When looking for a new laptop, you want a machine that you won’t have to drag back in for repairs for at least several years. Reliability and dependable performance rank high on buyer’s lists, but which brands are the best? Which manufacturer offers the most reliable laptops? To find out, we’ve scanned the pages of Consumer Reports, considered reader’s choice selections, analyzed crowd-sourced voting, and consulted the studies of our peers. Combining all of that with our own experience in laptop testing, we’ve pieced together a consensus on the most reliable brands out there today. Read on to find out more about the best laptop brands
Type of laptop
Before we start naming names, we’re going to point out a general rule: The smaller the laptop, the higher the failure rate appears to be.
There are several reasons for this. Small laptops are harder to take apart and repair yourself, so official repairs may be more common. They are also more portable, and therefore more likely to be dropped or banged around. So before considering specific brands, take note that if you want a more durable laptop, opt for the larger models.
Most reliable: Apple
If there’s one thing that nearly everyone agrees on, it’s that Apple laptops are the most reliable of the bunch. When you buy a MacBook Pro, you know what to expect, and that rarely involves failures or returns. Part of this is due to Apple’s solid design philosophy. MacBooks, Airs, and Pros are consistently growing thinner and more powerful, but the overall design style remains the same.
The aluminum frame and tightly packed electronics also help reduce damage and failure rates. In fact, Apple’s devices tend to get more reliable with later generations, as design becomes tighter.
Removing ports, for example, is not a popular move — but it does decrease what can break.
It’s also worth noting that Apple does many of the smaller things well. The keyboards are snappy, pleasant to use, and nigh unbreakable under usual circumstances. The battery life of MacBooks tends to be high, too, and doesn’t suffer from swift performance drop-offs or fluctuation. Displays issues tend to be rare, and in Consumer Reports studies, Apple beat out nine other laptop brands when it came to needing repairs within the first three years of ownership.
On the other hand, MacBooks are a definite blow to your wallet, ranging from $1,000 to $1,800 for the most popular models. That’s a lot of money for the average laptop buyer. Despite the high price, the default warranty lasts only a year, as with other more affordable brands. But Apple has on multiple occasions offered free warranty extensions for common manufacturing issues, a practice other brands rarely emulate.
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Second pick: Dell
Dell’s work, particularly in the ultrabook field, has yielded an incredible new crop of ultraportable laptops that work great, have powerful specs, and don’t give up the ghost without a fight. If you need a PC for work or school and want it to last for as long as possible, Dell’s machines are a great choice.
This is especially true with its latest XPS models, which do a little of everything and do it anywhere. This includes the latest screen resolutions, connections, and software. In a recent review of ours, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 really impressed us, blending its typical reliability and somewhat flashy looks, with solid internal hardware for its price point.
Another important reason Dell gets such high marks for reliability is that Dell’s customer support is easily the best you’ll find outside of Apple. If something goes wrong, a quick customer service call with Dell is more likely to yield a solution, or at least a repair plan, than with other brands. Sometimes the most important factor in reliability isn’t the computer itself, but the company you are dealing with.
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Third pick: Asus
If you want an extra-reliable computer, but don’t want to pay too much for it, then you’ll be pleased to see that Asus also makes it on our list of the most reliable laptop brands. The company has consistently scored well in surveys, though it usually doesn’t take top marks.
While you might want to avoid some of its higher-end, gaming laptops, Asus computers tend to be sleeker and lighter than a lot of brands on the market. If you are less interested in a desktop replacement and more interested in a portable option, this is the path to follow. Asus also tends to lean toward extremes, with laptops of many varying sizes. There’s a good deal of experimentation and joint ventures in this brand, which makes it an interesting option to explore.
The downside to Asus is its customer support, which is hit-or-miss. The company receives average to below-average marks in customer service surveys we’ve seen. Web support is a particular sore spot. Navigating the Asus website can be confusing, even if the company is not the worst in this regard.
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4th pick: HP
HP has long specialized in workmanlike laptops and hybrids, designed with workplace security and basic professional features at the forefront. They haven’t had the best slate of consumer laptops in past years, with a focus on sturdy work models that weren’t very exciting, and didn’t maximize specs to compete with high-end laptops from other brands.
Recently, this has started to change. The latest HP laptop products are faster, more powerful, and easier for consumers to adopt for their personal projects. And through it all, HP has earned a reputation for reliable laptops with very competent customer services.
This is why HP is now regularly ranked 3rd or 4th when it comes to laptop brands, and continues to show favorable reliability scores with its models. There may have never been a better time to buy an HP laptop—especially if you primarily use your computer for work purposes, or if you are a business owner looking for laptops for your employees.
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Final note: Extended warranties
When it comes to repairs and malfunctions, one of the most important computer components is that warranty document. So what’s the deal with warranties today? Basically, don’t worry too much.
Extended warranties, as a general rule, exist to make extra money for companies. Buying one doesn’t tend to do much good — only about 8 percent of people who have extended warranties ever use them, according to Consumer Reports.
Additionally, the normal warranty that comes with a new machine is likely to cover around 75 percent of common repairs or problems anyway. Yes, it will suck if you don’t buy the warranty and you happen to have a problem, but, over the long haul, the extended warranty tends to cost more than it’s worth.