Notebook owners seek to sue nVidia over faulty graphics chips

Five US owners of laptops fitted with nVidia graphics silicon have commenced legal action against the company.

At the core of their complaint are allegations that despite nVidia admitting to problems with some of its GeForce 8600M GT graphics chipsets in July 2008 laptops fitted with those components – specifically models from Apple Dell and HP – have not been recalled. Nor have the chipsets been replaced an operation which nVidia has said would cost US$196 million.

Rather than recalling their laptops HP and Dell extended the warranties and released a BIOS update which boosted the fan speed in the hope of increasing GPU cooling and preventing any problems. Apple offered to repair for free any faulty GPUs within two years of the laptop’s purchase date.

“This is a grossly inadequate ‘remedy’ as it results in additional manifest defects including without limitation further degraded battery life system performance and increased noise” states the legal complaint.

“Worse this ‘remedy’ fails to solve the actual problem. Instead this measure only ensures that the Class Computers will fail after the OEM’s express warranty period expires potentially leaving consumers with a defective computer and no immediate recourse” the lawsuit continues. “Finally even after this purported ‘update’ video and system performance is still degraded due to unacceptably high heat and part failure.”

The legal action seeks to force nVidia to replace the allegedly flawed processors and also pay damages to an unspecified amount. If the suit is elevated to class action status it will allow other displeased owners of nVidia-equipped laptops to join in.