Laptop Tech Support Showdown! Our 2017 Ratings

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tech support showdown 2017 leadNot every company offers first-class tech support for its laptops. With confusing web resources, unhelpful social media accounts and clueless phone reps, many brands put a lot of unnecessary obstacles between consumers and the help they need.

That's why, for over 10 years, Laptop Mag has published its annual Tech Support Showdown, in which we go undercover to test and grade the most popular laptop brands.

Company
Name
Overall
(100)
Web Score
(60)
Phone Score
(40)
Avg Call Time Phone Number Phone Hours (ET) Web
Support
Apple 93 56 37 6:00 800-694-7466 24/7 Link
Acer 88 50 38 8:36 866-695-2237 24/7 Link
Lenovo 86 50 36 11:57 877-453-6686 24/7 Link
Microsoft 82 48 34 21:20 800-936-3500 24/7 Link
HP 80 45 35 27:00 888-698-3762 8a-12a (M-F)
9a-9p (wkd)
Link
Dell 76 46 30 13:36 800-624-9897 24/7 Link
Razer 74 44 30 7:32 888-697-2037 12p-8p Link
Asus 72 40 32 12:00 888-678-3688 24/7 Link
Samsung 67 40 27 11:00 800-726-7864 8a-12a (M-F)
9a-11p (wkd)
Link
MSI 63 35 28 5:25 888-447-6564 8a-10p Link

 

The Winners

After we spent several weeks evaluating 10 laptop makers based on their online support and live chat, social networking resources, and phone-based help, we found that Apple earns top marks once again for its extremely knowledgeable support staff and strong web resources.

In a huge improvement over prior years, Acer leaps into second place by providing quick, helpful phone calls and highly accurate online info. Lenovo rounds out our top three with its excellent callback service and wealth of web articles.

tss 2017 bar chart v2 3071001489013936.2 3071001489013936

 

The Losers

Bringing up the rear are Asus, Samsung and MSI. Asus' live chat and website were especially disappointing. Seemingly still shell-shocked from its exploding-phone debacle, Samsung's support line kept mistaking our Notebook 7 spin for a Galaxy Note 7. And MSI's tech-support reps were shockingly unfamiliar with their company's products.

 

#1. Apple (93/100)

Web Support: support.apple.com
Phone Number: (800) 694-7466 (24/7)

tss 2017 report card apple 3071001489012186

Key Takeaways: Apple offers the best tech support in the business, year after year. The company's website and mobile app are loaded with helpful, step-by-step tutorials and, whether you reach them via phone or live chat, support reps are knowledgeable and friendly. Apple also answered Twitter messages quickly and accurately.

Apple Tech Support 2017 Report Card

 

#2. Acer (88/100)

Web Support: acer.com/ac/en/US/content/support
Phone Number: (866) 695-2237 (24/7)

tss 2017 report card acer 3071001489012130

Key Takeaways: The best Windows vendor for laptop support this year, Acer offers a useful live chat feature and an extremely helpful, easy-to-use website with lots of articles you can use to help yourself. Company reps nailed the answers to our questions on all three phone calls, which averaged less than 9 minutes.

Acer Tech Support 2017 Report Card

 

#3. Lenovo (86/100)

Web Support: support.lenovo.com
Phone Number: (877) 453-6686 (24/7)

tss 2017 report card lenovo 3071001489012290

Key Takeaways: Lenovo's callback service, in which you register online and a rep calls you back right away, is extremely quick and helpful. The company has a wealth of online resources, but it can be challenging to find the page which solves your problem.

Lenovo Tech Support 2017 Report Card

 

#4. Microsoft (82/100)

Web Support: support.microsoft.com
Phone Number: (800) 936-3500 (24/7)

tss 2017 report card microsoft 3071001489012478

Key Takeaways: Microsoft's support site has a lot of helpful information, and the live chat and Twitter responses were quite helpful. Phone support was mostly good, but one confused rep changed a whole bunch of unrelated settings on our laptop.

Microsoft Tech Support 2017 Report Card

 

#5. HP (80/100)

Web Support: support.hp.com
Phone Number: (888-698-3762 (8 am - 12 am Mon-Fri, 9 am - 9 pm weekend)

tss 2017 report card hp 3071001489012523

Key Takeaways: HP's website features a bevy of resources, including a very useful live chat. The company also provided speedy answers to our Twitter query, though the HP account initially sent us outdated instructions from 2011. One phone rep tried to sell us antivirus software after answering our query.

HP Tech Support 2017 Report Card

 

#6. Dell (76/100)

Web Support: dell.com/support/home
Phone Number: (800) 624-9897 (8 am - 12 am ET Mon-Fri, 9 am - 11 pm weekend)

tss 2017 report card dell 3071001489014035

Key Takeaways: Dell's site has a rich set of Windows tips, how-tos, FAQs and diagnostics, though the company's automated "interactive support agent" wasn't much help. Two out of three agents didn't even know about the built-in Waves MaxxAudio app that comes on most Dell laptops.

