Unlike magazines, computer websites or even search engines, I receive no income or compensation from vendors or manufacturers, so my information and recommendations are based solely on facts, real world benchmarks, failure rate statistics, countless hours of extensive research, and consumers' long term best interest.
If you'd like help finding the best computer for your needs, that should last for 10 to 20 years possibly longer, instead of the 4 year industry average, click HELP.
But first, please let me arm you with knowledge seldom found elsewhere, that will help you make the best decisions.

Greetings,
My name is Rich, the Founder of Trusted Consumer Consultants.
I've been configuring computers for friends, family, and clients
since the mid 1990s, and I have a passion for research and teaching.
I created this page to teach consumers very important things about the computer industry, with the hope that it prevents you from making big mistakes when purchasing a new computer.

Click here for a similar page with more facts and details.
Before you purchase a new computer, there are a few things that you should know…
The following companies don’t manufacture computers.
They are all just vendors, who market, rebrand and sell computers.

Kind of like car dealerships. They may order the vehicle, customize it, put their dealership’s name on it, and sell it, but they don’t manufacture the vehicle.

The following companies are the ones that
actually manufacture most of the world’s laptops!(ODMs)
So when someone buys a “Dell”, they are actually buying a Foxconn, Pegatron, or Quanta computer, with a Dell logo. Same ODMs if they buy an “Apple” MacBook.
All of those vendors have some of the worst customer care.
All the vendors that Trusted Consumer Consultants recommends have a minimum 8 of 10 customer review scores.
Trusted Consumer Consultants never accepts any compensation from vendors, so my only loyalty is to the consumer.
  • Customer Reviews are just the beginning of good vendor vetting. Learn More!

    Most vendors are eliminated from my consideration by their customer review scores. Those who score at least 8 out of 10 are looked at even further. A great review score only matters if the reviews reflect a vendor’s determination to quickly resolve legitimate issues. Reviews about how great a computer was soon after purchase, mean nothing, as many people are content with slow, frustrating garbage. It’s the words of their customers, about how well problems were RESOLVED, that is one of the hallmarks of a great vendor. Some vendors will have a suspicious number of great reviews (extremely disproportionate to their percentage of the market) on one site and no reviews on another. When I check social media, many of their customers are raking them over the coals, often for legitimate issues that are still unresolved after months of fighting with the vendor!
    If a vendor takes care of their customers’ legitimate problems quickly, then I look at their business history. I look for deceptive advertising. (Great computer vendors typically spend very little money on marketing, relying mostly on word of mouth advertising.) I search for class action lawsuits and court records. I look at their past mergers and the likelihood of them selling out, like Alienware (who was always overpriced) did with Dell. I want to make sure that all the vendors I recommend are stable companies, who will be there to uphold their warranties. I search news articles, techie forums, and other places, for as much info as I can get about their history and business practices, e.g. do they install bloatware like most of the big vendors do?
    If the vendor makes it past all of that, only a dozen have so far, then I start comparing their prices. Some vendors have a higher markup on their lower end systems, because lower end systems have higher failure rates that require more customer service. While other vendors have a higher markup, on the computers typically bought by people who don’t care about cost.
    There is a huge difference in reliability and longevity for similar components from different manufacturers.

    Although I only configure quality computers, I always care about cost. I look for the best prices, from the best vendors, for the reliability and capabilities that people require for computers that last for 10 to 20 years or more.

These are the surveyed failure rates of the following vendors…
apple

Apple Inc.

Survey doesn’t include massive number of recent Macbook keyboard problems.

samsung

Samsung Electronics 삼성전자

acer

Acer Inc. 宏碁股份有限公司

hp

HP Inc.

asus

AsusTek Computer Inc. 華碩電腦股份有限公司

lenovo

Lenovo PC International Limited 联想集团有限公司

dell

Dell Technologies Inc.

toshiba

Toshiba Corporation / 株式会社東芝

microsoftsurface

Microsoft Surface

…over just 2 years.
  • Learn why most computers are cheap garbage.

