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Dell apologises for misleading graphics card advice

Dell logo

By Mike Jennings

Posted on 25 Nov 2011 at 12:31

Dell has apologised for misleading customers after PC Pro highlighted a Help page on the company's website that exaggerated the benefits of a high-end graphics card.

The Dell website showed two identical monitors, the one on the left allegedly using a "standard graphics card" and the other a "high-end graphics card".

The monitor with the lesser graphics chip showed a blurry, washed-out image of the Windows desktop, with the more expensive card delivering a sharper, more vivid picture.

Dell monitors

As we stated in our blog post earlier this week, an improved graphics card would have little or no effect on the standard Windows desktop, with the difference only really being apparent in 3D games and applications.

In a statement sent to PC Pro, Dell apologised and said it would be removing the offending images.

"Thank you for bringing this to our attention," a spokesperson for Dell said. "Dell endeavours to help customers to make the best decisions regarding their purchases. It was never our intention to mislead customers, and we apologise for any confusion caused. We have now removed the image from our Global sites. Dell remains committed to delivering the best possible experience to all our customers.”

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User comments

Fuzzy logic

I assume if I put super unleaded in my car it'll make it shinier too!

By cookster on 25 Nov 2011

In fairness to Dell

I can imagine this was perfectly innocent. The people doing the help page probably asked the techies what the advantage of the more expensive card was and they replied (thinking about games where it actually makes a difference): "Oh, it has more processors so it makes things sharper and clearer" and the help people just tried to illustrate that.

By qpw3141 on 25 Nov 2011

@qpw3141

I might forgive a corner shop for making a mistake due to lack of knowledge, but this is a global PC manufacturer. You can't say "Poor Dell, it's not their fault the sales department don't understand technology". They were telling lies to try and make more profit.

By ChrisH on 25 Nov 2011

Not the biggest crime...

To be fair to Dell, compared to some of the twaddle spouted by sales assistants in some of our well-known high street electronics retailers, it doesn't seem that bad (they shouldn't have been doing it though!) £50 for the shiny HDMI cable sir?

By russell_g on 25 Nov 2011

It's a little exaggeration but it's not that unreasonable, really

It originally made sense to me because a higher end graphics card would run at a higher resolution thus creating a sharper image; eg the difference between an integrated graphics card being only able to output up to 1366x768 and a dedicated one at 1920x1080 on a 1080p monitor.

There's a little hyperbole involved in just how low an integrated gpu can output these days with the Sandy Bridge and Llano architectures but it's not as much of a disconnect as it that seems to be emphasized here. CULV laptops, Atom-based HTPCs without Tegra, and older desktops would all suffer from this issue, and they're not that far out of date.

By wogzi on 25 Nov 2011

hahahah

@wogzi, if the difference in resolution is made, it must be shown and described, i.e. 1080p does not differ from 1080p on the same screen.... but 1080p does differ from lets say 1280x1024, will in fact be different wide frame...and pardon me for saying but even the crappiest GPU available right now can do a widescreen option. also if comparing Two screens, must have same resolution, otherwise whats there to compare...
does not surprise me that Dell did this, i mean the know how people would not go to Dell for GPU card advice or any advice as a matter of fact..those who do have no clue and believe anything that a company would tell them kind of just take it as it is...

By mobilegnet on 26 Nov 2011

huhuhuh

@mobilegnet

Right, because god knows exaggeration and obfuscation are tactics never used in advertising due to the strong ethical background presented in the field.

And god knows I didn't make the same point the second sentence into my comment only to clarify that the budget HTPC/CULV solutions actually do merit a limited sort of comparison. But given past performances in reading past the first 50 words on the internet, I'll just assume you won't even make it this far before launching into yet another 'exactly same point but with more barbs' statement, languishing on that intellectual milk crate you call an armchair.

By wogzi on 26 Nov 2011

It's a little exaggeration but it's not that unreasonable, really

It originally made sense to me because a higher end graphics card would run at a higher resolution thus creating a sharper image; eg the difference between an integrated graphics card being only able to output up to 1366x768 and a dedicated one at 1920x1080 on a 1080p monitor.

There's a little hyperbole involved in just how low an integrated gpu can output these days with the Sandy Bridge and Llano architectures but it's not as much of a disconnect as it that seems to be emphasized here. CULV laptops, Atom-based HTPCs without Tegra, and older desktops would all suffer from this issue, and they're not that far out of date.

