Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The AC adapters for my 2 dell laptops wore out very quickly.

One supplies power but won't charge the battery (it's about 3 years old, the other is a bit newer).

Both have worn through to the shielding around the notebook connector and look like they'll be unusable soon.

Checking user reviews of the replacement adapter on Dell's own website, it appears they usually fail this fast. Apparently Dell does this deliberately to make money (their adapters sell for about 10-15 times what they cost to make). Same with replacement batteries.

I can see there are plenty of much cheaper ($50, not $150) compatible AC adapters on eBay. Does anyone have experience with these? Naturally I'm nervous a crappy knock-off could fry my notebook, but has this ever actually happened to anyone recently? Has anyone had a good experience? Can anyone recommend a good online seller (who doesn't charge nonsensical shipping costs to Australia, preferably?)


For anyone who's interested, I eventually went ahead and bought one on eBay from China that was claimed to be a genuine original Dell. It's likely a factory second or very good counterfeit, but it looks genuine and worked fine - charged the battery etc - but only for a year. I've since bought 2 more on ebay because, while one of the three failed in the first year, it's still cheaper to buy 10 of these than to buy one from Dell (and the dell one, I now know, won't last either). Further details here: Dell 1720 laptop replacement battery and power adapter if anyone is interested.

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I don't know what series of Dell notebooks you have but I have had bad experiences. I've purchased a few 3rd party power supplies for Dell Latitude D series notebooks and they will not charge the battery. A warning message appears that the power supply is not Dell approved and subsequently the battery will not be charged.

share|improve this answer
This has been my experience with so-called "compatible" third-party adapters, as well. I'd avoid them, at least for Dell machines. – Collin Allen May 26 '10 at 4:20
This would be the case with "intelligent" adapters that actually communicate with the laptop. Dell and HP now use these. For other manufacturers, thinking Acer and Asus straight off, with "dumb" adapters, don't behave this way and 3rd party adapters with the correct specifications work fine. – kronenpj Jul 15 at 12:27

Sounds like you are pretty rough with your equipment. For the most part, yes third party adapters will work fine with your equipment. Even though they adapter manufacture says its for your model, you should closely check the voltage and amperage output of the adapter. Voltage should match exactly and amperage needs to meet or exceed the OEM adapter. Of course this does void any warranties, which probably isn't an issue with the age of the machine.

The usual difference between OEM and aftermarket adapters is that the after market adapters may not meet the required specs or provide clean power. Dirty power leads to strange behavior of failed devices.

I guess it really comes down to, how long do you want to keep your notebook. If it will be for a few years or more, go with an OEM. If only for a year, try out the aftermarket.

share|improve this answer
I should just say that I'm not actually at all rough with my laptops - they rarely leave the house, mainly sit on desks. One isn't used more than an hour a day. I'm pretty happy with Dell's build quality overall but at least for my 1520 and 1720 their chargers just aren't up to scratch. – MGOwen Aug 9 '10 at 4:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .