Best MacBook Pro Alternatives for 2021

As much as some of us can mock MacBook Pro for its terrible keyboard, annoying Touch Bar and excessive reliance on Thunderbolt / USB-C connections, its balance between screen quality, weight, battery life and performance had no Windows-based peer for a long time. But now that OLED screens have entered the market, the balance is tipping over. OLED delivers true black color, which means high contrast, as well as a wide range of colors and a high dynamic range that can compete with or outperform MacBooks Retina Display.

Apple updated 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro devices with new processors, a top-notch (pun intended) design, mini-LED screens and removed TouchBar. There are not many Windows laptops that can match these machines in terms of raw performance.

That M1 chip-based 13-inch MacBook Pro may have a performance advantage compared to similar size Windows alternatives, but there are still compatibility issues – plus Apple’s raised prices on the Intel-based models – making it less slam dunk compared to Windows systems than it might otherwise have been.

Even one Entry-level MacBook can stretch the limits of your budget, and those who have set aside a nice chunk of money might want something a little more customizable. No one can deny the one appealing thing about Windows laptops is the variety. Even when trying to emulate the offerings from a MacBook (heck, or even one iPad or iPad Pro) there are all sizes of much cheaper Chromebooks, as well as 14- and 15-inch laptops that are slightly smaller and lighter than the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but not quite as small as 13-inch MacBook Air, across the price spectrum. You can also get more variety, with alternatives such as 2-in-1s. In addition, we see a lot experiment with multiscreen designs.

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For much less than an entry-level MacBook Pro 13, the HP Envy x360 13 is a great choice for an older high school or college student – or anyone looking for a small, stylish, and easy-to-travel two-in-one. It weighs only less than 1.3 kg and has a long battery life despite its size. It is also available with a choice of AMD Ryzen 5-4500U or Intel 11th gen Core processors.

Read our HP Envy x360 13 (2020) review.

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A slightly updated and renamed version of the Yoga C940, the Yoga 9i is just slightly larger than a 13-inch MacBook Pro, fast, attractive and packed with features. Plus it gives you something you can’t get in a MacBook: 360-degree display that lets you use it as a tablet or back it up in a tent or kiosk configuration.

Read our Lenovo Yoga 9i review.

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If you, like me, are not a fan of OLED screens for photo editing – they are not optimized for Adobe RGB and are not good for tonal range in the shadows – then you need a laptop with a good IPS screen . The Dell XPS 17 9700 with 4K display capability delivers it and it is not as reflective as the OLED displays I have seen. Dell’s PremierColor software is not perfect, but it gives you more control over the display settings than most I’ve seen, and it has two Thunderbolt 3 controllers to make your external drives happy. It’s heavier than the MacBook, but not much bigger, especially considering its larger 17-inch screen. And while battery life is not great, its performance can certainly keep up. XPS 17 has been updated since this review and has just started shipping; the older model starts at $ 1,940, while the 9710 starts at $ 1,568. The starting price difference is due to the fact that there is no integrated graphics option for the newer model.

The Razer Blade 17 is a strong second place here if you are willing to swap higher performance and a similar design for a larger, heavier model. We have not yet tested the updated 2021 version of the Blade 17 (formerly the Blade Pro 17) starting at $ 2,400, but there is nothing that should have changed our high perception of it: It received faster components and better display capabilities; a single older model is still on sale for $ 2,900. Although I recommend getting this Blade 17 laptop with its 4K resolution display capability for creators, I’m a big fan of the recently ubiquitous 165Hz 1440p laptops, and that resolution fits well with the screen size without the 4K overkill.

And a great cheaper alternative is the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus, which does not take the lead primarily due to its lower build quality, and I assume that if you are looking for a similar MacBook Pro will have the metal chassis, better screen and advanced components. But if you also want to save up to 1,000 kroner, it is worth considering.

Read our review of the Dell XPS 17 9700.

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Cheaper than even the MacBook Air, with roughly the same footprint, but lighter. The 14-inch Flex 5 has the flexibility of a two-in-one if everything you do is cloud-based. Its sleek look and feel at a Chrome OS price makes it a cost-effective alternative.

Read our review of Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5.

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If you are attracted to a MacBook Pro because of its aesthetic properties, then Razer is your Windows go-to. If you want one that matches the 13-inch Pro for design, size and weight, Stealth is your option.

Priced similarly to the Intel-based MacBook Pro capabilities, it should perform better than the Intel models – we’re still finding comparisons between M1 Macs and Windows systems – as it discreetly incorporates the GeForce GTX 1650 Ti graphics.

Read our review of the Razer Book.

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The Dell XPS 13 is a 13.3-inch laptop that is so trimmed up that the body is roughly the size of an older 11.6-inch laptop. Being part of the company’s XPS line means that both its chassis and components are top notch for its class, so you also get great battery life and performance. The power supply is via USB-C and it comes with a microSD reader and headphone jack. It comes in both a standard clamshell as well as two-in-one, but I prefer two-in-one because you can fold it up into a tablet if you have to work in a cramped space.

Read our Dell XPS 2-in-1 review.

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What’s better than Touch Bar? A whole half screen second screen, that’s what. The duo’s second screen that can be tilted up can serve as an auxiliary display, an extension of the primary display (for displaying the long web pages) or a separate control center from which you can run Asus’ custom utilities or as control surfaces for selected creative applications. Plus, Asus excels at squeezing every bit of performance out of its sophisticated laptops, and the 14-inch also delivers great battery life.

It comes in two models, the 15-inch and the 2021 14-inch Duo 14, which we have reviewed. Duo 14 has either 11th generation Core i5 or i7 processors, optional Nvidia MX450 discrete graphics and up to 32 GB of memory.

Read our review of the Asus ZenBook Duo.

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