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C O N S U M E R

R E P O R T S

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Qujck Guide

COMPUTERS, DESKTOPS

Desktop computers are setting a new performance standard, especially in models that use Intel's newest Core processors, the Core 7-2600 series.

Shopping tip
Save money on your computer purchase by using coupon and forum sites such as Techbargains, FatWallet.com, and Ebates.

What to looi( for

For browsing the Web and checking e-mail, a low-end, dual-core processor such as the Intel Pentium Dual-Core or AMD Athlon/Turion X2 A faster processor such as the Intel second-generation Core i3, i5, and i7, or AMD's A4, A6, or A8 for watching videos or playing games 4GB of memory, enough for anything other than heavy multitasking or video editing
For more buying advice, go to ConsumerReports.org/computers

What to sitip

3D capability, because the technology isn't perfect yet


What you'll pay

Some full-sized desktops that are excellent performers could cost as little as $650 to $700. Once you add features, of course, prices rise.

Scan this or see how. page 11

Brand & model

Price

Overall score Test results

Features

E 100 F I G IVGl E

-o

A
[2] 1 Ld 2

ALL-iN-ONE
Apple iMac 27-inch
MC813LL/A MSI AE2420 3D-046U5 Apple iMac 27-inch MC510LL/A Apple iMac 21.5-incii MC509LL/A Apple iMac 21.5-inch MC309LL/A Apple iMac 21.5-inch MC508LL/A

O a 2.7GHzCorei5 4 1000 a Corei7-860S 4 1000 O a 3.2GHzCorei3 4 1000 O a a a 3.2GHzCorei3 4 1000 O O 2.56HzCorei5 4 O O


3.06GHZ Coreo 4 500 500

0 '

0 *
0 5

COMPUTERS,

DESKTOPS

17

Brand & model


^ S

Pnce

Overall score

Test results

Features

g S H S .!? S, s s
100 F I G IVGI E

II i I I

ALL-IN-ONE continued

0 7 0 8 Q 9

SonyVAIOVPCL212FX/B Sony Vaio VPCL137FX/B Gateway ZX49Sl-33e

$1,200 1.500 730 900


650 800 540 600 750 400 680 330

e e

Corei5-2410M
^ Core 2 Quad 08400 Core 3-550 ^ Athlon 11X4 " 615e _ Pentium Duai^ Core E5500 ^ Athlon IIX2 " 240e ^ Athlon IIX2 ^ 260u

4 1000 8 1000

o
o

4 1000 4 4 4 4 3 4 2 750 750 750 500 500 750 320

10 HPTouchSmartlOz 11 HP All-in-One 200-5250 12 HP TouchSmart 300-1223 13 HP All-ln-One Computer 100-5155 14 Acer All-in-One AZ15 16 17 18
1OO-U3O72 Dell Inspiron IO23O5-3114MSL Compaq Presario CQl-2025 MSI Wind Touch AE205O-008 Lenovo PC C200

o
o
o o o

o O Athlon II170U Athlon IIX2 O 25Ou

aoo
o

Dual-Core E-350 Dual-Core E-3S0 Atom D525

4 1000 1 250

o o

B
1 2

COMPACT
Gateway SX2803-25e HP Pavilion Slimline 55-1014 HP Pavilion s5610y eMachines EL1352-23e Acer Veriton X275-UD5700W eMachines EL185O-Ole

O NA NA O O NA NA O O NA NA O O NA NA
O NANA
,--^ a

6 1000 4 750 3 640 4 500


coreE5700 ^ ^^

/-^ M lA Pentium Dual- , A

O NA NA Celeron 450

2 500

Ratings Key Excellent Very good OGood Fair Poor D CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. bd Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

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Brand & modei

Price

Overall score

Test results
<-'

