In our 2012 reader survey of tech satisfaction, reliability, and service, the results for desktop PCs painted a somewhat different picture than our poll in the laptop category. Here, performance clearly remains a critical feature, although softer issues such as design and peripheral quality are still areas of discussion.
Compared with laptops, desktops saw a slightly wider spread of satisfaction scores. Apple desktops scored highly on average and took top marks for design and peripheral quality, but surveyed consumers dinged them for relatively poor expandability. The picture gets muddier from there, with most competitors clustered together. HP for Home and Dell for Home landed around the average for satisfaction with desktop features; Sony and eMachines ran significantly behind the pack in that regard, with several average scores below 8.
HP for Home and Dell for Home rated just below average for ease of use, while Dell for Business rated slightly above average.
Interestingly, Lenovo for Home and Asus took the highest score (8.8 out of 10) on performance for the price. HP for Home even outscored Apple in this measurement, earning an 8.6 (Apple received a mark of 8.5), and Dell for Home also posted an 8.5. The average score for this measurement among all brands was 8.4.
Looking at overall satisfaction levels, we found that survey respondents were happiest with their desktops' operating noise and performance for the price.
Although desktops have a reputation for being more reliable than laptops are, this turned out not to be the case when we looked at users' responses: A mere 0.01 point separated laptops and desktops on users' ratings of overall reliability.
Of course, some things don't change. As with laptops, hard-drive failure issues were readers' primary desktop reliability complaint. On the other hand, motherboard failures, relatively uncommon on laptops, were tied for the second-most cited problem with desktop computers. Graphics-card hassles and OS glitches also wound up on the list of reliability complaints.
Apple, Lenovo satisfy; Dell, HP make fair showings
Chart notes: Each listed number is the average response from surveyed readers on a 1-to-10 scale where 1 is "extremely dissatisfied" and 10 is "extremely satisfied." Brand ranking is based on the average scores across all feature-satisfaction measures. Acer for Home includes the Aspire and AspireRevo lines. Dell for Home includes the Inspiron and Studio lines; Dell for Business includes the Vostro, Optiplex, and Inspiron lines. HP for Home includes the Pavilion and TouchSmart lines; HP for Business includes the HP Pro 3000 line. Lenovo for Home includes the IdeaCenter, Essential, and other lines; Lenovo for Business includes the ThinkCentre and other lines.
Apple, Lenovo lead the pack in desktop reliability
Chart notes: A "significant problem" is one that stops or seriously impairs operation of the PC during the first three years of ownership. Satisfaction scores are on a 1-to-10 scale where 1 is "extremely dissatisfied" and 10 is "extremely satisfied." The average score is 8.5.