Most Reliable Laptops

Category: Laptops

The reliability of a laptop should be as high on your shopping list as its processor, RAM, screen size, and other criteria. All the bells whistles in the world aren't worth much when they aren't working. So who makes the most reliable laptops, and what models give the least trouble?

Which Laptop Brands are More Reliable?

Consumer Reports publishes an annual survey which answers these questions and more. The highly respected, advertiser-free product research and testing firm has long surveyed over 43,000 computer owners, tallying what brands they buy; how often they have "serious" problems which require repair; and how they rate the vendors' technical support programs. Here is a snapshot of the 2010 laptop owner survey:

Windows users find that Toshiba and Acer are tied as the most reliable brands for laptops, based on how often owners reported experiencing "serious Problems" with their laptop. In the 13 and 14-inch screen size category, Consumer Reports gives the nod to three Toshiba models as "Best Buys." For around $700 you can get a 13-inch Toshiba Portege laptop (rated as "excellent"), or $400 will buy you a Toshiba Satellite (rated "Very Good"). The 14-inch Toshiba Satellite costs a lot more at $750 but is rated "Excellent" in performance. Moving up to the 15 and 16-inch categories, the Acer Aspire gets an "Excellent" rating, and costs just over $600.
Toshiba - Most Reliable Laptop

The survey also highlighted several Apple laptop computers, including the 13 inch Macbook Air (about $1,300) and the 15 inch Macbook Pro ($1,500). The top overall rating of 80 out of 100 went to the 17 inch Macbook Pro, which also tops the price charts at $2,300. To see all of the ratings and reviews in the laptop owner survey, you'll need to subscribe to Consumer Reports online.

Should You Get an Extended Warranty For Your Laptop?

The reliability figures for ALL of the top-rated laptops may surprise you. Another measure of laptop reliability is offered by SquareTrade, a provider of extended warranties. Based on its records of claims under extended warranties, SquareTrade reports that Asus and Toshiba laptops are virtually tied in reliability, with about 15% of each brand's laptops requiring contract service during a three-year period. Apple came in at about 17%. Lenovo (formerly IBM), Gateway, Acer, and HP laptops all had 3-year malfunction rates in the 20 to 25 per cent range. And these are the best of the best!

Given this rather high rate of "serious" problems, you might be tempted to buy an extended-warranty service contract with your new laptop. Certainly, sales reps at Best Buy and other retailers will push these contracts on you at the cash register. But most consumer advocates agree that service contracts are grossly overpriced and should be avoided, unless you're unusually hard on your laptop.

This got me to thinking about my own personal experience with a Sony VAIO laptop purchased back in 2005. About a month after buying the VAIO, I went on a business trip and the screen died. No laptop for the 3-day conference... bummer. But Sony did impress me by sending a tech to my home, and replacing the screen at no charge. Four years later, the latch switch that senses if the laptop is open or closed bit the dust, and the screen would not turn on. By this time, it was out of warranty, and the repair cost about $300. In retrospect, it would have been better to buy a new laptop at that time. I now carry a Toshiba Satellite, which is lighter and faster, and cost only $350.

What is your experience with laptop reliability and service? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Posted by on 14 Mar 2011


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Most recent comments on "Most Reliable Laptops"

Posted by:

Glen
14 Mar 2011

My year old Toshiba Satellite I3 laptop has been flawless!


Posted by:

James M. Ford
14 Mar 2011

Square Trade is a computer repair warranty company. They have recent results of laptop brand repair problems. The least frequent of repair were ASUS and Toshiba (pc's). Their website is- squaretrade.com/pages/laptop-reliability-1109/


Posted by:

D. W. Whitlock
14 Mar 2011

My modest little HP Compaq Presario V3000 has been perfectly reliable over the last 4 years. I incresed the RAM to 1 Gig and it runs XP really nice using a broadband cable connection. Using the computer maintenance knowledge that I've learned on Bob Rankin's site here, the Ask Leo site and others, I have maintained my computer very well and I feel this has contributed greatly to its trouble free operation.

