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Study reveals laptop brand reliability

Study reveals laptop brand reliability

Apple's laptops might be pretty and fetch a premium, but SquareTrade's study suggests they're not the most reliable.

The results of a new study published this week reveal that while Apple's laptops might fetch a price premium, that doesn't necessarily equate to a more reliable system.

The study, carried out by SquareTrade and reported over at InfoWorld, reveals that while Apple's range of MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops are certainly reliable enough, they only make it to fourth place overall.

In the 30,000 laptops which were part of the study of failure rates requiring after-sales warranty service, Apple was beaten in reliability by Toshiba and Sony. Further, Asus managed to pip everyone to the post, coming in at the lowest failure rate of all - just 15.6 percent of Asus machines required warranty repairs over a three-year period.

Despite Apple's relatively poor showing - at 17.4 percent over three years - it still managed to beat business staples including Dell, Lenovo, and Hewlett-Packard - with the latter managing an astoundingly bad 25.6 percent projected failure rate over a three-year period.

SquareTrade's vice president Vince Tseng said of the study that "it's not really surprising that Apple's in the middle of the pack," but that "what was surprising was that Asus came out on top."

The study also showed the reason for the common 12-month warranty offered by most companies on their products: in the first year, less than five percent of laptops had failed in a way which would require repair or replacement under the terms of the warranty. This had more than doubled to 12.7 percent in the second year, before hitting 20.4 percent - a one in five chance you'll need to get the laptop fixed - in the third year.

Another interesting statistic to come from the study is that netbooks, by and large, are more likely to fail than their larger counterparts - despite the use of shock-proof solid-state storage in many models. In the first year of use, the study shows that an average netbook is 23 percent more likely to fail than an average 'budget' laptop, and a massive 38 percent higher than a premium notebook.

Tseng gave three reasons for the seemingly high three-year failure rate of laptops: "People leave them on all the time, and notebook components are sensitive to heat. Two, they're portable and take a lot of abuse. And three, they're more complex than most other consumer electronics devices."

Are you surprised to see Apple being beaten by lower-cost rivals, or is it the sight of Asus at the top that has you shocked? Does the insight into failure rates in the second and third years make you wish you'd opted for the extended warranty, or are you confident the Sale of Goods Act will see you right? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

32 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Abhorsen 18th November 2009, 11:35 Quote
Tbh from my time working for the dreaded high-street computer giant, Asus being on top isn't a surprise. HP being at the bottom i find more surprising.
Dr. Strangelove 18th November 2009, 11:37 Quote
hmm are former IBM brands like Thinkpad's grouped together with Lenvo's "own" laptops? I've had Thinkpads for many years now and they have all been rock solid so would be quite surprised if Thinkpads and their brethren are as bad as indicated.
Morrius 18th November 2009, 11:53 Quote
Could this not just be that Asus laptops are so cheap that people just buy another one when it breaks? They always seem to be bought by orangefaced harridans for looking at x factor videos on youtube with.
proxess 18th November 2009, 12:11 Quote
Asus usually has 2 year warranty. I voided mine after 1 year tho. I'll see on the third year how things go tho.
digitaldave 18th November 2009, 12:27 Quote
acer at number 7 ? someone is having a laugh!
leslie 18th November 2009, 12:42 Quote
Asus, I would almost have expected it really by process of elimination. They have some nice stuff out and would probably be my first choice in a notebook.


The only big surprise to me is Lenovo and Toshiba, I expected them to be opposite. I had heard Lenovo slipped but had fixed their problems, clearly not well enough. Sony's bad choice in hard disks probably drove them down (I have replaced more than a few), so that wasn't a big shock. Apple, well if you have looked into their past, it will come as no surprises that they only fare average, which is actually an improvement.


You may want to read the original article, there is much more there.
Paradigm Shifter 18th November 2009, 13:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitaldave
acer at number 7 ? someone is having a laugh!

In complete agreement. My experience of Acer hardware and support was so poor, I will never buy another of their products.
Matticus 18th November 2009, 13:03 Quote
Not too surprised by Asus, they make some sturdy stuff and have a good warranty. I am surprised by Apple, I don't know if using very similar hardware across of all their models should mean they should be able to get it right, or if people like Asus using lots of different configurations means they spread the risk of failure of certain things.
riggs 18th November 2009, 13:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitaldave
acer at number 7 ? someone is having a laugh!

I would've thought it'd be lower tbh. Acers' are pretty crap to be fair - they're cheap and cheerful. Ok, so spec-wise you do get very good value for money, but the design and build quality leaves something to be desired.