    In 1983 Compaq used the “Clean Room Design” method to clone IBM’s BIOS, followed by Phoenix, who sold their BIOS to other manufacturers in 1984. Most of those manufacturers’ computers were very similar and comparably reliable, using off the shelf parts. Customer service, price, and marketing were the key factors.

    Then in 1998, a company called eMachine put out an invitation for bids, for the cheapest computer components that anyone could manufacture, and sold the cheapest, slowest, most unreliable piece of crap computers for under $500. Within six months they had the 4th highest PC sales. So the companies who had been selling good, reliable, fast PCs (comparably speaking) for 10 years, decided to sacrifice their reputation for higher market share, and one by one, Compaq, Gateway, HP, Packard Bell, & Dell started selling cheap garbage too.

    Each component in a computer contributes to its failure rate. Just like an automobile’s engine, transmission, alternator, & battery.
    My research of the failure rates of components, such as RAM, storage drives, GPUs, wireless LAN, and even thermal paste is extensive and continuous.
    A one year failure rate of only 3% means that the component is 10 times more likely to fail than a manufacturer with only a 0.3% failure rate. The failure rate of a computer is equal to the failure rate of all components added together. When configuring a laptop that serves for well over a decade, choosing the right manufacturers, and components with the lowest failure rates is every bit as important as choosing the right technologies!
    Reliability

    Please watch the first 3 minutes of this video (by YouTuber TechQuickie) to easily understand binning. Cheap vendors use very low quality binned components, while my recommendations are for the most reliable components, with far fewer defects. ANY component can fail, but the research that I do, and the vendors and components that I recommend, greatly reduce the odds of failure.

    (Sorry about the Tunnelbear endorsement. It’s not my video, but it is accurate and informative.)
The failure rates of computers I recommend are…

UNDER

…over 10 years!
Mostly due to owner abuse. “Oops, I spilled my coffee!”
Hopefully you are no longer brainwashed by the big laptop vendor marketing. But choosing reliable, quality components for a custom laptop is just part of the equation, for configuring a computer that can serve for nearly 20 years. Cheap, off the shelf laptops become prematurely obsolete, not because of how fast new technology develops, but because of the current technology that they lack.
Developing Technology

Thunderbolt 3 is the USB port of the future. Just as I foresaw USB (Type A) replacing printer, mouse, and keyboard connections in the mid 1990s, it’s easy to see that Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps Type C connector) is the connector of peripheral devices in the future. Its design, and Intel’s stated intent to make it royalty free, insures its inevitable adoption by most peripheral manufacturers.

Any new laptop without Thunderbolt 3 will become prematurely obsolete.

PCIe is another standard, that very few off the shelf computers have adopted yet, but it is the way that computers will connect to storage devices for well over the next 15 years, just as SATA has been the standard for the last 15 years. Technologies still in development, such as Z‑SSD & 3D XPoint use the PCIe standard.

Again, any laptop without PCIe will become prematurely obsolete.

Most cheap off the shelf laptops still have Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). HDDs are not only incredibly slow compared to PCIe and even SATA SSDs, they also have a very short service life, only lasting 0 to 6 years (52,500 hours). Techies brag about their HDDs that have lasted longer.

SDDs on the other hand have been the subject of 18 month long torture tests, where they typically survive 3,000 to 9,000 writes per sector before failing. If you rewrote all the data on an entire hard drive every week, 3,000 writes would be equivalent to 60 years (52*60=3120).

Even though SSDs are currently 3 times as expensive, HDDs are so prone to failure that I never configure HDDs into any of the laptops that I recommend. Buying a laptop with an HDD is like buying a highly flammable storage shed. You know it’s going to burn, with everything you own inside of it, it’s just a matter of when.

