Laptops

Survey: Apple and ASUS win in PC reliability, Dell and HP lose

In a massive new survey, the public has spoken about which laptops and desktops are the most reliable and have the best support. Take a look at the winners and losers.

The public has spoken about the laptop and desktop computers that are the most durable and offer the best support. The big winner is Apple, which isn't a surprise since it's the company most focused on building premium machines and offering premium service options (with a price tag to match). The big winner among Windows PC makers was Taiwanese upstart ASUS. Meanwhile, computer giants Dell and Hewlett-Packard got clobbered.

The results come from a new survey of 79,000 users conducted by PC World, which asked five questions about reliability and four questions about service. PC World then aggregated the responses into three ratings:

  • Average
  • Better than average
  • Worse than average

Apple scored "better than average" in all nine categories in desktops and in eight out of nine in laptops. The one area where it scored "average" was in getting failed components replaced in laptops.

ASUS scored "better than average" in five categories for laptops and in two categories for desktops.

US computer giants Dell and Hewlett-Packard scored very poorly, but there was a silver lining for both of them. PC World broke out the product lines into home and business for Dell and HP, and both scored much better for their higher-quality business machines.

For its home product lines, Dell got "worse than average" marks in five out of nine categories for laptops and six out of nine categories for desktops. For HP's home product lines, the company got "worse than average" for seven out of nine categories in laptops and four out of nine categories in desktops. Both companies got more balanced, mediocre ratings from the public for their business systems as you'll see in the charts below.

Big takeaway

If you are a small business, do not buy Dell or HP laptops or desktops at retailers such as Best Buy or Office Depot. Those machines are of inferior quality and offer inferior service. If you want to buy a Dell or HP machine, buy it directly from the company over the Web and make sure you purchase a machine from their business lineup and get business-class support. Otherwise, if you do prefer to buy a computer at a retail location then get an ASUS or an Apple machine.

Laptops

Chart credit: PC World

Desktops

Chart credit: PC World

Also read

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

85 comments
MicroBuntu
MicroBuntu

Wonder if this category only looked at the iMac or if it included MacPro's. The MacPro can hardly be compared to a desktop class machine. PC World ought to check the odds against HP's enterprise products where the MacPro actually falls.

RockerGeek!
RockerGeek!

Dell = one great big fail! I will never buy another one. Cheaply made. Ugh. The hinge (of all places) broke. Oh and the keyboard is...lame. And keys have broken and stuck. Fortunately, the HD is still good and has been placed in my bf's old Acer (gulp). Can't wait to have the money to buy a new Toshiba! My dad bought one w/vista on it when vista was brand spankin new.... and it's STILL running fine. Slow due to old hardware and less RAM and a slower spinnig hard drive than what is "normal" for today's standards. But it works

cory.schultze
cory.schultze

No-one has mentioned Fujitsu. You're not telling me that no-one's bought a Fujitsu? Here's my verdict: Laptops - The battery expires before any of the rest of it. We had a Fuji lappy that travelled with a user and was used in workshops for 8 years. Desktops - We had many (somewhere around 300+) and have recently had to replace a few, all from the same range (X102 and P300 series). This was because of poor thermal design, with the PSU above the CPU and only the PSU fan circulating the air. Duh. Other than those, I'd say thoroughly reliable and support isn't bad, though takes a while.

vonhaase9
vonhaase9

This is BS created by an Applephile. In my experience, Apple falls short on several of the items.

nick.steck
nick.steck

We use Dell Desktops at my work, I am the Desktop Engineer for the location I work at, and I must say they are junk. From what I have seen 1 out of 5 new desktops we purchase from Dell have some sort of out of box failure, RAM, MB, HDD's, PSU's. I have also never gotten anyone on the phone that spoke English and that wasnt from another country. I have been using ASUS at home for a few years now and love them. I have only had to call there support once and was on and off the phone in 30mins with new parts being shipped overnight to me. Also never had any foreigners answers my call so no language barrier to deal with. Gateway used to make a quality machine until ther were purchased by Acer and since then the quality has dropped. I have a 6 year old Gateway laptop and have never had to replace any parts or reinstall windows.

