourage you to download this Upgrading Your Computer Tech Sheet and if you haven’t watched it already, and to please view this vlog that walks you through the upgrade process. As you’ll see, some are basic things you’ve probably done before if you’ve ever swapped out a motherboard. Some are not quite as obvious, but making sure you’ve done these things will help make the process go more smoothly. I hope this post gives folks an idea of what to do in anticipation of the launch day–August 13 next week.

Find Your System Documentation:

The hardware kit will contain a copy of the XPS 720 Owner’s Manual. Locate the copy of the XPS 700 Owner’s Manual that came with your system. You can either access the HTML version here or download the PDF here (warning: this file is over 20MB).

Find Your Operating System Media:

Dell strongly recommends re-installing your operating system. From the comments in Chris M.’s XPS Desktop General Hardware thread, I know some of you are planning to restore an image of your OS. As most of you already know, there’s a chance an image restore will not work—or at the very least, may not work perfectly. See the last paragraph in this post for more details.

To do this, you will need your operating system media that came with your system when you purchased it. If you did not receive an operating system CD or DVD, U.S. customers can visit this link to request backup OS media.

Find Device Drivers and Additional Software Discs

As part of the hardware kit, you will receive the Resource CD (also called the XPS 720 Drivers & Utilities disc) that is specific to the XPS 720. It includes all of the drivers to support the motherboard and integrated components. However, since Dell’s peripheral offers change over time, drivers and applications for Dell factory-installed eripherals shipped with your original system may not be included on the XPS 720 Resource CD. Because of this, we recommend that you visit to download the latest drivers for peripherals that were factory-installed in your original system.

Preparing Your Machine (Before the Motherboard Exchange):

  • First step is to back up your personal data. There are several different ways you can go about this, so I won’t pretend this is exhaustive. At a high level, most of your personal files are save in the My Documents folder in Windows XP or Vista. If you haven’t changed the defaults in Windows XP or Vista, this should capture all Microsoft Office documents, and your digital music, photos and videos. Beyond personal files however, you want to make sure you backup all your e-mail and contacts, and bookmarks for your web browsers. Both XPS and Vista have backup and restore utilities. Here’s a link for Windows XP backup utility and here’s an XP backup utility-focused StudioDell video. Here’s one for Vista users that walks you through using the Backup & Restore Center.
  • Download and flash the BIOS to the latest version, which is version 1.4.1. Although it might seem strange, it helps in the transition.
  • Remove any external USB devices besides the key, mouse and monitor.
  • If you bought any third-party peripherals, please remove them. Dell recommends that you focus on setting up all the hardware you purchase from Dell before installing third-party or aftermarket peripherals you purchased. For example, if you purchased EPP memory separately after you purchased your system, please remove it, and install the memory that you purchased in your original system (if you still have it).

After the Motherboard Exchange:

  • On the initial boot, your system may boot in Manufacturing Mode. If so, the system will attempt to boot to PXE. Once this is complete, you be prompted to exit Manufacturing Mode by pressing ALT+F. (This is expected behavior and does not indicate a HW failure.)
  • If you had a RAID configuration, you’ll need to re-enable RAID in the BIOS. To do so, enter the System Setup by pressing F2 when prompted during boot. Scroll to the Drives section and press enter. Highlight the appropriate drive option and set the value to RAID ON. Repeat these steps for each drive in the array. Press ESC until you are prompted to Save the Changes and Exit System Setup.
  • Insert the Operating System media provided with your original system order. On reboot, press F12 when prompted. Choose the option to boot to the optical drive. Dell recommends that you install a clean version of the OS.
  • After completing the install, you may use the Resource CD to install the appropriate XPS 720 drivers and your original recovery media and driver backups to install any peripheral drivers.

Remember that when you replace your motherboard, it’s essentially comparable to getting a brand new system. To ensure full compatibility, Dell recommends that you prepare for a full reinstallation of your operating system. This is the best way to be sure that your upgraded system will perform at peak levels. If you’ve ever built your own system, or swapped out one motherboard for another, you probably have dealt with this before.

About the Author: Lionel Menchaca