By wogzi on 26 Nov 2011

Basic mistake

Dell should have used a still frame from the latest game instead of a windows desktop. Then it would have been honest. The better card would indeed have shown a sharper picture (higher resolution) and looked less washed out (aliasing and filtering).

Bit worrying that it got through to being published without Dell spotting it though. Let's hope they QA/QC their computers better than thier adverts!

By Jonathan8191 on 26 Nov 2011

@wogzi

No, no difference on a 24" monitor. The 15€ graphics card in my work PC is running 2 24" monitors and both are crips and clear.

Likewise, the Atom based nettop we use to run our 50" foyer TV display also generates a perfectly steady HD display over HDMI, using the Intel graphics.

If they were talking about fps and quality of output in Crysis, then they would have a point, but a more expensive graphics card won't make any difference to the crispness of the display on a Windows desktop!

Yes, if you are trying to run a 30" display, you might need a slightly more expensive card, which supports dual port DVI, but otherwise it is total balderdash!

My old Toshiba Core2Duo laptop with Intel HD2000 graphics would drive the internal 1680x1050 display and the external 24" 1920x1200 display perfectly well, even for HD video playback on the external monitor, whilst working on the internal screen.

Yes, I couldn't play games on it, but the image was perfectly crisp!

By big_D on 26 Nov 2011

@wogzi

That would make sense except the two screens are at the same resolution, so Dell aren't making the same point as you. They're saying "upgrade your GPU and your screen will be more vivid".

Which we all know is nonsense

By mikes87 on 27 Nov 2011

Upselling

It is called upselling. It is a well known Dell practice which they have been operating at least for the 5 years I have been dealing with them. This is no innocient mistake. It is a way of getting the unwary to part with more money than they intend. It is nothing but sharp practice and they have been caught out this time because they have used a patently rubbish comparison and have included it in an advert rather than their over the phone scripts.

By Manuel on 28 Nov 2011

Decent graphics cards do make a difference...

Dell is kind of right though regarding graphics cards.

With the modern Windows Aero interface it is all 3D and so using a dedicated GPU will speed up Windows (of course also turning off Aero does the same trick - but doesn't look as nice!)

Also for playing movies on the screen, especially blu-rays this is when it really does make a serious difference because an onboard GPU most of the time just can't cope, especially when it's sharing it's memory with the PC's own memory, which also reduces the PC's own memory.

I always recommend a separate external video card, even a cheap basic Radeon over the on-board ones is far better than nothing at all.

Of course the two different screenshots above are totally out of line with what you'd expect to see, the main difference you'd see is in motion and not something you could show with a still image.

By TheKLF99 on 1 Dec 2011

A clear case of sharp practice

False advertising.
Did Dell sack the adverts creator?
Are Dell being prosecuted for this deception?
Legislation has been in place for decades to deal with such scams, but unless the legal system enforces this, there is no point in any of the legislation, and we paid the law lords to create this legislation.

By skgiven on 1 Dec 2011

No (separate) graphics card

Not having the desire, or indeed the ability, to play anything more graphically demanding than solitaire I specified my now middle-aged PC without a discrete graphics card. It outputs a non-blurred desktop to my 1600x1200 monitor as Dell's staff, including all but the most ignorant of their sales team, knew perfectly well.

It was sharp (illeagal?) practice on their part. Well done to PC Pro for calling them on it.

By bobellsmore on 1 Dec 2011

High End or Low End

I had a Radeon 2600XT when attached to a Full HD screen, it gave the option to output at full HD resolution.
I now use a HD 5570 which gives great results for general use.
So why should I pay £300+ for a super high end card.

By roberttrebor on 2 Dec 2011

Lies, damn lies and selling.

Some amazing naïve comments – what planet do some guys live on? Dell, like all other large organisations push the boundaries of truth as far as they can.

The Dell web site, in all its forms and parts, is the company’s primary selling tool. Nothing is permitted without the express approval of the Marketing Department. There is no way that some little guy on the Help Desk, or wherever, who was trying to be helpful with a blatantly fabricated deceptive example would be allowed to pop something onto their web site and then for it not to be noticed by management.

Dell are just trying it on, this time they were caught out. As usual the Advertising Standards, Trading Standards and similar all choose to do noting. Well done PC Pro for spotting this.

By kerry2651 on 2 Dec 2011

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