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,
The current editor-in-chief of our sister site, Tom's Hardware, Avram served as editorial director of Laptop from 2007 to 2018. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of our real-world benchmarks, including the Laptop Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, on