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Most reliable laptop brands

By Michael Passingham

Unique Which? reliability data can help you to choose a laptop brand that lasts. We ask owners of Apple, Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft laptops how satisfied they are, and find out which brands develop the fewest faults over time.

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In this article:

Battery problems and hard-disk failure are the most common laptop problems, according to our survey of more than 5,500 laptop owners in the UK. Alarmingly, nearly 6% of our respondents said their laptop stopped working completely, and they had no idea what caused it.

You might expect that paying more for a laptop will get you a more reliable product. Our data has found that there are some brands where paying more makes a significant difference, but others where your extra cash hasn’t gone towards preventing faults.

Each year we send out our unique reliability survey, asking thousands of Which? members to tell us whether they are happy, or have experienced problems, with their computing products.

Our survey data takes into account the reported fault rates, severity of these faults, and the speed with which they occurred. In our latest analysis we've looked at the performance of the biggest laptop manufacturers – including Apple, Asus, Acer, Dell and HP – and have calculated a reliability rating for each.

 Best vs worst laptop brands compared

As you can see, there's a big difference between the most and least reliable laptop brands, and the satisfaction score reported by customers. 

 The most reliable laptop brands

The table below summarises this year’s reliability results. Brands are ranked by their customer score, which relates to whether their customers would recommend it. The more stars for reliability, the fewer the problems reported.

Only logged-in Which? members can view which brands achieved the ratings and verdicts in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Brand Reliability rating Reliability score Customer satisfaction score
81% 88%
66% 78%
66% 69%
74% 68%
67% 67%
68% 65%
68% 64%
Table notes
The above data is based on a survey conducted on 5,699 Which? members June-July 2018.

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Member Content

 Common laptop problems

By far and away the most common problem people experience with their laptops is a severe drop in battery performance over a very short space of time. Of course, batteries only have a limited lifespan, but we would still expect them to have a gradual reduction in performance. 23% of reported faults were battery-related. 20% were screen issues, with dead pixels and flickering panels commonly cited.

Hard disk faults were also common, with 7% of faults being with the laptop's storage device. We’d recommend choosing a new laptop with a solid-state drive (SSD) as these are more reliable than hard disks, because they have no moving parts.

Owners of laptops from our worst-rated manufacturer reported that more than one in three of their devices experienced a problem within just five years of ownership.

We think laptops should last at least five years without developing a fault, and you should expect no major faults in the first year of ownership. Our data tells a different story.

The table above a marked difference between the very best and the worst laptop manufacturers for reliability. Indeed, only 2% of laptops from our top brand developed even a minor fault in its first year, the worst performer saw faults in 16% of devices within a year.

What’s interesting – and is a clear example of false economy – is that cheaper laptops from some brands are more likely to fail than others. But this wasn’t true in all cases, some brands actually had identical reliability figures no matter the price of the laptop.

 Which laptop brand stays fault free for longest?

The graph above shows how the brand that stays fault-free for longest compares with the worst brand, as well as the overall average. Which? members can see how brands compare for faults over a five-year period in the table below.


Only logged-in Which? members can view which brands achieved the ratings and verdicts in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access. 

Brand name % fault-free after one year % fault-free after five years
94%  76%
96% 87%
95% 83%
93% 76%
91% 77%
90% 77%
92% 83%
Table notes
Results based on feedback from more than 5,699 laptop owners, surveyed in June/July 2018.

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Member Content

How we measure faults and reliability in laptops

The table data takes into account minor, major and catastrophic faults (see below).

  • Minor A fault that doesn't affect the product's performance significantly or a fault that only occurs occasionally with minimal impact. This issue may be irritating or annoying but it isn't frequently problematic and you can easily work around it. For example, a dip in sound quality or performance.
  • Major A fault that has a noticeable effect on the product’s performance. This fault affects how you use the product and can be problematic. For example, a faulty screen or broken USB ports.
  • Catastrophic A fault that renders the product unusable, with the fault needing to be repaired or parts replaced before it can be used again. For example, the laptop might get stuck in an update loop or stop turning on.