Features
ro
t;-

-^

111 I
0 100 P I F I G IVGl E

C FULL-SIZED
1 2 3 4 HP Pavilion Elite h8-1020 Asus Essentio CM6850-07 HP Pavilion Elite h8-1010 Deil Studio XPS X83OO-1225NBK HP Pavilion HPE h8xt HP Pavilion Elite HPE-410V HP Pavilion HPE h8z HP Pavilion Elite HPE-235f Gateway DX485O-27EU Dell Inspiron 62O-228NBK Corei7-2600S 8 Core 7-2600 8 Corei5-2390T 8 Core 5-2300 6 1000 1000 1000 1000 1500 1000 1000 1000 1500 1000 1500 1000 1000 1000 750 1000 500 500 500 1000 500 500

0 S 0 6
0 0 0 Q 0 7 8 9 10

Core 7-2600 8 Phenom IIX6 8

1O45T

Phenom IIX6 8 1065T Phenom IIX6 8

1035T

Corei5-2300 Core 3-2100 Core 3-55O Athlon IIX4 645 Phenom IIX4 840T Athlon II X4 640 Athlon IIX4 630 Pentium Dual Core E5800 Pentium DualCore E5700 Athlon liX2 245 Athlon IIX2 260 Athlon IIX2 220 Athlon II X2 255 Athlon IIX2 245

6 4 6 6 6 4 4 4 4 4 3 4 3 4

11 HP Pavilion p673Of 12 HP Pavilion P7-1054 13 HP Pavilion p6774y 14 HP Pavilion p6754y 15 HP Pavilion p6654y 16 lenovo IdeaCentre K3OO-53162HU 17 Deii Inspiron I560-2133NBK 18 Deil Inspiron I570-9402NBK 19 HP Pavilion p7z 20 ASUS Essentio CM1630-06 21 Lenovo IdeaCentre H405 (7723-lFU) 22 Deii Inspiron 570

C O M P U T E R S ,

D E S K T O P S

19

Brand & model

Price

Overall score

Test results

Features
CO CO

TO

i
0 100 P I F I G IVGl E

.1

C FULL-SIZED continued
23 24 25 26 AsusE5sentioCM1630-0S Compaq Presario CQ5720F HP Pavilion p7m Compaq Presario cq5814 $455 350 350 290

o N N *"^';j"<^ A A
O ^ O a O ^ O NA NA ^'^"j'"'^
320 500

M wA Pentium Dual A NA NA ^g^gj5gQQ 2

ONANA

""^-^

D MINI
[71 1 2 Apple Mac Mini MC270LL/A Acer AspireRevo Desi(top AR37OO-U3OO2

O NA O NA 350 e

2.4GHZ Core

2 Duo

2 2

320 250

NA NA AtomD525

Ratings Key Excellent Very good OGood Fair P o o r Q CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. Ail are recommended. hd Recominended These are h'igh-performing models that stand out.

Guide to the Ratings


Overall score reflects all the Ratings factors. Displayed scores are rounded; models are listed in order of precise score. Scores are comparable between the full-sized and compact categories. Scores for the mini and all-in-one categories are not comparable with any other category. Performance reflects speed while running productivity applications, multimedia applications, and 3D games. Ergonomics represents quality of the keyboard and pointing device, and accessibility of features. Versatility includes hardware, such as memory-card slots and A/V connections; software, such as security programs and productivity applications; and tech support and warranty provisions. For all-in-ones, display is our judgment of clarity, color, brightness, and viewing angle. Speakers covers fidelity, bass response, and loudness. Price is approximate retail.

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OUR READERS RATE TECHNICAL SUPPORT

A
Manufacturer

pple stood out among manufacturers for technical support. Ovetall, tech support remains among the lowestrated consumer services we measure, though clear differences exist among manufacturers. The Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed CONSUMER REPORTS subscribers

about their most recent experiences with tech support, including support provided by manufacturers' extended plans. Respondents might not reflect the general U.S. population. Desktop and laptop responses

were combined into orie Rating, because we've found little difference between the two in recent surveys. In the chart below, the reader score would be 100 if everyone were completely satisfied; 80 would mean respondents were very satisfied, on average; 60, fairly well satisfied; 40, somewhat dissatisfied. Differences of fewer than 7 points are not meaningful. Phone support and online support were rated on a scale from very poor to excellent. Problem solved indicates the percentage of people who said the manufacturer solved their problem.