Storage Drives

Fastest real world benchmarks in each class.
Sequential Read/Write/Mixed Average:

SATA HDD

SATA SSD

PCIe SSD

Random Read/Write/Mixed Average:

SATA HDD

SATA SSD

PCIe SSD

Price Per Gigabyte:

SATA HDD

SATA SSD

PCIe SSD

Graphics Processing Unit
(GPU)

The next thing that has a major impact on laptop performance and longevity is the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). Many cheap laptops have what is referred to as Integrated Graphics. Which is a part of the Central Processing Unit (CPU), that shares resources including RAM.

A quality laptop, built for longevity, will have a graphics card (GPU) that is separate from the CPU, with its own RAM. A graphics card is essentially another computer, dedicated to rendering image data, and piping the image to the display(s). A quality laptop will have a GTX 1060m graphics card. For serious 3D gamers, it’s possible to have two GTX 1080m graphics cards in a laptop, but the cost difference over a single GTX 1060m is around $1200. Only SLI games can take advantage of dual cards. But most hard core gamers say that SLI isn’t worth it.

A desktop CPU in an off the shelf laptop is not an option, but it is an option with custom configured, quality laptops. It’s pathetic that no magazines include any laptop with an i7‑8086K desktop CPU, as being the “fastest gaming laptops”.

When the goal is to maximize longevity and performance of a laptop, the CPU is a major factor. Choosing a laptop CPU that is 30% slower than the desktop CPU, essentially shortens the longevity and performance by 30%. This is a major topic, when helping someone find the right computer. The trade off for all that power of a desktop CPU is power consumption / shorter battery life, and about a $400 price difference, because of the extra cooling, larger battery, power supply, room for more storage, RAM, etc.

Central Processing Unit
(CPU)
  • The solution to remote computing, without sacrificing performance, is power inverters and power banks.

    In order to make a laptop battery last longer, you have to lessen the power that the computer uses, and that is done by using lower performance components (ie. CPUs and integrated GPUs).
    My recommendation, rather than sacrifice performance, is to use a pure sine wave power inverter in the vehicle…
    …and a pure sine wave power bank elsewhere, when you’re going to be away from an outlet.
    Cigarette lighter charging cable
    Portable solar charger
    Optimizing your screen brightness around 50%, turning off keyboard LEDs, Disabling wifi if you’re not solidly connected to your network, turning on Windows 10 battery saver and power saver, can help too.
    Disabling wifi & bluetooth (airplane mode), webcam, USB, IR, and lowering screen resolution won’t make much difference.
    When taking your power banks on a commercial airline, tape safety covers with electrical tape to get through security. While tape is only required for battery contacts, not power banks, it should imply that you’re safety conscious and know the precautions and regulations (links below) better than they do, and hopefully save the time of closer inspection.
    I recommend a quality waterproof backpack large enough to carry a 17.3″ laptop [17″ (w) x 12″ (d) x 2″ (h)] and enough room for the power supply, a couple of power banks, a power inverter, and personal items, that conforms to airline carry on dimensions (even though slightly deeper) [22″ (w) x 14″ (d) x 9″ (h)].
    If you fly and use your laptop, read on for more information about power banks, airplanes, FAA regulations and lithium ion battery fires…
    To avoid having to check your bag, it’s recommended that you board the aircraft as soon as you are allowed. If asked to check your bag, tell the flight crew that you have two power banks, and an expensive laptop with an 85 watt hour lithium ion battery and irreplaceable data, that you need for work you planned on doing during the flight. Please choose someone who doesn’t need their carry on during the flight.
    Good luck! With the added seats and fully booked sardine cans, most flights require some coach passengers to check their carry-on.

