Laptop Tech Support Showdown! Our 2018 Ratings

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When you're shopping for a new laptop, you need to consider many characteristics of the device things, like the performance, battery life, display and design. However, the quality of tech support you'll receive from the manufacturer should also be a factor.


The level of customer service you'll get doesn't appear on a spec sheet, but it matters a lot when you're trying to get a report done for the next day and your touchpad just stopped working. That's why, for more than a decade, Laptop Mag has published our Tech Support Showdown, in which we go undercover to test and grade the 10 leading laptop brands.

Company
Name
Overall
(100)
Web Score
(60)
Phone Score
(40)
Avg Call Time Phone Number Phone Hours (ET) Web
Support
Apple 93/100 58/60 35/40 10:40 800-694-7466 24/7 Link
Dell 90 52 38 46:06 800-624-9897 24/7 Link
Samsung 90 55 35 5:53 800-726-7864 8 am - 12 am (M-F),
9 am - 11 pm (wkd)
Link
Asus 79 45 34 14:29 888-678-3688 24/7 Link
HP 75 50 25 10:00 888-698-3762 8-12 am (M-F)
9 am - 9 pm (wkd)
Link
Lenovo 70 50 20 20:36 877-453-6686 24/7 Link
Acer 70 45 20 9:38 866-695-2237 24/7 Link
Microsoft 69 41 28 11:45 800-642-7676 24/7 Link
Razer 65 50 15 10:20 888-697-2037 12 pm - 8 pm Link
MSI 45 10 35 5:27 888-447-6564 5 am - 4 am Link

 

The Winners

Apple has long been the leader in tech support, and the company continued to dominate in 2018. After we spent several weeks trying out each company's phone support, combing through its web resources and sending queries via social media, we put Apple in first place because of its extremely knowledgeable staff and intuitive website.

Both Dell and Samsung improved dramatically over 2017 and jumped into a tie for second place. Dell impressed us with phone-support agents who went the extra mile, while Samsung was extremely quick and accurate in its answers.

 

The Losers

MSI brought up the rear, due to a really poor web support experience. Razer placed second to last, because its phone-support line was completely broken for at least two days. Here are the complete rankings, from best to worst.

 

#1: Apple (93/100)

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


Key takeaways:
With great phone support, well-organized web resources, a helpful mobile app and speedy Twitter replies, Apple is the leader in laptop customer service. The company could get closer to a perfect score if it offered support via Facebook and its registration form didn't have a temporary tech issue during part of our testing.

Apple Tech Support 2018 Report Card

 

#2 (Tie): Dell (90/100)

Web support: dell.com/support/home
Phone number: (800) 624-9896


Key takeaways:
Dell stepped up its phone support and live chat in a big way, as support agents now develop offer their direct email addresses and make themselves available for follow-up. The company's web resources are good and its social team is responsive, but aggressive about asking for your notebook's service tag.

Dell Tech Support 2018 Report Card

 

#2 (Tie): Samsung (90/100)

Web support: samsung.com/us/support/computing/
Phone number: 1-800-SAMSUNG (1-800-726-7864)


Key takeaways:
On the strength of its speedy, accurate phone support and good web resources, Samsung jumped up into a tie for second place after finishing near the bottom last year. There's even a support app for live chat. The company could improve by providing phone support 24 hours a day.

Samsung Tech Support 2018 Report Card

 

#4: Asus (79/100)

Web support: asus.com/us/support
Phone number: (888) 678-3688


Key takeaways:
Asus' phone reps are helpful, accurate and friendly, and its live chat is also great. However, the company's website is difficult to navigate, and its social media team, while accurate, is a little slow to respond.

Asus Tech Support 2018 Report Card

 

#5: HP (75/100)

Web support: support.hp.com
Phone number: 800-HP-INVENT (800-474-6836)


Key takeaways:
HP offers a well-organized set of web resources and speedy responses from Twitter and Facebook. However, support reps failed to answer questions about some of the company's first-party software and didn't seem to fully understand the Spectre/Meltdown vulnerability.

HP Tech Support 2018 Report Card

 

#6 (Tie): Lenovo (70/100)

Web support: support.lenovo.com
Phone number: (877) 453-6686


Key takeaways:
After finishing near the top last year, Lenovo dropped down significantly because of weak phone support. Of the three calls we made, none provided a complete solution to our problems. The company's Twitter account also ignored one of our questions.

Lenovo Tech Support 2018 Report Card

 

#6 (Tie): Acer (70/100)

Web support: acer.com/ac/en/US/content/support
Phone number: (866) 695-2237


Key takeaways:
Support reps were friendly but fumbled on two of our three questions. The company also took a really long time to respond to social media queries.

Acer Tech Support 2018 Report Card

 

#8: Microsoft (69/100)

Web support: support.microsoft.com/en-us
Phone number: (800) 642-7676


Key takeaways:
Both Microsoft's virtual agent and its human phone-support reps made significant errors. However, the company's social media response and web resources were strong.

