Dell concealed severe component problems with some of its PCs, and fixed the systems of loyal customers last, according to documents released by a California court.
The documents relate to a case brought against Dell by Advanced Internet Technologies over the quality of its computer supplies. The case was settled in September.
The initial verdict was sealed, but The New York Times has reported that failure rates for some corporate orders ran at over 20 per cent, and that Dell knew about the problem but did not issue a recall.
The documents show that the problems started with shipments of unfit capacitors from Asia that were sold in bulk to HP, Apple and Dell.
These capacitors had an imperfect chemical mix that caused them to swell and break under charge. Dell shipped computers using the faulty components from May 2003 to July 2005.
Other documents show that Dell prioritised replacements based on the customer's likelihood of switching to a new supplier.
Customers likely to move to other brands got priority service, followed by those likely to cut back on hardware spending. The lowest priority was companies that were willing to wait for a solution from Dell.
A study conducted by Dell in June 2004 estimated the failure rates of SX270 Optiplex systems at 12 per cent, but this had risen to 45 per cent by September and could theoretically run as high as 97 per cent.
"The percentages were theoretical maximums and significantly exceeded the actual failure rates," said Dell spokesman David Frink.
"Dell actively investigated computers that suffered a capacitor issue, and extended the warranties on all the possibly affected motherboards. This was an industry-wide issue and, to our knowledge, no other manufacturer issued a recall either."
Evil clowns, scary nurses and sharp machetes teased in autumn PUBG Hallowe'en event
Reservoir computing can achieve the higher-dimension calculations required by emerging AI
Astronomers studying first-ever reported merger of two neutron stars claim to have detect light and gravitational waves
Allen died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma