It may be a mobile world, but in the cubicles and offices and warehouses, the PC continues to rein supreme as the the primary way of getting things done for worker-drones and management.
Thus we always ask, when surveying PCMag readers about their PCs, how they feel about the laptops and desktops they’re using at their place of business. Unsurprisingly, the scores tend to be a little lower for even the most beloved of work PCs—but that’s what happens when the boss picks an employee’s tools.
The results below reflect the exact brands of laptop and desktop PCs readers feel provide the best overall experience for work, with some drill-downs to their reliability, if they required tech support or repairs (and how well those experiences went, if applicable), plus the likelihood that they’d recommend the same brand of PC to a colleague. Read on for the occasionally surprising conclusions.
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Looking for an expert opinion on the best laptops and desktops? Read The 10 Best Business Laptops of 2015 and The 10 Best Business Desktops.
Laptops for Work
Apple’s laptops, currently the MacBook, the light MacBook Air and powerhouse MacBook Pro, make up the models PCMag readers consider the very best laptops to have for work use. Apple as a brand earns a 9.0 score for overall satisfaction (on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 as the best). That rating is well within what is typical for Apple in our Readers’ Choice awards.
Love for Apple laptops also led to the high score for likelihood to be recommended (8.9). We use those numbers to determine the Net Promoter Score (read about it in our methodology below); Apple’s NPS here of 65 percent isn’t the highest we’ve ever seen the company earn, but certainly beats the immediate competition among business laptops.
In fact, Apple has been a year-after-year consistent winner whenever we ask about work PCs. This time, Apple had the high score in every work category except one: 13 percent of Apple’s work laptop users needed tech support; Asus beat it at 10 percent.
However, Apple isn’t alone. We’ve also awarded the Business Choice award for laptops to another company, the one that got the highest overall score among makers of notebook computers that run Windows OS—and it’s none other than Microsoft. It made a big splash in this area with its laptop-replacing hybrid tablets in the Surface line; last year the splash emptied the pool when Microsoft introduced the Surface Book, our first-ever Editors’ Choice for a laptop with detachable screen that turns into a tablet.
Readers granted Microsoft a full 8.7 score overall. Its numbers typically trail slightly behind Apple with the exception of devices that needed tech support. Microsoft’s hardware needed a fix with 23 percent of users, the highest number we saw in that category. Of particular note is Microsoft’s score of 8.8 for ease of setup. That’s not a rating many would necessarily expect to see regarding Windows systems, but as Apple tends to prove, it helps if the OS and the hardware come from the same source.
Other highlights among work PCs: As stated above, Asus had the best score when it came to users needing tech support. Asus also had an excellent reliability score of 8.8, besting even Microsoft’s 8.6. Last place HP and Toshiba did okay in the area of repairs needed, tying Apple at 9 percent.
WINNERS: BUSINESS LAPTOPS
See all of our survey results for Business Laptops.
WINNERS: BUSINESS LAPTOPS
It will come as no surprise to long-time readers of PCMag surveys that Apple is the most beloved PC brand, even in the world of business. Known for being the powerhouse behind multimedia creation, it’s probably no wonder. Apple’s business laptop scores, with few exceptions, just can’t be beat.
Microsoft’s ready to take on both the home and the workplace with the Surface line. Readers using it at work decreed that Microsoft’s hardware—coupled with the so-far well-liked Windows 10—is a winner. Managers who want to make the staff happy should be buying Microsoft’s hybrid laptop/tablets.
Desktops for Work
When it comes to the quality of the desktop PCs used in the workplace, Apple stands alone.
In fact, while Apple’s overall score of 9.0 for desktops like the iMacs or Mac Pro is equal to that of its laptops, the desktops had a slight edge when it comes to likelihood to be recommended, scoring an 8.0 (laptops were at 8.9) and a 9.3 for reliability (laptops were at 9.2).
The other desktop makers that made the cut in these results—HP, Lenovo, and Dell, all with Windows-based systems for sale—didn’t measure up. At all. HP is the next highest-scoring desktop maker, but its overall score of 7.7 doesn’t put it in the same class as Apple’s work desktops. The only area any of them beat Apple was in the percentage of repairs needed. Apple’s 14 percent was higher than the 10 percent earned by HP and Dell; Lenovo was best in the category with only 6 percent of its business desktops needing a fix. It says a lot about brand loyalty when Apple’s computers need that much help from repair shops, yet still the Macs crush the competition in all other measures.
WINNERS: BUSINESS DESKTOP PCS
See all of our survey results for Business Desktop PCs.
WINNERS: BUSINESS DESKTOP PCS
Cupertino’s most famous company continues to crush it when it comes to being the favorite among PCMag readers using computers, even at the workplace. Apple’s scores, especially overall, for reliability, and likelihood to be recommended, are astronomically higher than the competition in the office desktops category.
For the 2016 Business Choice series, we emailed survey invitations to PCMag.com community members, specifically subscribers to our Readers’ Choice Survey mailing list. This survey was hosted by Equation Research, which also performs our data collection. This survey was in the field from January 4 through January 25, 2016. Each person who completed the survey was entered into a drawing to win a $350 Amazon Gift Card.
Respondents were asked to rate their business PCs. They were asked multiple questions about their overall satisfaction as well as experiences with technical support within the past 12 months.
Because the goal of the survey is to understand how the laptops and desktops compare to one another and not how one respondent’s experience compares to another’s, we use the average of the PC’s manufacturer’s rating, not the average of every respondent’s rating. In all cases, the overall ratings are not based on averages of other scores in the table; they are based on answers to the question, “Overall, how satisfied are you with your laptop or desktop for work?”
Scores not represented as a percentage are on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is the best.
Net Promoter Scores are based on the concept introduced by Fred Reichheld in his 2006 best seller, The Ultimate Question, that no other question can better define the loyalty of a company’s customers than “how likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” This measure of brand loyalty is calculated by taking the percent of respondents who answered 9 or 10 (promoters) and subtracting the percent who answered 0 through 6 (detractors).
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Thanks to Ben Gottesman for his contributions to this story.