My mates acer went on the blink literally a month or two after he bought it. Sent it back only to have it returned with half the RAM and a smaller HDD. Sent it back again (after numerous phone calls). This time it came back with the original size HDD, but only 3/4 of the RAM. He couldn't be bothered to send it back again so just gave up.
SlickGnome 18th November 2009, 15:26 Quote
Actually kinda surprised about ASUS coming out on top. I work for a PC retailer (Very Big Box Store) and at our store at least we swap Dead HDD's out of ASUS lappies all the time. 2 of our employees have the same upper middle end system and we have had to swap HDD's on both twice now (first being about 3 months after purchase). I think they have great specs for the money but we have had some problems for them.
cjoyce1980 18th November 2009, 15:33 Quote
HP have made crap gear for years..... laptops, desktops & servers. plus they have the worst support, as they make you jump through so many hoops before you even get an onsite engineer. so now i lie about the steps i've taken to try and resolve the issue.... get the problem sorted in half the time :)
RichCreedy 18th November 2009, 16:01 Quote
most of the ibm thinkpads were actually made by lenovo for ibm

i'm not suprised by the hp results i would say that a vast majority of hp failures were due to the nvidia gpu problem

nor am i suprised by asus having good results, a majority of there kit is well made
DarkLord7854 18th November 2009, 16:31 Quote
I only buy Asus, and I'm happy to see they came out #1
crazyceo 18th November 2009, 18:00 Quote
I picked up an Asus laptop for the mrs in the summer. Can't complain at all since I've had no complaints from her. The main reason for the Asus purchase was the actual spec for the price compared with Dell, HP or Toshiba. A nice piece of kit for a great price.
kenco_uk 18th November 2009, 18:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjoyce1980
HP have made crap gear for years..... laptops, desktops & servers. plus they have the worst support, as they make you jump through so many hoops before you even get an onsite engineer. so now i lie about the steps i've taken to try and resolve the issue.... get the problem sorted in half the time :)

I agree on their laptops, they can be very noisy and parts fail - I'm not surprised they've not done well. Their desktops and servers are very good though and the service I've had is second to none. Had a psu go - someone sent by HP came and fitted a new one, totally free. I've had 3 of their servers running for over 5 years, only had to replace one raid-5 drive.
sotu1 18th November 2009, 18:42 Quote
my two pennies:

a laptop is like a hard drive, it's guaranteed to fail.

My mac book pro has failed 3 times within 2 years. not impressed. and all that means is it's going to fail more in the future and when my paid for warranty expires i'm going to be facing huge bills. really, not impressed.
DarkLord7854 18th November 2009, 19:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sotu1
my two pennies:

a laptop is like a hard drive, it's guaranteed to fail.

My mac book pro has failed 3 times within 2 years. not impressed. and all that means is it's going to fail more in the future and when my paid for warranty expires i'm going to be facing huge bills. really, not impressed.

Buy an Asus.. mine's going on 3 years now and rock solid
Goty 18th November 2009, 19:11 Quote
... as I sit here and type this on my refurb Gateway LT3103 =P
Bufo802 18th November 2009, 19:55 Quote
I wonder where samsung came on the list, don't seem to have been mentioned in the article. Not surprise that HP did badly though, they have serious overheating problems (from the ones I've seen).
Xonar 18th November 2009, 20:48 Quote
Bought my Asus laptop about 4 months ago so can't say much in terms of long term reliabilitybut the guy who bought it from had it for a year without any problems and compared to a lot of other laptops I've used it's a very solid well built peice of kit. Extremely happy with it.
bobwya 18th November 2009, 23:27 Quote
I'll being sticking with my ASUS laptop. Really nice 14" model with a modest 4650 1Gb (but still far better than most Nvidia mobile GPUs). I have replaced the crap Atheros WiFi pcie card with an Intel model. Definite improvement there...

So far, so good. But I have had the powerbrick fail on me (within 2-3 months of purchase). When will manufactures learn that a power converter which is <100% efficient should not be housed in a sealed (insulating) plastic box... ASUS did a painless swap out for this item thankfully..
Sheiken 18th November 2009, 23:37 Quote
Having owned 3 Asus laptops previously I am not the least surprised! They have all been rock solid! Owned one for four years and it was still modern looking and the battery life was excellent!

Atm I own a unibody macbook which I am equally impressed by, but one of my mates have had his fair share of bad luck with his macbook pro. knock on wood!
droitwichdosser 19th November 2009, 00:12 Quote
something very worth knowing as we are in the EU is

"The seller is liable to the consumer for any lack of conformity which exists when the goods are delivered to the consumer and which becomes apparent within a period of two years unless, at the moment of conclusion of the contract of sale, the consumer knew or could not reasonably be unaware of the lack of conformity."

