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Soluto's PC Purchasing
Guide for Small Businesses

Monthly Report, April 2013
We’re glad to present our first PC purchasing guide for
small businesses, focusing on Windows laptops.


How is this report different from any typical PC comparison list?
This report is based on Soluto’s big-data frustration analytics. It is unique because it is based on long term, ongoing analysis of a huge number of PCs, taking into account events such as application crashes, application hangs, blue-screens-of-death, long boot times and excessive number of background processes.

Review sites and other top-PC lists are usually based on a combination of hands-on review for a few days and/or benchmarking software that stresses the PC to its limits. In this report, on the other hand, we bring you real data about ongoing PC performance “in the field” - used by real people under real conditions.

For example, the sample for constructing this report included 224,144 crashes and 84,251 blue-screens over a course of 3 months (this sample is a small subset of the Soluto data set, see our full methodology below).

How can I get these reports?
This report and future ones will be served to our Business Pro subscribers on a monthly basis, each time with a slightly different focus. Since this is the first of our reports, we decided to make it special and share it with the public as well.

Thank you for being a Business Pro. Future monthly reports will include more and more valuable data, such as comparisons within price groups or performance groups, operating systems, etc.

Our reports inventory is accessible at http://www.soluto.com/reports.
Enjoy, and we’re always happy to hear ideas and suggestions at feedback@soluto.com.

Not a Business Pro yet? click here to Join Soluto.

The Soluto Team
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The sample used for this report contains:
224,144
crashes
250,791
hangs
84,251
BSoDs
1,346,000
boots
62,476
hours spent on boot
See below our full methodology

The Top 10

Soluto Best Performing Windows Laptops Apr 2013
Starting at Soluto Score*
1 Apple MacBook Pro 13, mid-2012 MacBook Pro 13, mid-2012 $1,199** 1.05
2 Acer Aspire E1-571 Aspire E1-571 $429 1.12
3 Dell XPS13 XPS13 $979 1.28
4 Dell Vostro 3560 Vostro 3560 $569 2.09
5 Acer Aspire V3-771 Aspire V3-771 $699 2.44
6 Apple MacBook Pro 15" Retina MacBook Pro 15" Retina $2,199** 2.51
7 Dell Inspiron 14z Inspiron 14z $549 2.54
8 Dell Latitude E5530 Latitude E5530 $519 2.90
9 Dell Vostro 3460 Vostro 3460 $539 2.95
10 Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Thinkpad X1 Carbon $1,169 3.20

  • Crashes/wk
    0.88
  • Hangs/wk
    1.06
  • BSoDs/wk
    0.01
  • Avg. background
    processes
    60
  • Average
    boot time
    151s

Starting at
$1,199
Windows license not included
  • 13.3"
  • 4GB-8GB
  • 7hrs
  • i5/i7
  • 500GB-750GB
  • 4.5lb / 2.06kg
The MacBook Pro is the most expensive PC among the top 3, but if you’re looking for top reliability - the data is clear. MacBook Pro is the best Windows PC on the market.

A main factor in this machine’s metrics is the fact that every Windows installation on it is clean. With PC manufacturers loading so much crapware on new laptops, this is a bit of an unfair competition. But on the other hand, PC makers should look at this data and aspire to ship PCs that perform just as well as a cleanly installed MacBook Pro. One could argue that we should not compare a cleanly installed MacBook Pro with an OEM-imaged PC from Acer or Dell. There’s sense behind this claim, and one of our next reports will include a separate comparison of only cleanly-installed machines. But – for this first report we simply compared the real PCs in the field, some with original images and some reinstalled by their users. We believe it’s more representative of reality.

There are definite disadvantages to using Windows on Mac. First – there’s more work to do (buy windows, set-up BootCamp, install Windows, etc). Also, the keyboard is not optimized for Windows (e.g. no Del key), and there may be driver issues. But on the other hand, the Mac has an amazing trackpad unparalleled by any PC, and has a very solid build.

And some people think Mac users look smarter. So if you’ve ever looked for an excuse to buy a MacBook – now you have it.

  • Crashes/wk
    0.74
  • Hangs/wk
    0.4
  • BSoDs/wk
    0.06
  • Avg. background
    processes
    66
  • Average
    boot time
    155s

Starting at
$429
  • 15.6"
  • 4GB-8GB
  • 4.5hrs
  • i3/i5
  • 500GB-750GB
  • 5.5lb / 2.5kg
Our data has long shown that Acer machines are very stable and well-performing, but to find the E1-571 so high on the list was surprising even for us. The reason is that Acer’s E series are considered more entry level vs other series, like the V series (which you can find in the 5th place).

You could buy almost 3 of those for the price of one MacBook Pro 13”3, so this is a superb option for budget-minded businesses who like big laptops (15”6).

To clarify, price was not taken into account when calculating the score (see full methodology details below), this machine is in the 2nd place purely because of its performance and stability.

