Lenovo, Asus, HP and Dell have halted shipments of PCs affected by a chipset flaw with Intel's Sandy Bridge and have promised to help out customers with the machines.
The manufacturing fault, which affects some Intel 6 Series-based machines, was revealed on Monday. The issue — which lies with the Cougar Point chipset rather than the Sandy Bridge processor itself — could cause Sata ports to degrade over time, leading to potential failure of linked DVD and hard-disk drives. A list of affected PC models can be found here.
Lenovo and Asus said that they have already sold small numbers of products containing the faulty chipset and that they are offering buyers a refund or exchange programme.
"We will do whatever it takes to maintain our customers' satisfaction. If any customer is not satisfied with the system board replacement programme, we will work with our customers to find an alternative remedy, including a full refund at point-of-sale," Lenovo said in a statement.
On Thursday, HP said that the problem is only found in a "small fraction" of its consumer notebooks and desktops, and in one commercial desktop model sold in Europe. The company stopped making products with the Intel chipset on Monday and has put a hold on all affected models in its inventory.
"Customers can return their affected product and choose a comparable product or receive a refund," HP said in a statement.
Dell said its XPS 8300, the Vostro 460, the Alienware M17x R.3 and the Alienware Aurora R.3 machines are at risk from the problem, along with as-yet-unreleased devices such as the XPS 17 with 3D. It did not specify what steps it will take to make restitution.
"We're committed to addressing this with customers who have already purchased one of the four products and will provide further details on this as it becomes available," Dell said.
MSI is investigating which product batches might have been affected and has stopped shipments to retailers and resellers, the company said in a statement. On Monday, it also put a hold on sales of Intel 6 Series-based products that had already been shipped to retailers.
Customers who have bought affected MSI models can return them to the point of purchase, which will then pass them back to MSI distribution centres. Those who do not want to wait for an exchange can get a refund from the original retailer, MSI said. Replacement systems are expected to arrive in April, and people who are willing to wait are being encouraged to keep using their current devices.
Some manufacturers, such as Sony, say that they have not sold any products containing the affected chipset. "We are currently in discussions with Intel, but we cannot comment on the details at this moment," a Sony spokesperson said.
Click through to see the list of the affected PC models.