Dell gimps Mini 10 netbook: no RAM upgrades past 1GB

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Don’t get a Mini 10! Dell’s new netbook will not permit upgrading of the 1GB of RAM it comes with, unlike practically every other model on the market, including its popular Mini 9.

Windows XP can’t be bundled with machines containing more than 1GB of RAM, as per Microsoft’s licensing rules. Netbooks typically come with XP, as it is leaner and faster than Vista. With other models, however, the manual upgrade–which makes netbooks much better when running multiple programs or memory intensive ones like Photoshop–is cheap and easy.

Not any more: Dell Chief Blogger Lionel Menchaca writes that “Initially, all Mini 10s will come with 1GB fixed RAM (which means it will not be upgradable).” Asked for clarification, he didn’t give a timeframe for when this mistake would be corrected.

Microsoft and Intel have indicated that they plan to take control of how netbooks are sold and configured: killing off Windows XP once and for all is top of the former’s todo list.

This is intensely depressing. The Mini 9 is a fantastic netbook, one of the best.

Dell’s Mini 10 Packs a Punch [Dell]

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21 Responses to Dell gimps Mini 10 netbook: no RAM upgrades past 1GB

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is easy to fix.

    Don’t buy or use any MS product.

    Don’t help anyone with any MS product.

    MS doesn’t and can’t support everyone. They depend on us to do it for them. Just stop and they will dry up and blow away.

  2. prentiz says:

    I asked a fairly polite question about this decision (whether non-upgradeable means Dell won’t sell you the upgrade – like with the 9 – or whether this means soldered in RAM) a couple of hours ago, and its still not appeared. I’d hope this is a sign that someone there has taken some notice, but you never know…

  3. Kenneth Extension says:

    This is almost certainly an Atom Z520 chipset limitation rather than a case of Dell being deliberately awkward. Not that anyone is forcing them to use that unsuitable chipset, of cours…

    It was the same on the Dell Mini 12, as this review explains: http://www.mobilecomputermag.co.uk/200901211233/dell-inspiron-mini-12.html

  4. strider_mt2k says:

    As usual I bet they were getting uneasy with the degree to which people are modding their netbooks.

    I myself upped my Mini 9’s RAM to 2GB, it’s SSD to 32GB, and have leveraged the internal USB connection to support an internal connector that currently hosts a 16GB flash drive.
    That in addition to putting XP Pro on it.

    With all the fun I’m having with Windows 7 on my new desktop I’m getting ready to give it a go on my Mini 9 as well!

    Now how do you think Dell feels giving so much control away to folks??

    Personally I say T.S. but Dell has the final say I suppose.

  5. Rob Beschizza says:

    I’m actually upgrading to 7 beta on my Vaio P right now. It’s surprising how well it deals with Vista given the slower, fanless Atom (just 1.33 GHz), but I think Sony made a mistake on that front. I expect I’ll ultimately install XP.

  6. michaelportent says:

    One of the big draws of getting a netbook in the first place is to upgrade the RAM by yourself. It’s awful that Dell can’t see they’re shooting themselves in the foot here.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see why this is such a big deal, dell is selling a lot of netbooks these days with Ubuntu, why not just up the ram on the netbooks that are running Linux?

  8. Anonymous says:

    @13 Of course they should! My Mini 9 with Ubuntu is a dream. I would really hate to experience how bogged down Windows* gets on a machine like this. I couldn’t be happier, it feels so much faster than my 2.4GHz core2 laptop (due primarily to the fast runcore SSD, I believe).

  9. Rajio says:

    Geeze, when will hardware makers learn to stop trying to control how end users enjoy their products. Just give us what we want and stop inventing new restrictions and we’ll all get along.

  10. Anonymous says:

    i’m disappointed too but WAIT, on their webpage, it reads 2GB RAM at a later date. i hope they deliver on that promise.

    also, runcore might be making SSDs to replace their mechanical hard drives. http://www.runcore.com/prodshow.asp?ID=161

    Coming Soon

    The following Inspiron Mini 10 features will be available at a later date:

    * HD capabilities – Enjoy your favorite movies on the optional 720p Hi-def 10.1¨ seamless display.
    * More Storage – Do even more with optional 2GB memory and optional 250GB2 hard drive.
    * Navigation – Know your way like the back of your hand using the optional GPS with optional internal WWAN support.
    * Design Studio – Personalize your Mini 10 with cool designs from the artist, Tristen Eaton, in Dell’s Design Studio.
    * Long battery life – No need to sacrifice weight for battery life. The Inspiron Mini 10 provides extended battery life while keeping the weight of the system under 3 pounds. 3-cell: approx. 3 hours. 6-cell: approx. 6.5 hours.
    * The New TV – Watch your favorite TV shows with the internal digital TV tuner.

  11. BastardNamban says:

    @ #13- Seeing as every goddamn netbook is being forced nowadays with that damned Vista that NO ONE seems to want, now is a great time to try Linux. I switched on my only computer while abroad- and went to pure Ubuntu. Try it.

