What Is The Best Computer To Buy?

Author:
phil
Created:
Sunday, December 25th, 2016
Last Updated:
Friday, May 18th, 2018

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Popular Brands

List of the top computer companies and their base location
ManufacturerCompany Headquarters
AcerTaiwan
AppleUSA
AsusTaiwan
DellUSA
HPUSA
LenovoChina
MicrosoftUSA
SamsungKorea
SonyJapan
ToshibaJapan

I've worked on pretty much all of the major brands of computers over the years and each one has its merits and pitfalls. In the early computer race, computer hardware was a specialized field and some of the major companies actually manufactured their own hardware. Today, I believe the only companies physically manufacturing their own hardware is Acer, Asus, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. You'll notice none of them are US based companies unfortunately, but everyone else usually gets their hardware made at FoxConn. In other words, anyone not manufacturing their own stuff, is getting it all made at the same place, but they all come out as being about the same as far as quality goes. Apple and Microsoft computers are probably just a bit higher quality than the others due to their limited product lines which allows more focus to detail and quality, but for the most part, they are all pretty equal on quality.

Where the respective brands differ, isn't so much in the build, but how the companies present themselves, support and loaded software.

Apple

Phone Support: decent
Warranty Support: poor to fair
Online Support: good
Hardware: good to great
Pre-Loaded Software good
Overall Impression: I recommend

Since Apple is kind of off in a world by itself, I'm going to get them out of the way. I honestly don't have a lot of experience with Apple computers, so the opinions I have are either from limited exposure or research I've run across. The hardware is great but slowly getting worse over time. The apple computers are becoming impossible to upgrade because many of the components are now directly on the mainboard and can't be switched. As a whole, Apple makes great computers with a fantastic operating system.

As far as my thoughts on Apple, I don't have a lot, other than I'm not a fan of their business mindset. It's the "Apple Way" or the highway. Apple wants to suck you into their eco-sphere and they don't like to play with others unless they can directly profit from others. Their stuff "just works" (according to the fanboys) so there is merit to their closed minded business model, but it's just not for me.

Acer

Phone Support: unknown
Warranty Support: unknown
Online Support: fair
Hardware: fair to good
Pre-Loaded Software good
Overall Impression: I recommend

With Acer, you can expect a low to middle line computers. That said, I've seen some very "cheap looking" Acers that hold up like tanks. I had a neighbor purchase a couple of Acer laptops on a Christmas sale one year for $400. Other than needing some memory upgrades, they were still using them 3 years later. I was surprised they got more than one out of them. Acers come pre-loaded with a fair amount of Acerware, but it isn't over bearing. I've never dealt with their phone or warranty support, but finding support on their website has always been fairly straight forward. Acer computers usually come with an adequate set of hardware to get you going, but they generally require upgrades later on.

Asus

Phone Support: poor
Warranty Support: poor
Online Support: good
Hardware: good to great
Pre-Loaded Software good
Overall Impression: I stay away

Overall, Asus is a solid company. They make good to great quality products that generally hold up, but, there's a catch... I used to be enthusiastic about Asus until I had a client who had a problem with their computer and attempted to get it warrantied. Asus blamed the problem on the client and made them pay for labor to fix it. I inspected the device prior to the warranty issue and it was clearly a manufacturer defect that should have been warrantied at no cost. After that, I began hearing or reading about other people with similar stories. At the end of the day, If you buy an Asus product, it is either going to work really well or it isn't going to work at all. If it doesn't work at all, you're out of luck because Asus is a horrible company for getting issues resolved through. Because of this, I refuse to buy computers or hardware from Asus.

Asus computer comes pre-loaded with a variety of in-house Asusware, but it isn't overbearing. You can easily uninstall the software if you don't need it and move on. Depending on which type of computer you buy, you might need to do upgrades or might not. Their higher end computers are usually pretty solid and fully loaded.

Dell

Phone Support: decent
Warranty Support: good
Online Support: good
Hardware: good
Pre-Loaded Software fair
Overall Impression: I recommend

Usually when a client asks me which (Windows) computer they should buy, I try to steer them towards Dell for a handful of reasons:

1) US based company
2) Easy to find support online
3) Warranty issues are usually straight forward after you talk to the guys in India
4) Not a lot of pre-loaded garbage
5) Fairly well standardized

While Dell computers are my own personal choice, I am by no means recommending them as the "Best", however If I purchase a computer for a client, unless otherwise specified, it will be a Dell.

Depending on the line of Dell computer you go with, their middle to high end lines come with fairly good to good hardware. While there is quite of bit of dell software installed depending on the home line vs business line, it isn't an overbearing amount of pre-loaded Dellware. Upgrading a Dell computer is usually a painless process.

The one downside to Dell is their higher cost. While they do remain extremely competitive, Dell computers generally run a little higher than the majority of the competition.

HP

Phone Support: decent
Warranty Support: unknown
Online Support: good
Hardware: fair
Preloaded Software poor
Overall Impression: I stay away

When HP entered the computer game, the quality of HP as a company went down hill. HP used to be the standard when it came to making quality equipment, but when they entered the computer race, price and volume became their primary focus. HP is probably the number one seller of computers and for the most part I've had decent experiences with their support, however I have also had a lot of problems with their hardware. When it works, it works great but when they go out, they go out.

Lenovo

Phone Support: unknown
Warranty Support: unknown
Online Support: good
Hardware: fair
Preloaded Software fair
Overall Impression: I recommend

Lenovo bought all of IBMs laptop and desktop division a few years back and continued to manufacture computers to a similar spec as IBM. Being a Chinese company, I do feel that Lenovo is cutting corners on the quality of their hardware, but overall, they are decent computers for the budget minded.

Microsoft

Phone Support: fair
Warranty Support: fair
Online Support: poor
Hardware: good
Pre-Loaded Software good
Overall Impression: no opinion

Microsoft isn't new to the hardware game, but they are fairly new to the computer game. While their early model tablets were absolute junk, their newer Surface Book Pros are proving to be some really good laptops. I don't particularly care for Microsoft as a company because they don't pay attention to detail with their software, but they do with their hardware.

Samsung

Phone Support: unknown
Warranty Support: unknown
Online Support: good
Hardware: great
Pre-Loaded Software fair
Overall Impression: I recommend

Samsung makes fairly top-notch components. Like any company, it's hit and miss whether the computer will be a good one or not, but overall, they make good stuff.

Sony

Phone Support: unknown
Warranty Support: unknown
Online Support: fair
Hardware: good to great
Pre-Loaded Software fair
Overall Impression: I recommend

Sony makes good quality products as a whole, however they have always had a closed minded approach to business, much like Apple which has caused their brand to suffer over the last few decades.

Toshiba

Phone Support: unknown
Warranty Support: unknown
Online Support: fair
Hardware: good
Pre-Loaded Software poor
Overall Impression: I stay away

Toshiba mainly focuses on budget laptops and internal components that are usually really good quality. My biggest complaint with Toshiba computers is the amount of pre-loaded software they come with. There is so much Toshibaware loaded that it takes forever to get rid of it all and 90% of it, you'll never use or need. All of the pre-loaded garbage makes a decent budget computer slow and sluggish out of the box. Outside of the loaded software, Toshiba makes fairly bulletproof computers.

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