Fixing Dell Precision T3400 USB not working

This is an update to a previous rant about the mysterious Windows XP “Dee-Dunk” error (and the novel concept of presenting an “error message” when an error condition exists), possibly in conjunction with broken or intermittent USB functionality. This post is mainly for Googlers – my friends are more than welcome to skip it.

I haz solved the mystery! It turns out that some Dell Precision T3400 machines (my work machine was one of them) ship with buggy/broken BIOSes and/or chipset support. Anyway, to fix:

Worm your way onto Dell’s support site for updates, enter your model number; download and run the following three patches:

  • BIOS Update (T3400A08.EXE, or whatever is newest)
  • Chipset Software update (R174616.exe)
  • Desktop System Software update (R160758.exe)

The above are intentionally not linked; the filenames and/or URLS may shift around as newer versions of this crap come out. Also, exact support packages may be different for other Dell products exhibiting the same malfunctions.

Symptoms include:

  • USB devices do not work, or only work intermittently (every Nth reboot); behavior may change slightly by enabling/disabling different combinations of USB ports in the BIOS (or this may be a placebo effect on my part, who knows)
  • Dreaded “Dee-Dunk” noise shortly after Windows desktop appears
  • USB devices such as keyboards, mouse, etc. work for a while, then mysteriously stop working until machine is rebooted
  • “USB Device Not Recognized”…
  • “There was a problem installing this hardware: <blah> The device cannot start. (Code 10)”
  • After installing a certain USB driver, machine crashes/hangs with a black screen for several minutes before the Windows desktop appears (may depend whether the corresponding device is plugged in)
  • Machine hangs when trying to install USB device driver
  • Software hangs trying to scan the bus or access a USB device

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8 Responses to “Fixing Dell Precision T3400 USB not working”

  1. matt c says:

    Thanks for the info. Did you try doing just the Chipset Software update (R174616.exe) first?
    I have a T3400 that needs to use a USB hardware dongle (for copy protection)
    2 months ago I ran the chipset software update because it was listed on dells site for fixing the malfunctioning usb issue. That seemed to clear up the issue. Yesterday I tried to install a new usb device and all hell broke loose. The machine would not work with any usb device reliably.
    I will try the BIOS update and the Desktop system software update tomorrow.
    Let me know if you had any other problems. After you update the bios and system software, did you need to uninstall and reinstall the drivers for your usb devices?
    -Matt

  2. Tim says:

    Hi Matt,
    This was a fresh new machine I was assigned at work and I was rather frustrated with it by this point, so I just installed all the Dell patches at once in the hopes that doing so would either get things working, or would thoroughly hose the machine and they’d have to trade me a working one :-)

    After installing all three patches and rebooting, USB is now working normally on that machine and I have not had further problems with it. I don’t remember if I had to reinstall any USB device drivers due to the patches; I was uninstalling and reinstalling things all throughout the day. I think if the drivers are already installed, you will not have to un/reinstall them.

  3. matt c says:

    Thanks again. I updated the BIOS then installed the Desktop Support system software or whatever Dell calls it and the system was working perfectly. I probably would still be pulling my hair out and curing Dell and Intel if I didn’t find this posting.
    For anyone else who comes across this, I did NOT have to reinstall any drivers for the USB devices. After doing the updates and rebooting, I plugged the USB devices back in and they started working right away.

  4. Chris Letts says:

    My T3400 has two sets of USB slots at the rear, one set at the front, and an internal USB connection for a card reader.
    If I attempt to have all 4 sets working at once then it freezes regularly when plugging in a USB device. Patching as above did not cure the problem. My opinion is that the machine has not enough power to adequately drive all the USB slots at once

  5. Bryan says:

    I applied the mentioned updates and I fixed the problem. However I have a bigger problem now. It takes minutes for Windows XP to boot up now. It seems like it hangs, and I’ll hear my usb external drives and then I’ll get to the logon screen. Also when writing data to my external drives, it takes forever. It’ll write files, then hang, continue to write and hang. I wish I could revert back to my old drivers. I don’t know what to do now.

  6. Tim says:

    Hi,
    First off – Are you “Bryan” or “Matt C” – WordPress is giving me inconsistent information…

    Like I said, I have no idea what happens if you only install one of the updates – I installed all 3 updates at once (Dell Chipset Support, BIOS Update, and Desktop System Software Update), and as of today have not had any further trouble since September of this year. Even though I have installed some self-written drivers (several based on LibUSB-Win32, my SanDisk Flash card reader, an ANT device, and a custom USB vibration recorder) none have given me further troubles yet. Thus I strongly recommend installing all 3 patches if you have not done so already!

  7. Dan says:

    You rock Tim!

    I was pulling my hair out over why I couldn’t get my T3400 to recognize my iPhone when I plugged it in via the usb hub built into my monitor (which is in turn connected to the T3400).

    After finding this site, I applied the “Desktop System Software” patch (WTF is that anyway?!) and all is working. Yeah!

    Dear Dell,

    Thanks for making it clear as mud that we need to install this update that lurks among the bloatware (“System Utilities”!?… c’mon) that you try to shovel on your customers.

  8. John says:

    having a similar issue with a speechmike on a t3400. i applied patches, hoping it fixes it. stupid intermittent issues are the worst. it happens once or twice a day sometimes not for a week.

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