Tech support
In order of reader score
Reader score Survey results

100 Apple Lenovo/IBM Dell Sony Toshiba


ASUS

e
0

o o o

o o o o

HP/Compaq Acer/Gateway/eMachJnes

Based on responses from owners of 12.583 desktop, laptop, and netbook computers who contacted tech support between January 2010 and January 2011.
->Worse

Ratings Key

ms sol (perce 80% 57 57 45 44 41 47 40

COMPUTERS,

LAPTOPS

21

Quick Guide

COMPUTERS, LAPTOPS

Some laptops offer features and capabilities that rival those of traditional desktops. Prices for 13-inch laptops continue to drop, and 500GB and larger hard drives are becoming more common in laptops of all sizes. What to looii for

An II- to 13-inch model if you plan to carry the laptop around with you frequently A 14- to 16-inch screen for the ideal balance of performance, portability, and price A 17- to 18-inch model for an entertainment-oriented desktop replacement
What to skip

Athlon Neo, Turion Neo, or Sempron processor, the Intel Atom or Celeron processor, or the Via Nano processor
What you'll pay

Shopping tip
If you have special needs, order la carte from the manufacturer's website.

A well-equipped, 15-inch laptop in the middle price range might cost about $600 and include one ofthe newer processors.
For more buying advice, go to ConsumerReports.org/computers

Unless it's a netbook, computers that use the AMD


Brand & model Price

Scan this or see how, page II

Overall score

Test results

100 p I F I G IVGl E

A UiNCH MODELS
1 2 Apple MacBaoi< Air ll-inch MC5O5LL/A Acer TravelMate Timeline TM8172-6932 HP Pavilion dmlz 13-INCH MODELS

O e OOO OO

3 B

1.4GHzCore 2 0uo Core 9 3.1 5-470U Dual-Core 6.25 3.4 E-350 5.25 2.3

Samsung 900X3A-A03

O a 7.5 2.9

Cr oe

2 Apple UacBook Air 13-inch MC503LL/A 3 Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch MC700LL/A

5-2537M 1.86GHZ 7.5 2.9 Core 2 Duo 2.3GHZ O 8.5 4.5 Core 5

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Brand & model

Price

Overall score

Test results

rsa tilit\

tal}ilit\

mie

Dii

c m Perfo

(hr.

10 0

p 1 F 1 GIVGl E

B
[^ 4

13-INCH MODELS continued


ASUSU36JC-B1 Apple MacBook MC5I6LL/A Sony VAIO VPCS134GX/B ASUSU33JC-A1 Lenofo IdeaPad U260-08763AU Toshiba Sateliite L635-53O3O HPENVY13-1O3ONR

o o 8.5 3.8 ^.'-^"^j^ O 6.75


2.4GHZ Core 4.8 2 Duo Core Core 3-37OM Core 3-U380 Celeron P4600

ttery

Ergc

ra

Weil

.c on

0U(

UIJ

[71 5

0 0

6 7 8 9

O O 5.5 4.3

O O O 8.5 4.6 O 5.25 3 O O 5.5 4.4 O O O 4 3.8 O O 7.75 3.8 O O 5.75 4.1

10

11 MSI X37O-OO1US 12 HP Pavilion


dni3-3010us

Dual Core E-350 Pentium U5400

14-INCH MODELS
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420

O O O O OO O O O O O O O O

4.7

0 2 0 3

HP Paviiion dv4t Dell Inspiron 14R2nd Gen 5 HP Pavilion dm4-2050us HP Paviiion dm4-1265dx Samsung NP-Q430-J503U5 Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 0578N6U Dell Inspiran 14R2nd Gen 3 Dell Inspiron I14r-1296LPK HP Pavilion dv4-4030us

6.75 4.8 5.25 5.2 8.25 4.3 5 3.75 4.5 4.4 5 4.9

0 *
0 5

0 ' 0^ 0 *
9 10

o o o o o o o

5.75 5.2 4.75 4.9 5.75 4.8

Core 3-231OM Core 3-231OM Core 5-2410M Core 3-231OM Core 5-460M Core 5-480M Core 3-390M Core 3-2310M Core 3-38OM Pentium B950

