Your Guide to the Top-Rated Products

How do the charts work? Each month, we test the latest desktop and laptop PCs, plus products from a rotating selection of other categories such as digital cameras, hard drives, HDTVs, monitors,, printers, and audio players.

We run each new candidate through a battery of performance tests in the PC World Labs, and then we pass it along to an experienced reviewer who appraises its ease of use, design quality, and usefulness. Our next step is to compare these results directly with those of previously reviewed products in the same product category--for example, we compare results for a new netbook with results for other currently available netbooks. A product's final overall PC World Rating reflects results from our hands-on evaluation and lab-based performance tests, the product's breadth of features, and the vendor's support policies. The PC World Rating also determines the product's rank in our Top-Rated Products charts.

As new versions of products are released, we remove older ones from the Top-Rated Products chart, though the original review remains on our site. Product configurations listed in the charts reflect the products as tested; vendors may change components subsequently, so the performance you get with a like product may not match our published results.

What does the WorldBench 6 score mean? It's a measure of how fast a particular desktop or laptop PC can run a mix of common business applications as compared with our baseline machine. For example, a PC that scores 150 is 50 percent faster than the baseline system. See our WorldBench 6 page for more information.

Where do the scores for reliability, support quality, and support policies come from? Reliability and support-quality scores for PCs are based on surveys of PC World readers, compiled for our annual feature on reliability and service. The policies score is based on the support policies that the vendor offers, including the length of the warranty and the hours of technical support provided.

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