Dell confirmed that charging issues with some of the company’s new XPS 17 9700 laptops, as well as some of its Precision 5750 corporate laptops, have been identified and fixed.
The problem came to light when Dell XPS 17 9700 review units tested by Notebookcheck.com (which first reported it) and PCWorld exhibited the strange behavior of discharging their battery while plugged in, if the laptop was under heavy load. To help diagnose the issue, PCWorld sent its review unit and charger back to Dell for analysis.
Dell confirmed what had been observed, and said it was resolving the matter:
“Dell has identified an issue on a limited quantity of XPS 17 9700 laptops and Precision 5750 mobile workstations where users may notice their battery depleting at a higher than expected rate under sustained heavy workloads and while connected to AC power,” a Dell spokesman said. “Dell has rectified the behavior, and current orders for the products are unaffected. Dell will contact customers with potentially affected systems for resolution. Customers may also contact Dell Technical Support for assistance.”
What we don’t know, obviously, is what the fix is yet, and whether it required hardware or firmware. We can say that a recent firmware update to the XPS 15 9500, which never had the XPS 17 9700's issue, did appear to update the laptop’s USB Power Delivery circuit. The update affected both the “Main USB PD Controller 2” and “Main USB PD Controller 1.”
Reading between the lines, however, the fix is likely not as simple as firmware. Dell wouldn’t have to reach out to impacted customers just for that, so it’s entirely possible the answer is hardware-related. We’ll update our story as we get more information.