Dell Tech Support 2017 Report Card

 

#7. Razer (74/100)

Web Support: razersupport.com/gaming-systems
Phone Number: (888) 697-2037 (12 pm - 8 pm ET)

tss 2017 report card razer 3071001489014096

Key Takeaways: Razer's website has some useful FAQs, but offers less information than most competitors; it's also sorely missing a forum. Phone calls were fairly quick, but on one call, the rep kept giving us instructions for the wrong laptop.

Razer Tech Support 2017 Report Card

 

#8. Asus (72/100)

Web Support: asus.com/us/support
Phone Number: (888) 678-3688 (24/7)

tss 2017 report card asus 3071001489014179

Key Takeaways: Asus' live-chat and phone-support agents often steered us wrong (example: changing the video drivers to answer our question about disabling passwords after wake from sleep). On one call, we were even exposed to 15 minutes of odd noise before being disconnected.

Asus Tech Support 2017 Report Card

 

#9. Samsung (67/100)

Web Support: samsung.com/us/support/computing/windows-laptops
Phone Number: (800-726-7864 (8 am - 12 pm ET Mon-Fri, 9 am - 11 pm weekends)

TSS_2017_report_card_SAMSUNG

Key Takeaways: When we called Samsung's phone line, we kept getting routed to smartphone support, even though we asked for help with our laptop. When we finally reached the right people, two out of three answers were wrong, with reps unable to understand the company's own software.

Samsung Tech Support 2017 Report Card

 

#10. MSI (63/100)

Web Support: us.msi.com/support
Phone Number: (888) 447-6564 (8 am - 10 pm ET)

tss 2017 report card msi 3071001489014407

Key Takeaways: Peppered with broken English, MSI's support form asks for highly technical information, including your current BIOS version, before you can get an answer. Support calls were blissfully short, usually because the reps weren't familiar enough with MSI's products and gave poor answers.

MSI Tech Support 2017 Report Card

 

How We Rate and Test

To see how well laptop makers support their products, we went undercover, posing as everyday users, and tried to answer three questions. We used both the online and telephone support systems of the top 10 manufacturers (because it stopped making consumer laptops, Toshiba missed the cut).

For each brand, except for Apple, which has its own OS, we asked one common question about how to stop the computer from going to sleep and then requesting a password upon wake-up. All the other questions were customized for the brands and the consumer laptops we chose for testing.

We initiated three phone sessions for each brand, asking one question per session. We also used each company's web resources, including articles, forums and live chat, to find answers. We attempted to contact the companies via both Facebook and Twitter. If a company offered a mobile app for support, we tried that also.

Each brand received a score out of 100, of which 60 points rate the company's online support — web, social, apps and forums — and the other 40 points score the brand's phone-based support. We gave online support more weight, because it's a more popular way to get help and is most people's first stop.

 

Tech Support Showdown

Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
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28 comments
  • Goosed by Asus Says:

    If Asus are rated 8 I would hate to be dealing with 9 & 10.
    Bought Asus UX360 (Ser NoH10WU07043502D) for me and Asus A540L (Ser No G4N0CX15K388178) for business. “The Worlds Most Prestigous Laptop” UX360 didn’t work at all. Took 2 emails and 3 days for them to reply. Nothing about the symptoms I described, no suggestions on how to get it started, just an offer to REPAIR unit.
    I knew I was entitled to a REPLACEMENT, I did not trust to send it back to them, I arranged to get it sent to a relative to take to the nearest service centre 400klm away. They would not replace it and I don’t know why. If I want it replaced I had to take it back to where I bought it. This is not convenient as I did not purchase it locally and is now at my relatives 400klm away In the meantime the AsusA540L which I had been using as a UX360 replacement we found has a faulty audio output and only plays to one speaker . They do not answer emails they only answer negative posts on facebook. I was allotted a case manager 4 days ago, through facebook. He still hasn,t and I still have one dead and one faulty new Asus Laptops

  • Justin Craig Says:

    I agree totally with what John fox had to say about DEll and HP. Business sides have always been better than most - never a problem in well over a decade.
    While, to quote him, "The consumer versions of these two companies are not even worth talking about seriously." Exactly my findings for the same time period.

  • John Fox Says:

    In addition, Apple support may fix the problem, but it takes weeks to get an appointment to have an item looked at in the local store,so I cannot understand the high marks for that company.

  • John fox Says:

    I was disappointment by the review because with both Dell and HP you put all the support into one basket. Both Dell and HP business divisions have support that has never disappointed me with speed, accuracy,and insight. of course the consumer versions of these two companies are not even worth talking about seriously. But putting them together is misleading. A better comparison should be the business division of those companies, with companies which sell other higher level/business machines. Acer would fit into the same mold, the consumer support has been less than stellar, while the business machines have much better support in my experience.

  • Paul Snyder Says:

    I am a fan of Apple support and have always given them 10's on surveys. However I just had my first bad Genius Bar experience. The checkin person and the tech both tried to convince me that a clearly malfunctioning home button after cracked screen repair was within acceptable limits - in fact it was not even close. They basically refused an AppleCare+ repair and sent me on my way. I hope this was an isolated event and not the result of cost reduction policies. I am now waiting for a response to a letter I sent to Cupertino.

