Apple Ranks a Lackluster Fourth in Notebook Reliability Study

Apple (s aapl) is fairly reliable, but not the most reliable company of all when it comes to notebooks, according to a new study by research firm SquareTrade. The top honor goes to Asus, which surprised me, but I suppose shouldn’t have when I consider the build quality of my fairly inexpensive Eee PC. Toshiba and Sony rank next most reliable, with Apple coming in a close fourth.

I remember a time not too long ago when IBM (s ibm) and Apple would top the list every time, with other manufacturers coming in a fair distance behind them. IBM sold its hardware business to Lenovo, which seems to be having some effect on quality, but is Apple also slipping as it grows? I don’t think there’s enough data to identify a trend, but it is a little worrying.

Still, at least Apple is still under the 20 percent mark for three-year laptop malfunction rates, which is the measure that indicates reliability in the study. Dell (s dell) is the only company below it, also under 20 percent, with 18.3. After that, things take a significant turn for the worse, with HP (s hp) coming in ninth place at 25.6 percent. That means Apple is still showing better-than-average performance overall.

Electronista suggests that the reason for the divide between top-tier manufacturers and those that fall below the average is that the companies with greater than 20 percent malfunction rates tend to do much of their business in the budget laptop and notebook categories, which see higher failure rates overall than premium-priced laptops, where Apple exclusively does its business. It’s possible NVIDIA-gate accounted for some of those failures, although SquareTrade doesn’t go into detail about malfunction causes in this report.