Best MacBook Pro Alternatives For 2022

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The days of deriding the  for its , and overreliance on Thunderbolt/USB-C connections are over thanks to Apple's most recent updates. They brought us  devices with new processors, a top-notch (pun intended) design, mini-LED backlit displays, plus added back the ports we've missed and removed the Touch Bar. 
But the fact remains that there's a far bigger variety of designs, feature sets and display choices for Windows laptops and Chromebooks, and remains the preferred platform for playing games locally. lets Macs circumvent the gaming problem to a certain extent, but not completely; only a fraction of the universe of games is playable via the cloud.





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An  can stretch the limits of your budget, and those who've set aside a nice chunk of cash might want something a little more customizable. No one can deny that one appealing thing about  is the variety. Even when trying to imitate the offerings of a MacBook (or an ) there are all sizes of far less expensive , 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 the , across the price spectrum. You can also get more variety, with alternatives like . Plus, we're seeing lots of .

So when if want to go Windows, here are our recommendations for laptops to fill that MacBook-size void in your life.



















Josh Goldman/CNET











For a lot less than an entry-level MacBook Pro 13, The HP Envy x360 13 makes a great pick for an older high school or college student -- or anyone looking for a small, stylish and easy-to-travel-with two-in-one. It's light at just less than 3 pounds (1.3 kg) and battery life is long despite the size. It's also available with a choice of AMD Ryzen 5 4500U or .






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Sarah Tew/CNET








A slightly updated and renamed version of the Yoga C940, the Yoga 9i is just a little bigger than a 13-inch MacBook Pro, fast, attractive and feature-packed. Plus it gives you something you can't get in a MacBook: the 360-degree screen that lets you use it like a tablet or prop it up in a tent or kiosk configuration.




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If, like me, you're not a fan of  -- they're not optimized for Adobe RGB and aren't great at tonal range in the shadows -- then what you need is a laptop with a good IPS display. The Dell XPS 17 9700 with the 4K screen option delivers that, and it's not as reflective as the OLED screens I've seen. Dell's PremierColor software isn't perfect, but it gives you more control over screen 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 given its larger 17-inch screen. And while its battery life isn't terrific, its performance can certainly keep up. The XPS 17 has been refreshed since this review, and just started shipping; the older model starts at $1,940, while the 9710 starts at $1,568. The starting price differential is because there's no integrated graphics option for the newer model.

The Razer Blade 17 is a strong runner-up here if you're willing to trade higher performance and a similar design for a bigger, heavier model. We haven't yet tested the refreshed 2021 version of the Blade 17 (formerly the ) starting at $2,400, but there's nothing that should have changed our high opinion of it: It received faster components and better screen options; one lone older model remains on sale for $2,900. While I recommend getting this Blade 17 laptop with its 4K resolution display option for creators, I'm a big fan of the newly ubiquitous 165Hz 1440p laptop screens, and that resolution is a great match for the screen size without the 4K overkill.

And a great lower-cost alternative is the , which doesn't head to the front of the line primarily because of its lower build quality, and I'm assuming that if you're looking for a MacBook Pro equivalent you want the metal chassis, better screen and higher-end components. But if you also want to save as much as $1,000, it's worth considering.






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Joshua Goldman/CNET








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 make it a cost-effective alternative.






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Sarah Tew/CNET








If you're drawn to a MacBook Pro for its featureless-slab aesthetic, Razer's your Windows go-to. If you want one that roughly matches the 14-inch Pro for design, size and weight, the Blade 14 is your option; its little brother, the makes a great alternative to the 13-inch MacBook Pro when you want something a bit smaller and less expensive. 

A smaller version than the 15-inch staple, the 14-inch Razer Blade delivers a lot of gaming power for its size without feeling small -- an important consideration for a gaming laptop, and one that Apple doesn't need to worry about -- but has decent battery life, a nice size for travel and a subtle design (for a gaming laptop) that's buttoned-up enough for sitting in a meeting with the top brass or clients.




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Josh Goldman/CNET








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




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Josh Goldman/CNET








What's better than the Touch Bar? An entire half-screen second display, that's what. The Duo's tilt-up second screen can act as an ancillary display, an extension of the primary display (for viewing those long web pages) or a separate control center from which you can run Asus' custom utilities or as control surfaces for select creative applications. Plus, Asus excels at squeezing every bit of performance out of its high-end laptops, and the 14-inch delivers great battery life, as well. 

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




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Which is faster, a MacBook or a Windows laptop?
That's an almost impossible question to answer. 

For one thing, it's a moving target. We're anticipating Intel's announcement of its mobile (12th-gen) CPUs, the ones with the same hybrid core architecture as the same way as Apple's M1 chips, as well as new mobile GPU announcements. Both usually come during CES, which is less than a month away, and this go-round Intel may finally reveal its Intel Arc discrete graphics. 

And thus far, Apple hasn't even launched an M1 MacBook with a discrete GPU, though to compete with current low-end Nvidia and AMD graphics up to about the RTX 3070 and Radeon RX 6800M, and though neither is really surprising. But it means that at the high end we're still in sort of a MacBook holding pattern when it comes to comparisons with heavier Windows options.

Plus, differences in operating systems complicate things. Mac OS has long been more efficient than Windows and that's only improved now that Apple owns its entire food chain. But it doesn't need to worry about compatibility with partner systems and myriad different components. Then toss in difficulties getting repeatable, comparable, representative and broad-based benchmark results for cross-platform comparisons... well, I don't feel like going down that rabbit hole right now.
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