Apple’s MacBook Pro sort of stands out as the “quintessential” laptop, one that has stood the test of time and has been used by both enthusiasts and creative professionals alike.
It has a special kind of aura around it and, well, there’s a very good reason why: it is a truly exceptional device, one with stellar input devices, best-in-class build quality, a jaw-dropping display, and just the right amount of power under the hood.
Still, it’s not perfect and there’s definitely a sizable number of people who don’t want to enter Apple’s closed-off ecosystem — for a wide variety of reasons. The MacBook Pro, while undeniably great and beautiful, isn’t for everyone.
For this piece, specifically, we’ll go over a bunch of alternatives that are available on the market including a list of things and features you need to be on the lookout for when shopping around for a portable Windows-based laptop.
MacBook Pro vs. Windows Laptops
It was hard to recommend any concrete alternative for the longest time.
With most Windows laptops, there was always something missing. Certain models had dim screens, others were badly put together and had iffy build quality, and others still had atrocious battery life and could barely sustain any remotely serious workflow when unplugged.
That, however, has changed, and we’re glad beyond measure for this. Most manufacturers realized that — to truly compete and stand a chance against Apple’s exceptional engineering and production quality — huge, sweeping changes needed to be made.
Nowadays, the best Windows laptops have a slew of alluring features, all of which are sufficient for them to “rub shoulders” with the best MacBooks on the market.
There’s still a bunch of really bad laptops out there — the likes of which we’ll criticize in-depth down below — but Windows users have never had such an impressive array to choose from.
In other words: you can get a whole lot for your money’s worth nowadays, and things will only get better and better as time goes on.
What to Look For in a MacBook Pro Alternative
To better traverse and navigate today’s market, we first need to deconstruct these devices to their bare essentials.
What is it that makes a good laptop? What defines a satisfying user experience? These questions are vital and, fortunately, they’re pretty easy to answer, too!
A good display is paramount.
This is the first thing Apple got right way back when — their Retina displays are pixel-dense, have amazing color accuracy, and are a joy to look at. Heck, they’re even 16:10 which is the preferred aspect ratio for most workflows.
Windows laptops were subpar in this regard for the longest time.
Insufficiently bright 1080p panels are no longer enough to impress which is why we’re glad to see so many manufacturers shift to panels that are brighter than 400 nits, have high refresh rates (90Hz and above), are Pantone validated, and range from very impressive IPS LCDs to jaw-dropping OLED panels — the ones with the deepest blacks and the most awe-inspiring contrast ratios.
The latest and greatest MacBook Pros do come with mini LED displays, so we’ve sort of reached a point where every option out there is going to satisfy your needs and personal preferences.
Now it’s all about figuring out what you yourself are after.
How high of a resolution do you want? What kind of panel would you prefer?
Are you content with 60Hz or do you perhaps want the buttery smoothness that high refresh rate displays bring to the table?
The good thing is that you now have an embarrassment of riches to choose from. It took us a while to get here, but better late than never.
This is a tricky one to tackle. Apple’s latest ARM-based architecture has blown us away and is, without a doubt, the most well-rounded option on the market in terms of power and efficiency.
Be that as it may, Intel and AMD have stepped up over the last two or so years, and their Alder Lake and Ryzen 6000 series CPUs — while not exactly as efficient — can definitely keep up in terms of sheer horsepower.
There’s also the question of software support (something we’ll discuss in greater detail down below). If your software suite of choice isn’t supported on Apple’s M1 line-up, then you really can’t benefit all that much from its power.
With Intel and AMD, however, there aren’t limitations you have to work around: everything functions as advertised.
There are no emulation layers, no compatibility quirks you have to track or circumvent — it works as well as it should ten times out of ten.
Intel has the edge in single- and multi-core performance over AMD but loses the battle in efficiency and, by proxy, battery life.
Their integrated graphics are also nowhere near as potent as those from “team red,” so that’s also something worth keeping in mind if you’re looking to game a bit on the side.
The most important thing is that all of their top-of-the-line offerings are now fairly comparable.
In other words: you’re not going to lack power if you go with Intel’s Alder Lake processors or any similarly spec’d ones from AMD.