ScarF
ScarF

Considering the horrendous support provided by Toshiba - as well as the fast decreasing quality of their products - there must be something wrong with this survey.

pete.cruz
pete.cruz

I think it is odd that Toshiba was not mentioned even though they scored just slightly below ASUS.

RedCrow
RedCrow

Ok, for starters, a little background of where I'm coming from. I work full time as a graphic artist and freelance on the side. At work I use an iMac and at home I use a Dell. I'm not biased in any way or a "fanboy" of either as I've had good experiences with both. Just think about surveys and people in general. Most People who buy Macs know what they are getting and are willing to shell out the dough for the reliability and customer support. At the same time, many (not all) are huge Mac fans and don't even consider a PC from Dell or HP. A survey to most Mac owners would be like asking to do a performance review of your best friend at work. Even if it's true, are you going to say, "he's lazy, has a bad attitude, and deserves to be fired"? No, you are going say, "Give him a promotion" whether he deserves it or not. Now for the PC side. Why do people buy PCs? Well, they're cheap and people just want to get online (my parents). Most don't really know what they want let alone what they actually need so they buy on price, not on performance and get mad when their computer is slow. It's like buying a Kia and expecting it to be just like a Jeep, it ain't happening. So, if you ask them how they like it, they will probably say something along the lines of, "This thing is a hunk of junk, it doesn't have any power and I can't get up my driveway in the winter." You can't take these kind of surveys as gospel, but sometimes they do have some good points. I know in the whole Mac vs PC battle though, they just add fuel to fire. All I can say is that the Dell I have has been very reliable for the past 9 years. I know what I have and don't make it do things it wasn't built for. I can't speak on behalf of Dell's customer support because I've never needed it. At the same time, I haven't had one Mac long enough to speak on long term durability. We get new ones, which are high end, every couple years and I've never had a problem. Our IT department takes care of everything anyway so I wouldn't know if we had a problem or about support. My next personal computer: Custom built. Peace!

nadielp
nadielp

I have been using and telling people about Asus for several years and they really do perform well over time.

dc19634
dc19634

As for Apple and HP... they're most likely sub contracting to FoxConn anyways... different price... different component quality... you get what you pay for

dreece
dreece

With out of the box support fo Exchange ActiveSync, no need for extra server software, and no additional plans needed, it's clear why iPhone and Droid have taken over the market form a corporate point of view.

George Tirebiter
George Tirebiter

I was overseas on a Fulbright when my Dell netbook started losing memory (still don't really know what happened - after wiped it clean and reinstalled OS, it has been OK). Anyway, my Ukrainian hosts lent me a fantastic ASUS laptop (15" I believe), and the thing was perfect for the duration (ca. 2 mos.).

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

But I swear by their mobos. I do have two HP laptops, and one Acer. I have NO trouble out of any of them. One of the HPs is pushing 11 years old. Of course, I wiped the WinMe that came on it and installed Win2k. Went on to use it for Linux play for the last couple of years. The Acer has been wiped, and fresh, fully licensed copy of WinXP loaded to it. Sweet. The most recent laptop purchase, another HP, will, at the first sign of trouble be wiped and have a full installation of Vista Business - which it came with -installed. The heck with recovery partitions, it's just hardware. Get rid of the garbageware the manufacturers install, and odds are you've got a good machine. IMO

santeewelding
santeewelding

I can't participate. This all strikes me as buying a firearm, not clued to which end is which, then bitching when you blow your brains out, without the brains to bitch.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

My customers use Dell Optiplex and HP Compaq DC7000-series PCs. I've never had a problem obtaining warranty support on either. Quality of both is very good. I have about 140 PCs from both OEMs. That vast majority of my PC calls are for software issues that require nothing more than a reimage.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

