Rather than just picking a laptop model out of thin air, many consumers rely on brand reputation to launch their searches. Different users are concerned with different aspects of brand quality, such as customer support, software and price. We put the top laptop brands to the test, rating design, keyboards and touchpads, tech support, displays and audio, value and selection, software, customer satisfaction and innovation. Using a point system, we added each brand's scores for a cumulative score that determined their place in the rankings.

In the three years LAPTOP Magazine has reviewed the best + worst laptop brands, there hasn't been much change in the brands that take the crown. But other factors, such as innovation and how they ranked in our individual reviews, have fluctuated. And some brands consistently perform at high levels in some categories, but fail to bring a solid performance in others. Oddly, Apple is the only brand whose overall score dropped from 2011.

For instance, Lenovo improved in 2012 with its individual reviews as well as in tech support and value and selection but didn't perform as well in the software category. And Dell drastically improved in 2012 with its individual reviews, but dropped in the software and innovation categories. But Apple and ASUS continue to be the leaders in design, while Apple and Lenovo take the lead in customer satisfaction.

Check out LAPTOP's Best and Worst Notebook brands of 2012 to see how your favorite brands fared.