  • Crashes/wk
    1.46
  • Hangs/wk
    1.38
  • BSoDs/wk
    0.03
  • Avg. background
    processes
    72
  • Average
    boot time
    67s

Starting at
$979
  • 13.3”
  • 4GB-8GB
  • 9hrs
  • i5/i7
  • 128GB-256GB (SSD)
  • 2.99lb / 1.36kg
The Dell XPS 13 is a high-end PC laptop with superb performance. It’s the smallest, lightest and has the longest battery life of the top-3.

If you put some effort into it, you could also find a Windows-7 based model for ~$740, and on the other hand the XPS 13 reaches $1499 for its highest-end model (i7, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD).

One point to mention about the Dell XPS 13 is that it has almost no bezel, using the entire upper shell area for the screen. This makes it the size of your average 12” laptop, which is really cool. Unless you have huge fingers, that is.

The Dell XPS 13 is a noble specimen among PCs, we at Soluto really love it. But it’s definitely a premium model when compared to the excellent budget Acer Aspire E1-571.

To return to the OEM vs non-OEM debate for a second, 32% of Soluto users reimaged their XPS 13 to a clean installation of Windows.

  • Crashes/wk
    1.34
  • Hangs/wk
    1.23
  • BSoDs/wk
    0.04
  • Avg. background
    processes
    67
  • Average
    boot time
    142s

Starting at
$569
15"
4GB-6GB
7hrs
i3/i5/i7
500GB
5.75lb / 2.6kg

  • Crashes/wk
    1.07
  • Hangs/wk
    0.59
  • BSoDs/wk
    0.10
  • Avg. background
    processes
    73
  • Average
    boot time
    165s

Starting at
$699
17.3"
6GB-12GB
3.5hrs
i5/i7
750GB-1TB
7.5lb / 3.4kg

  • Crashes/wk
    2.05
  • Hangs/wk
    0.78
  • BSoDs/wk
    0.20
  • Avg. background
    processes
    65
  • Average
    boot time
    57s

Starting at
$2,199
Windows license not included
15"
8GB-16GB
7hrs
i7
256GB-512GB (SSD)
4.46lb / 2kg

  • Crashes/wk
    1.17
  • Hangs/wk
    1.04
  • BSoDs/wk
    0.04
  • Avg. background
    processes
    71
  • Average
    boot time
    179s

Starting at
$549
14"
4GB-8GB
5hrs
i3/i5/i7
500GB
4.12lb / 1.87kg

  • Crashes/wk
    1.22
  • Hangs/wk
    1.33
  • BSoDs/wk
    0.02
  • Avg. background
    processes
    79
  • Average
    boot time
    173s

Starting at
$519
15.6”
2GB-4GB
N/A
i3/i5/i7
320GB-500GB
5.25lb / 2.38kg

  • Crashes/wk
    1.05
  • Hangs/wk
    1.53
  • BSoDs/wk
    0.05
  • Avg. background
    processes
    73
  • Average
    boot time
    170s

Starting at
$539
14”
4GB-6GB
7hrs
i3/i5/i7
500GB
4.92lb / 2.19kg

  • Crashes/wk
    1.69
  • Hangs/wk
    1.38
  • BSoDs/wk
    0.09
  • Avg. background
    processes
    85
  • Average
    boot time
    103s

Starting at
$1,169
14”
4GB-6GB
8.2hrs
i5/i7
128GB-180GB (SSD)
2.99lbs / 1.36kg

Methodology

Background and Methodology
Our servers hold data from millions of machines. We chose a sample of 150,000 laptops and analyzed their data between January 1st, 2013 and April 1st, 2013, and analyzed application crashes, application hangs, blue-screens-of-death, boot time and number of background processes to try and come up with a comparison that represents the real user experience when using a PC.

We will share lots of details about our methodology here. Some of the scoring decisions we’ve taken are obviously open for debate, we tried to elaborate on it so people can change the scoring algorithms and reach their own conclusions.

Building the Sample
Our servers hold frustration data from millions of PCs, but you need much less to reach statistically significant results. We started by choosing 150k PCs that 1) are of a laptop form-factor, including ultrabooks and netbooks; and 2) their OS was installed in the past 12 months (because we wanted to focus on laptops available for purchase on the market today).

We then removed every PC model that is either 1) not offered anymore for purchase or; 2) exists in insignificant amounts within our user base.

One could naturally argue that our user base doesn’t perfectly represent the world, but regardless of the level of overlap with real-world, the data is there and is interesting to look at.

We were left with 37k laptops, spanning 49 models (“relevant models”). Vendors represented are (in descending order of how many models they have represented): HP, Lenovo, Dell, Samsung, Asus, Acer, Toshiba and Apple.

The Data
We took all the frustrating events these PCs experienced between January 1st, 2013 and April 1st, 2013. The data included 224,144 crashes, 250,791 non-responsive events and 84,251 BSoDs. Non-responsive events (aka Hangs) are cases where an application becomes non-responsive for over 5 seconds.