I do agree with one comment that you can't compare the product quality of one laptopo which costs someone $500 and another that cost $1500. People could complain [for example] that their computer crashed in the "any significant problem" but it could because the $500 you bought with Vista had only 1GB of RAM instead of a $1200 system with 4GB. Can you blame the manufacturer for what people buy? Or the "any significant problem" be that the system crashed because of malware or incompatible drivers or software installed 3 years later. Survey should of divided the results by low and high end systems as well. First thing I'd like to do with a system that comes with bloatware is wipe out the drive and install from scratch. HP uses trimmed ASUS motherboards. I like their boards [3 of my last 4 systems I built for myself are ASUS]. I do also have an ASUS netbook. They killed off the forum for the Eee PC line [primariliy netbooks - why?]. I also have one of their high end GPUs. Would you believe generic documentation and they is no diagram on the exterior ports? [which is the 1st DVI port? what is that small one?] Dell's business support was great 7 years ago. Unsure about now. Home support sucks. Can stay online for an hour waiting in queue. Once they wouldn't replace a defective mouse [going back and forward with support for over 15 minutes - after waiting in queue for atleast another 15 minutes - hung up and bought a mouse].

BrianMWatson
BrianMWatson

I've been involved in PC desktop/laptop support for over 15 years, and I'm honestly a bit surprised by the results of the survey - they don't correlate to my own experience. I would certainly rank Dell above HP in both desktops (and laptops for that matter), but survey has them roughly even. I would also rank Lenovo far above ASUS in laptops, but the survey shows the opposite. Intriguing...

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

...but they don't seem to be marketing very heavily in the States, or have I been totally asleep?

DNSB
DNSB

The one time I went through ASUS support, the first level tech sounded like a native English speaker, the second level tech was not. On the other hand, his English was more than good enough to understand my description of the problem and to have me run some tests. He was then able to diagnose the cause of my problem. The needed part was shipped overnight. This left my brother in law a very happy camper since he had been expecting to be told he now had an expensive paperweight.

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

...is safer that spouse loyalty. A man might divorce 4 times but never quit driving a Chevy.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Opinions change slowly I guess.

Juanita Marquez
Juanita Marquez

We used them as the workhorse laptops at one place I worked, and they were very reliable. My own Toshibas have been very good. I am surprised that others here have had bad experiences with them. I don't like the fact that Dells try to give no room for expansion, making the average user have an addiction of sorts if they want to upgrade anything.

Stargzer
Stargzer

I resovled never to by anything Toshiba made after they sold silent propeller technology to Communist China. I further resolved never to by anything made by Sony after the audio CDs installed rootkits on PCs. In National Security and PC Security, I give no second chance.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I'm pretty sure; but I'd trust Taiwanese QOS more that anything made in the PRC!

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Unsure where you got your information from - or why RIM is even mentioned here. It has no laptops or desktops. This survey covered the laptop sand desktop business of the companies. So Androids, iPhones and Windows 7 phones are out.

MightyMikeLech
MightyMikeLech

Anyone that forsakes the the reliability and security encryption of a BlackBerry (when properly and judiciously implemented) for the superficial eye candy and marginal user friendliness, along with the hidden wormholes lurking in the OS'es of the iPhone, Windows Mobile, or Google's Android Phones-especially with a Mobile version of Adobe Flash-for hackers to poke through will very much come to regret it over time and be the wide-awake nightmare of every IT professional that will have to deal with it when the security of sensitive or confidential information has been breached or tampered with. I do not dare say that a BlackBerry Device is completely secure-but it is clearly more so than its competitors. The only edge an iPhone has over a BlackBerry is its very marginal user friendliness and gazillion apps from the App Store. The Droid X's only edge is being more multimedia friendly-especially with the mobile version of Adobe Flash installed-but at the high cost of performance and security. The only thing clear here is how stupid, superficial, Lazy,and fickle people really are-especially in IT and the corporate world-you may save money now, but you may very well be in a world of hurt if it all goes horribly wrong from an IT and corporate security and confidentiality of information viewpoint. There's still a reason why still a majority of companies issue BlackBerries instead of the cotton candy-like fluff of 'Droid's eye candy and the cultlike superficiality of Apple's iAnything Fanbase rivaling Rush Limbaugh's Dittoheads....

