Got a lot of work on your plate at the office? It’s probably not going to get done on a smartphone, or even on most tablets (at least not the kind running Android or iOS). No, your true-blue work device is almost always going to be a personal computer, be it a power-house desktop or a fully mobile laptop.
That’s why every year as part of our Readers’ Choice survey on PCs we make sure to ask about the favorite brands PCMag reader are using when they go to the office, be it their little small office/home office (SOHO), the small-to-medium business (SMB) that’s the backbone of our economy, or a large enterprise where you and your PC toil in cubicle obscurity.
The results this year are a little different (but not a lot different) than what we’ve seen in years past. Join us as we look at the numbers that reveal exactly what brand of laptop and desktop computer will make you the happiest in the workplace.
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Laptops for Work—2018
Apple’s devices have always been the top rated products when we ask readers about laptops—until this year. For the first time, a manufacturer of a Windows laptop has a higher overall score. And it’s not just any PC maker—it’s the maker of Windows itself.
Microsoft’s laptops and hybrid laptops in the Surface line, including Surface Laptop and the Surface Book, topped the overall score, the main metric we use to determine who’s in the lead with readers. It’s not a big lead—just a tenth of a point—but it’s noteworthy for how remarkably rare this has been in PCMag surveys.
It’s certainly enough for both to win a Business Choice award this year. They both earned the award last year as well, but then Apple was on top with 8.8 and Microsoft had the 8.6; they shared it in 2016, too.
That said, the overall score isn’t our only way to measure, and Microsoft did not outperform Apple’s scores in most other categories. It got a lower reliability score (8.8 to Apple’s 9.0), had more devices that need tech support and repairs, and had a slightly lower likelihood to be recommended (8.7 vs. Apple’s 8.8). But somehow, Microsoft did pull off a higher Net Promoter Score (60 percent to Apple’s 58 percent) even though that score is determined using the same likelihood-to-recommend questions (albeit with some fancy math applied, which you can read about below).
As before, the rest of the survey is filled in with big sellers of Windows laptops: Dell, Lenovo, and HP. In fact, all five of the brands in the survey this year make up the top 10 business laptops we’ve rated (as of this writing). However, neither Dell, Lenovo, nor HP scored an overall above 7.9 (Dell and Lenovo tied there), but they did all have nice marks for ease of setup (8.6 for Dell and Lenovo, 8.5 for HP)—numbers we didn’t even get for Microsoft and Apple as not enough people rated their work laptops for setup. Decent numbers there and in other categories, but not enough to distinguish them.
WINNERS: LAPTOPS FOR WORK
Microsoft’s won this award twice before, but never from the catbird seat of being the highest overall scorer. PCMag readers like their Surface laptops for getting things done to keep the boss off their backs.
Apple’s overall score has dropped a little every year when it comes to work laptops, from 9.1 in 2013 to this year’s 8.6. But that pinnacle was high enough that even losing half a point overall can’t unseat the Mac line of notebook computers from being a top choice in our survey.
Desktops for Work—2018
Last year was unique in that we did not get enough responses—50 is our cut off—to include Apple in our desktop Business Choice roundup. So we gave the award to Dell with a 7.9. We’re giving Dell the award again this year too, as it only dropped to a 7.8 overall. But overall, Apple is back.
Apple crashed back into the work desktop PCs survey this year with an overall score of 8.9. Not the best it ever had (that was a 9.1 in 2013), but certainly stellar compared to Windows-based PC makers (HP and Lenovo tied with a 7.7 overall).
Apple again stays a full point ahead of Dell in the categories where it compares well, such as reliability (9.1 for Apple) and likelihood to be recommended (9.0 for Apple). However, Apple also has the highest number of desktop computers that need tech support (19 percent). Apple, Dell, and HP all have 9 percent of their customers getting repair work; that was the only line where Lenovo was the best, at 6 percent.
WINNERS: DESKTOPS FOR WORK
Apple’s back baby! Macintosh PCs on the desktop like the Mac Mini, Mac Pro, and iMac again ushered the Cupertino-based company into the top spot among readers using them at the office.
Dell’s desktop scores may pale next to Apple but are more than adequate when it comes to making Windows-based users in a work-place setting happy.
We email survey invitations to PCMag.com community members,
Respondents were asked to rate their laptops and desktops using multiple questions about their overall satisfaction with the solution, as well as experiences with technical support within the past 12 months.
Because the goal of the survey is to understand how the email marketing solutions compare to one another and not how one respondent’s experience compares to another’s, we use the average of the email marketing solutions’ 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 PC provider?”
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 bestseller, 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). (For more, read PCMag’s Top Consumer Recommended Companies for 2018.)
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