I don't have much confidence in SquareTrade's problem and failure rate data. Its probably inflated in order to sell more extended warranties

to computer owners by making them feel a major need to be "protected". I have much more confidence in Consumer Reports' computer repair data. They have no profit motive nor do they accept any advertising from anyone. They report exactly what they find in their very thorough testing, evaluations and consumer surveys.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks for the vote of confidence, but the SquareTrade data on failure rates is almost exactly the same as the numbers reported by Consumer Reports and PC World.


Posted by:

Laura
15 Mar 2011

Our family has used Toshibas for years for work and school. We have found them to to be VERY reliable. This is extremely important when your income or project depends on your hardware. We have never had to deal with customer service, and have replaced when necessary to upgrade, about every 2 to 3 years.


Posted by:

max danger
16 Mar 2011

"surveyed over 43,000 computer owners"

This says almost nothing. We don't know if the survey sample represents the total population distribution. Are the results are based on totals for each machine? That seems to be implied, but a better measure would be the *ratio* of problems to number of machines in use. Again, stratified sampling would be needed. The experience of professional repair shops might also be a useful gauge. Were *all* machines included? Otherwise the evaluation might only count the cheap and more failure prone machines from some manufacturers and exclude their higher cost but more reliable machines. Since this 'story' amounts to a sales pitch for Consumer Reports subscriptions, it is worse than useless. Until you can present and analyze the methods and results, please avoid using pr releases as 'news' items.

EDITOR'S NOTE: You can view the complete CR data if you like, but I think they have a reputation for unbiased reporting, and generally getting this stuff right over the course of many years. The SquareTrade data and other sources (PCWorld for one) seem to have similar conclusions.


Posted by:

Bob
16 Mar 2011

My first laptop was a Quantex, long since out of business. Since then all Toshibas, and I am very happy with them. We have an 8 year old Toshiba still runs fine, 4 year old, 3 year old and a 6 month old, and soon to buy another new one.


Posted by:

bryan314
16 Mar 2011

I will never buy another laptop without the extended NO FAULT warranty. Every time I decide I don't need to spend the extra couple hundred bucks, I find myself spending far more on repairs due to a drop or fall. Laptops are portable and very expensive to repair.

Of course the warranties aren't 100%. I spent an entire semester of graduate school some 8 years ago almost entirely without a laptop because I bought a Toshiba that turned out to have a design flaw and they decided to use the warranty to try to avoid doing anything about it. Net result? I spent most of a semester without a laptop, Toshiba ended up with a class action suit, and I will never buy another Toshiba product because of the way they handled the situation.


Posted by:

tommy2rs
16 Mar 2011

You might be interested in Technibbles informal poll of it's readers as to reliability. Technibble is a newsletter for computer techs, you know, the folks who fix your machines. Their results pretty much mirror my own experience after many years of doing repairs.

http://www.technibble.com/results-brands-you-love-hate/#more-6842


Posted by:

lekanbalogun
16 Mar 2011

i bought a hp 510 model in 2007 till 2010, except the battery that i have to change, i have never had a an issue with the hardware. but just late 2010 i started seeing lines on the screen. another hp 6735s(amd) in 2009, am still enjoying it. i think hp is ok.


Posted by:

Dale Trester
16 Mar 2011

I had an Acer laptop, and it was a pile of junk. The connection to the power source had to be replaced twice. Believe it or not, I have had more luck with my $600 Gateway, which I have had for about a year and a half. Absolutely no problems at all.


Posted by:

Gary Lutz
16 Mar 2011

HP laptop, still under warranty. Hard drive crashed.
Had to pay $100 to have the have the old one backed up and restored to the new one. Only the operating system and the files were restored. Seems they can't do the programs. Do we NOT have the technology for that?