    I spent about a week straight researching power inverters and power banks. It turned out to be a rabbit hole that seemed to go on forever. My research for even better options continues…
    FAA regulations limits lithium ion batteries to twenty 100Wh batteries. Or “with airline approval” two 100Wh – 160Wh. (See below about airline approval.) Wh = Watt Hour.
    Power banks are allowed in carry-on bags only. They are never allowed in checked baggage.
    As you may know, low quality, cheaply made lithium ion batteries can catch fire, and the energy stored in the battery can be converted into heat energy – more fire. In the passenger cabin, the flight crew can attack the fire, with water, soda, or a Halon ABC extinguisher. (Lithium ion batteries are Class B).
    The regulation is in Watt Hours (Wh) because it can apply to Lead Acid, Nickel Metal Hydride, as well as Lithium Ion, and other battery technologies.
    Lithium Ion batteries’ nominal voltage is 3.6 volts. which at 160Wh converts to 44,444mAh. Milliamp Hours (mAh) is the typical measurement of lithium ion capacity. So, no lithium ion battery above 44,444mAh * 3.6v = 160Wh is authorized aboard a commercial passenger aircraft.
    Then I came across a post about modified sine wave, and that opened a whole new can of worms, because Modified Sine Wave power sources, which are cheaper and far more common than PURE SIGN WAVE, can have a detrimental effect on electronic devices, their power supplies, and batteries within them. Finding pure sine wave power inverters and power banks that met all of my other criteria was sooo frustrating, but it was worth it!
    Above, I linked to the power bank on Amazon but you can get it from their likely source in Asia on Alibaba if you dare.
    (See this YouTube review for more information about the vendor branded power bank.)
    The top 10 carriers in the U.S.’ pages expressing lithium ion battery policies:
    Southwest Airlines – Doesn’t mention Watt Hour limits. Just quantity of 20.
    Delta – Specifically mentions the 160Wh limit of 2.
    American Airlines – Specifically mentions the 160Wh limit of 2.
    United Airlines – Specifically mentions the 160Wh limit of 2.
    JetBlue – Specifically mentions the 160Wh limit of 2.
    SkyWest – Mentions policies of partner airlines, Alaska, American, Delta, & United.
    Alaska Airlines – Specifically mentions the 160Wh limit of 2.
    Spirit Airlines – Specifically mentions the 160Wh limit of 2.
    Republic Airlines – Mentions policies of partner airlines, American, Delta, & United.
    Frontier Airlines – Says to review TSA regulations which defer to the FAA regulations.

    On a further note about laptop battery life… Unfortunately, for reasons that even I haven’t been able to ascertain, laptop batteries are pathetically weak, maxing out around 86Wh. I’ve tried hard to find out why all laptops (except where their light weight is the main selling point) don’t have 98Wh, or 158Wh batteries? Instead of 2 hour battery life, and batteries as pathetic as 35Wh.
    Anyway, get a couple of 151.2Wh (42,000mAh) power banks, and get up to 6 times as much time away from an outlet, without pulling your hair out waiting on a frustratingly slow laptop. I also recommend keeping your laptop battery charged, using your power banks first.

Random Access Memory
(RAM)

Random Access Memory (RAM) is another important factor in longevity. When a computer doesn’t have enough RAM, it uses the pagefile, which on the fastest PCIe drive, is about 20 times slower than RAM, 400 times slower with an HDD drive. Not having enough RAM is like trying to move a 3 bedroom household with a minivan rather than a semi.

Most off the shelf laptops are limited to 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and rather than install one 4GB chip, cheap laptop vendors fill both slots with two 2GB chips. So if you want to upgrade RAM later, you have to replace both chips, rather than just adding another chip, and you’ll always be limited to 16GB.

I always configure laptops with the largest chip that will fit in each slot, with the only variable being how many slots to use. All laptops that I recommend have a max RAM capacity of 32GB to 64GB.

Column Access Strobe Latency (CL) is an important factor when choosing the best RAM that is often totally ignored. A 2400MHz RAM chip with a CL of 15 (12.5ns) is faster than a 3000MHz chip with a CL of 19 (12.6ns). Lower is better.
The formula for RAM timing is: 2000 / MHz * CL = ns.

Bad Advice Everywhere You Look.

