Until 1991, Compaq was a premium brand. They were pretty much what Apple is nowadays.
Before their 1991/92 reestructuring to shift focus to the average consumer market, Compaq PCs used to cost 2x to even 3x more than similarly-configured systems from Dell, Gateway and other clone makers. So, spec-wise I wouldn't call Compaq machines high-end since they had the same specs as their competitors. I do remember that reviews of the time always praised Compaq PCs for being much better built, sturdier and more rugged and reliable than their competitors - they took special care to only use high quality materials, very well designed cases with smart interior layout, oversized PSUs, etc. However the 2x to 3x premium you'd pay for all this wasn't worth it.
Just by reading Compaq-related magazine articles and their magazine ads, especially from 1988-1991, you could get a feeling that their upper management was boneheaded and fully ignoring the direction the market was going.
I have always loved the design of the Compaq CDS 524, still do. It's a damn cute machine. I never owned one of these but one friend of mine did. The problem with the CDS 524 was its low specs, the top of the line model used a 486 DX2 66 MHz with 8 MB ram and 500 MB HDD at a time when these specs were already touching the low end. I'd only consider purchasing one if it was fully upgradeable (aside from the screen ofc) with aftermarket components.