When you’re shopping for a laptop, the brand matters as much as the specs and features. That’s why, each year, we evaluate the top notebook manufacturers and publish our Best and Worst Laptop Brands rankings. For 2017, Lenovo has knocked Apple out of its long-held top position. Asus and Dell take second and third place.
To pick the winners, losers and also-rans, we evaluated the 10 biggest laptop brands to determine which offer the best combination of quality products, cutting-edge innovation, helpful support, sleek designs and strong value. Because of its modest review scores, expensive products and lack of ports, Apple fell all the way down to fifth place after receiving top honors every year since the Best and Worst Brands debuted in 2010.
Lenovo leaped into first place on the strength of its many highly-rated laptops, groundbreaking technologies and vastly improved customer support. Asus took second, thanks to a deep, value-filled lineup. Dell rounded out the top three on the strength of its superior premium laptops and helpful warranty coverage.
1. Lenovo (90/100)
When 58 percent of your laptops get a rating of 4 stars or better, you’re having a great year. Lenovo wowed us with laptops that had epic battery life (three different ThinkPads lasted more than 17 hours on a charge), gorgeous designs like the bezel-free screen on the Yoga 910 and innovative features like the Halo keyboard on the Yoga Book. The company also provided helpful support with no hold times in our tests.
2. Asus (86/100)
If you’re looking for the best combination of quality and features for the money, look no further than Asus. The company also does a fantastic job of pushing the innovation envelope with a high-end, water-cooled gaming rig and eye-popping designs, like the royal-blue-and-gold aluminum chassis on the ZenBook 3.
3. Dell (83/100)
Dell has an extremely compelling laptop lineup, headlined by the Dell XPS 13, our favorite notebook overall, the XPS 15 and the company’s Alienware gaming rigs. The company pushed the boundaries of design and functionality this year by offering an OLED screen on the Alienware 13, and by developing the super-svelte XPS 13 2-in-1. Dell also offers a strong factory warranty with plenty of options to extend your coverage.
4. HP (82/100)
HP combines a broad overall lineup with a few great Ultrabooks and strong warranty coverage.
5. Apple (78/100)
The company’s MacBooks are slim, powerful and well-built, but you’ll need pile of money and a bagful of dongles. The company’s support and warranty options are second to none.
6. Acer (78/100)
Acer combines a broad selection of affordable laptops with the best support of any PC vendor. However, many of its products got middling ratings.
7. MSI (76/100)
MSI has a wide selection of gaming laptops, many with powerful specs and innovative features. However, its tech support is among the worst we tested.
8. Razer (73/100)
Included in our Best and Worst Brands ratings for the first time this year, Razer makes a handful of high-quality gaming laptops and Ultrabooks. The company’s products are strong, but its support falls short.
9. Samsung (68/100)
The company makes a couple of innovative Chromebooks, but most of its small selection of laptops got middle-of-the-road ratings. The company’s tech support resources are also disappointing.
10. Microsoft (66/100)
Microsoft ranks lowest, because the company did hardly anything new during our test period. Its only new laptop was the Surface Book with Performance Base, and just the dock was new. Still, the company’s handful of premium 2-in-1s are pretty good choices, if you can afford them.
How We Rate Brands
Each company is assigned a score based on a 100-point scale. Points are awarded in six different categories: Design, Reviews, Tech Support, Warranty, Innovation and Value and Selection. Here’s what each means.
Reviews (35 points):The most important aspect of any brand is the quality of its products. To determine a company’s Reviews category score, we used the ratings we gave its laptops between Feb. 1, 2016, and Feb. 28, 2017. We took the average laptop rating for each brand (Laptop Mag rates on 1 to 5 scales), converted that average rating to a 35-point scale, and then added a 0.5-point bonus for each Editors’ Choice award.
Design (15 points): We absolutely will judge a notebook by its cover — and its sides, deck, bezel and base. Though no two notebooks look exactly the same, each brand has a design language that cuts across its product lines.
|Brand||Reviews (35)||Design (15)||Support (20)||Innovation (10)||Value & Selection (15)||Warranty (5)||Overall (100)|
Tech Support (20 points): When you buy a laptop, you want to know that the manufacturer is going to stand behind it and help you with technical problems. We base this score on the ratings from our annual Tech Support Showdown, where we go undercover and pose questions to all of the companies, using their phone, web and social channels. To reach our score out of 20 points, we divided the last Tech Support Showdown rating, which is out of 100, by 5.
Innovation (10 points): The laptop market is moving fast, and if you stand still, you’ll get rolled over. For the Innovation category, we awarded points based on the brand’s ability to move the market forward by implementing or developing new technologies, as well as taking risks.
Value and Selection (15 points): How many different kinds of shoppers does the manufacturer address, and do the products provide good bang for your buck? For this category, we awarded points for offering a wide range of laptop types (budget, business, gaming, etc.) and for providing aggressive pricing.
Warranty (5 points): If something goes wrong with your laptop, how easy will it be to get it serviced? Most companies offer a standard one-year warranty; but some make you pay for shipping when you send in a product for repairs. Companies got credit for selling laptops with longer warranties or free accidental-damage protection and for offering a variety of extended warranty options. They lost some credit for policies that void your warranty for upgrading the RAM or for passing along the shipping costs.
Comings and Goings
This year was the first year we included Razer laptops on our list, because we felt that the company has become a large-enough player in the industry to evaluate. By the same token, we removed Toshiba from our list after that company stopped selling consumer laptops in the U.S. market.
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