If you’re looking to buy a Windows-based laptop, we would advise going with AMD as their 6000 series CPUs are a lot more well-rounded compared to Intel; there’s no “bad” choice nowadays, though, and that’s great — competition breeds innovation, after all.
This is the one area where Apple still reigns supreme. And, well, it’s not even remotely competitive.
The only two companies that can compete (to a certain point, at least), are DELL and Razer. Their most expensive offerings have mind-blowing craftsmanship, but they also cost a pretty penny, too.
Everything else — the ROGs, Omens, Zephyruses, Thinkbooks, and whatever else — pales in comparison.
A MacBook just feels different, and no video or image can ever really convey such a thing. These laptops are almost monolithic in design. Certain Windows laptops do come close, but there’s still a gap between them and Apple’s entire product stack.
Battery Life and Efficiency
This, too, is an area in which MacBooks excel — the Pro ones especially.
Not only do these machines have incredibly large batteries deep within their enclosures, but the M1 SoC is also the de facto most efficient architecture on the market.
The only other option that comes close is the Ryzen 6000 series CPUs from AMD. They don’t provide that big of a performance uplift compared to their direct predecessors, but they do deliver in the efficiency department — big time.
Intel, on the other hand, is undoubtedly the worst option nowadays.
Alder Lake CPUs are incredibly powerful, but if you plan on traveling or going on long-distance flights — and need your laptop to last you through your journeys — then going with Intel may well be the biggest mistake you could make.
It’s also worth noting that the performance of Windows laptops when unplugged takes a dive pretty much immediately — and it’s a tremendous difference, by the way.
Apple’s M1 SoCs, on the other hand, perform exactly the same regardless if they’re plugged in or not, and that may well be a difference-maker depending on your workflow.
This, too, is an important factor. If the kind of work you do can be done on a MacBook — or macOS, rather — then it is the best option out there.
The kind of performance these machines deliver for the asking price is truly astounding.
Still, if your workflow isn’t fully supported then macOS-based machines simply cannot be taken into consideration.
You should never base your purchasing decisions on what might happen further down the line but rather on what’s available at the time of you whipping out your wallet and splurging hundreds upon hundreds of dollars/euros.
So, make sure to do a bit of research before taking the plunge.
This is the one area where Apple really dropped the ball. MacBooks cannot be upgraded further down the line. There’s really no other way to say it.
If you need more storage or more RAM you’ll have to sell your existing machine and buy a new one.
That’s why it’s so important to be fully aware of your needs and how they might change further down the line, lest you invest a ton of money on a machine that’ll (in some way) become obsolete sooner than it should.
Then again, most Windows-based ultrabooks have started following the same trend. Their RAM is most often soldered to the motherboard which means you’ll be able to upgrade only their SSDs and Wi-Fi cards. That’s… not ideal. Still, it’s better than nothing.
Bigger laptops (14” and beyond) do allow their users to increase the amount of RAM, but that’s about the only difference compared to 13” thin-and-lights/ultraportables.
Be Wary of False Marketing
Everyone’s guilty of false advertising these days — Apple included.
That’s why it’s so important to roll up your sleeves and do as much research as you possibly can before pulling the proverbial trigger.
Just because a laptop looks nice and has top-of-the-line specs doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll perform as well as you expect it to.
Maybe it isn’t cooled properly which results in higher temperatures, more fan noise, and (at worst) thermal throttling. Maybe it has a low wattage GPU.
Take the RTX 3060, for example. Its TDP can range from “just” 60W to well over a hundred, depending on the model and implementation — and yet they all nominally have the exact same graphics card.
Watching/reading as many reviews as you can before making any kind of purchasing decision is always the way to go.
Best MacBook Pro Alternatives
There are numerous options out there, all of which have something unique to offer (at varying different price points).
The Vivobook Pro line-up from ASUS isn’t getting nearly as much attention as it deserves, and we’re really not sure why that’s the case.
These laptops look good, have the satisfying build quality, amazing OLED displays (up to 3K and 90Hz), and pack some mighty impressive internals — top-of-the-line Ryzen 5000 series CPUs and NVIDIA RTX 3050 GPUs.