There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself before following anyone’s advice on purchasing a new laptop:

    1. What is the motivation for their “assistance”?
      Many people who post links to computers that they recommend are called affiliates. They get paid a percentage of the sale for everyone who follows their link (usually with an “ref” or “id” in the URL).
      Affiliate program pages: Acer Apple ASUS Dell HP Lenovo NewEgg Razer Toshiba
      Trusted Consumer Consultants will never become a member of any laptop vendor affiliate program. Most vetted vendors don’t have one. My research support fee paid by my clients is my only source of income, so my loyalty is to my clients who request my help.
    2. Just how much knowledge does the person that you’re getting advice from really have?
      My passion is research. I spend countless hours researching. The advice I give all of my clients is the same that I give to close friends with the same needs. I have no conflict of interest!
      Some of my links to articles are out of simplicity, rather than linking to dozens of my reliable raw data sources. They are not an endorsement for everything they publish.

Please help educate other consumers.

THANK YOU!

The button has 100 ways to share.

I started Trusted Consumer Consultants after realizing that even today, 25 years after I started my first computer tech support business, almost all the advice that I find online is geared toward lousy vendors’ best interest, not the consumers’. I hope that together, we help the public avoid getting ripped off. Will you please use the buttons on the left and get the word out? That there is a better option than spending weeks or months trying to find useful facts, only to be mislead by people with selfish interests.

My future goals include finding experts on other products, so we can help consumers with everything from cell phones to yachts…

Magazines
I always configure the most reliable consumer laptops, and often configure the fastest laptops on the planet, with desktop CPUs, the fastest GPUs, and benchmarks in the top 1% in the world. Yet every magazine list of “top laptops” is full of nothing but garbage from the biggest vendors, with the most deplorable customer service, where most of their revenue derives.
It’s shocking to me, that even Consumer Reports’ “objective voice” never includes any laptops with desktop CPUs, or vendors with excellent customer reviews in any of their computer recommendations.
There’s a saying, “If a service is free, then YOU are the product”. Yes, I charge research fees for my recommendations, but none of my recommendations are influenced by vendors. Only by extensive research, and consumers’ long term best interest.
Just reading this page, you already have vital knowledge that most techies are oblivious to.
With all due respect to all the great techies out there, who also can tear down and rebuild a computer, diagnose almost any problem, fix software problems without formatting the storage drive, are an encyclopedia of diagnostic software programs, and have gotten their friends’ computers working again, most of them are experts at solving problems rather than avoiding them in the first place.
There are very few techies who conduct in depth research into failure rates, customer reviews, hardware manufacturers, and the history of the companies that they recommend. Most of them suggest the same garbage that you find listed in magazines, or are limited to custom building a desktop, with the same hardware problems. While my obsession is reliability, performance, all of the information necessary to make the best choice, and recommending laptops that serve their owners many times longer, without the frustration.
A Techie Friend
Your local PC shop
Some local PC shops have one big advantage. You can likely walk out of their store with a computer the same day. But you’re limited to what they have on hand. Choosing only among their inventory is a short sighted solution, where you either compromise your needs, or you spend a lot more than you should, and you’ll likely be limited to the same lousy vendors with high failure rates and deplorable customer care.
Local PC shops have two useful functions. Repairs of unreliable computers that are out of warranty, and renting a computer while a reliable one that matches your needs is being built.
You are your own techie friend. You know how to fix most computer problems, and have researched the real world benchmarks of CPUs, GPUs, SSDs, RAM, etc… If you keep up on emerging technologies, also know the failure rates of all of the manufacturers, the customer reviews and detailed history of the vendors, and you get such information from more reliable sources than magazines, blogs, and forums, then there probably isn’t anything on this page that you weren’t aware of. I’d like to offer my hand for a virtual handshake. But if you’re not quite as passionate and obsessed with research as I am, then to save time, frustration, and money over the long term, you might want to consider my help.
Yourself

The computers that I recommend will never be influenced by anything other than consumers' best interest.

I will never recommend computer vendors whose customer satisfaction ratings are below average.

Trusted Consumer Consultants will never become a publicly traded company, where shareholder profits conflict with consumers' best interest.

My Promise to You

  • EMPTY