C O M P U T E R S ,

L A P T O P S

23

Brand & modei

Pnce

Overail score

Test results
o

100 F I G IVGI E

14-INCH MODELS continued


HPG42-3O3DX

$ 400

O O

Turion II 4.8 Dual-Core 3 P540 5

12 Lenovo ThinkPad SL410


2842-K3U

Q e O O 4.5

13 HPG42-24OUS 14 Acer lconia-6120


Touchhook

O O 3.75 4.9 O O O O 3 6

D PI
[7]

15-TO 16-INCH MODELS


15-inch MC372LL/A Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch MC721LL/A Appie MacBook Pro 15-inch ZOLZ

1 Apple UacBook Pro


2

1,700 1,800 1,900

O O O O e O O O

[71 3

[71 4 0
0 0 [7]

Samsung
NP-RF511-SO2US

850

5
6 7 8

Deii XPS B
Deil XPS 15z Deii XPS 15z HD Display Toshiba Satellite A655-3DV11X

O O
O O

ASUSN53SV-B1

[ 7 ] 10

Dell Inspiron 15R2nd Gen 5 [ 7 ] 11 HP Pavilion dv6-325Ous

O O

12 Gateway NV59C70U

O O 5.5 5.2

2.53GHZ Corei5 2GHZ 9 5.6 Corei7 2GHZ 9.25 5.5 Corei7 Core 6.25 5.7 7-263O0M Core 6.25 6,1 7-262OM Core 7,25 5,5 . 5-2410M Core 7 5.5 IS-2410M Core 3.5 5,9 5-241OM Core 5 6.4 5-2410M Core 6,75 6 5-241OM Core 5.25 5.5 5-480M Core

8,5 5.5

Ratings Key Excellent Very good OGood Fair P o o r D CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended, Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

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Brands model

Price

Overall score Test results

Q:

i S I 2 5 ^i 1,
S S
100
P 1 F G IVGl E

rocess
Core 3-231OM Core 3-38OM Core 3-38OM Core 3-38CM Core 3-370M Core 7-7400 Core 5-480M Core 3-350M Core 3-35OM Core 3-380M Core 7-7200M Core 3-370M Core 3-370M Pentium P6200 Pentium P6200 Pentium P6100 Phenom II N830 Turion II P560 Athlon II P-360 Turion II Dual-Core P540^

S -^ S .2 .

S 'l

S- TO 16-INCH MODELS continued


Dell Inspiron 15R2nd Gen 3 Acer Aspire AS5742-6814 ASUSU52JC-BBG6 HPG6-1A69US HP Pavilion dv6-3257sh $ 550

Q 1 3 B 1 4

O a o a o o a

a o 6.5 6 o o 5.75 5 o 4.75 5.9 O O 5 5.3

550 750 500 750 870 550 600

0 1 5
Q 1 6

, ^ , ^ , , ^ , ^ , , * , . * 4 , , ^ , ^ . ^ . ^ , ''

0 1 7

a O 4.75 5.5 a O 3 6.6

18 Sony VAIO VPCF13UFX/B 19 Acer Aspire AS5742-6638 20 HP Pavilion dv6-3225dx

a oa

, o O O 4.75 5 o O 4.75 5.5 o O 5.25 5.3

21

Acer Aspire A55745-5425 (09I4-4DU)

550
550
1.900

22 Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 23 HPENVY15-1O5ONR 24 HPG62-373DX 25 Dell Inspiron


I15R-1O09MRB

o a a a o o o a
o e e & e e

O O 4.75 5.6 2 6.3

480 500 500 530 425 720 650 430 500

o O O 4.5 5.6
O 3 5.7

26 Gateway NV55C38U

O O 3.5 5.1 a O 3.75 5.7 O O 3.5 5.9 a O 3.5 5.4 a O 3.5 5.4 O O 4 5.6

27

ASUSK52F-F1

28 ASUS K52F-BBR5 29 HP Pavilion dv6-3040us 30 Sony VAIO VPCEE43FX/BJ 31 Dell Inspiron


IM5O3O-192OOBK

o a
o e e o e e 9 e e

. ^ , ^ 4

32

HPG62-4350X

O O 3.5 5.5

COMPUTERS,

LAPTOPS

25

Brand & modei

Price

Overaii score

Testresuits

i ^ I SI i I
a,

100 p I F I G I VGl

D 15-TO 16-iNCH MODELS continued


33 34 3S
Acer Aspire A55253-BZ6O2 Toshiba Satellite C655-55I32 Compaq Presario C057-210U5 , *