MightyMikeLech
MightyMikeLech

Research In Motion's BlackBerry is a smartphone manufacturer and not a Laptop/Desktop PC manufacturer. But if they do even modestly well in the tablet market, it might behoove them to come out with maybe an ultraportable touchscreen netbook or standalone notebook one with an enhanced version of their software as a more secure, reliable and business-friendly alternative to WIndows-Google's ChromeOS is nothing more than a stripped and enhanced version of Linux and may not withstand the hack attacks as well-especially when you make it too consumer-friendly like we are seeing with the Android Phones. And forget about Linux altogether....

Papa_Bill
Papa_Bill

..the fact that nobody supplies manuals with there products anymore? I mean, if their PC is broke they can't read the "on-line" manual, can they? Hell, you don't even get a CD of your OS anymore.

ScarF
ScarF

HP's business support is very good. We have only HP servers, and half of our desktop PCs are HP - around 80. I had very few HW-related problems with both - the servers and desktops, and they were all solved fast and professional. When parts' replacements where needed, I received the parts fast beyond believe with all the proper tools and information for replacing the defective part and for sending it back. I really appreciate HP's business support and I have no idea why are they placed so low in this survey - unless the survey itself is flowed. Which, indeed, it is. The clue comes under "Big takeaway" title: "If you are a small business, do not buy Dell or HP laptops or desktops at retailers such as Best Buy or Office Depot" So, actually, the survey was about customers' satisfaction with products purcahsed from Best Buy and Office Depot. Am I wrong?

tomb
tomb

Seriously, do you think the Indian reading the same stuff you can get @ support.hp.com is good support? My personal systems are custom built using ASUS Mobos, and they are rock solid. I've switched to Lenovo for my business laptops, and am very happy.

MightyMikeLech
MightyMikeLech

For the most part, you are right. But while it took some time for Lenovo to gain market share (and for the ThinkPad brand to come back from the dead and regain their piece of the PC pie from Dell and Panasonic's Toughbook Lineup), Asus, by comparison, hit the ground running on the strength of being the world's premiere mainboard manufacturer and I think that's why they did so well in the survey here. My personal experiences with both HP and Dell have always been pretty frustrating equally-but for different reasons. HP's business class offerings were actually better at one time, but have deteriorated markedly over time and HP's marketing strategists paid way too much attention to retailers like Best Buy, Staples, and Office Depot fufilling their customer base's wish lists and ignoring the demands of small business and enterprise buyers. Dell has never had even decent support for both small business customers and consumers from the get go. Mike Dell made his fortune by selling PC's to large businesses and corporate buyers by undercutting HP and IBM and selling direct to private buyers who recognized their brand name by the ones they worked on in their offices and cubicles. The consumer's PC of choice was always Gateway on the strength of their customer and technical support-but trashed it all when their Gateway Country Stores didn't turn a profit anymore and decided to merge with eMachines in a feeble attempt to conquer the shelves of brick and mortar retailers-which never happened with a reinvigorated Hewlett-Packard and their marketing strategy to try to make "The Computer Personal Again" and forsaken their quality and service for the eye candy and a gazillion colors they came in to better compete with Dell's pedestrian attempts to sell to retailers, Sony's dull and uninspiring Vaio line of notebooks, Toshiba's modest gains in market share, and Acer's slow invasion in the US marketplace have also played into the changing landscape of the PC market in the last couple or so years.

JCitizen
JCitizen

struck me as well designed, but I have to wait a while to trust Chinese quality control. I am glad you posted as I don't get any clients with them. I've always wanted one of their laptops, but just couldn't bring myself to make the jump. I realize the Chinese make many of the PC we already have, and indeed many of the components of the Apple; it is the quality issues that come to play. Whoever is running that assembly line can make all the difference, but support has to back it up too! What is Lenovo support like?

