Laptop Tech Support Showdown! Our 2018 Ratings
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.
|Avg Call Time||Phone Number||Phone Hours (ET)||Web
|Samsung||90||55||35||5:53||800-726-7864||8 am - 12 am (M-F),
9 am - 11 pm (wkd)
|HP||75||50||25||10:00||888-698-3762||8-12 am (M-F)
9 am - 9 pm (wkd)
|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|
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.
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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.