Microsoft Tech Support 2018 Report Card

 

#9: Razer (65/100)

Web support: support.razerzone.com
Phone number: (855) 872-5233


Key takeaways:
Razer's web support is decent, but the phone system is unreliable. At the start of our test period, the company's phone-support system was offline for at least two days and only started working again after we emailed our PR contact. The company claims the problem was the result of a planned upgrade, but customers weren't notified; we were put on hold for 30 minutes and then got hung up on.

Razer Tech Support 2018 Report Card

 

#10: MSI (45/100)

Web support: us.msi.com/support
Phone number: (888) 447-6564


Key takeaways:
MSI's web-based support is, by far, the worst of any company we tested. It has a difficult registration process and a website that's extremely difficult to navigate. The company did not respond to any social media questions. However, its phone support was decent.

MSI Tech Support 2018 Report Card

 

How We Rate and Test Tech Support

To see how well laptop-makers support their products, we went undercover, posing as everyday users, and tried to get answers to three questions. We used both the online and telephone support systems of the top 10 laptop manufacturers.

For each brand, we asked about how to protect against the Spectre / Meltdown security vulnerability. On all brands except Apple, we also asked about how to make the computer respond to "Hey, Cortana." (Cortana is Microsoft's virtual assistant, which is available only on Windows computers.) Our third question was custom 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 received a score out of 100. Sixty of those 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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37 comments
  • John O'Hora Says:

    I use a JBL Extreme to listen to my music in my car. I have a large CD collection most of which are on MP3 files in my MS Music Player.
    I don't see why I should have to be on Spotify Premium to play my music offline so wondering is it possible to transfer my playlist to this device and then with the help of Bluetooth on my speaker? I. E. What device's are there out there where one can listen to music they have already purchased on a Bluetooth speaker without having to pay a second time?

  • never Says:

    Microsoft support for customers and business customers is completely bad. Over the years I've seen it get worse and worse. If you want proof, just check out what they did with the Surface 4 and the pro: https://flickergate.com/_pro_interinter_inter.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Surface/comments/7of68m/surface_pro_intermittent_pen_accuracy_when_hand/ds915xp/

    Now one should think that this concerns only the end customers. Wrong! Even business customers with Office 365 experience an incompetence from a global company that has never existed before. With Microsoft Dynamics, corporate customers are exposed to their problems without support.

  • Jeff Thompson Says:

    I'd like to add to the comments that Dell seems to support its business customers well, but on the consumer side I would not recommend them for your business.

  • Quinn Says:

    You’re dead wrong. I’ve spoken specifically to Microsoft and Apple support, and can vouch for their quality. Apple is exceptional, I’ve needed service many times and they always handle it smoothly. Microsoft is pretty good but the quality is lesser. Dell is what I want to talk about. You put them at second and that’s absurd. Their service is 100% awful. I attempted to buy 2 separate products from them an their archaic website and transaction system is so backwards that I encountered more problems along the way than I ever should have expected. I called multiple times to reassure that my product had been processsed and that the purchase was successful and they told me it was. It’s too bad that the purchase never actually processed. They’re so primitive that they won’t even let me give them money. Dell is just about the worst company I’ve ever dealt with, never had problems this stupid and easy to solve with idiots so cripplingly unable to do anything to help.

  • Bob Bush Says:

    I've lived for 24 hours in Dell Hell. Their consumer support is handled by a non US support center. I asked to be transferred to an office in the United States and was refused. I had received an email asking me to call them as the tech repairing my laptop wanted to speak with me. Customer service could only send him an email and said they couldn't give me a number to call in the United States. The lengthened the repair process by another day. I could have driven to Dell Headquarters in less time than it took for the return call. I see no reason to buy American if an American company won't let me talk to someone in America, since the work is being done in America. I've bought things from people in other counties and have been treated far better than I've been treated by Dell. After this experience it is more likely than not that a won't by another Dell. I had even paid for premium service.

  • Mark Wood Says:

    Thanks to share information about Laptop tech support for multiple brands. I think Dell and HP provide the best laptop support to all users in the world.

  • Steve Davis Says:

    Neal Flanagan's comment regarding hardware support, and lenovo in partcular, is perfectly accurate. A new Lenovo Miix 700 failed exactly
    60 days, to the minute, after the order was placed on thier website. It just died. 60 days exactly, it shipped from China. Lenovo took over
    6 months to issue a refund, a paper check. 6 months. Ratings for telephone support are meaningless, everything is already documented anyway, the important question is warranty support for hardware failures.

  • James firlding Says:

    Never buy an hp product
    The service is Non existent.
    They are a bunch of cowboys.
    Be warned!

  • Neal Flanagan Says:

    You utter neglect warranty repairs in your review. My experience with Lenovo was terrible for the business laptop I rely upon for daily productivity. Despite purchasing an upgraded Onsite Next Business Day warranty with Accident Protection, I was forced to mail my laptop in to a repair depot and I was without my laptop for over a month. This was for a cracked screen on a Thinkpad X1 Yoga and the part is listed as an FRU or Field Replaceable Unit. Lenovo does not value the time of it's customers. My case is not isolated. Read the Lenovo Community forums under general topics before purchasing a Lenovo product.

  • 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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