ScarF
ScarF

that I really preferred Toshiba laptops over other brands, especially after IBM decided to throw its Intel division into the Lenovo garbage. Having different generations of Toshiba laptops inside my organization, I could notice the decrease of their quality in time as products, as well as the constant decrease of their customer support's quality. And, I really regret this.

MightyMikeLech
MightyMikeLech

That's a big given and it seems soon, even our automobiles will be-everything will be coming from either China, Taiwan, South Korea, India, or Singapore-or owned by them....

Slvrknght
Slvrknght

Bitter much? I, long ago, gave up trying to fight people's choices in computers and cellphones. The only thing I do now is enforce company policy (no enterprise activation, no access to company systems). When I break it down that way, people are less defensive about it. As for computers, well, that's easy. If the computer wasn't provided by the company, it doesn't connect to the network. Live and let live, man!

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Since the Chrome browser will be built into the desktop, you take one nasty bit of malware that screws up the "browser" and the OS is toast.

JCitizen
JCitizen

by support people and authors here on TR, that RIMs OS has been cracked by malware. Of course some BlackBerries are sold with Windows on them, but I'm not referring to them. If I remember correctly RIMs OS was related to some UNIX flavor?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

When I call the phone numbers I have for both Dell and HP Corporate support, the people answering my calls not only speak English with little or no accent, but are not reading from a script. Were you calling the paid support line or the free business support line? I think the only difference between the free business support line and the free home support line is the number you dial.

scratchbaker
scratchbaker

I have had both new and reconditioned Lenovo laptops and desktops with NO hardware issues at all. The tech support is through IBM in the US and is easy to deal with and trained. I accidentally hosed one machine and they sent me the media to restore the drive overnight for free. I think they are a first-rate company with first-rate products. The Chinese have more state-of-the-art factories than the US and the QA is from IBM.

gechurch
gechurch

I find Lenovo to be interesting. They are a relatively new player in the market, but they also make ThinkPad laptops. IBM now outsource the building of these machines, but they have to pass IBMs quality control checks. The Lenovo-built Thinkpads I find to be very good quality machines - as good as when IBM made them. We used to sell a lot where I worked. We had to use the warranty a few times - each time was for the hard drive. It's hard to know whether the drives were cheap, or whether the owner was a bit rough with the machine (technically, you are not meant to move a laptop while it is on). Either way, Lenovo support was fine... the same as Asus and Acer. THe Thinkpads are one of the few machines that have hardware service guides too. I've bought one or two non-Thinkpad Lenovo's, including one for my wife. They don't have the solid feel of the Thinkpad, but so far we've had zero issues with the machine.

j-mccurdy
j-mccurdy

We had a weak battery on my wife's Lenovo. We called Lenovo, they sent us a new battery immediately. So our Lenovo support experience was great. It's been 3 years now, and that is the only problem we have had on her 500 dollar Lenovo.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Very informative! I knew if I tried one, I wasn't going to want any other OS on it! Blackberries use to be the bomb for scaling enterprise support within the organization. I wonder if they still sit atop that pinnacle! I suppose most businesses are fluffing that off onto their ISPs.

MightyMikeLech
MightyMikeLech

Truth to tell, every OS in existence has been in some, shape, form or way has been hacked, cracked and rendered useless by some form of malware or malicious code. But compared to the iPhone, Windows Mobile, and especially the fate that awaits Android users when they can install a mobile version of Adobe Flash on their devices, BlackBerry Phones being hacked and cracked don't happen as frequently or as flagrantly as those devices that forsake security and OS integrity and encryption for user friendliness and the other fluff and useless stuff on more consumer-oriented offerings. The BlackBerry OS is based on a Unix derivative scaled for mobile applications and many applications for BlackBerry are Java based, as are other apps for other mobile devices and even simple web-enabled cellular phones. Many files on a BlackBerry are tightly encrypted and one can be set to encrypt all files stored-even personal files on an microSD card with a few settings changes. It seems to be the level of file and system encryption inherent in BlackBerry devices that give it a slight edge in being more secure and more enterprise friendly and still the best choice for mobile professionals over its rivals....