  • rkbj495 Says:

    impressive callback from lenovo

  • Jim C. Says:

    I noticed you didn't rate Gateway. If you had it would have been at the bottom- if anyone else had the AWFUL experience I had. The make and sell flimsy JUNK that overheats and breaks. They don't honor their three year, onsite business warranties. They don't update their BIOS, drivers, etc. when Microsoft updates break the cooling. They don't warranty batteries, and when they fail during the laptop's warranty period, you will discover that they have none to sell you. You winds up with a $2600 boat anchor. I could go on and on..

  • rolfe Says:

    This is the Best section in LaptogMag.
    I realized that the best decision in buying electronics is checking Tech support first! Marketing and price are useless if their tech support play misserable on you when you have a problem later.

    Tech support quality is my first deal breaker when buying a laptop. Thanks!

  • John Ohannessian Says:

    Here is my experience with Lenovo. Very true that they will call you as soon as you hit the online call me back submit button, very impressive. The tech support reps who are in the Philippines are very pleasant, very helpful and right on the money in helping me with my defective but new laptop. They shipped me a box with FedEx return label quickly and after they received my laptop they identified my laptop's hardware issues the same day. I am quite impressed with Lenovo and feel that I am in good hands.

  • omegatalon Says:

    Hewlett Packard is pretty awful especially in that they refused to allow me to send my notebook in for service despite being on an Extended Accidental Warranty; I had to threaten to have my credit card company charge them with fraud before they took the computer for service.

  • Samuel Yuok Says:

    I aggreed about ASUS one of the worst. Their Zen phone should not be in the US market !!!

  • carla Says:

    what happened with TOSHIBA? why is not in the ratings?

  • marcus Says:

    Thank you for this very informative article. I'm currently deciding between the Dell XPS 15 Kaby Lake 4K and the Apple Macbook Pro 15. I have had past Dell support issues, I think consumers named it "Dell Hell" couple years back when calls were routed to non-US support centers. Fortunately I had only 1 incidence of that happening with an ALienware M15x(keyboard issue) around 2009. I agree that Apple does a tremendously excellent job on customer support. The ease of chatting with English speaking customer service reps and ability to take the notebook to an Apple Store is a bonus. This article def helps me lean towards Apple.

  • Amanda Fairchild Says:

    Need laptop only for emails, perusing web and some word processing. Will laptop with 2 GB suffice?
    Thank you.

  • Wayne Hughes Says:

    Great Article; The information provided about tech support will definitely help me decide on my next PC. Now if you could just tell us what portion of the tech support was US based that would be great.

  • Joss W. Says:

    DELL is 7th, but are so bad they shouldn't have made the list!

  • vijaya sunkara Says:

    Can you please let me know when a similar tech support review report for 2016 will be available?

  • Iqbal quresh Says:

    Hello,
    I m searching for a good budget laptop.. i wil b a loght user nt much work. As m college student i may play some games though nt often. Please suggest me 1 asap. I hv to order in 1/2 days. N lastly, which 1 is bettr between AMD A8 processor n intel core i3(5th gen)?

  • John R. Says:

    I've personally dealt with HP, Apple, and Dell...and a few others no longer in the market. I have to say I fully agree that Apple is hands-down the best I've ever dealt with!

  • Pushpendra sharma Says:

    Hi, i want to buy a laptop in range of 20000 to 25000. Please any body can suggest which is best laptop in this price . I am not known about its features plz suggest which company which model will good in this price . Only my normal personal use.

  • Jim Beaman Says:

    I ordered & received a Dell lap top for my wife for Christmas. The box came sealed, so I figured everything was ok. When she opened the box Christmas morning There was no power cord supplied with the lap top! What do you do about that?

  • HeyBuddy UpYours Says:

    Why is it that MSI has a 5 minute phone wait time ranked 10th, yet other companies have much longer waits, such as Dell ranked 7th at 40 minutes, Lenogo ranked 5th at 27 minutes, & HP ranked 4th at 33:18. Is our time valued so little that we must dig through forums & websites in hopes to figure out what's wrong with our computer, assuming it even works when we need it? LaptopMag, you need to get your priorities in order.

  • kevon Says:

    I don't think this website is a creditable source for reviews and guiding customers in purchasing a laptop that is durable and supportive. I have read the review and it is bias these reviews seem to dislike some manufacture. And we as the backbone (users)this website need to ensure that a stop is put to this situation

  • Paul v Says:

    I wish I had read your article before I bought a Toshiba laptop. Can't get internet connected so can not access online tututorials. Phone support barely speak English and still not able to resolve issue.

  • Rukidding Says:

    LOL That's rigged for sure, seems someone wanted a free apple mac!

  • joyce howard Says:

    my desktop is less than 2 yr,s old , it stoped working. ipurchased a recovery usb as advised it did not budge, tech support could not help,

  • Anna Attkisson, Laptop Mag & Tom's Guide Managing Editor Says:

    We make 3 separate calls at different times of day.

  • Jessica Fritsche Says:

    I was wondering how many times you call each company to get these averages. Thanks!

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