Posted by:

McD
16 Mar 2011

This is the very question that tipped the balance in favour of a MacBook when I jumped ship in 2007: when I did the maths, apart from the fact that you don't have to buy an operating system or the most basic programs, like iLife and iWork, when you get an Apple comuputer, if you want comparable build quality on a PC laptop, you need to spend AT LEAST as much money (and then buy the operating system (or master Linux) and basic programs).

Since then this wonderful computer (a late 2007 black MacBook) has been the best computer I've used in more than twenty years of daily computer use. It just works. Really.

Having said that, I must admit the battery started overheating. I took it back to Apple and they told me it would need to be replaced, otherwise it might explode. This was last summer, two and a half years after buying it. I didn't have an extended warranty, so I thought I'd need to cough up some dough. Nope, they gave me a new one free!

Then I turned around and bought Snow Leopard, which really is the most advanced operating system available to the general public, and spent a fraction of what I would have needed to upgrade from XP to Vista or from Vista to Windows 7.

The only thing I can't understand now is why anyone would buy a PC?


Posted by:

Morphaiea
16 Mar 2011

Despite problems with the Dell laptops I used at work I bought one for myself because I got an employee discount. Three months later it died. After interminable calls to Customer Service they had me ship it back and replaced it with a refurbished model. I wound up with a used machine even though I paid for a new one.

When I eventually replaced it I bought an HP, which has been great.


Posted by:

reinkefj
17 Mar 2011

I bought the first MacBookAir. I was sucked in by the thin. I've had THREE major problems with hardware. I've had one bare metal restore as a result of one of the problems. Had to gripe to get them to put the apps back on it. Right now I'm suffering through kernel panics on a daily basis so I expect to have yet another bare metal restore in my future. It's as bad as Windoze. Argh!


Posted by:

racecar56
08 Apr 2011

I had my HP with Intel and Nvidia die after 3 years or so. One of my Intel desktops killed its own CPU (R.I.P. Q6600) while a certain AMD laptop existed before that desktop, during its lifetime, and after it died...up to today.

I think AMD computers have proven themselves enough to me. You should try them.

I hope I'm not being annoying because I've said stuff like this to a few other articles as well.


Posted by:

kellyn
19 Sep 2011

I have had my acer laptop for over 3 years and and love it. I bought an extended warranty and used it once to fix my wiring harness for my screen and my dics drive so I thought it was worth it.
I am not for sure it they fixed my wiring harness the first time because I had to have it repaired again. While getting that repaired something with my computer being able to run on battery power broke. The guy fixing it says it is my motherboard and it broke because I used a lower voltage battery then the one that it came with the computer. I don't believe it but now I have to fix that. I don't think it is worth it and will probably buy a new laptop. I an looking at a another Acer or otherwise a Lenovo or Samsung.


Posted by:

phil
13 Apr 2012

I recently switched from Dell laptops (after 2 and a desktop) to a Lenovo. The Dells both had hinges break badly, causing separation of the screen. In fact, the overall construction of both units, including keyboards were very cheap. I checked forums and found this was not an unusual occurance with them. The power supplies for both laptops were also problematic. The first one had the power supply recalled. The second one simply died and had to be replaced. Neither of these
Dell laptops were 'bottom of the line' models. I did purchase an extended warranty for the Lenovo, since it was offered at a good price. So far, so good.


Posted by:

Vahid
01 Jun 2012

I purchased a DELL-XPS series Laptop about 5 months ago. Considering the spec, the price is really good.But there are times, I think something is wrong with its hardware,mostly its CPU; I have 2 Linux distros and Win7 on it, and I've faced several interrupts in both Linux and Win7.I don't know, maybe I'm wrong..but I have a gut feeling that something is fishy..!


Posted by:

Steve
09 Apr 2014

I've several Dell Inspirons, one had a memory recall that was replaced in my office-no problems. One HP where hard drive failed after 2 years. HD was warranteed for 3 years, but laptop only 2 and HP wouldn't fix it. Bought a new HD from Amazon and fixed it. Currently own a Toshiba Satellite running just fine. I watch most people lift their laptop lid/screen by 1 corner-gonna break something that way.:-( I always lift from the middle.


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