DNSB
DNSB

Yes, after years of building IBM's PCs, Lenovo purchased the IBM PC division. IBM still supplies the support, at least in North America.

gechurch
gechurch

Did Lenovo actually buy the PC division of IBM? I thought IBM simply outsources building the hardware to Lenovo. That would explain the service and web site redirection.

gechurch
gechurch

That pretty much sums up this entire discussion: You get what you pay for. The server drives you bought were expensive and rarely fail. Desktop drives are cheap and fail far more often. Same goes with pretty much all laptops mentioned here. Regardless of manufacturer, if it cost less than $500 you are likely to have problems, and support is likely to be poor. There just isn't the profit margin in those machines to provide for good parts or support. Equally, if you buy a business model laptop regardless of brand you are likely to have fewer issues, and good support. There are of course exceptions, and exact level of quality and service might vary a bit. The general rule is true though.

DNSB
DNSB

For years, the Lenovo factory built IBM's non-server machines before Lenovo purchased IBM's PC division. In our corporate setting, we've found no change in the reliability since the Lenovo purchase. On-site service is still handled by IBM and if you check the www.lenovo.com/support website looking for downloads and drivers, it promptly bounces you to an IBM website to continue. We've only used a few of the Ideapads so can't supply much information on their reliability.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

IBM also used Hitachi drives in their Ultra320 ServeRaid arrays. I'd put any one of those SCSI drives up against 10 of the drives that went into their laptops or desktops. In five years of supporting 20+ X-23x servers with four drives per server, I've had maybe two drives go down. I've replaced more than 20 desktop drives in the same period.

gechurch
gechurch

Yeah, I was really surprised to see a Hitachi drive the first time I opened a Lenovo Thinkpad. I rate Hitachi drives very low. I too am a WD fan. I personally had good luck with WD drives and a bad run with Seagate. But every tech you asked would have the same story, just with the brands reversed! So I didn't use to think there was a big difference - I thought it was just my personal experience. That was before I worked at a computer store. We bought mostly WD drives, but occassionally we ran out of stock and had to get drives locally, and all we could get was Seagate. In the three years I was there we probably sold 90% WD and 10% Seagate, yet we had easily more warranty returns for Seagates. We we're only a small shop and sold a handful of computers a week, but that is enough over three years to satisfy me that it's more than coincidence.

MightyMikeLech
MightyMikeLech

You hit on the one achilles heel of both IBM-era and Lenovo ThinkPads-Hard Drives! They are made by Hitachi and even the IBM Deskstar/Travelstar drives were assembled by them. But I am also a hardcore Western Digital Hard Drive user and always swap the OEM drives out of any and all PC's and replace them with WD Caviar/Raptors (desktop) or WD Scorpios (Notebook) Hard drives-unless the PC's are under warranty- then I wait. But the OEM one in my ThinkPad W500 is still alive and kickin'....

MightyMikeLech
MightyMikeLech

I have never had a problem at all with their Customer Support-both with my Lenovo 3000 N100 and My ThinkPad W500- very helpful and buying my ThinkPad W500 4085 CTO direct from their outlet site was a very pain-free experience and even buying additional batteries and power supplies from their accessories website was also a glitch-free experience. Lenovo is really doing wonderful things with their acquisition of IBM's PC Division-more than I can say for Dell and the ClusterF***k the mergers of Gateway and EMachines turned out to be and there's no real evidence of Acer's acquisition of them is doing anything about turning the situation around. HP is too retail-centric, Apple's cult following will buy anything by them-even human waste molded into an appealing shape with a high price tag-and its followers will buy it, and Asus' high ranking is no surprise considering it has for years been universally considered the best mainboard manufacturer around and Dell's low ranking is equally unsurprising considering how really bad their computers really are and have been for years. Lenovo deserves more serious consideration-especially its revamped ThinkPad Lineup-than it currently does for well built, well supported laptops for real businesspeople and professionals who need reliability...