350
350 400

E^
f!^M f!^M

aoo

5.75

5 5.2 5.4

Dual-Core e-350 Celeron 925 Dual Core C-50

2 3 2

e e o o 4.75 a o o 5.75

E
2 3

17-TO 18-INCH MODELS


Appie MacBook Pro 17-inch MC7251L/A HP ENVY 17-2O7Onr Appie MacBook Pro 17-inch MC024LL/A HPdv7-4295uS

a O 9.5 6.4 O 3.75 75 a O 9.25 6.5 m e ^ e e

^^^ .^^,^^^ ^^^l

3.75 72 J^^^w

0 S p] 6 0 0 7
0 0 0 8 9

DeilXP5173D Samsung NP-RF711-501U5 Toshiba Qosmio X505-08104 DeiiXPS17

O a a a

3 77 .

e e e e e 4.75 6.5 a 35 10.8 .

Core 5-2410M Core 5-2410M Core 7-26300M

a a a O 5.25 74 .^^^l^

HP Pavilion dv7-6l75us 10 Delllnspironl7R2nd Gen 5 U 12 Gateway NV79C54U Deii Inspiron 17R2nd Gen 3 HP Pavilion G7-150US

e ^ e e e

9 71

Core
5-2410M Core 5-2410M Core 3-38OM Core 3-231OM Core 3-370K

o a a a 4.75 72 o 5 6.6 o a a a 4.75 7.1

0 0

13

o a a o o 4 6

Ratings Key Excellent avery good OGood Fair Poor D CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. Ail are recommended. \Ei Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

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Guide to the Ratings


Overall score reflects all the Ratings factors. Displayed scores are rounded; models are listed in order of precise score, out of a total of 100. Portability score is based on battery life and weight. Ergonomics represents the quality of the keyboard and pointing device, and accessibility of features. Perfornnance is based on performance while running productivity applications, multimedia applications, and 3D games. Versatility includes hardware such as memory-card slots and A/V connections, software such as security programs and productivity applications, and tech support and warranty provisions. Display covers display size, clarity, color, contrast, brightness, and glare. Battery life (hr.) is estimated in hours while running productivity applications. Weight (Ib.) is the weight of the laptop as you would carry it around, including the battery but without the power adapter. Price is approximate retail.

iviost & Least Reliable


Desktops
Fewer ^ More

Laptops
repairs

repairs

A pe M ^ t a l pl Cma ^ ^ ^ H t ] o pq

Gtwy ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ H ae a
0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25%

Gateway has been among the more repairprone brands of desktop computers and Apple has been among the least. That's what we found when we asked almost 20,000 readers who bought a desktop computer between 2008 and 2011 about their experiences. The graph shows the percentage of models for each brand that were repaired or had a serious problem. Differences of fewer than 5 points aren't meaningful, and we've adjusted the data to eliminate differences linked solely to the age of the desktop computer. Models within a brand can vary, and design or manufacture changes might affect future reliability. Still, choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model.

0%

5%

10% 15% 20% 25%

No one brand stood out as the most or least reliable. That's what we found when we asked more than 26,000 readers who bought a laptop computer between 2008 and 2011 about their experiences. The graph shows the percentage of brands that have ever been repaired or had a serious problem. Differences of fewer than 3 percentage points are not meaningful, and we've adjusted the data to eliminate differences linked solely to the age of the laptop computer. Models within a brand can vary, and design or manufacture changes might affect future reliability. Still, choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model. Source: Annual Product Reiiabiiity Survey. Consumer Reports National Research Center.

Copyright of Consumer Reports is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.