 Laptop brands rated

Choose a brand from the list below to find out more detail about its performance in our survey.

Apple MacBooks overview table
Number tested in the past three years 7
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 1 October 2018). The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2018 of 1,180 Apple laptop owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 10 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Apple MacBooks score for reliability, and how Apple fares against rival laptop brands like Dell, Acer and Lenovo.
  • Find out what the most common problems people have with their MacBooks are, such as hard disk failures and battery issues.
  • We reveal how loyal Apple laptop owners are, and how likely they are to buy another in the future.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Acer laptops overview table
Number tested in the past three years 59
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 1 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2018 of 666 Acer laptop owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 10 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Acer has some of the cheapest laptops around, so how does its reliability fare up against other well-known budget brands such as Lenovo and HP? Our data reveals all.
  • Find out what the most common problems with Acer laptops are, whether it’s a hard drive problem or the computer rebooting constantly, we have the numbers.
  • See whether Acer customers are likely to buy another Acer laptop with our customer loyalty score.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Asus laptops overview table
Number tested in the past three years 57
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 1 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2018 of 376 Asus laptop owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 10 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Asus score for reliability, and how Apple fares against rival laptop brands like Dell, Acer and Lenovo.
  • Discover the most common issues found with Asus laptops as users report on a range of faults, including battery, keyboard and mouse issues.
  • See how Which? members see Asus and whether they'd recommend friends and family to buy a laptop from this brand.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Dell laptops overview table
Number tested in the past three years 37
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 1 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2018 of 654 Dell laptop owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 10 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Our data reveals how Dell’s Inspiron and XPS laptops fare against rivals from the likes of Lenovo and Asus
  • Find out the problems Dell owners see the most, and whether spending more will get you a more reliable laptop.
  • See how many Dell owners decided to buy another Dell machine when the time came to replace their laptop.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
HP laptops overview table
Number tested in the past three years 79
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 1 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2018 of 686  Lenovo laptop owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 10 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • See where HP ranks among other laptop manufacturers when it comes to reliability.
  • Find out whether there are any problems specific to HP laptops that customers experience more often, be it battery, hard disk or other issues.
  • Discover how likely HP laptop owners are to buy from the company again in the future, and whether they’d recommend the brand.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Lenovo laptops overview table
Number tested in the past three years 69
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 04 October 2017) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2017 of 3,783 smartphone owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 04 October 2017.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Lenovo IdeaPads score for reliability, and how Lenovo fares against similar competitors such as Dell and Asus.
  • Discover the most common problems found on Lenovo laptops, as users report on a range of faults including battery problems, display issues and hardware failures.
  • Find out Lenovo’s overall customer score, and how likely customers are to buy another laptop from the same brand in the future.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Microsoft Surface laptops overview table
Number tested in the past three years 3
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 1 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2018 of 86 Microsoft Surface Book and Laptop owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 10 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Microsoft Surface devices score for reliability, to see whether the firm can beat popular Apple MacBooks
  • Are Surfaces unreliable? Our survey data reveals any notable problems that customers see more frequently.
  • Find out how many Which? members would recommend Microsoft laptops to friends and family.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.

 How we calculate the best and worst brands

Which? has a wealth of information on Britain's favourite computing brands. Every year we ask Which? members to tell us about the technology products they own - from how likely they would be to recommend a brand, to how reliable the products are once they get them home. This year nearly 10,000 Which? members told us about more than 20,000 devices. We calculate a brand's reliability and its customer score based on the results of our annual survey.

Our reliability surveys, combined with our extensive lab tests, mean we can recommend the best laptops you should buy.

This data is crucial for our testing, too. If a brand falls far below the category average, we take away the manufacturer’s Best Buy status and won’t recommend any of their products unless a marked improvement in reliability is shown.

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