For every student working on a class project, creative professional making their next masterpiece or businessperson putting the finishing touches on an important presentation, there’s a laptop to match their needs and budget. However, many shoppers have brand affinities that might keep them from venturing beyond the rivers and the lakes that they’re used to. It’s the reason we see a certain brand of laptop occupying so many coffee shops.
But just how good is your favorite brand? The Laptop Mag staff put the top brands to the test every year, evaluating each brand and the laptops we’ve reviewed during a designated time period (May 15, 2019 to May 15, 2020). The brands and their eligible laptops are judged using several important criteria: Reviews, Design, Support & Warranty, Innovation and Value & Selection. The scores are tallied and a winner is determined.
This year finds Asus as our best brand. Throughout the year, the laptop OEM consistently produced systems that were equal parts powerful, beautiful and innovative. Plus, the company has a robust offering of laptops from Chromebooks to gaming systems. It’s only weak spot was its showing in the Tech Support Showdown, but even that wasn’t enough to keep the company from the top spot.
Read on to learn how your favorite brand ranked this year.
1. Asus (88/100)
Asus has finally risen to the top to claim the crown. After years of pushing innovative and risky features packed in the most glorious designs we’ve seen, it all finally paid off. The company practically willed products with dual-screen displays and super powerful detachable gaming machines into existence.
2. Dell (85/100)
Groundbreaking — that’s the word that comes to mind when we think of Dell. The Texas-based tech giant pioneered the four-sided, bezel-free display with its popular XPS line-up. It’s that eye for innovation that helped propel Dell into second place, and could potentially catapult the company into the top spot.
3. HP (82/100)
The winner of our 2019 report, HP dropped a few spots this year after disappointing in our Tech Support Showdown. HP sells some of the best laptops across multiple categories -- premium, business and gaming -- but poor budget options weigh down its review scores.
4. MSI (78/100)
MSI not only dug itself out of the double digits this year but it fully propelled itself into the top 5 best laptop brands. The company not only improved its gaming laptops, but also expanded its selection and reconfigured the design of its core flagship laptops.
5. Lenovo (77/100)
Lenovo maintained its 5th place spot this year thanks to a wide selection of options and a handful of reliable products - most notably its ThinkPad line of laptops. Somehow, the company managed to improve upon the performance of what was already the best business laptop you can buy. But going too light on the innovation kept the company from rising higher in the ranks.
6. Acer (76/100)
Acer proved itself as a giant slayer this year, pummeling some top-dollar workstations in overall performance thanks to powerful specs.. However, the company couldn’t escape the sixth place spot due toTaiwan-based tech giant was dragged down by a series of mediocre product offerings.
6. Razer (76/100)
This year’s Best and Worst Brands report finds Razer once again in a tie for sixth place. But not for long. The company continues to create gorgeous laptops sporting plenty of power. Razer’s also started expanding its horizons by targeting creative professionals with workstations that are just as tantalizing as its gaming laptops.
8. Samsung (75/100)
Samsung has sprung up after an incredible comeback, going from last place in 2019’s Best and Worst Brands faceoff to 8th place this year. There’s still a lot of improvements the company can make, especially in expanding their catalog, but Samsung has impressed us with the bold and colorful designs of their latest laptops.
8. Alienware (75/100)
Alienware’s sophomore showing in Best and Worst Brands sees it drop from fourth place into an 8th place tie. We find the brand in the midst of a transition, saying goodbye to its Epic design in favor of the new Legend design that’s an evolved take on the company’s intergalactic theme. We expect great things from Alienware going into 2021 and think that a comeback is imminent.
10. Apple (73/100)
Apple was our third-worst brand in our 2019 Best and Worst report, and this year, the Cupertino-based tech giant is our second-worst brand after Microsoft. What contributed to Apple’s lower rank is its mixed results on our phone tech support report and its lack of diverse offerings for budget-conscious consumers — you’d be hard pressed to find an Apple laptop that doesn’t have a four-figure price tag. At the same time, we understand that Apple is a luxury brand, so while Apple may not be able to cater to its non-affluent fans, the Cupertino-based tech giant can still rise to the top of the ranks by introducing new design options and taking more risks with innovation.
11. Microsoft (70/100)
Finishing in last place, Microsoft had a quiet year when you separate the products it released from those it announced. The new addition to its laptop/tablet lineup, the Surface Pro X, disappointed, while tried-and-true models were largely unchanged from the previous versions. There are several exciting products coming in 2020 and beyond, for what it’s worth.
How we rate brands
Each laptop brand is assigned a score based on a 100-point scale. Points are awarded in five categories: Design, Reviews, Tech Support/Warranty, Innovation and Value, and Selection. Here's what each means.
Reviews (40 points): The most important aspect of any brand is the quality of its products. To determine a company's Reviews category score, we used the ratings we gave its laptops. We took the average laptop rating for each brand (Laptop Mag rates on a scale of 1 to 5), converted that average rating to a 40-point scale and then added a 0.75-point bonus for each Editors' Choice award.
Design (15 points): We absolutely will judge a notebook by its cover — and its sides, deck, bezel and base. Though no two notebooks look exactly the same, each brand has a design language that cuts across its product lines.
Tech Support and Warranty (20 points): When you buy a laptop, you want to know that the manufacturer is going to stand behind that machine and help you with technical problems. We base this category's score primarily on the ratings from our annual Tech Support Showdown, in which we go undercover and pose questions to all of the companies, using their phone, web and social channels. However, 2 out of the 20 points were awarded based on the quality of the company's standard warranty coverage.
Innovation (10 points): The laptop market is moving fast, and if you stand still, you'll get rolled over. For the Innovation category, we awarded points based on the brand's ability to move the market forward by implementing or developing new technologies, as well as by taking risks.
Value and Selection (15 points): How many different kinds of shoppers does the manufacturer address, and do the products provide good bang for your buck? For this category, we awarded points for offering a wide range of laptop types (budget, business, gaming, etc.) and for providing aggressive pricing.
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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.