What good is a great laptop if you'll have to spend hours on the phone troubleshooting every time you have a problem with it? Having access to quality tech support is just as important as the actual specs inside your notebook, though it's not always easy to tell which PC makers deliver fast, efficient customer service.
That's why, for more than a decade, we've gone undercover as everyday shoppers to test the phone, social media and web support that's provided by the leading laptop manufacturers. Here are tech support's biggest winners and losers for 2019.
|CompanyName||Overall(100)||Web Score(60)||Phone Score(40)||Avg Call Time||Phone Number||Phone Hours (ET)||WebSupport|
|Razer||88||58||30||13:27||855-872-5233||9 am - 6 pm PST, 7 days a week||Link|
|Samsung||73||43||30||13:00||800-726-7864||8 am - 12 am (M-F),9 am - 11 pm (wkd)||Link|
|Asus||69||54||15||5:11||888-678-3688||6 am - 9 pm PST, 7 days a week||Link|
|HP||65||40||25||17:42||888-698-3762||8 am - 12 am (M-F),9 am - 9 pm (wkd)||Link|
|MSI||30||10||20||9:35||888-447-6564||8 am - 7 am (M-F)||Link|
Apple has dominated the top spot in our rankings for the past few years, and that hasn't changed for 2019. The Cupertino company's tech support agents continue to be among the fastest and most knowledgeable in the business, delivering accurate answers to our Mac questions across live chat, social media and over the phone.
The other big story this year was the rise of Razer. The gaming laptop brand climbed from second to last in 2018 to second place in 2019, going from offering zero phone support last year to presenting us with knowledgeable, thorough agents this year. And despite slipping a bit on the phone front, Dell retained its usual top three ranking with a third-place finish.
MSI maintained its dead-last spot, due to its frustrating (though slightly improved) web experience and nonresponsive social accounts. Lenovo dropped to second to last by failing to correctly answer any of our phone questions. Huawei debuted on our list this year because of its string of excellent laptop releases, though its tech support was just a bit too lacking to keep it out of the bottom three.
Here are our full rankings, from best to worst.
1. Apple (91/100)
Web support: https://support.apple.com/
Phone number: 1-800-275-2273
Key takeaways: Whether you're seeking help with your MacBook on Twitter, via live chat or over the phone, Apple's tech support agents are consistently speedy, knowledgeable and friendly. We just wish that the tech giant would offer troubleshooting support over Facebook.
2. Razer (88/100)
Web support: https://support.razer.com/
Phone number: 1-855-872-5233
Key takeaways: Razer made the biggest leap of any manufacturer during this year's showdown. After being unable to offer phone support in 2018 because of a call-center switch, the gaming brand bounced back in a big way with phone agents who offered quick, useful support, complete with follow-up emails. The company's live chat, social media presence and smart use of Reddit for tech support also earned it big points.
3. Dell (78/100)
Web support: https://www.dell.com/support/home/US/en/19/
Phone number: 1-800-624-9897
Key takeaways: While Dell's score slipped a bit from last year, due to some inconsistent phone performance, the PC maker's timely, thorough social media and web support kept it near the top of our rankings.
4. Samsung (73/100)
Web support: https://www.samsung.com/us/support/
Phone number: 1-800-726-7864
Key takeaways: Samsung's social media accounts are the real stars of its tech support suite: They directed us to handy, easy-to-follow instructions whenever we asked questions over Facebook and Twitter. The company's phone support was a mixed bag, however, alternating between speedy, useful service and drawn-out calls that didn't quite solve our problems.
5. Asus (69/100)
Web support: https://www.asus.com/support/
Phone number: 1-888-678-3688
Key takeaways: Asus stood out with a much-improved support website that provides access to helpful live chat agents. However, the company lost a good chunk of points because of its delivery of too many incorrect answers over the phone.
6. Acer (68/100)
Web support: https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/support
Phone number: 1-866-695-2237
Key takeaways: Acer stepped up its phone support in a big way this year: Its friendly agents correctly answered all of our questions without keeping us on the phone for more than 10 minutes at a time. However, the company's social media and live chat offerings could use some serious improvement.
7. HP (65/100)
Web support: https://support.hp.com/us-en
Phone number: 1-888-698-3762
Key takeaways: HP's tech support proved to be very mixed this year. We received fast, helpful answers on social media, but only got correct answers over the phone about half of the time. We also had a drawn-out remote access session with HP that didn't result in a successful resolution.
8. Microsoft (64/100)
Web support: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us
Phone number: 1-866-695-2237
Key takeaways: Microsoft's support website is more robust than ever, and its social media agents offer speedy responses. However, the company's phone agents could use some brushing up on Microsoft's own products.
9. Huawei (63/100)
Web support: https://consumer.huawei.com/us/support/
Phone number: 1-888-548-2934
Key takeaways: Huawei has become a force in the laptop space that's too big to ignore for this year's showdown, and the company's tech support offerings are decent, given how relatively new it is to computing. However, Huawei's customer service was a bit all over the place, and we got too many wrong answers across both the web and over the phone to give the brand a solid recommendation.
10. Lenovo (55/100)
Web support: https://support.lenovo.com/us/en/
Phone number: 1-877-453-6686
Key takeaways: Lenovo once again landed in the bottom half of our rankings this year. While the company offers a handy support website, its agents failed to correctly answer any of our phone questions, and they were very slow to respond to us on social media.
11. MSI (30/100)
Web Support: https://us.msi.com/support/
Phone number: 1-888-447-6564
Key takeaways: MSI continues to come in dead last in our annual tech support rankings, due to a difficult-to-parse support website and a nonresponsive Twitter account. The company's phone support proved even worse than last year: We got only one out of three correct answers when we called.
How We Rate and Test Tech Support
To see how well laptop makers support their products, we went undercover, posing as everyday users, and we tried to get answers to three questions. We used both the online and telephone support systems of the top 11 laptop manufacturers.
For each brand, we asked how to disable forced system updates as well as how to turn off our laptop's webcam. Our third question was customized for each manufacturer.
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 also tried that.
Each brand's overall score was based on 100. Sixty of those points rated the company's online support — web, social, apps and forums — and the other 40 points scored the brand's phone-based support. We gave online support more weight, because it's a more popular way to get help and is the first stop for most people.
Tech Support Showdown