Basically read, you are entitled to a 2 year warranty... but you may have to argue your case...

ref this page http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/consumers/protection_of_consumers/l32022_en.htm
FR34K 19th November 2009, 01:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abhorsen
Asus being on top isn't a surprise. HP being at the bottom i find more surprising.
Asus being at the top is definitely not a surprise.
HP being on the bottom, I'm not surprised by that either.
Crunch77 19th November 2009, 08:23 Quote
Surprised Apple placed so well. (having worked at Apple)
cybergenics 19th November 2009, 12:58 Quote
I had one of the Macbooks (with work) that the case basically broke up at the edges with cracks. Bought myself one of the first Unibodies and its been ok apart from one memory stick being duff on shipment. Not sure who's fault that is, Apple or Hynix
who made the module, as they could have checked it before shipping. Have to agree about Hp service, they try and put you off making a repair claim and the call centres in South Africa, the staff there are just outright rude. The Indian ones are ok, but they keep putting you on hold for ages.
leslie 19th November 2009, 14:33 Quote
I can explain the Acer position...

The study was done based on extra warranties bought from the store.
Acer's are some of the cheapest you can get.

Who wants to bet the Acer owners were too cheap to purchase the extra warranty? For the price of the warranty, you could have bought a better laptop that wouldn't need the extra warranty.


Apples may also be in a similar position, "I don't need a warranty, Mac's are the best!"
leslie 19th November 2009, 14:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by sotu1
a laptop is like a hard drive, it's guaranteed to fail.

Tell that to my 5 and 9 year old Sonys, both still in operation.
I expect the newer one to work similar.
PureSilver 19th November 2009, 14:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by leslie
Tell that to my 5 and 9 year old Sonys, both still in operation.
I expect the newer one to work similar.

I've got an original X505 (1999, I think) and another '99 Vaio - both still work fine and are actually quite well built. The X505 is barely used, it's a nightmare to find compatible software for it! It's a bit much to ask new laptops to work for similar periods of time, I fear, because people now prioritize price over long-term reliability and manufacturers design models to meet those needs. My X505 is the size of a modern netbook, but it probably cost six or seven times what one of those would. There's a reason for that...

Somewhere, in the dark recesses of the attic, I've also got my Dad's first laptop. It's grey, lead-acid battery (I can't remember the make at all). Two-colour screen (blue background with white text) and it evidently predates Windows. It worked fine, until 2001 - I think it may have suffered from the Millennium bug. :D
leslie 19th November 2009, 15:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by PureSilver
I've got an original X505 (1999, I think) and another '99 Vaio - both still work fine and are actually quite well built. The X505 is barely used, it's a nightmare to find compatible software for it! It's a bit much to ask new laptops to work for similar periods of time, I fear, because people now prioritize price over long-term reliability and manufacturers design models to meet those needs.

Mmmmm X505 <3


I agree to a point, I used to tell customers to look at a good laptop as an investment, either buy good, or expect it to break. While that holds true if you buy a better quality one, they likely will not go 7 or 9 years, but they are are cheaper so they are still a worthy investment. Besides at the rate of technology these days, 7 years from now, the current stuff will be more behind than the stuff that is currently 9 years behind (Moore's law).

The market however has changed.
You no longer have to look at them as an investment. But a cheap Acer, no warranty, throw a few gigs of ram at it and then use it till it dies, then go buy another. They are disposable.

Unfortunately this is bad for the environment, and they are stuck with a cheap laptop that could go at any minute, but financially, it does make some sense.


I love my Sonys, they have served me well, and even though I am dying for a TZ, my next will be an Asus most likely. It's cheaper, and much better customer support. Something Sony has consistently gotten worse and worse about over the years.
serial_ 19th November 2009, 21:25 Quote
Honestly, I don't know why the hate being poured out on Acer. I have had fabulous luck with them. I actually dropped my acer out of my pack (i thought it was zipped shut) and it made the most heart-wrenching *THWACK* when it hit the asphalt. I picked it up and there was nothing but a single tiny scratch on the lid.

I dunno about everyone else's experience, but mine's been good.
Javerh 20th November 2009, 07:27 Quote
I've had an Acer Ferrari 3400 for something like 4 years now. One time I smashed the HDD by dropping it from the table while it was on. A new harddisk and it was good to go. Now my girlfriend uses it as her regular computer.
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