So my home/personal machine decided to take a nose dive a few weeks ago and I'm just now getting to the point that it feels "whole" again.

It's a Dell Inspiron E1705 (same as the 9400) and I'd been running WinXP Pro on it since I bought it last summer. I'd been meaning to update it to Vista at some point, so I started making some backups and taking notes on various app/driver compatibilities. All seemed well, but during that process it began to spontaneously reboot. No warning, no nothing -- just a sudden, blank screen and then the Dell boot-up sequence.

The first time it happened, I figured it was a fluke-ish thing. Then it happened again a few days later and then twice in one day. Finally, it got to the point that booting into Safe Mode only worked intermittently and I began to get a BSOD that talked about hardware malfunctions. Not good.

So I call Dell and they decide that it's a CPU problem. According to the tech, it seemed that the CPU was overheating and after doing it once or twice it would just get flakier and less stable. The machine does run hot, but I'm always careful to run it with the vents and fan outlets unblocked.

Anyway, he says they'll ship one out and have a technician come over to replace it. I bought the machine with "Next Day, On-Site" service. Turns out that they mean "the next day after the part you need arrives in the hands of your local technician." Pretty lame, but I could live without the machine for a day or three.

Once the tech came out and installed the new CPU, I burned the machine in for quite a while to see how it would behave. All seemed well, so I went for it... popped in the Vista install disc and went to town.

Two weeks of heavy use since then and still no real problems. Do I trust it? Still not sure... but that warranty coverage is in place for a few more years so even the worst case scenario doesn't have to be all bad.

One nice upside is that the Dell support tech that I got (late on a Sunday night, no less) was great. He was based in Salt Lake City and didn't go through the usual "First, let's reboot" script once he realized that I'd spent some time troubleshooting. He even gave me direct contact info later "so if you need to call back, you don't get routed through India." Nice!