Scoring
We looked at 5 parameters, here are their average, min and max among the relevant models:
  Parameter Average Min Max
  Application crashes per week 1.85 0.74 3.24
  Non-responsive events per week 1.18 0.4 2.16
  BSoDs per week 0.08 0.01 0.2
  Background running processes 78 60 94
  Boot time 167s 57s 251s
We gave parameters the following weights:
   Crashes per week Taken as is: one crash per week equals 1 point.
   Non-responsive events per week Taken as is: one non-responsive event per week equals 1 point
   BSoDs per week Multiplied by 10. So 1 BSoD per week is like 10 crashes per week
   Background running processes The average of background processes is 78. The points’ contribution of a model with X running processes was calculated as: (X-78)/25. This means that from a frustration perspective, we defined 25 more running processes as equal to another crash every week, and 25 less running processes as one less crash every week (a model with few background processes gets a positive bonus).
   Boot time The average boot time is 167s. The points’ contribution of a model with boot time X was calculated as follows: (X-167)/60, based on the same rationale described in the background processes.
For example, let’s take Dell XPS 13 and run the calculation:
   Parameter Value Calculation Points contribution
   Crashes/w 1.4626 = 1.4626 1.4626
   Non-responsive/w 1.3791 = 1.3791 1.3791
   BSoDs/w 0.03134 = 10*0.03134 0.31
   Background processes 72.6595 = (72.6569-78)/25 -0.213
   Boot time 67.0709 = (67.0709-167)/60 -1.6655
SUM:      1.276
Alternative Scoring
There is no right or wrong way to measure crashes against boot time. We took a weighing decision that made sense to us. Each model in the top has all those values mentioned: we invite you to play with the numbers yourselves and reach alternative decisions.


What is Soluto?

Soluto is a PC management service that allows small business IT and IT service providers to manage all their PCs over the web.
Soluto lets IT pros see all of the PCs they manage in one place, remote access into PCs from any device, receive email alerts when things go wrong, and remedy them with one click from any web browser - even when the PCs supported are shut down (magic!).

Soluto is designed for both the IT pro and the co-worker or customer receiving support - resulting in a service that makes people appreciate their IT managers and understand their work. In this sense, Soluto changes a paradigm in the market, shifting the design focus to a beautiful service for everyone, not just IT.


Soluto is proactive, meaning that Soluto notifies IT pros automatically when there’s a problem, rather than them having to constantly check the status of things. Soluto’s alerts are actionable, they carry action buttons inside them you can click wherever you receive them - on any PC, Mac or smartphone, saving tons of time and reducing frustrations.
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Disclosures - All rights reserved to ©2013 Soluto, Ltd. and/or its subsidiaries and affiliates. Soluto and PC Genome are trademarks of Soluto, Ltd. (“Soluto”). All other product names and trademarks are the trademarks of their respective owners. The data, reviews, criteria, “Soluto Score”, technical information, measurements and other information contained in this document (the “Information”) is gathered and processed by Soluto, based on certain criteria, publicly available data, sampling and processing methodologies, used and learned exclusively by Soluto, is not based on any representation and/or warranty made by any other third party (other than publicly available technical data), and are believed by Soluto to fairly reflect the results of such process; however, Soluto does not represent that the Information is error free and disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, validity or completeness of the Information, and shall have no liability for any errors, omissions or inadequacies related to the Information. Further, you hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon such Information shall be at your sole risk. THIS DOCUMENT AND THE INFORMATION, ARE OFFERED “AS-IS”, AND SOLUTO SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS OF ANY PRODUCT AND/OR SERVICE DESCRIBED AND/OR PRESENTED IN THIS DOCUMENT, FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE. This document and the Information contained herein is not intended to be taken as authoritative statements of fact, or an advertisement of any product, company or service. Soluto is the sole author of this document, which has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by any third party.
IN NO EVENT SHALL SOLUTO AND/OR ANY THIRD PARTY SHALL BE LIABLE FOR CLAIMS, LOSSES OR DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THE INFORMATION (OR ANY USE THEREOF), OR OUT OF SOLUTO’S TESTING AND PROCESSING PROCEDURES OR METHODOLOGIES, NOR SHALL THEY BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, LOSS OR DAMAGE IN ANY WAY RELATED TO THE CREATION, PUBLICATION AND/OR DISTRIBUTION OF THE DOCUMENT, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY OR INDIRECT DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOST PROFITS OR SAVINGS), EVEN IF SOLUTO WAS ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
Credit Notices - Apple, Boot Camp, Mac, MacBook, MacBook Pro and Retina are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. ACER and ASPIRE are trademarks of Acer Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. DELL, INSPIRION, LATITUDE, XPS and VOSTRO are trademarks of Dell Inc. Lenovo and ThinkPad are trademarks of Lenovo in the United States, other countries, or both.