They’re not necessarily the most powerful MacBook Pro alternatives on the market, but are probably the most well-rounded ones out there and are, therefore, more than worthy of your attention.
Lenovo Yoga Line-up (2022)
Lenovo’s Yoga Slim 7/9 laptops have just been refreshed with Alder Lake and Ryzen 6000 CPUs, and they also pack beautiful, high refresh rate 2K/3K OLED displays, LPDDR5 RAM, and just the right amount of I/O for any creative professional.
Their RTX 3050 (Ti) GPUs might not be the most powerful ones out there, but they’ll still suffice for video editing and a bit of gaming on the side.
The Surface Laptop Studio is a very interesting device, one that is a fair bit more powerful than it looks but is also nowhere near as potent as some other options on the market.
What it does have, however, is an adjustable display that sort of turns this laptop into a three-in-one.
Much like Apple’s MacBook Pros, the Surface line-up from Microsoft combines incredible build quality with some fairly respectable internals, but they’re also sold at too big of a premium and are rarely refreshed.
They are nonetheless a unique alternative and are, therefore, worth taking a look at.
The latest and greatest Blade laptops from Razer pack the most mind-blowing internals in sleek and slender chassis that is easy to carry around — and they’re easy on the eyes, too.
If there’s one laptop in the Windows realm that offers a similar level of craftsmanship (to say nothing of its looks) akin to that of a MacBook, it’s the Razer Blade.
They might be devilishly expensive, but if you want the absolute best MacBook alternative on the market — and don’t mind burning a hole through your wallet — then they’re definitely worth the asking price.
ASUS Flow X13 / Zephyrus G14 (2022)
These two (admittedly somewhat dissimilar) laptops are arguably the most alluring options from ASUS. They offer incredible build quality and the latest and greatest processors from AMD.
The Flow X13 is a lot more portable but it doesn’t skimp out on performance which is key.
The G14, on the other hand, is a fair bit more powerful and, therefore, better suited for more demanding workflows.
Either way, both devices have more than enough power for one’s needs and are worthy alternatives to Apple’s MacBook Pros.
More MacBook Alternatives
Because the Laptop Landscape changes rapidly, and there are so many Brands to choose from, we’ve built the below Laptop Recommendation Tool that we regularly update.
Select “Laptop“, set your budget, hit the recommend button and you’ll be given up to 3 choices that are best in class for that budget.
Give it a try:
Let’s go over a few potential questions you might have regarding the MacBook Pro and how it stacks up against today’s most popular Windows-based alternatives:
Does Apple Make the Best Laptops?
Not necessarily, although you could make an argument for that being the case.
Their laptops, while undeniably amazing, aren’t for everyone, and they do have certain flaws and drawbacks that can, at times, be dealbreakers.
It all depends on your workflow and use-case scenario.
The latest and greatest MacBook Pros are exceptional, though, and if you can harness their novel architecture — or if your workflow can benefit from it, rather — then they very well might be the best option out there.
Are There Any Good MacBook Pro Alternatives?
There actually are! Windows-based laptops are absolutely amazing nowadays, and they’re only going to get better and better as Intel, AMD, and everyone else keep iterating.
Apple’s MacBooks are so good they’re forcing everyone else to innovate and create better products which obviously benefits us — the end-users — the most.
Is the MacBook Pro the Best Laptop for Content Creation?
It is. If you’re a graphic designer, videographer, or music producer, the MacBook Pro — or any other M1-based Apple device, for that matter — will do wonders for your workflow.
And it’s not just the chipset either but the way in which everything has been balanced: the amazing display, the almost non-existent fan noise, long-lasting battery life, peak performance even when unplugged, and so on.
Are MacBook Pro Alternatives Powerful Enough?
They absolutely are! Intel and AMD-based laptops might not be as efficient as those from Apple, but they sure don’t lack in the power department!
They will be a lot louder, however, and they’ll probably run hotter, too. That, however, is by no means a dealbreaker or something that should dissuade you from buying them.
Over to You
There have never been more viable alternatives to Apple’s MacBook Pro than there are now in 2022.
They’re not necessarily worse in any which way, so if you’re a Windows user and are in the market for a new laptop, you’ll definitely have a wide range of options to choose from!