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Dell, Asus, MSI and others halt sale of flawed Sandy Bridge computers

In the wake of Intel's announcement that a fault had been discovered in the chipset that works with its latest Sandy Bridge processors, manufacturers are halting PC distribution.

We'd hardly call it a lightning-fast response, but computer manufacturers are finally starting to respond to the revelation that some machines shipping with Intel's latest Sandy Bridge processors could fall victim to a serious fault.

The problem lies with a support chip codenamed Cougar Point, which works alongside second-generation Core i5 and Core i7 quad-core processors. Over a three-year period, some affected systems would suffer from degradation in their Serial-ATA ports, basically stopping important bits of your computer from talking to each other.

Dell has four affected machines: the XPS 8300 and Vostro 460 desktops, the Alienware Aurora R.3 desktop and the Alienware M17x R.3 laptop. "Effective immediately, we will remove those currently shipping platforms from our websites," the company told us.

In an online statement, Asus has vowed to return or replace faulty units, and also detailed exactly which devices are affected, so you can check if your brand-new Asus computer is liable to conk out further down the line.

MSI has responded by halting distribution of its relevant machines (which include the GT680R, CR640 and CX640 laptops), informing its distributors, retailers and resellers to stop selling anything that drinks from the poisoned Intel-well. If you already bought an affected piece of kit, it's offering to swap affected products, once Intel rolls out the non-faulty units. If you don't fancy waiting, you can return it.

HP, whose Envy 17 laptop has scored a Sandy Bridge upgrade, is halting online sales according to the BBC, and in a statement made to us, said it is "currently evaluating the situation and impact to determine the best path forward".

Samsung -- which has seven affected models, but none on sale in the UK -- and Lenovo have also halted distribution.

It's a relief so see manufacturers falling in line and promising full repair and replacement deals. We haven't seen any affected units still being sneakily sold in manufacturer's online stores. If you've seen different though, let us know by emailing tips@cnet.co.uk.

The error is a major embarrassment for Intel, and even though it's stopped production and is now manufacturing fault-free units -- expected to be available in late February -- the total cost of repairing and replacing the borked chips is expected to be around $700m. Intel won't be back on its feet, in terms of shipping new Sandy Bridge machines, until April.

We'll update this story as we receive more news -- in the meantime, don't buy a new Sandy Bridge computer until you're sure it's not an affected unit.