    I’ve been going back and forth to Yodobashi Camera here over the last few days, looking at all the netbooks. For those that don’t know it, it’s probably the biggest electronics store chain in Japan, with Bic Camera next. These are the mecchas for computer/electronics in Japan- only really big towns like Sapporo, Osaka, Tokyo, etc. have them. A huge amount of Japanese get their electronics from stores like these. They sell everything under the sun, even stuff almost no one ever buys, like tube-powered turntables, and 20,000 wood speakers. Everything. In every store. So what?

    I’ll tell you what- looking at the specs for Japanese models, in nearly every maker’s case, I only see MS VISTA as the OS. An couple have XP- the others you pay to downgrade, it looks like. Ah, pay more to get less, great world we live in.
    Well, here’s the best part- knowing some makers ship linux models, I asked if they had any, in anything. Even EEEPCS. Guess what they said?

    Him-“NO.” I say (all asking in Japanese), “well, can you order me one?” “NO. We don’t carry anything with linux.” Me- “Well some companies you have here make those, and some people want them- it’s cheaper than one with an MS license. You could sell more!” Him- “We don’t carry any with linux, sorry, can’t do it”(specifically, he made it sound like they will never carry anything with linux, as if no Japanese no what it is, which is totally bullshit- I saw linux books in the bookstore), near MAKE-Japan. Me- “Well, can you sell me one WITHOUT anything MS on it? I’ll put linux on myself, I don’t want or need MS software” Him- “I can’t do that, sorry”

    The F*%K he can! Either the biggest electronics dealer IN JAPAN has never heard of even a linux eeepc (bull!), or they are purposely being told NOT to sell anything without MS on it if it’s not a Mac. My guess is it’s market fixing, by MS &/or IBM, with “trade agreements”. Because I saw enough linux & FOSS books in Kinokunya (major book store) to tell me there are people here who use it, want it, and I already know 2 of them. It is much rarer here, though.

    Yes, Dell is shooting itself- no not in the feet. I think it’s more like a shotgun blast to the balls here- they are almost malignantly clueless, or tied up under MS licencing agreements.

    Seriously, WTF? Why must everything in this era be about not selling customers what they want, because of trade agreements, DRM, what have you, usually with MS involved? Netbooks are finally what laptops have always promised to be- portable and longer battery life. Why the F@*K can’t the damn companies stop shooting themselves in the balls over netbooks- people now don’t really want a huge laptop that gets 2 hours unplugged. Sell us what WE WANT- without MS being needed, or this stupid soldered memory bullcrap. Why is that so hard to understand?

  12. zuzu says:

    @3 Rajio

    Ditto that. I still feel wounded from IBM’s Thinkpad BIOS code / “Trusted Computing” shenanigans:

    1802: Unauthorized network card is plugged in – Power off and remove the miniPCI network card.

  13. meerkat says:

    I wonder if he is a little confused – my Wind has 1GB fixed/nonremovable RAM and a slot to toss in another SIMM but you cannot run them both at once, so you need to pop in a 2GB stick to get 2GB (can’t just add an extra 2GB). With ram so disgustingly cheap it is no biggie.

  14. dculberson says:

    Zuzu, that totally burned me once. (Although I did make a profit reselling the Dell wireless card I bought to put in the Thinkpad!)

    Regarding the post: utter and complete crap. Rajio’s sentiment mirrors mine.

  15. Tensegrity says:

    @5 The Mini-9 has only one SIMM slot. If the Mini-10 is similar then it is possible that it can only be shipped with 1GB but nothing to prevent the user from replacing the 1GB with a 2GB SIMM.

    If the 1GB is soldered in, then that sucks. Can they do that?

    It is also possible for Dell to cap the RAM that will be recognized to 1GB. (That would also suck. I have a Dell Latitude–it has 512K fixed and a SIMM slot that will take up to 2GB RAM but a max of 2GB total will be recognized.)

  16. zuzu says:

    If the 1GB is soldered in, then that sucks. Can they do that?

    That’s how Apple’s MacBook Air does it, but with only 2GB.

  17. meerkat says:

    @7 – didn’t realize that, I guess I assumed they all use similar motherboards. The Wind has one soldered and one free, which is sort of a weird idea.

    I guess it could be cheaper in some cases to have the ram soldered onto the motherboard?

  18. Joe in Australia says:

    I’ve never used Linux and I never expected to be writing something like this … but hey, maybe they should sell it with Linux and avoid all the stupid licensing stuff?

  19. dacker says:

    This is an instant FAIL for Dell. Stupid decisions like this are a good reason to vote with your wallet and seek another brand.

    What is the largest addressable memory on an Atom processor anyway?

  20. berlichman says:

    I wasn’t successful in installing XP on my Dell Mini 9 with 8GB from an external cd usb drive! The installation stopped at the Licensing Agreement screen.
    I will try Vista next.

  21. Zed says:

    Thanks, Kenneth Extension. It may simply be a limit enforced by the Poulsbo chipset, which originally supported a max of 1GB. Intel updated the spec in December so that it supports 2GB. So far, I can’t find anything but speculation as to whether the Mini 10’s Poulsbo chipset follows the new spec and could use 2GB.

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